Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Juilliard losing violinist

Nick Eanet, who took over from Joel Smirnoff as first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet last year, will leave the group after next season because he found that touring aggrevated "an acute digestive ailment." Eanet will return to the Metropolitan Opera's orchestra, in which he had been co-concertmaster, The New York Times' Daniel J. Wakins reports:

Teen dispersant

The London Public Library in Ontario becomes the latest public facility to use classical music to repel undesirables – in this case, "loitering crowds of teenagers," Geoff Turner reports in the London Free Press:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hope over experience? (con't.)

On the heels of the Philadelphia Orchestra's appointment of 35-year-old Yannick Nézet-Séguin as its next music director, the Seattle Symphony has announced that Ludovic Morlot, a 36-year-old French violinist-turned-conductor, will succeed Gerard Schwarz as its music director in 2011. Daniel J. Wakin reports in The New York Times:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

On tour, on air

The Greater Richmond Children's Choir, on tour in the Deep South, performed on the venerable "King Biscuit Time" on KFFA in Helena, AR. Listen here:

After Monday, the link will be here (click on June 25):

Friday, June 25, 2010

Castleton Festival returns

The Castleton Festival, the four-week round of opera, orchestral and chamber performances produced by conductor Lorin Maazel and his wife, Dietlinde, on their estate in the Rappahanock County foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, returns for a second summer, with new stagings of Puccini’s "Il Trittico," Stravinsky’s "L’Histoire du Soldat" ("The Soldier’s Tale") and Manuel de Falla’s "Master Pedro’s Puppet Show."

The festival, July 2-25, also will mount revivals of Benjamin Britten’s "The Turn of the Screw" and Britten’s arrangement of "The Beggar’s Opera," as well as the Castleton Festival Orchestra in an all-Beethoven program and evenings of Italian, French and American music, and three chamber recitals by festival participants at The Theatre at Washington, VA.

"Il Trittico," comprising the one-acts "Il Tabbaro," "Suor Angelica" and "Gianni Schicchi," will be presented in its entirety three times, with three more performances of two of the three operas, all in Castleton’s Festival Tent. Other theatrical works will be presented in the 140-seat Theatre House. Maazel will conduct "The Beggar’s Opera" and the Stravinsky-De Falla pairing; Timothy Myers will conduct "The Turn of the Screw." William Kerley is the stage director of all the opera productions, with designs by Nicholas Vaughan and lighting by Rie Ono.

"Master Pedro’s Puppet Show" will feature Emily DeCola and Eric Wright of the Puppet Kitchen, with choreography by Faye Driscoll.

Built on the artist apprenticeship and training program established by the Maazels' Châteauville Foundation in 1997, the festival brings some 200 young singers, instrumentalists, conductors and theater artists to the 550-acre Castleton Farms to work with and learn from Lorin Maazel and other leading professionals in opera and orchestral music.

Castleton is located about 60 miles southwest of Washington, DC, and within two hours’ driving time from Richmond and Baltimore.

Festival tickets are $20-$85 for single performances, with weekend passes available for $172 and a festival pass, for admission to one opera and four concerts, available for $475.

For ticket purchases, directions, information on nearby accommodations and other information about the festival, call (866) 974-0767 or visit

The 2010 Castleton Festival schedule:

July 2 (7 p.m., Festival Tent) – Puccini: "Il Trittico" ("Il Tabarro," "Suor Angelica," "Gianni Schicchi"), Maazel conducting. (Gala, with dinner.)

July 3 (2 p.m., Theatre House) – Britten: "The Turn of the Screw," Timothy Myers conducting.

July 3 (7 p.m., Festival Tent) – Castleton Festival Orchestra, Maazel conducting. Respighi: "The Pines of Rome," "The Fountains of Rome;" orchestral music from operas by Rossini, Verdi, Puccini.

July 4 (2 p.m., Festival Tent) – "Il Trittico."

July 5 (7 p.m., The Theatre at Washington, VA) – recital by festival participants. Program TBA.

July 8 (7:30 p.m., Theatre House) – "The Turn of the Screw."

July 9 (7:30 p.m., Festival Tent) – "Il Tabarro," "Gianni Schicchi."

July 10 (2 p.m., Festival Tent) – "Suor Angelica."

July 10 (7 p.m., Festival Tent) – Castleton Festival Orchestra, Maazel conducting. Works by Berlioz, Debussy, Ravel.

July 11 (2 p.m., Festival Tent) – "Il Tabarro," "Gianni Schicchi."

July 11 (7 p.m., Theatre House) – "The Turn of the Screw."

July 12 (7 p.m., The Theatre at Washington, VA) – recital by festival participants. Program TBA.

July 15 (7:30 p.m., Theatre House) – Gay-Britten: "The Beggar’s Opera," Maazel conducting.

