Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Orchestra veteran retires

Cellist Janet Kriner, who has played with the Virginia Symphony for 45 years – one of the longest tenures of any orchestral musician in the state – will retire from the Hampton-Roads based ensemble at the end of the season, David Nicholson reports in The Daily Press of Newport News:,0,1072803.story

"She's a wonderful and supportive person, a credit to music," says Francis Church, the Richmond cellist and music writer who was Kriner's pupil and stand-mate in the Norfolk Symphony, predecessor of the Virginia Symphony.

Ole Schmidt (1928-2010)

Ole Schmidt, the conductor whose 1974 recordings of the six symphonies of Carl Nielsen helped spark an international revival of interest in the music of the modern Danish master, has died. An obituary from The Telegraph:


Leonard Slatkin, conducting Verdi's "La Traviata" at the Metropolitan Opera, "showed up for rehearsals not fully knowing the score," Anthony Tommasini writes in The New York Times:

UPDATE: After one performance and a chorus of pans from the New York critics, Slatkin withdraws from the Met production, Dave Itzkoff reports in The New York Times:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The Washington Post's Anne Midgette considers encores, reycles one of Artur Schnabel's better aphorisms – "Applause is a receipt, not a bill" – and wonders whether critics should review them:

Like Midgette and some of her commenters, I recall encores as being highlights of some concerts. As a critic, I dread them. When an artist performs a piece not listed on the program, even if I think I recognize it, I feel obliged to go backstage and ask what it was. (Reviewing, however opinionated, is also reporting; and reporting should traffic in facts, not guesses.)

The backstage detour, as Midgette notes, used to play hell with meeting a tight deadline for submission of a review. While that's no longer a consideration, a post-concert encounter with an artist breaches the wall between onstage performer and offstage person, which I would rather keep intact, at least until I've finished writing the review.

I feel the same way about receptions, Q-and-A sessions and other mingling with artists before and after concerts. I don't avoid them – the artist may say something informative or interesting, and I don't want to seem stand-offish; but I think it's best for performers and critics to keep a certain distance when they are at work.

Remember listening?

Recalling the initial wonder of the iPod ("If you had presented me with this gadget even a decade ago, I'm pretty sure I would have proclaimed you the Messiah") and lamenting its devaluation of the musical experience, Steve Almond writes, "I really miss the fact that listening to music used to be a concerted sonic and emotional event, rather than the backing track to some flashing screen." Almond's commentary in The Los Angeles Times:,0,5330405.story

Musical chairs in Beethoven

Conductor Iván Fischer tried some novel placement of key musicians in performances of Beethoven's Sixth and Ninth symphonies in a March 28 concert with his Budapest Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center. Steve Smith's review in The New York Times:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review: Johnson & Kong

March 28, Virginia Commonwealth University

When two musicians not known as drama queens essay the work of an emotionally fragile romantic composer, what sort of chemistry might be expected? That was the question I carried into a recital by violinist Karen Johnson and pianist Joanne Kong, who are marking the bicentennial of Robert Schumann’s birth with a series of recitals of his music and pieces by Brahms, Schumann’s sometime protégé, and Elgar, a composer who in his younger years called Schumann "my ideal."

In their performance at Virginia Commonwealth University – staged as a benefit for the Children’s Miracle Network Haiti Fund – Johnson and Kong bracketed their program with two rarely heard works of Schumann, the Sonata in A minor, Op. 105, and Fantasie in C major, Op. 131, both examples of this composer at his most passionate and lyrical.

Johnson, stepping out of her usual role as concertmaster of the Richmond Symphony, rode Schumann’s emotional currents securely and with feeling, but not too much feeling. The violinist sustained the long lines that are essential in romantic music, and maintained Schumann’s tricky balance between classical form and outpourings of expression. At her best, in the first movement of the sonata and toward the end of the Fantasie, she sounded as if she were conjuring the music on the spot.

Kong, a veteran accompanist, gave Johnson reliable, if rather deferential support in those works, and in Elgar’s "Chanson de nuit" and "Chanson de matin," a pair of sweetly lyrical miniatures that are probably the composer’s best-known chamber works. The pianist was a more equal partner in two movements of the "F.A.E." ("Frei aber einsam," or "free but lonely") Sonata, the intermezzo by Schumann and scherzo by Brahms.

Playing the third movement of Schumann’s Fantasie in C major, Op. 17, the most familiar music of the program, Kong showed that she shares Johnson’s interpretive approach, playing with heart, but not on the sleeve – more wistfully than yearningly.

Johnson and Kong will repeat the program at 3 p.m. April 11 at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton. Tickets: $5. Details: (540) 887-7294; They will give a broadcast performance on June 8 (Schumann’s 200th birthday) on WCVE-FM and its affiliates (time TBA). They will give another Richmond performance of the program at 7 p.m. June 9 at St. James’s Episcopal Church, 1205 W. Franklin St. Admission by donation. Details: (804) 355-1779;

Review: Jupiter String Quartet

March 27, Virginia Commonwealth University

Several of the most highly touted young American string quartets have performed in Richmond over the past year. None has made a stronger impression than the Jupiter Quartet – violinists Nelson Lee and Megan Freivogel, violist Liz Freivogel and cellist Daniel McDonough – did in a program of Beethoven, Bartók and Dvořák in the latest installment of VCU’s Rennolds Chamber Concerts.

As it demonstrated in Dvořák’s “American” Quartet (the F major, Op. 96), the group can summon the plummy, refined and strongly projected collective tone that has been the standard of big-league quartets since the 1940s and ’50s heyday of the Budapest. The Jupiter, however avoids the downside of that sound: homogeneity of style, tone production and treatment of tempos, accents, phrasing and dynamics. These musicians know when to be elegant or mellow, and when not to.

Their treatment of the opening movement of Beethoven’s Quartet in B flat major, Op. 18, No. 6, was a tip-off that this was not going to be a garden-variety quartet performance. Beethoven marked this movement allegro con brio, and the Jupiter took him at his word, playing briskly and dashingly, pouncing on accents, emphasizing contrasts of volume, taking great care with its details of instrumental voicing yet exuding spontaneity – making this playful music genuinely playful.

Throughout the Beethoven, the group sounded totally engaged, not just with the notes but with the music’s spirit and its differing energy levels. In dance tempos, here and elsewhere, the musicians' feet were as animated as their arms – an unmistakable sign, I think, of their physical as well as mental involvement with the music on their stands.

The Jupiter’s treatment of Bartók’s Quartet No. 4 was comparably energized, and faithful to the very different style of this composer and the unique tonal qualities that he seeks from strings. Bartók’s sonorities, whether harsh or rarified, muted or not, clustered in dense chunks or spun out in fine threads, came through clearly, and the folk-derived accents and rhythms came through idiomatically.

The three pieces offered many individual moments to shine, and the Jupiter’s players did so consistently, from Lee’s sweetly lyrical reading of the adagio of the Beethoven and Liz Freivogel’s initial statement of the first-movement theme in the Dvořák to McDonough’s just-guttural-enough cello solo in the central largo of the Bartók.

The dual voices of Lee and Megan Freivogel were beautifully woven in the slow movement of the Dvořák – which, for a change, was a true lento.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Waving the stick for music education

Six celebrity guests will conduct the Richmond Symphony in a benefit concert for the orchestra's music-education program at 8 p.m. May 22 at the Carpenter Theatre of Richmond CenterStage.

The six are Caressa Cameron, the current Miss America; Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones; singer-songwriter Susan Greenbaum; Bobbie Barajas of WCVE-FM; Dr. Lance D. Watson, senior pastor of St. Paul's Baptist Church; and Nutzy, mascot the Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball team. They will wield their batons in popular classics such as "Ride of the Valkyries" from Wagner's "Die Walküre," the Trepak from Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" and "Hoedown" from Copland's "Rodeo."

Prior to the concert, the six will be coached in conducting technique by Erin R. Freeman, the orchestra's associate conductor.