July 16 (7:30 p.m., Festival Tent) – Maazel Master Class Concert. Gershwin: "An American in Paris," Maazel conducting; works by Barber, Bernstein, Copland, master class participants conducting.

July 17 (7 p.m., Theatre House) – "The Beggar’s Opera."

July 18 (2 p.m., Festival Tent) – "Il Trittico."

July 19 (7 p.m., The Theatre at Washington, VA) – recital by festival participants. Program TBA.

July 22 (7:30 p.m., Festival Tent) – "Suor Angelica," "Gianni Schicchi."

July 23 (7:30 p.m., Theatre House) – Stravinsky: "L’Histoire du Soldat" ("The Soldier’s Tale"); De Falla: "Master Pedro’s Puppet Show," Maazel conducting.

July 24 (7 p.m., Festival Tent) – "Il Trittico."

July 25 (2 p.m., Theatre House) – "L’Histoire du Soldat," "Master Pedro’s Puppet Show."

July 25 (7 p.m., Festival Tent) – Castleton Festival Orchestra, Maazel conducting. Beethoven: Symphony No. 2, Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica").

WETA (90.9 FM), the DC-area public radio station, will broadcast concerts at 9 p.m. July 5 and July 19 and productions of "Il Trittico" at 1 p.m. July 10, "The Beggar’s Opera" at 1 p.m. July 14 and "The Turn of the Screw" at 1 p.m. July 17. WETA can be heard online at

John Adams, filtered

John Adams, this country’s highest-profile composer of orchestral music and music-drama, maintains a blog . . .

. . . that is candid and funny, and offers the reader unusual insight on what, musical and otherwise, is going on in the mind of an active creative figure.

Compare Adams’ posts on "Hell Mouth" with the Adams portrayed by The Guardian’s Peter Conrad, who rather snarkily sketches a figure intent on self-promotion and prone to riffs of Grand-Old-Mannerism:

I don’t care to guess which is the "real" John Adams – I’ve talked with him face-to-face twice, and twice more on the phone, hardly sufficient grounds for character assessment; but the difference between the first-person Adams of "Hell Mouth" and Adams-via-Conrad is pretty striking.

As more creative figures take to speaking for themselves through media such as blogging, the versions of them strained through old-media filters appear more suspect. Or do they? Adams certainly wouldn’t be the first celebrity to craft a persona and selectively flesh it out using media that he controls.

If that’s what Adams is doing with "Hell Mouth," though, he does it better than most.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

'The English Mozart'

Stanley M. Baker, maestro of the summer festivals of early music at Richmond’s Centenary United Methodist Church, has resurrected many works by under-performed or nearly forgotten composers of the 17th and 18th centuries, leading several U.S. premieres over the festival’s three decades.

Several more first performances on this side of Atlantic are in store on June 27, as Baker and his Centenary Festival Choir and Orchestra celebrate the 200th anniversary of the organization of the downtown church’s congregation with music by Methodism’s most resonant name: Wesley.

Not John, founder of the denomination, or Charles, the great Methodist hymnodist; but Charles’ son and John’s nephew, Samuel Wesley (1766-1837), the organist and composer sometimes known as "the English Mozart."

Family ties notwithstanding, Samuel Wesley was not a model Methodist. He may have converted to Catholicism; he certainly was attracted to Catholic liturgical music. "If the Roman Doctrines were like the Roman Music we should have Heaven upon Earth," he told a friend. He sampled other non-conformist faiths. He was married, to Charlotte Louisa Martin, in an Anglican ceremony. Their brief marriage produced three children; he fathered nine more out of wedlock – among them, Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-76), who became a prominent composer of Anglican church music.

Samuel Wesley was best-known in his lifetime as an organist (especially noted for his improvisational playing) and music teacher; he also played the violin. He was one of the leading English promoters of the Bach revival in the early 19th century, publishing several arrangements of Bach's works, and was unusually well-versed in other baroque and Renaissance music.

He was prolific, credited with composing some 600 works, ranging from Latin and English church music to chamber and orchestral music, two oratorios and dozens of hymn tunes.

Wesley’s music resembles that of Haydn, Mozart and other classical-period composers; but "[h]is style at its best is marked by counterpoint of real vitality, by strong diatonic dissonance, bold word-setting and a tendency to work out an entire piece or movement without frequent contrasts of mood – all characteristics that set it apart from the ordinary church style of the Classical period," Nicholas Temperley writes in The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians.

Baker and his Centenary Festival ensembles will sample both instrumental and choral works of Samuel Wesley: his Concerto in D major, with organist Grant Hellmers and violinist Risa Browder; the "Funeral Anthem on the Death of the late Charles Wesley," featuring sopranos Brittany Brooks and Lynn LaBarre, alto Emily Martin, tenor Todd Minnich and baritone Dustin Faltz; "Exultate Deo" in its rarely heard choral-orchestral version; and the "Ode to Saint Cecilia," with soprano Anne O’Byrne, alto Lynn Kotrady and bass John C. Ford Jr.

The Centenary Festival Choir and Orchestra, Stanley M. Baker conducting, will present "A Walk with Wesley" at 5 p.m. June 27 at Centenary United Methodist Church, 411 E. Grace St., in Richmond. A $15 donation is suggested. Details: (804) 648-8319;

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Level 4

At last week’s League of American Orchestras conference in Atlanta, participants were polled on the need for symphony orchestras to change the way they do business and connect with audiences. The poll was on a sliding scale, from level 1 (status quo "with a few tweaks") to level 5 ("dramatic change as soon as possible"). In a show of hands, most chose level 4 – somewhere between significant and dramatic change.

That response roughly corresponds to the degree of battering that orchestras have taken in this recession. They’re not in the worst shape among performing-arts groups – more opera companies have shut down, radically cut back or sloshed through deeper pools of red ink; but most every professional orchestra in the U.S. is running a deficit, cutting costs (especially, lowering or freezing musicians’ wages), raising ticket prices, and seeing its audience and donors age and/or dwindle from one year to the next.

Even more alarmingly, orchestras sense that their art form is losing its relevance even further and faster in a culture that is growing more diverse, interactive and participatory. In a cultural environment that, more and more, thrives on conversation among artists in various disciplines and media, and between artists and audiences, the symphony orchestra makes statements – increasingly dated and culturally insular ones – to an audience that sits in the dark and listens in silence.

Contemporary society is experiencing a "fundamental realignment of culture and communications," Ben Cameron, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s program director for the arts, told the conference. The Internet, on-demand cable and satellite TV, make-your-own-playlist music devices and other electronic media enable people to see and hear what they want, when they want.

There’s a parallel shift in the entertainment-culture market "from consumption to participation," Cameron noted. Perhaps the most visible sign of that trend is that computer video games now generate more sales than recorded music and movie and TV videos combined.

Cameron’s address, and other features of the League of American Orchestras conference, can be found at:

* * *

Symphony orchestras and other "high-art" live-performance groups stand athwart this on-demand, hands-on culture. They perform at set times and places, and their product is ephemeral – once it’s done, it’s gone. Their audiences are largely passive onlookers. Their performances have a quality of "re-enactment rather than creation," Eric Booth, another speaker at the orchestra league conference, remarked.

Classical concert audiences "have essentially solitary, inward experiences," Alex Ross, The New Yorker’s music critic, observed earlier this year in a talk to London’s Royal Philharmonic Society. "Where listeners once spoke of being swept away by music, to the point of gesturing or crying out loud, they now [speak] of music sweeping over them, like an impressive weather system over which they [have] little control."

Can this kind of experience survive in a culture increasingly driven by participation and feedback? Can it – should it – be adapted to accommodate an audience that wants in on the act?

Orchestras and other classical performing troupes have been trying for years to involve audiences more actively. Sing-along "Messiahs" and orchestral-choral Christmas concerts are fixtures of concert calendars in many communities, and some groups are trying audience-participation performances of more challenging choral repertory. A growing number of orchestras are scheduling dates in which their members perform alongside student and amateur musicians.

Orchestral and chamber-music programs, especially those in which new or unfamiliar music is performed, more frequently feature preparatory talks, onstage commentary with musical excerpts and/or post-concert question-and-answer sessions. Musicians make more and more effort to mix and mingle with audiences in receptions or less structured encounters. Some troupes have made tentative steps toward engaging audiences through text-messaging and the like during performances.

Theatrical or quasi-theatrical stagings and multimedia "experiences" – typically, music with video or lighting enhancement – are increasingly common components of orchestral and other classical concerts. That trend is sure to continue.

For all that, classical music remains "largely about contemplation, emotional surrender, sensory captivation in a non-verbal world," as Cameron put it. Any attempt to engage senses other than the auditory risks distraction from – even pollution of – the essence and singularity of the musical experience.

* * *

As orchestras and other classical presenters anxiously consider "significant" or "dramatic" change, mulling possible innovations and shopping for bells and whistles to effect that change, here’s a counterintuitive – maybe conservative, maybe conservationist – thought.

Classical concerts are one of the few remaining chances people have for contemplative spiritual or inwardly emotional experience in a public gathering. (You don’t even get much of that in church anymore, unless you go to Quaker meetings.)

Classical music is the last oasis of live-performance experience that is largely free of visual and ambient distraction, the last show that can be as enriching with eyes closed as it is with eyes open.

It’s you and the music – a real-time, not to be repeated, close encounter with a work of art.