Steven Smith, the symphony's new music director, also will conduct at the concert, whose master of ceremonies will be Ryan Nobles, anchor of Fox Richmond News.

The orchestra's musicians are donating their services for the event.

Audience members will be invited to vote for their favorite guest conductor via personal electronic devices, and to make donations in honor of a guest conductor.

Tickets are $25-$75, with $12 tickets available for children and college students. To purchase tickets, call (800) 982-2787 (Ticketmaster) or visit Donations also can made by going to the website.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Virginia Symphony taps Borenstein

Eric Borenstein, currently executive director of the Erie (PA) Philharmonic, has been named executive director of the Virginia Symphony. He takes over the top administrative post of the Hampton Roads-based orchestra on June 1.

Borenstein previously held administrative positions with the Buffalo Philharmonic and Cape Cod (MA) Symphony, and worked for the Barry Manilow organization.

Robert W. Cross, the Virginia Symphony's principal percussionist and the Virginia Arts Festival's executive and artistic director, has been serving as the orchestra's interim executive director.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'The day the music didn't die'

The Sacremento Bee's Dixie Reid recounts the story of how concerted public action saved the music program in a cash-strapped California school district:

By all means, try this at home.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The state and the arts

Before we move on from the latest bout of angst over preservation of the Virginia Commission for the Arts, here's a reminder, via The Roanoke Times' Sharla Bardin, about the biggest state subsidies for the arts:

The $27.8 million in state funds going toward construction of Virginia Tech's Center for the Arts is more than seven times the amount of state money that the General Assembly has appropriated to keep the Arts Commission running in each of the next two years. (Its annual budgets of $4.66 million include $800,000 in federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.)

The multiple is even greater if you count the taxpayer-derived share of the $33.2 million from the university budget that's being spent on the $89 million facility, and greater still if you count the salaries of Tech's arts faculty, who are state employees, and state funds that will be spent on maintaining the facility.

Blacksburg is one of many Virginia communities whose arts scenes are anchored by state colleges and universities, state-employed arts faculties and state-funded venues.

The Blacksburg story also reinforces a point often made by advocates of state arts subsidy: That public money draws private money. Alongside the $27.8 million in state funds budgeted for construction of the arts center, there's $28 million from private contributors.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wolfgang Wagner (1919-2010)

Wolfgang Wagner, grandson of Richard Wagner and master of the Wagner festival and shrine in Bayreuth, Germany, for 57 years until his retirement in 2008, died on March 21 at the age of 90.

Tom Sutcliffe's obituary in The Guardian is a detailed summation of both the man and the swirl of artistic and political controversy and familial conflict that surrounded him:

Amazing fiddle tales

The Chicago Tribune's William Mullen reports on a couple of violin makers who took the "Vieuxtemps" Guarneri del Gesu (1741), considered by some to be the greatest fiddle ever made, to Northwestern University Hospital for a CT scan, hoping to find out what makes it great:,0,302433.story

* * *

Minnesota Orchestra violinist Roger Frisch played his instrument while undergoing brain surgery to ease tremors in his right hand, ABC News reports (with video):

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Review: Jeremy Denk

March 21, University of Richmond

Pianist Jeremy Denk played his "Beauty and the Beast" program – Bach’s "Goldberg" Variations preceded by Charles Ives’ Sonata No. 1 – to a small but closely attentive and highly appreciative audience in his second visit to Richmond this season.

Drawing parallels or links between these compositions would be a stretch. (Denk stretched no farther than to observe that both quote hymn tunes on the theme of wandering.) What really held these disparate selections together were Denk’s personality, reflected in an impetuous interpretive approach, and his employment of grand-piano technique and sonority in both works.

The standard view of Ives – which Denk shares, judging by his introductory remarks – is of a composer who combines and contrasts nostalgia for 19th-century Currier & (unrelated) Ives Americana with a radical, quirky modernism that revels in dissonance and melodic fragmentation. Both aspects of Ives come through quite clearly in the First Sonata, and Denk made sure they were audible and suitably contrasted.

His performance also reminded listeners that Ives was a contemporary of Busoni, Godowsky, Rachmaninoff and other late-romantic virtuoso pianist-composers. However radical Ives was as a composer, this sonata shows him to be a conformist (!) regarding turn-of-the-20th-century notions of grand-piano sonority, dynamism and rhetorical gesture. Denk’s phrasing, accenting and dynamic contrasting were romantically pianistic; that sound and sound-scale gave Ives’ jokes, outbursts, evocations and sound effects different contexts, inviting different inferences.

Busoni, et al., came to mind again, perhaps even more vividly, in Denk’s performance of the "Goldbergs." This was not just a piano performance, but a performance straight out of the golden-age piano playbook – ringing treble, resounding bass, whisper-to-bellow dynamics, glittering cascades of notes, deep passion, edge-of-the-seat tension, all the trimmings.

HIP (historically informed performance) mavens would have hated it in principle, and might rightly have observed that Denk’s nervy, speedy approach resulted in some weirdly over- or understated accents and more than a few muddles of closely spaced notes. As a performance, though, it was thrilling; and as a conversation between creative and re-creative minds, it was engrossing.

Jeremy Denk will conduct a free master class from 10 a.m.-noon March 22 in Camp Concert Hall of the University of Richmond’s Modlin Arts Center. Details: (804) 289-8980.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Review: Richmond Symphony

Erin R. Freeman conducting
March 20, Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage

Richmond’s long good-luck streak with solo artists substituting on short notice – which led to the local debuts of pianists Yefim Bronfman and Jean-Yves Thibaudet and chanteuse Ute Lemper, among others – continues this weekend with the young violinist Elena Urioste, who was called in when illness forced Tai Murray to cancel a pair of performances of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Richmond Symphony.

While the Tchaikovsky was not the ideal vehicle for the lean, lithe and focused tone that Urioste drew from her fiddle in the first of two weekend concerts, she displayed a suitably high-romantic temperament in the nobly passionate big tune and lengthy cadenza of the opening movement, unusual sensitivity in the central canzonetta, and impressive technique in the dazzling finale.

Conductor Erin R. Freeman and the orchestra gave Urioste warm and sonorous, although occasionally overpowering, support. These musicians’ frequent performances of Tchaikovsky’s ballet scores echoed through their colorful and graceful playing in the last two movements of the concerto.

The Tchaikovsky is the centerpiece of a program marking the local launching of "Minds Wide Open: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts," a festival of performing and visual arts that will continue through June. Compensating for Tchaikovsky’s wrong gender were not just a female conductor and soloist, but also a bit of history: Freeman noted that the concerto was introduced in this country by Maud Powell, one of the first women to build a career as a solo violinist. Preceding and following the Tchaikovsky were works by female composers.

"D’un matin de printemps" ("On a Morning in Spring"), a short, eventful and vividly colorful sample of the French impressionist style by Lili Boulanger, the short-lived younger sister of the great French pedagogue and conductor Nadia Boulanger, drew an animated and tonally polished reading from the orchestra.

Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra (2002) presented the orchestra with one of its biggest challenges of the season. Written for a virtuoso ensemble (the Philadelphia Orchestra), the piece at one point or another spotlights every solo player and every section, often with novel sound effects that require unusual techniques, frequently in pretty heavy orchestral traffic.

The Higdon concerto is a different kind of "eye music" – not a piece that looks better on the score than it sounds in performance (the term was coined as a rap on hard-to-decipher modern compositions), but one that makes the listener’s eyes dart around the orchestra in search of the sources of sounds. Plucked and slapped fiddles, bowed percussion, muted and sliding string and wind effects and unusual instrumental combinations keep the eyes almost as busy as the ears. And the ears can be awfully busy trying to keep up with Higdon’s sometimes overt, sometimes sly evocations of virtually every major composer of the mid-20th century.

Freeman led an energetic, well-balanced performance from musicians who clearly relished their challenges. Episodes of shaky brass ensemble kept it from being a truly virtuoso performance.

The program repeats at 3 p.m. March 21 at the Carpenter Theatre, Sixth and Grace streets. Tickets: $17-$72. Details: (800) 982-2787 (Ticketmaster);

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Benefitting whom?

A March 21 concert at Carnegie Hall, featuring pianist Lang Lang, conductor Christoph Eschenbach and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, staged as benefit for victims of the Haiti earthquake, would bring in just $8,000 more from ticket-buyers than it pays out in production and marketing expenses – and that's assuming it sells out. Daniel J. Wakin reports in The New York Times:

UPDATE: The Times' Kate Taylor reports that $100,000 was raised; but it appears that the charitable proceeds did not come from ticket sales:

Living with Bernstein

The British journalist Ginny Dougary sounds out the daughters of Leonard Bernstein and conductor Marin Alsop, a protégé of Bernstein in his later years, on the real-life person behind the onstage and on-screen persona:‘charismatic-pompous-and-a-great-father/

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Plays well with others

The Washington Post's Anne Midgette profiles Yo-Yo Ma, the 54-year-old cellist who's not just the most widely known classical musician on the planet but also the most versatile, master of a musical universe that ranges from the baroque to the avant-garde and from Appalachia to Uzbekistan – and a cultural omnivore whose interests extend far beyond music. Because of his instrument's limited solo repertory, "you play well with others. Because if you don't, you're not going to have much life," Ma tells Midgette:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Subbing in Tchaikovsky

Tai Murray, the violinist who was to perform Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the Richmond Symphony on March 20-21, has canceled the engagement because of illness.

The replacement soloist is Elena Urioste, winner of the Sion International Violin Competition and Sphinx Competition, both in 2007, and more recently recipient of a London Music Masters Award for international career development. Urioste is a graduate of Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School.

In addition to the Tchaikovsky concerto, the symphony, conducted by Erin R. Freeman, will play Lili Boulanger's "D'un matin de printemps" and Jennifer Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra. The program is part of "Minds Wide Open: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts."

For more information, call (800) 982-2787 (Ticketmaster) or visit

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Arts Commission survives


The Virginia Commission for the Arts, which would have been shut down next year under a state budget plan passed by the House of Delegates, has survived in the House-Senate compromise budget approved on March 14 by the General Assembly.

The budget now goes to Gov. Bob McDonnell, who may veto or call for revisions of appropriations.

The General Assembly appropriated just under $3.8 million for the commission in each year of the 2010-12 budget. In addition, there are special grants of $50,000 and special dedicated revenue of $8,000 in each of the two years. The state estimates that the commission will receive slightly more than $800,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts each year. That adds up to an annual budget of about $4.66 million.

Recipients of Arts Commission grants can expect 15 percent reductions from this year's level in the next two years, with deeper cuts in tour programs and elimination of some special and technical grants.

Peggy Baggett, director of the Arts Commission, says its executive committee will meet later this week to decide on 2010-11 apportioning of touring grant money, a key support component for performing-arts presentations in Virginia's small towns and rural areas.


From Hampton Roads, as reported by Teresa Annas in The Virginian-Pilot:

And in the Richmond area, as reported by Style Weekly's Sara Dabney Tisdale:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shatin introduces Jefferson work

"Jefferson, in His Own Words" by Judith Shatin will be given its premiere by the Illinois Symphony Orchestra in concerts on March 12 in Bloomington and March 13 in Springfield. The four-part work, drawing from Thomas Jefferson's letters, sets out to "embody both the complications and contradictions as well as the imagination, the foresight, the individualism that he projected," the University of Virginia-based composer tells Brian Mackey of Springfield's State Journal-Register:

Shatin was commissioned to write the piece by the Illinois orchestra with the Richmond and Virginia symphonies and Charlottesville & University Symphony. The Virginia orchestras have not yet announced dates for performances of the work.

The Richmond-bred conductor Karen Lynne Deal, music director of the Illinois Symphony, is dedicating the performances to Gerald Morgan, the longtime Richmond record-shop owner and arts patron. Morgan assisted Deal in her education and career development. "Without his friendship and help, I surely would not have had the opportunities that I have had or the life changing experiences I have enjoyed," the conductor says in a statement.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Applause and silence

Alex Ross, The New Yorker's music critic, delivering The Royal Philharmonic Lecture 2010 on March 8 at London's Wigmore Hall, addressed an aspect of classical concert etiquette that non-initiates find puzzling and unnatural: The view that applauding between movements of a concerto, symphony or other multi-movement work is uncivilized behavior.

The text of his talk (without the audio samples that were part of it) can be downloaded here:

In Mozart's time, Ross observed, it was not uncommon for audiences to applaud brilliant or exciting passages during the music, "in line with what you find today in jazz clubs." Applause between movements remained common practice well into the 20th century, despite efforts of some composers and performers (especially conductors of authoritarian bent) to suppress the practice.

The "No-Applause Rule," as Ross terms it, really took hold when recordings and broadcasts domesticated the experience of listening to star performers and orchestras. Listening alone at home changed the way people listened in public groupings: "[C]oncerts became less collective in spirit, less social in tone; instead, individuals increasingly gathered in one place to have essentially solitary, inward experiences. Where listeners once spoke of being swept away by music, to the point of gesturing or crying out loud, they now spoke of music sweeping over them, like an impressive weather system over which they had little control."

Ross advocates relaxation of the No-Applause Rule, although not in all performances (he cites Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time" as an example of music best heard in collective silence). He generally supports re-socialization of the concert experience, with more give-and-take between performers and audiences, and ditching "Edwardian" artifacts such as dress codes.

I agree on dress codes – but can something be done about people with big hair sitting in front of me? As to applause, I have reservations.

Clapping can be as artificial as refraining from it – it's jazz-club etiquette to applaud solos whether or not they really deserve it; opera audiences similarly feel obliged to applaud after big arias, even when they're indifferently or poorly sung. I think most people who take music seriously agree that standing ovations have become far too commonplace. Failure to turn off cellphones and beepers is rude behavior, which regrettably goes unpunished. I doubt that many classical listeners would want to replicate the concert experience of the 18th and early 19th centuries, when audiences felt free to chat or walk around during performances.

Old-time concert etiquette may seem unnatural, but it preserves a sanctuary that we're in danger of losing. Few homes are silent spaces – even listening under headphones at 3 a.m., you're likely to have the spell broken by revving engines, sirens, barking dogs or whatever. And public spaces today are not just noisy, but oversaturated with many layers of noise.

The classical concert is the one of the few environments left – maybe the only one – in which we're able to listen to music in quiet concentration. If preserving that is elitist, then let's hear it for elitism.

POSTSCRIPT: A reader deplores the rise of slob-wear – jeans and T-shirts, sneakers, etc. – at public gatherings, including some classical-music events. Few people seem to have found a happy medium between dressing for a funeral and dressing for yard work. The reason, I suspect, is that "business-casual" attire, especially for men, is still a fairly exotic concept in these parts; so people who don't dress up tend to dress way down. (Helpful hint: I got over the constricting feeling of wearing neckties by buying shirts a half-size too large in the neck.)

Monday, March 8, 2010


The past decade has seen a succession of young, Richmond-bred singers making their marks in opera, oratorio and art-song: soprano Pamela Armstrong, mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, tenor William Ferguson. All that was missing was a first-rate bass and/or baritone.

Judging by his stellar work in the Virginia Opera's just-concluded run of Mozart's "Don Giovanni," baritone Matthew Worth (University of Richmond, class of 2000) worthily (so to speak) completes the SATB set.

Now it's just a matter of luring all four back at the same time, and settling on the appropriate music. A Christmas-season "Messiah" would be the easiest choice in terms of scheduling, but probably not the best showcase for their voices. How about a Schubertiade, either with piano or in the fine (and too rarely heard) orchestrations of the Lieder by Reger, Brahms, Berlioz, Webern (!) and others?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review: Richmond Symphony

Erin R. Freeman conducting
March 7, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland

The Richmond Symphony’s chamber-orchestra series, this season re-christened as Metro Collection, has long boasted the orchestra’s most adventurous and imaginative programs. This weekend’s edition was no exception.