Is that a salient – or, more practically speaking, sellable – commodity in today’s cultural marketplace? Is there enough difference between hearing a Beethoven symphony live and listening to a recording or broadcast or online audio stream of it at home to warrant spending more for the ticket and driving to the concert?

I would like to think so. I’m not a marketing guru; I haven’t concocted a slogan or designed a brochure or scripted an ad to pitch this concept. It may defy pitching in a cultural and media environment obsessed with novelty. Except in one sense: This product is quite unlike any other. Is uniqueness still a selling point?

* * *

One more point: As orchestras view with alarm the aging of their audiences, will somebody please check the actuarial charts? People are living longer. If you’ve got a clientele in its 60s, much or most of that clientele will still be alive, mobile and in the market for your product or service for another 20 to 30 years. And these people have, and will continue to have, more disposable income, and more time to spend it, than younger segments of the population.

With the exceptions of healthcare, travel and a few other industries, the marketplace, including the "new media" that everybody is so excited about, under-serves or ignores older consumers.

Symphony orchestras have captured these people about as well as any outside-the-home cultural entity. If orchestras lose this audience, they will not find a new one to take its place.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Symphony projects $110,000 deficit

The Richmond Symphony projects a $110,000 shortfall on an operating budget of $4.66 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year ending June 30, its board was told this week at the orchestra’s annual meeting.

In the 2008-09 fiscal year, the symphony ran a deficit of about $150,000 on a $4.75 million budget.

In the orchestra's 2009-10 season, its first at the Carpenter Theatre of Richmond CenterStage, attendance rose by 30 percent for the Altria Masterworks series and by 35 percent for the Genworth Financial Pops series. (The previous season’s Masterworks concerts were staged in three church sanctuaries, and pops concerts in the Landmark Theater.)

The new Lollipops series of concerts for children and families, also at the Carpenter Theatre, drew crowds more than three times as large as those attending the family-formatted dates of the former Kicked Back Classics series. Metro Collection concerts, featuring a chamber orchestra playing in suburban venues, saw a 6 percent rise in attendance.

The orchestra announced a new pledge of $100,000 from the Pauley Family Foundation in support of general operations and to encourage contributions to its "2010: Transformation Campaign," which seeks to attract 2,010 new donors this year. A $50,000 challenge grant from Gerald Morgan Jr. so far has attracted more than 200 new supporters, the symphony reported in a news release.

Carmen Rodriguez, corporate strategy leader with the Richmond Federal Reserve, and Joyce Clemmons, new president of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra League, were elected to the symphony board. Suzanne Franke, Carol Hoomquist, Gail Letts, Bob Mattauch, Brenda Mead and Sarosh Sukhia retired from the board.

Maureen Forrester (1930-2010)

Maureen Forrester, the esteemed Canadian mezzo-soprano, has died at the age of 79.

Famed for joshingly complaining that mezzos in opera were consigned to portraying "mothers, maids, witches and bitches," Forrester nonetheless made the most of roles such as Marcellina in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," Erda in Wagner's "Ring" cycle and the Countess in Tchaikovsky's "Queen of Spades."

She was best-known, though, as a concert artist. In 1957 Bruno Walter selected the young, little-known Forrester to sing on his recording of Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony with the New York Philharmonic; that, and her 1959 recording of "Das Lied von der Erde" with Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony, established Forrester as one of the most authoritative voices in Mahler's symphonies and song cycles. She was also the mezzo/contralto of choice in a wide range of oratorio and art-song literature. Her legacy includes more than 150 recordings.

An obituary by Ken Winters in The Globe and Mail of Toronto:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hope over experience?

"The triumph of hope over experience," Samuel Johnson’s quip about second marriages, could be the new courtship philosophy of orchestras in search of music directors.

This week, the venerable Philadelphia Orchestra tapped as its next maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, a 35-year-old Canadian who previously had led the Philadelphians in just two programs. Nézet-Séguin has earned a lot of critical plaudits (notably for conducting a production of Bizet's "Carmen" earlier this season at the Metropolitan Opera); but up till now his principal podium has been at the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, not the usual springboard to an orchestra of Philly's stature.

Nézet-Séguin is the latest in a succession of under-40 conductors to take over artistic direction of major orchestras in recent years.

The most stellar of the young guns, of course, is Gustavo Dudamel, 29, wrapping up his first season as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Young conductors are making especially big waves at British orchestras: 33-year-old Vasily Petrenko at the Liverpool Philharmonic, 31-year-old Andris Nelsons at the City of Birmingham Symphony, 27-year-old Robin Ticciati at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, 38-year-old Vladimir Jurowski at the London Philharmonic. Other highly touted young Brits have recently taken over orchestras across the Channel: 34-year-old Daniel Harding at the Swedish Radio Symphony, 38-year-old Karel Mark Chicon at the German Radio Philharmonic Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern.