The soloist was Lynette Wardle, the symphony’s principal harpist, who was featured in "Sones en la Giralda" ("Sounds of the Giralda," the Moorish minaret-turned-cathedral tower of Seville) by the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo and Maurice Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, originally scored for harp, flute, clarinet and string quartet, here played with a string orchestra.

Bracketing those works were the Sinfonia in D major of the 18th-century Afro-Caribbean composer Joseph Boulogne, known after his emigration to France as the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, and the Symphony in C major of the 17-year-old Georges Bizet.

Only the Bizet has as much as a toehold in the standard orchestral repertory; but all of the selections delight and reward listeners ranging from connoisseurs to classical newcomers.

Wardle, who is also principal harpist of the Albany (NY) Symphony, set just the right tone and degree of sound presence in both the Rodrigo, which positions the harp within the orchestration, largely as a vehicle for evocative sound effects, and the Ravel, in which the instrument is the musical protagonist. Wardle’s tone production was refined and her rhythmic sense spot-on, and she showed a knack for shining as a solo voice without resorting to gratuitous affect. In her hands, a glissando is a glissando, not a swoon.

The harpist and orchestra nicely contrasted the nocturnal opening of "Sones en la Giralda" with its festive, outdoorsy second section, and were especially effective at bringing out the Moorish/Arabic undertones that Rodrigo sprinkles through the score. The Ravel lost none of its pointilistic detail in this orchestration, devised by Freeman and members of the orchestra.

Boulogne/Saint-Georges was dubbed "the black Mozart" by his Parisian contemporaries. This compact three-movement sinfonia, which served as the overture to his ballet "L’amant anonyme" ("The Anonymous Lover"), adheres to the early classical or rococo style of the young Mozart, the Haydn brothers and other composers at work in the third quarter of the 18th century. The piece served as a fitting companion to the Bizet symphony, as both are built on elegant elaborations on simple, even banal, figures and snatches of melody.

Freeman and the orchestra delivered readings of both elegance and energy, with supple string playing and emphatic accenting. Oboist Gustav Highstein was unindulgently soulful as the lead voice of the Bizet symphony’s adagio; the winds and low strings nicely impersonated the sound of the Gallic bagpipe in the finale.

Solace from a sigh

In The New York Times, Johanna Keller traces the rise of Samuel Barber's Adagio, "arguably the most often-heard work of classical music written in the last century."

Barber, whose centenary is being celebrated this year, composed the Adagio in 1936 as the slow movement of his String Quartet, soon enlarged it into a string-orchestra piece (its most familiar version), and then as a choral work, his Agnus Dei. Others have reworked it in many ways, but haven't altered its effect on listeners.

"If any music can come close to conveying the effect of a sigh, or courage in the face of tragedy, or hope, or abiding love, it is this," Keller writes:

In this century, the Barber Adagio is best-known as the musical elegy for the victims of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Here's the performance given shortly afterward by Leonard Slatkin and the BBC Symphony:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Review: 'Don Giovanni'

Virginia Opera
Joseph Walsh conducting
March 5, Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage

Theatrically and musically, "Don Giovanni" is hard to pin down. Mozart and his librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, styled it a dramma giocoso – a crossbreeding of tragedy and comedy. The two modes often butt up against each other and occasionally overlap.

Lillian Groag, stage director of the Virginia Opera production that closes its run this weekend, underscores another ambiguity: "Mozart and Da Ponte don’t easily separate the ‘good guys’ from the ‘bad guys,’ " Groag writes in her director's notes, "and although Don Giovanni’s iniquity is beyond doubt, the absolute innocence of his victims is to varying degrees questionable." In this production, the seducer’s victims are not just self-righteous but almost as obviously randy and calculating as the don.

The director sometimes carves these character traits with a fine blade, at other times with a blunt instrument. The difference is clearest in the two great arias of the peasant girl Zerlina (sung here by Sarah Jane McMahon), which rank among the most sublimely romantic tunes Mozart ever wrote. While singing "Batti, batti, o bel Masetto," McMahon acts out a pretty explicit bump-and-grind; in "Vedrai, carino," whose words are more erotically suggestive, her physical gestures are more subtle and her vocal tone more pure. Similar, if less glaring, cognitive dissonance arises in the characterizations of the opera’s two other wronged women, Donna Elvira (Cristina Nassif) and Donna Anna (Nicolle Foland).

No such complications in the male characters: Don Giovanni (Matthew Worth) is a shamelessly manipulative, self-absorbed, ultimately defiant anti-hero. His manservant, Leporello (Daniel Mobbs), is a plaintive, greedy and cowardly comic foil. Don Ottavio (Chad A. Johnson), Donna Anna’s fiancé and would-be avenger, is a sap with a soulful veneer. Masetto (David Krohn), Zerlina’s husband-to-be, is a jealous bumpkin. And the Commendatore (Nathan Stark), the ghost of Donna Anna’s father, slain at the outset by Don Giovanni as he flees the daughter’s bedchamber, is the grave voice and unyielding figure of retribution.

Worth, a University of Richmond alumnus (class of 2000), returns to town in a role he thoroughly commands, vocally and dramatically. His physical vitality carries every scene in which he appears; his timing, pitch and diction set a standard that only Mobbs matches. Their exchanges, enhanced by Mobbs’ comic acting, are by far the most satisfying of this production.

Among the women, only McMahon seems to understand that Mozart requires a style that differs from 19th-century vocalization. Her colleagues tend to swamp melodies in big, vibrato-heavy tone, and too often lag behind the beat. The muddying effect is especially pronounced in ensemble numbers.

Erhard Rom’s set, dominated by a Georgia O’Keefe-ish backdrop, otherwise hued mostly in black and white, is one of the more effective minimalist designs the Virginia Opera has employed.

Joseph Walsh, the company’s associate artistic director, leads members of the Virginia Symphony in a stylish, atmospheric and moderately paced reading of Mozart’s score.

The production’s final performance begins at 2:30 p.m. March 7 at the Carpenter Theatre, Sixth and Grace streets. Tickets: $32-$99. Details: (982-2787 (Ticketmaster);

Friday, March 5, 2010

The American share

NewMusicBox editor Frank J. Oteri has been quarterbacking a useful discussion (in which I participated): How much American music should American performers and ensembles program each season? In a poll of readers (largely interested parties – NewMusicBox is geared to U.S.-based composers and those interested in contemporary art-music), a near-majority favored 26 to 50 percent:

In an exchange of e-mails last season with Steven Smith, the newly named music director of the Richmond Symphony – also, presumably, an interested party, as he is an active composer – I posed a related question:

Q: In this orchestra's current schedule of 12 classical subscription programs – with, let's say, 40 pieces performed – how many works that are unfamiliar or "challenging" to listeners would you consider to be appropriate?

A: Given that there are always many factors involved in programming, such as number and length of works on a single program, choice of soloists, repetition of "warhorses," inclusion of chorus, budget considerations, "festival" programming (that is, focusing on a particular theme or composer), and artistic development of the orchestra, I think that the number of "new" works could be anywhere between 7 [and] 16.

Practically speaking, budget considerations rank almost as high as audience tolerance of the unfamiliar, which most American art-music is to most symphony concertgoers, in making programming decisions. The 18th- and 19th-century warhorses are in the public domain; most modern and all contemporary scores are still under copyright. In times of financial stress, it's tempting, or even necessary, to skip compositions for which you must pay to play.

The piano remakes the music

On Slate, Jan Swafford visits the historical piano museum run by Michael and Patricia Frederick in Ashburnham, MA, and rediscovers tonal effects in old scores that can't be produced on modern pianos:

Among the audio samples, you can compare Debussy's "Feux d'artifices" as played by Arturo Benedetti Michaelangeli on a Steinway with a performance by Virginia Commonwealth University's Dmitri Shteinberg on an 1877-vintage Erard instrument.

Easy to find, hard to pin down

The Guardian's Tom Service vists Wolfgang Rihm, the prolific German composer who stylistically ranges from "seductive, sensual textures and friendly, familiar harmonies" to "hard-edged expressionism." Composing is "like a love relationship, or a form of sex – in the best sense," Rihm says:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Symphony taps Steven Smith

Steven Smith has been named the fifth music director of the Richmond Symphony.

Currently music director of the Santa Fe (NM) Symphony and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and a conductor at the Brevard Music Festival in North Carolina, Smith is also a violinist who served as concertmaster of the Grand Rapids (MI) Symphony and a composer whose works have been performed extensively.

He succeeds Mark Russell Smith (no relation), who concluded a 10-year tenure as the Richmond Symphony’s music director at the end of last season.

"We have found the right music director at the right time," states Joe Murillo, president of the symphony board. "In addition to being an accomplished musician, conductor and composer, Steven is a proven leader and innovator. He has a strong track recording of combining music with community service through education, outreach and building new audiences."

"Steven stood out as having the experience, depth of musicality, chemistry and integrity we were seeking," says David Fisk, the symphony’s executive director and a member of the search committee. Sonya Chung, a violinist in the orchestra and chair of its artistic advisory committee, describes Smith as being "passionate about music and [caring] deeply about arts education and its relevance in today’s culture."

"He has a clear vision of the music, a fine ability to communicate with musicians and a genial personality," says Donald Rosenberg, music critic of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, who has appraised the conductor’s work since the 1990s, when Smith served as assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra and music director of its youth orchestra.

"The elements that make orchestral music vital to a community are particularly abundant in Richmond: talented and enthusiastic musicians, a supportive and expanding audience, and a welcoming home at CenterStage," the conductor states. "This exciting potential is what attracts me to the Richmond Symphony and the city."

Smith assumes his new Richmond post on April 20, and makes his formal debut as music director in a gala concert with violinist Gil Shaham on April 24 at CenterStage's Carpenter Theatre. The conductor's initial contract with the symphony runs for three seasons, Fisk says.

Smith's appointment follows a two-year process in which a selection committee of orchestra musicians, board members and public representatives culled nine finalists from more than 240 applicants. The finalists appeared in audition concerts; two who had auditioned before the reopening of the Carpenter Theatre – Smith and Marc Taddei – were invited back this season to conduct in the renovated hall.

Last weekend Smith led a pair of concerts highlighted by a dynamic and nuanced reading of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, which won ovations from an audience that does not always greet post-romantic scores so enthusiastically. The Shostakovich was paired with Beethoven’s "Emperor" Concerto; in his Masterworks audition concerts last season, Smith programmed Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms" alongside Schubert’s Ninth Symphony.

"[A] basic principle of programming of mine [is] to include music of differing eras, and to make connections between those works," the conductor said last season. "I try to find paths of entry into the music by way of other disciplines, particularly the visual arts, architecture and literature. The nature of music is abstract and ephemeral. It exists only in the air when we as performers bring to life the blueprint left to us on the page by the composer. The better we can connect the issues and aesthetics found in . . . other art forms to the music we are performing, the greater will be the understanding and appreciation of our audience."

As a composer and conductor of the Cleveland ensemble, which specializes in modern and contemporary music, Smith believes that "we should play today’s music for today’s audiences, and at the same time, connect it to the continuum of music" represented by scores of earlier eras.

Smith, who turns 50 this year, is a native of Toledo, OH. He holds master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has guest-conducted numerous orchestras, including the Detroit and Houston symphonies, and has conducted opera at Brevard and Indiana University and with Lyric Opera Cleveland. His wife, Stacia Lewandowski, is a flutist. They plan to reside in Richmond.

Review: 'Slide'

eighth blackbird
with Rinde Eckert & Steve Mackey
March 3, University of Richmond

The contemporary music sextet eighth blackbird concluded its sixth season in residence at the University of Richmond with "Slide," a theatrical song cycle by writer, singer and actor Rinde Eckert and composer-guitarist Steve Mackey. The piece is a multimedia, multi-layered parable on "the lengths we will go [to] to preserve our illusions, our guesses about the world and our experiences," as Mackey puts it in his program notes.

Reynard, a psychologist (portrayed by Eckert), reviews an experiment in which subjects view a slide show, first asked to identify blurred images, then shown them in focus, and then exposed to them with a planted "shill" insisting they are not what they appear to be, as the subjects’ reaction times are measured and their perceptions challenged. Looking back on the experiment, Reynard discovers that his grasp of the real and the illusory is as unsteady as those of the people he has been testing.

The audience experiences a comparable perceptual challenge, starting with the title of the piece. The slide show is visual (slides are screened), aural (Mackey’s tumblin’ tumbleweeds-meet-Hawaiian steel guitar slides) and dramatic, as Reynard slides between his present and past and his outer and inner selves. More layers are added in wordplay (puns such as "slide of hand" as an image of hands is accompanied by sliding tones); as all hands weave between music-making and acting; and as the mood of the piece see-saws between the playful and the emotionally wrenching.

As Eckert’s Reynard character refuses to stay in focus, Mackey’s music veers between dreaminess and assertiveness, and draws into its mix most every style of art and pop music heard in the past century or so. The ’birds negotiated every stylistic twist with aplomb and made the most of solos and cameos – notably Nicholas Photinos in his big cello solo and Matthew Duvall in his percussion atmospherics.

The (mostly) slowly animated tableaux of director Mark DeChiazza underscored the ambiguities of Eckert’s text and Mackey’s music.

This performance was amplified too loudly for the bright acoustic of UR’s Camp Concert Hall. Eckert’s emotive outbursts were largely unintelligible, while Mackey’s narration in a normal tone of voice and the Greek Chorus-style contributions of the eighth blackbird players could be understood. One more challenge to the audience’s perceptions – I’m guessing it was unintentional.

"Slide" works as a stage piece, but does it really want to be a work of videography? Or would that impose one stream of perception when many are the point?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The case for arts subsidy

In The Guardian, Jonathan Holmes lays out as cogent a case for government support of the arts as I've read:

The U.K. is not the U.S., as certain Americans like to remind us whenever the opportunity arises. The sums the British government spends on the arts dwarf those spent by federal and state arts agencies in this country, even though the U.S. population is nearly five times larger than Britain's. The arts and cultural tourism play a more prominant role in the economies of Britain and other European countries than in ours.

Nevertheless, Holmes' argument is worth reading, and worth borrowing by American arts advocates.

Brain food

"Learning to make music" – as opposed to passive listening – "changes the brain and boosts broad academic performance. Findings across the board suggest that, even for a kid who will not grow up to be a Wynton Marsalis or a Joshua Bell, spending money and time on music lessons and practice is a solid investment in mental fitness," writes Melissa Healy, summing up the results of studies of music's effect on the brain in a Los Angeles Times article:,0,3251510,full.story

Will such findings make school systems rethink their plans to cut music programs? Don't count on it.

Educational philanthropists and parents, though, should closely examine this growing body of research, and act, and spend, accordingly.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Birthday boy

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederic Chopin. To celebrate the occasion, here's a vintage film clip of Arthur Rubinstein playing the one Chopin piece to hear if you're hearing just one, the Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27, No. 2:

(Wait, if you can, for a quiet time after dark.)

March calendar

Classical performances in and around Richmond, with selected events elsewhere in Virginia and the Washington area. Program information, provided by presenters, is updated as details become available. Adult single-ticket prices are listed; senior, student/youth, group and other discounts may be offered.


* In and around Richmond: Local classical highlights of "Minds Wide Open: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts" include concerts by the Richmond Symphony with conductor Erin R. Freeman and violinist Elena Urioste, March 20-21 at the Carpenter Theatre of Richmond CenterStage, and a "Women of Note" program devoted to female composers by the Richmond Choral Society with soprano Lisa Edwards Burrs, March 21 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. . . . The Virginia Opera brings its production of Mozart’s "Don Giovanni," with University of Richmond alumnus Matthew Worth in the title role, to the Carpenter Theatre on March 5 and 7. . . . The Richmond Symphony showcases its principal harpist, Lynette Wardle, in music of Rodrigo and Ravel, March 5 at the University of Richmond’s Modlin Center and March 7 at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. . . . Violinist Karen Johnson (the symphony’s concertmaster) and pianist Joanne Kong mark the 200th anniversary of Schumann’s birth, and add a bit of Elgar, March 14 at Randolph-Macon College and March 28 at Virginia Commonwealth University. . . . The Jupiter String Quartet, one of the leading young American chamber ensembles, performs on March 27 in VCU’s Rennolds Chamber Concerts series.