Alan Gilbert, completing his first season as music director of the New York Philharmonic, barely missed the under-40 cut when he secured that appointment. Another New Yorker, James Gaffigan, who turns 31 this year, has been named conductor at the Lucerne Philharmonic in Switzerland and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. Stéphane Denève, a 38-year-old Frenchman, is taking over the Stuttgart Radio Symphony.

Winner of the youthful-conductor sweepstakes – so far – is Alexander Prior, a 17-year-old Brit who scored a conducting fellowship with the Seattle Symphony.

Young classical musicians generally are rising faster – and ever-younger – these days, and the emergence of youthful conductors is accelerating naturally as illness sidelines some elders (James Levine, Seiji Ozawa) and advancing age has led others (Claudio Abbado, Kurt Masur, Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink, Pierre Boulez, Charles Mackerras) to cut back on their commitments or go into near-retirement. (Lorin Maazel is the exception: At 80, he stepped down from the New York Philharmonic, and promptly launched a music festival at Castleton, his estate in Rappahannock County, VA, and took over orchestras in Munich and Valencia, Spain.)

As music-director vacancies open at major U.S. orchestras – Seattle, Cincinnati, Boston if Levine doesn’t recover – the grapevine of critics and patrons is buzzing with talk of renewing vitality with youthful leadership. Nézet-Séguin’s Philadelphia appointment surely will amplify such talk.

* * *

Buzz notwithstanding, many orchestras have resisted joining the maestro youth cult.

The Chicago Symphony’s incoming music director is Riccardo Muti, who turns 69 next month. Christoph Eschenbach, 70, begins his first season as music director of Washington’s National Symphony in the fall. Edo de Waart, 69, and Leonard Slatkin, 65, are wrapping up their second seasons as music directors of the Milwaukee and Detroit symphonies, respectively.

Other major U.S. orchestras naming new music directors over the past decade have opted for middle-aged maestros with lengthy resumés: Osmo Vänskä in Minnesota, Manfred Honeck in Pittsburgh, Hans Graf in Houston, Jaap van Sweden in Dallas, Grant Llewellyn in North Carolina. Marin Alsop’s appointment in Baltimore four years ago sparked some sniping about supposed inexperience; but she was 50 years old and had been music director of five orchestras.

The music-director finalists auditioned by the Richmond Symphony over the past two seasons were markedly older than the conductors who vied for the post in the previous two rounds. The orchestra selected Steven Smith, who at 50 is its oldest incoming maestro since its founding conductor, Edgar Schenkman.

* * *

Maturity doesn’t necessarily equate with musically conservative inclination. Smith, who is an active composer and well-known advocate of contemporary music, could turn out to be 50-going-on-30 in his programming practices – as Alsop proved to be in Baltimore.

Smith’s best-known predecessor in Richmond, George Manahan, turns 60 this year. This old-timer is music director of the New York City Opera, a company long known for staging modern and contemporary works, and is set to take over the American Composers Orchestra, the premier new-music orchestra in this country.

Muti, who is among the oldest fully active first-tier elders, marked his appointment in Chicago by naming two young composers, Richmond-bred Mason Bates and the English-born New Yorker Anna Clyne, as co-curators of a new contemporary music series. Slatkin, Vänskä, Michael Tilson Thomas, Simon Rattle and other gray-hairs are also active proponents of modern and contemporary music and active users of new media and new spaces for presenting it.

Passing the baton to a young conductor is not the only way, nor necessarily the best way, to propel an orchestra into the future.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ernest Fleischmann (1924-2010)

Ernest Fleischmann, the German-émigré musician who turned from performing to artistic management, revitalizing the London Symphony in the 1960s and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a three-decade tenure (1969-98), died on June 13.

In Los Angeles, Fleischmann was responsible for the hiring of Carlo Maria Giulini, André Previn and Esa-Pekka Salonen as music directors (he also had a hand in bringing Gustavo Dudamel to LA), the construction of Frank Gehry's Disney Concert Hall, initiation of the orchestra's Green Umbrella contemporary music series, and the physical and artistic upgrading of the Hollywood Bowl.

An obituary by Claudia Luther for the Los Angeles Times:,0,26655,full.story

Street piano

Last year, artist Luke Jerram "installed" 30 pianos on the streets of London, inviting passersby to play them. Now, Sing for Hope, a program that places performers in schools, has rounded up and decorated 60 pianos for a "Play Me, I'm Yours" project on the streets of New York. They will be ready to play on June 21, The New York Times' James Barron reports:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Philly taps YNS

The 35-year-old Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin – pronounced Yah-NEEK Neh-ZAY Say-GUN, popularly known as YNS – will be the next music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He will take over from the current chief conductor, Charles Dutoit, in 2012, with an initial contract running until 2017, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Peter Dobrin reports:

Nézet-Séguin, currently principal conductor and artistic director of Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal and chief conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, is widely considered one of the rising stars of the under-40 generation of conductors.