* New and/or different: eighth blackbird, the new-music sextet in residence at the University of Richmond, is joined by singer-actor Rinde Eckert and composer-guitarist Steve Mackey in Mackey’s narrative work "Slide," March 3 at UR’s Modlin Center. . . . The VCU Symphony Orchestra, with faculty and student artists, introduces Doug Richards’ "Some New Threads for Elinor and Jude," expanding on the Beatles’ "Eleanor Rigby" and "Hey, Jude," March 4 at the university’s Singleton Arts Center. . . . The Virginia Consort performs Eric Whitacre’s "Five Hebrew Love Songs" alongside Carl Orff’s "Carmina Burana," March 7 in Old Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. . . . The Fairfax Symphony, with pianist Alon Goldstein, presents the East Coast premiere of Avner Dorman’s Piano Concerto ("Lost Souls"), March 13 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. . . . The U.S. Army Band ("Pershing’s Own") joins Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in John Corigliano’s Third Symphony ("Circus Maximus"), March 18 at the Music Center at Strathmore in the Maryland suburbs of D.C. . . . Composer-percussionist Lukas Ligeti is featured in a colloquium on March 19 and a concert of his genre-crossing music on March 20 at U.Va. . . . Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra and the rarely performed "D’un matin de printemps" by Lili Boulanger (Nadia’s short-lived sister) are featured in the Richmond Symphony March 20-21 concerts at the Carpenter Theatre. . . . Performers from UR’s music, theater and dance departments present a multimedia tribute to John Cage, March 24 at the Modlin Center.

* Star turns: Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Opera and Orchestra of St. Petersburg continue their extended visit to Washington with concert presentations of scenes from operas of Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and Borodin on March 3, and excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s "Iolanta" (with Anna Netrebko in the title role), "The Queen of Spades" and "Mazeppa" on March 4, and a fully staged presentation of Prokofiev’s "War and Peace" on March 6-7, at the Kennedy Center. . . . Vladimir Jurowski conducts the London Philharmonic in Shostakovich, with Alexander Toradze featured in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major, March 4 at the Ferguson Arts Center of Christopher Newport University in Newport News. . . . Christoph Eschenbach, music director-designate of Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra, conducts the Verdi Requiem, March 11-13 at the Kennedy Center. . . . The Canadian Brass are joined by John McDermott of "Irish tenors" fame in a March 16 concert at the Ferguson Center. . . . Pianist Jeremy Denk returns to Richmond for a solo recital, March 21 at UR’s Modlin Center. . . . Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra are joined by violinist Christian Tetzlaff in a program of Tchaikovsky, Liszt and Ravel, March 24 at the Kennedy Center. . . . Stanley Drucker, former principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic (he retired last year after five decades with the orchestra), visits VCU to conduct a master class on March 26. . . . Baritone Dmitrri Hvorostovsky is joined by soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and the National Philharmonic in a program of songs, March 29 at the Kennedy Center.

* Bargain of the month: The VCU Symphony’s March 4 concert, introducing Doug Richards’ "New Threads for Eleanor and Jude" and featuring Dmitri Shteinberg in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. ($5)

* My picks: eighth blackbird in Steve Mackey’s "Slide," March 3 at UR’s Modlin Center. . . . The Virginia Opera’s "Don Giovanni," March 5 and 7 at the Carpenter Theatre. . . . The Richmond Symphony with Lynette Wardle in Rodrigo, Ravel, Bizet and Saint-Georges, March 5 at UR and March 7 at Randolph-Macon College. . . . Karen Johnson and Joanne Kong playing Schumann and Elgar, March 14 at Randolph-Macon College/March 28 at VCU. . . . The Richmond Symphony with Tai Murray in Higdon, Tchaikovsky and Boulanger, March 20-21 at the Carpenter Theatre.

March 2 (8 p.m.)
Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Charles Castleman, violin
Julie Nishimura, piano
Dvořák: Sonatina
Ysaÿe: "Poème Elegiaque", Op. 12
Franck: Sonata in A major
Wieniawski: Polonaise in D major, Op. 4
Master class at 11 a.m. March 3
(434) 924-3376

March 3 (7:30 p.m.)
Camp Concert Hall, Modlin Arts Center, University of Richmond
eighth blackbird
Rinde Eckert, singer-actor

Steve Mackey, guitar
Steve Mackey: "Slide"
(804) 289-8980

March 3 (7:30 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington
Mariinsky Opera & Orchestra
Valery Gergiev conducting
Rimsky-Korsakov: "The Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya" (excerpts)
Gennady Bezzubenkov (Yuri Vsevolodovitch)
Edem Umerov (Poyarok)
Evgeny Akimov (Vsevolod)
Zlata Bulycheva (Adolescent)
Rimsky-Korsakov: "The Maid of Pskov" ("Ivan the Terrible") (excerpts)
cast TBA
Mussorgsky: "Khovanshchina" (excerpts)
Alexei Tanovitsky (Ivan Khovansky)
Evgeny Nikitin (Shaklovity)
Vasily Gorshkov (Scrivener)
Nikolay Gassiev (Kuzka)
Borodin: "Prince Igor" (Polovtsian act)
Evgeny Nikitin (Prince Igor)
Mikhail Petrenko (Khan Konchak)
Sergei Semishkur (Vladimir)
Ekaterina Semenchuk (Konchakovna)
Irina Mataeva (Polovtsian Girl)
Nikolai Gassiev (Ovlour)
concert presentations, in Russian
(800) 444-1324

March 3 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Joshua Bell, violin
Jeremy Denk, piano
Bach: Sonata in C minor, BWV 1017
Saint-Saëns: Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 75
Schumann: Sonata No. 1 in A minor, Op. 105
Ravel: Sonata for violin and piano
(202) 785-9727 (Washington Performing Arts Society)

March 4 (8 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
VCU Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Myssyk conducting
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2
Dmitri Shteinberg, piano
Mussorgsky-Ravel: "Pictures at an Exhibition"
Doug Richards: "Some New Threads for Eleanor and Jude"
VCU Women’s Choir, Becky Tyree directing
Adam Larrabee, guitar
Randall Pharr, electric bass
Brian Jones, drums
(804) 828-6776

March 4 (7:30 p.m.)
Ferguson Arts Center, Christopher Newport University, Newport News
London Philharmonic
Vladimir Jurowski conducting
Shostakovich: "Five Fragments," Op. 42
Ravel: Piano Concerto in G major
Alexander Toradze, piano
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4
(757) 594-8752

March 4 (7 p.m.)
March 5 (8 p.m.)
March 6 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducting
Mozart: "Serenata notturna"
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488
Ingrid Fliter, piano
Richard Strauss: "Symphonia Domestica"
(800) 444-1324

March 4 (7:30 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington
Mariinsky Opera & Orchestra
Valery Gergiev conducting
Tchaikovsky: "Iolanta" (excerpts)
Anna Netrebko (Iolanta)
Alexei Markov (Robert)
Sergey Skorokhodov (Count Vaudémont)
Tchaikovsky: "The Queen of Spades" (Act 2 tableau scene)
Irina Mataeva (Lisa)
Edem Umerov (Tomsky)
Zlata Bulycheva (Pauline)
Tchaikovsky: "Mazeppa" (excerpts)
Edem Umerov (Mazeppa)
Victoria Yastrebova (Maria)
Elena Vitman (Lyubov)
Mikhail Kit (Kochubey)
Dmitri Voropaev (Iskra)
Nikolay Gassiev (Drunk Cossack)
concert presentation, in Russian
(800) 444-1324