Engaging ears with eyes

Modern and contemporary works may rub listeners the wrong way in concerts, but they thrive in dance programs, as The New York Times' Anthony Tommasini notes in surveying the repertory – featuring scores of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Thomas Adès, Jay Greenberg and other living composers – in the Architecture of Dance festival of the New York City Ballet:

A similar story could be told with film music. From Carl Stalling and Bernard Herrmann to John Corigliano and Philip Glass, modern composers' harmonically, structurally or otherwise innovative music, likely to baffle concert audiences, immediately connects with moviegoers because it complements a visual element.

This has not gone unnoticed by contemporary music composers, performers and presenters. It's no coincidence that so much "alt-classical" repertory has a visual or theatrical element.

And it's not a recent phenomenon. Such seminal works of 20th-century modernism as Richard Strauss' "Salome" and "Elektra," Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" and Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloé" – and, for that matter, Wagner's proto-modernist 19th-century scores – were composed for the theater.

When challenging the ears, it helps to engage the eyes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Siebert leaves NY Philharmonic

Renée Siebert, the Richmond-bred flutist, is retiring from the New York Philharmonic after 36 years with the orchestra, Anthony Tommasini reports in The New York Times:

Siebert began her study of the flute in Richmond, subsequently attending the North Carolina School of the Arts (now UNC School of the Arts) and the Juilliard School, where she studied with Julius Baker, then principal flutist of the New York Philharmonic.

While performing in the philharmonic, Siebert has also been active as a solo and chamber musician, recording artist and teacher, most recently at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL.

University of Virginia-based composer Judith Shatin's 1991 flute concerto, "Ruah," is one of a number of contemporary works for flute that Siebert has introduced.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

'Rings' on the rocks

The debt-ridden Los Angeles Opera, which obtained a $14-million loan from the city last December, now anticipates ticket sales coming in $1 million to $1.5 million below projections for its performances of Achim Freyer's action-heroic staging of Wagner's "Ring" cycle. Some tickets are being discounted by nearly 50 percent, the Los Angeles Times' David Ng reports:

The Metropolitan Opera, also running in the red (though not as deeply as LA), has to cough up an extra $1 million-plus to shore up its stage to support the 45-ton weight of Robert Lepage's new set for a "Ring" cycle to be launched in September. "[S]pending on the cycle could exceed $16 million," Daniel J. Wakin reports in The New York Times:

As this news breaks, Jaime Weinman, writing for the Canadian magazine Maclean's, dusts off and endorses one of the most pointed critiques of Wagner's reconstitution of music drama, as realized in the "Ring." The critic was Tchaikovsky, writing in 1876:

"Since in the moments of passionate intensity to which people living in a social community are subject nobody would think of striking up a song, arias are to be rejected; and since as a rule two people do not speak to one another at the same time, but rather one will let the other speak out first, there can be no duets either. Similarly, since people in a crowd do not generally all utter the same words together at the same time, a chorus must also be out of the question . . .

"Wagner exclusively recognizes the form of the recitative. All his music . . . is entrusted exclusively to the orchestra. The characters sing mainly just completely colourless successions of tones which are tailored to the symphony being performed by the invisible orchestra."

Weinman's full essay:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Duo's Schumann on air, in recital

Violinist Karen Johnson, who is concertmaster of the Richmond Symphony, and University of Richmond-based pianist Joanne Kong will sample the chamber program they have been touring with this spring to mark the Robert Schumann bicentennial on the composer's 200th birthday, June 8, from 2 to 3 p.m. on WCVE (88.9-FM) and its affiliates, and online at:

Johnson and Kong will present the complete program of works by Schumann and Elgar at 7 p.m. June 9 at St. James's Episcopal Church in Richmond. (See June calendar for details.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mozart for microbes

A German sewage plant is piping Mozart into its treatment operation. "[V]ibrations of the music . . . penetrate everything – including the water, the sewage and the cells. It creates a certain resonance that stimulates the microbes and helps them to work better. We're still in the test phase, but I've already noticed that the sewage breakdown is more efficient," Anton Stucki, the plant's chief operator, tells The Guardian's Kate Connolly:

Imagine what Scriabin might do for them.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Modlin Center 2010-11

Recitals by pianist Yefim Bronfman and soprano Amanda Pabyan, an all-Mozart program by pianist Inon Barnatan and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, a concert by guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad and their kin, a holiday season program by The King’s Singers, and violinist Robert McDuffie and the Venice Baroque Orchestra playing Vivaldi’s "Four Seasons" alongside "The American Four Seasons," a new violin concerto by Philip Glass, highlight classical-music programming in the 2010-11 season of the Modlin Arts Center at the University of Richmond.

The contemporary music sextet eighth blackbird, in its seventh year in residence at UR, will present two programs testing Igor Stravinsky’s assertion, "Music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all." The ensemble also will participate in UR’s Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival, a program of chamber works by Arnold Schoenberg, and the premiere of a commissioned work by the Chinese-born composer Chen Yi, to be performed with UR’s Schola Cantorum and Women’s Chorale.

The Shanghai Quartet will present two programs, playing Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet with clarinetist Michel Lethiec and Lei Liang’s Quintet for pipa and string quartet with pipa (Chinese lute) player Wu Man. The Shanghai, Wu Man and Lei Liang will give UR’s Neumann Lecture on Music, "Music in a Global Society." Chen Yi will speak to the Jepson Leadership Forum on "A Journey of Creativity and Building an East-West Cultural Exchange."

UR-based pianist-harpsichordist Joanne Kong will play one of the first performances of Michael Colgrass’ "Side by Side," the first concerto written for one performer playing both keyboard instruments, with the Richmond Symphony and its new music director, Steven Smith. (The work was commissioned for Kong by the Richmond Symphony, Esprit Orchestra and Boston Modern Orchestra.)

The Modlin Center’s Great Performances series also will feature dance programs by Diavolo, MOMIX, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and tap-dancer Savion Glover; theater productions by the Reduced Shakespeare Company and Walnut Street Theatre; and concerts by Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista, comedian David Sedaris, the KODO Drummers of Japan, the Irish folk band Danú, the folk-bluegrass bands Cherryholmes and Dailey & Vincent, and the Afro-Cuban jazz band Tempo Libre.

Ticket subscriptions are available for five or more events. For subscription information or to obtain a season brochure, call the Modlin Center box office at (804) 289-8980, or visit

Single tickets will begin going on sale on Aug. 23.

The Modlin Center’s Great Performances series and UR Music Department program schedule:

at 7:30 p.m. unless listed otherwise

Sept. 15 (Camp Concert Hall) – eighth blackbird in "Powerful." John Corigliano: "Mr. Tambourine Man" (soprano TBA); Frederic Rzewski: "Coming Together."

Sept. 16-17 (Jepson Theatre) – Diavolo, modern dance troupe.

Sept. 26 (Camp Concert Hall) – Cherryholmes, folk-bluegrass band.

Sept. 28-30 (Jepson Theatre) – MOMIX, modern dance troupe, in "Botanica."

Oct. 1 (Camp Concert Hall) – Shanghai Quartet with Michel Lethiec, clarinet. Brahms: Clarinet Quintet; other works TBA.

Oct. 5 (Landmark Theater) – David Sedaris, comedian.

Oct. 6-7 (Jepson Theatre) – Reduced Shakespeare Company in "The Complete World of Sports (abridged)."

Oct. 15 (Camp Concert Hall) – Cyro Baptista, percussion, in "Villa-Lobos/Vira Loucus."

Oct. 19 (Jepson Theatre) – Tempo Libre, Afro-Cuban jazz band.

Oct. 27 (Camp Concert Hall) – SFJAZZ Collective.

Nov. 7 (Camp Concert Hall) – Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Kenneth Sillito directing, with Inon Barnatan, piano. Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K. 414; Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat major, K. 271; Cassation No. 1 in G major, K. 63; Divertimento in D major, K. 136.

Nov. 10 (Camp Concert Hall) – Dailey & Vincent, bluegrass band.

Nov. 15 (Camp Concert Hall) – Robert McDuffie, violin, with Venice Baroque Orchestra in "The Seasons Project." Vivaldi: "The Four Seasons;" Philip Glass: Violin Concerto No. 2 ("The American Four Seasons").

Nov. 30 (Cannon Memorial Chapel) – The King’s Singers in holiday program.

Dec. 3 (Camp Concert Hall) – Danú, Irish folk band, in "Christmas Ireland: An Nollaig in Éirinn."

Jan. 14-15 (Jepson Theatre) – Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.

Jan. 31-Feb. 1 (Jepson Theatre) – Merce Cunningham Dance Company in "The Legacy Tour."

Feb. 14-15 (Camp Concert Hall) – Savion Glover, tap dancer, in "SoLo iN TiME."

Feb. 18 (Camp Concert Hall) – Amanda Pabyan, soprano. Program TBA.

Feb. 27 (Camp Concert Hall) – Shanghai Quartet with Wu Man, pipa. Lei Liang: Quintet for pipa and string quartet; other works TBA.

March 4-6 (7:30 p.m.); March 5 (2 p.m.) (Jepson Theatre) – Cirque Éloize, modern-dance-circus acrobatic troupe, in "ID."

March 14 (Camp Concert Hall) – eighth blackbird in "Powerless." Philippe Hurel: ". . . à mesure;" György Ligeti: Etudes; Philip Glass: "Music in Similar Motion;" other works TBA.