March 5 (8 p.m.)
March 7 (2:30 p.m.)
Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage, Sixth and Grace streets
Virginia Opera
Joseph Walsh conducting
Mozart: "Don Giovanni"
Matthew Worth (Don Giovanni)
Daniel Mobbs (Leporello)
Nicolle Foland (Donna Anna)
Cristina Nassif (Donna Elvira)
Chad A. Johnson (Don Ottavio)
Sarah Jane McMahon (Zerlina)
David Krohn (Masetto)
Nathan Stark (Commendatore)
Lillian Groag, stage director
in Italian, English captions

(866) 673-7282

March 5 (8 p.m.)
Camp Concert Hall, Modlin Arts Center, University of Richmond
March 7 (3 p.m.)
Blackwell Auditorium, Randolph-Macon College, 205 Henry St., Ashland
Richmond Symphony
Erin R. Freeman conducting
Chevalier de Saint-Georges (Joseph de Bologne): Sinfonia in D major ("L’amant anonyme" Overture)
Rodrigo: "Sones en la giralda" for harp and orchestra
Ravel: Introduction and Allegro
Lynette Wardle, harp
Bizet: Symphony in C major
(800) 982-2787(Ticketmaster)

March 5 (8 p.m.)
Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, First Street at Independence Avenue S.E., Washington
Vienna Piano Trio
Clara Schumann: Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17
Robert Schumann: Piano Trio No. 2 in F major, Op. 80
Robert Schumann: Piano Trio No. 3 in G minor, Op. 110
Free; tickets required
(703) 573-7328 (Ticketmaster)

March 6 (7:30 p.m.)
March 7 (1:30 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington
Mariinsky Opera & Orchestra
Valery Gergiev conducting
Prokofiev: "War and Peace"
Alexei Markov (Prince Andrei Bolkonsky)
Irina Mataeva (Natasha Rostova)
Alexei Stablyanko (Count Pierre Bezukhov)
Gennady Bezzubenkov/Mikhail Kit (Field Marshal Kutuzov)
Alexander Nikitin (Napoleon Bonaparte)
Mikhail Kit/Alexander Morozov (Count Rostov)
Ekaterina Semenchuk (Helene Bezukhova)
Sergey Skorokhodov (Prince Anatole Kuragin)
Andrei Konchalovsky, stage director
in Russian
(800) 444-1324

March 7 (4 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
VCU Guitar Series:
Adam Larrabee, classical mandolin, jazz guitar, banjo
program TBA
(804) 828-6776

March 7 (3:30 p.m.)
Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Virginia Consort
Judith Gary directing
Orff: "Carmina Burana"
Eric Whitacre: "Five Hebrew Love Songs"
(434) 924-3376

March 7 (7 p.m.)
Center for the Arts, George Mason University, Fairfax
Jeffrey Siegel, piano
"Keyboard Conversations: Chopin the Storyteller"
(703) 993-2787

March 9 (7 p.m.)
Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, 2880 Mountain Road
Richmond Symphony
Daniel Myssyk conducting
Mozart: "The Marriage of Figaro" Overture
Gluck-Mottl: "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" from "Orfeo ed Eurydice"
Elgar: "Salut d'amour"
Glinka: "Kamarinskaya"
Tchaikovsky: Serenade for strings
Beethoven: Symphony No. 1
Johann Strauss II: "Pizzicato" Polka
Johann Strauss II: "Thunder and Lightning" Polka
(804) 788-1212

March 10 (8 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
Richmond Piano Trio:
Susanna Klein, violin
Dana McComb, cello
Dmitri Shteinberg, piano
works TBA by Beethoven, Brahms, Shostakovich
(804) 828-6776

March 11 (7 p.m.)
March 12 (8 p.m.)
March 13 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Christoph Eschenbach conducting
Verdi: Requiem
Twyla Robinson, soprano
Mihoko Fujimura, mezzo-soprano
Nikolai Schukoff, tenor
Evgeny Nikitin, bass-baritone
The Washington Chorus, Julian Wachner directing
(800) 444-1324

March 12 (8 p.m.)
Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, First Street at Independence Avenue S.E., Washington
Jean Guihen-Queyras, cello
Alexandre Thauraud, piano
Schubert: "Argeggione" Sonata
works TBA by Debussy, Poulenc
Free; tickets required
(703) 573-7328 (Ticketmaster)

March 13 (2 p.m.)
Gellman Room, Richmond Public Library, First and Franklin streets
American Youth Harp Ensemble

Lynnelle Ediger-Kordzaia directing
classical, jazz works TBA
(804) 646-7223

March 13 (8 p.m.)
Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage, Sixth and Grace streets
Richmond Symphony Pops
Conductor TBA
Arturo Sandoval, trumpet
(800) 982-2787(Ticketmaster)

March 13 (8 p.m.)
Center for the Arts, George Mason University, Fairfax
Fairfax Symphony
Christopher Zimmerman conducting
Borodin: "In the Steppes of Central Asia"
Avner Dorman: Piano Concerto ("Lost Souls")
Alon Goldstein, piano
Sibelius: "Four Legends from the Kalevala"
(888) 945-2468 (

March 13 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop conducting
Poulenc: "Les Biches" Suite
Bartók: "The Miraculous Mandarin" Suite
Satie: "Parade"
Copland: "Billy the Kid" Suite
(877) 276-1444 (Baltimore Symphony box office)

March 14 (3 p.m.)
St. Ann’s Building, Randolph-Macon College, England and Henry streets, Ashland
Karen Johnson, violin
Joanne Kong, piano
Schumann: Sonata in A minor, Op. 105

Schumann: movements from Sonata "Frei aber einsam"
Schumann: Fantasie Op. 131
Schumann: Fantasy, Op. 17 for piano (third movement)
Elgar: "Chanson de nuit"
Elgar: "Chanson de matin"
(804) 752-3712

March 14 (4 p.m.)
Bon Air Presbyterian Church, 9201 W. Huguenot Road, Richmond
Second Sunday South of the James:
Karen Floyd Savage & Lisa Edwards Burrs, sopranos
Russell Wilson, piano
Operatic duets, art songs, spirituals TBA
Donation requested
(804) 272-7514

March 14 (3:30 p.m.)
Dickinson Auditorium, Piedmont Virginia Community College, Charlottesville
Oratorio Society of Virginia
L. Thomas Vining directing
Brahms: "A German Requiem"
Danielle Talamantes, soprano
Kerry Wilkerson, baritone
David & Lisa Norfrey, pianos
(434) 295-4385

March 15 (8 p.m.)
March 16 (8 p.m.)
Kimball Theatre, Merchants Square, Williamsburg
Williamsburg Symphonia
Janna Hymes conducting
Stravinsky: Suite No. 2 for small orchestra
Milhaud: "La création du monde"
Sibelius: "Pelleas and Melisande"
Schubert: Symphony No. 4 ("Tragic")
(757) 229-9857

March 16 (7:30 p.m.)
Ferguson Arts Center, Christopher Newport University, Newport News
Canadian Brass
John McDermott, tenor
program TBA
(757) 594-8752

March 16 (8 p.m.)
Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Tuesday Evening Concerts:
Christian Zacharias, piano
Beethoven: Sonata in F major, Op. 10, No. 2
Brahms: ballades, Op. 10
Schubert: Sonata in D major, D. 850
(434) 924-3376

March 18 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop conducting
David Little: "Screamer"
Prokofiev: "Peter and the Wolf"
Corigliano: Symphony No. 3 ("Circus Maximus")
U.S. Army Band ("Pershing’s Own")
(877) 276-1444 (Baltimore Symphony box office)

March 19 (8 p.m.)
The Barns at Wolf Trap, Trap Road, Vienna
program TBA
(703) 938-2404

March 20 (8 p.m.)
March 21 (3 p.m.)
Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage, Sixth and Grace streets
Richmond Symphony
Erin R. Freeman conducting
Lili Boulanger: "D’un matin de printemps"
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
Elena Urioste, violin
Jennifer Higdon: Concerto for Orchestra
(800) 982-2787(Ticketmaster)

March 20 (8 p.m.)
The Bridge PAI, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Lukas Ligeti, percussion
Lukas Ligeti: works TBA
Colloquium with Ligeti at 3:30 p.m. March 19 in Old Cabell Hall
(434) 924-3376

March 20 (7 p.m.)
March 21 (2 p.m.)
March 22 (7 p.m.)
March 23 (7:30 p.m.)
March 25 (7:30 p.m.)
March 26 (7:30 p.m.)
March 27 (7 p.m.)
March 28 (2 p.m.)
March 30 (7:30 p.m.)
March 31 (7:30 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington
Washington National Opera
John Mauceri conducting
The Gershwins: "Porgy and Bess"
Eric Owens/Lester Lynch (Porgy)
Morenike Fadayomi/Indira Mahajan (Bess)
Terry Cook/Ashley Howard Wilkinson (Crown)
Jermaine Smith/Larry D. Hylton (Sportin’ Life)
Alyson Cambridge (Clara)
Eric Greene/Darren Stokes (Jake)
Lisa Daltirus/Karen Slack (Serena)
Francesca Zambello, stage director
in English, with captions
(800) 876-7372

March 20 (8 p.m.)
March 21 (3 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
National Philharmonic
Piotr Gajewski conducting
Brahms: "Hungarian Dance" No. 5
Brahms: Violin Concerto
Chee-Yun, violin
Brahms: Symphony No. 2
(301) 581-5100

March 21 (3 p.m.)
Camp Concert Hall, Modlin Arts Center, University of Richmond
Jeremy Denk, piano
Ives: Piano Sonata No. 1

Bach: "Goldberg Variations"
(804) 289-8980

March 21 (4 p.m.)
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 520 N. Boulevard, Richmond
Richmond Choral Society
Markus J. Compton directing
Lisa Edwards Burrs, soprano
"Women of Note," works by Amy Beach, Emma Lou Diemer, Libby Larsen, Gwenyth Walker, Undine Smith Moore, Margaret A. Bonds
(804) 967-9878

March 21 (3:30 p.m.)
Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
U.Va. Chamber Music Series:
I-Jen Fang, percussion
Ayn Balija, viola
Alicja Basinska, piano
Zae Munn: "Interface" for viola and marimba
Christopher Deane: "The Bones of Chuang-Tzu"
Judith Shatin: "Penelope’s Song" for amplified viola and CD
Paul McCartney: "Blackbird" (Ed Smith arr.)
Kazunori Miyake: "Chain"
Michael Colgrass: Variation for four drums and viola
(434) 924-3376

March 21 (3 p.m.)
March 22 (8 p.m.)
Shaftman Performance Hall, Jefferson Center, 541 Luck Ave., Roanoke
Roanoke Symphony
David Stewart Wiley conducting
Mozart: Requiem
Angela Maria Blasi, soprano
Jan Wilson, alto
Powell Leitch, tenor
Charles Temkey, bass
Roanoke Symphony Chorus
Mark Bergman: "Dance of the Americas"
Holst: "St. Paul’s Suite"
(540) 343-9127

March 23 (8 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
Kenneth Wood, tenor
Dmitri Shteinberg, piano
program TBA
(804) 828-6776

March 24 (5 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
Joanne Kong, piano, in master class
(804) 828-6776

March 24 (7:30 p.m.)
Camp Concert Hall, Modlin Arts Center, University of Richmond
Performers TBA from departments of music, theater & dance
John Cage: works TBA in multimedia presentations
(804) 289-8980

March 24 (8 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
Alice Lindsay, viola
Tabatha Easley, flute
Charles West, clarinet
Russell Wilson, piano
program TBA
(804) 828-6776

March 24 (7:30 p.m.)
American Theatre, 125 E. Mellen St., Hampton
Colin Carr, cello
pianist TBA
program TBA
(757) 722-2787

March 24 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Michael Tilson Thomas conducting
Liszt: "Tasso"
Ravel: "Valses nobles et sentimentales"
Tchaikovsky: Vilolin Concerto

Christian Tetzlaff, violin
(202) 785-9727 (Washington Performing Arts Society)

March 25 (8 p.m.)
Ferguson Arts Center, Christopher Newport University, Newport News
March 26 (8 p.m.)
Chrysler Hall, 201 E. Brambleton Ave., Norfolk
Virginia Symphony
JoAnn Falleta conducting
Josef Suk: "Scherzo fantastique"
Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 2
Vahn Armstrong, violin
Dvořák: Symphony No. 8
(757) 892-6366

March 25 (7 p.m.)
March 27 (8 p.m.)
March 28 (1:30 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Jakub Hruska conducting
Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor
Daniel Müller-Schott, cello
Schubert: Symphony No. 8 ("Unfinished")
Janácek: "Taras Bulba"
(800) 444-1324

March 26 (1 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
Stanley Drucker, clarinet, in master class
(804) 828-6776

March 26 (4 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
Karen Johnson, violin, in master class
(804) 828-6776

March 26 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
The Washington Chorus & orchestra
Julian Wachner directing
Mozart: Requiem
Ariana Zukerman, soprano
Heather Johnson, mezzo-soprano
William Hite, tenor
Sanford Sylvan, bass
Marjorie Merryman: "Jonah"
Mendelssohn: "The Hebrides" Overture
(800) 444-1324

March 26 (8 p.m.)
Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, First Street at Independence Avenue S.E., Washington
Voces Intimae Piano Trio
Hummel: Piano Trio in F minor, Op. 22
Mozart: Piano Trio in G major, K. 564
Schubert: Piano Trio in E flat major, D. 929
Free; tickets required
(703) 573-7328 (Ticketmaster)

March 26 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Vladimir Feltsman, piano
Haydn: Sonata in E flat major
Beethoven: Sonata No. 8 in C minor ("Pathétique")
Mussorgsky: "Pictures at an Exhibition"
(202) 785-9727 (Washington Performing Arts Society)

March 27 (8 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
Rennolds Chamber Concerts:
Jupiter String Quartet
program TBA
(804) 828-6776

March 27 (8 p.m.)
Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
March 28 (3:30 p.m.)
Monticello High School, 1400 Independence Way, Charlottesville
Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra
Kate Tamarkin conducting
Britten: "A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra" ("Variations on a Theme of Henry Purcell")
Vaughan Williams: "Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis"
Elgar: "Enigma Variations"
(434) 924-3376

March 27 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
National Philharmonic
Stan Engebretson conducting
Andreas Makris: "Alleluia"
Bernstein: "Chichester Psalms"
Brahms: "A German Requiem"
Audrey Elizabeth Luna, soprano
Christopheren Nomura, baritone
Michael Emery Crotty, boy soprano
National Philharmonic Chorus
(301) 581-5100

March 28 (3 p.m.)
Camp Concert Hall, Modlin Arts Center, University of Richmond
Richard Becker & Doris Wylee-Becker, pianos
works TBA by Schubert, Saint-Saëns, Stravinsky, others
(804) 289-8980

March 28 (4 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
Karen Johnson, violin
Joanne Kong, piano
Schumann: Sonata in A minor, Op. 105

Schumann: "Frei aber einsam" Sonata (excerpts)
Schumann: Fantasie, Op. 131
Schumann: Fantasy, Op. 17 for piano (third movement)
Elgar: "Chanson de nuit"
Elgar: "Chanson de matin"
$10 (proceeds benefit Children’s Miracle Network)
(804) 828-6776

March 28 (2:30 p.m.)
Shaftman Performance Hall, Jefferson Center, 541 Luck Ave., Roanoke
Opera Roanoke Sunday Concerts:
William Burden, tenor
pianist TBA
program TBA
(540) 982-2742

March 29 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone
Sondra Radvanovsky, soprano
National Philharmonic
Marco Amiliato conducting
program TBA
(202) 785-9727 (Washington Performing Arts Society)