March 15 (Jepson Theatre) – Walnut Steet Theatre in Tennessee Williams’ "The Glass Menagerie."

March 17 (Landmark Theater) – KODO Drummers of Japan.

March 21 (Camp Concert Hall) – Yefim Bronfman, piano. Esa-Pekka Salonen: new work TBA; Schumann: Humoreske in B flat major, Op. 20; Haydn: Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI/50; Chopin: 12 études, Op. 10.

April 3 (Camp Concert Hall) – Sérgio & Odair Assad, guitars, with Christiane Karam, vocals; Clarice Assad, piano & vocals; and Jamey Haddad, percussion, in "De Volta As Raizes (Back to Our Roots)."

free admission
at 7:30 p.m. in Camp Concert Hall unless listed otherwise

Sept. 19 (3 p.m., Perkinson Recital Hall, North Court) – Donald George, tenor, and Lucy Mauro, piano. "The Old Wicked Songs of Heinrich Heine." Schumann: "Dichterliebe;" other works TBA.

Sept. 20 – Emily Riggs, soprano, and David Ballena, piano. Songs by Villa-Lobos, Ginastera, Carlos Guastavino and Xaver Montsalvatge.

Sept. 24 – Family Weekend Concert, with UR Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Women’s Chorale & Schola Cantorum. Program TBA.

Oct. 13 – TimbaSon, Cuban jazz band, with José Lorenzo, vocals; Mike Davison, trumpet; and dancers from Latin Ballet of Virginia.

Oct. 22 – Richmond Symphony, Steven Smith conducting, with Joanne Kong, piano & harpsichord. Michael Colgrass: "Side by Side" Concerto for piano, harpsichord and orchestra; Heather Stebbins: "Traces;" other works TBA. (Free; tickets required)

Oct. 25 (3 p.m.) – Schola Cantorum & Women’s Chorale, Jeffrey Riehl & David Pedersen directing. Program TBA.

Oct. 29 – David Esleck Trio. Jazz program TBA.

Nov. 4-6 (various times) Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival, Benjamin Broening directing, with eighth blackbird., other performers TBA. Programs TBA.

Nov. 14 – UR Wind Ensemble, David Niethamer directing, with guest director TBA. Holst: Suite No. 2 in F major; other works TBA.

Nov. 17 – UR Jazz Combo; Mike Davison & Peter Loman, trumpets; other guest artists TBA. "Cuban Spectacular," multimedia show with music, dance and video.

Nov. 21 – UR Taiko Ensemble; other other ensembles TBA. "World Music Concert," traditional music from Japan, Brazil and India.

Nov. 22 – UR Jazz Ensemble & Combo, Mike Davison directing, with Justo Almario, saxophone & clarinet.

Nov. 29 – UR Chamber Ensembles. Program TBA.

Dec. 1 – UR Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Kordzaia conducting, with winners of 2010 UR Concerto/Vocal Competition. Program TBA.

Dec. 5 (5 and 8 p.m., Cannon Memorial Chapel) – Schola Cantorum and Women’s Chorale, Jeffrey Riehl & David Pedersen directing, in 37th annual Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols.

Jan. 26 – eighth blackbird; Karin Brown, violin & viola; Emily Riggs, soprano; Paul Hanson & Joanne Kong, pianos; Mike Davison, trumpet; Anastasia Jellison, harp. Schoenberg: String Trio, "Herzewaechse," "Weinachtsmusik," "Nachtwandler;" Schoenberg-Webern: Chamber Symphony, "Five Orchestra Pieces." (Free; tickets required)

Feb. 6 (3 p.m.) – Richard Becker, piano. Program TBA.

Feb. 23 – Thomas Mastroianni, piano. Lecture-recital with excerpts from Liszt’s "Années de Pelerinage" ("Years of Pilgrimage").

Feb. 26 (3 p.m.) – Neumann Lecture on Music: Composer Lei Liang, pipa player Wu Man and Shanghai Quartet on "Music in a Global Society."

March 27 (3 p.m.) – Richard Becker & Doris Wylee-Becker, pianos. Works by Becker, Stravinsky, Debussy, others.

April 4 – Jepson Leadership Forum: Composer Chen Yi on "A Journey of Creativity and Building an East-West Cultural Exchange." (Free; tickets required)

April 6 – UR Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Kordzaia conducting, with Nicholas Photinos, cello. Schumann: Cello Concerto; other works TBA.

April 8 – Schola Cantorum and Women’s Chorale, David Pedersen directing, with eighth blackbird. Chen Yi: work TBA (premiere); other works TBA. (Free; tickets required)

April 10 – Mandingo Ambassadors; other artists TBA. "Global Sounds Festival," music from West Africa, Brazil, India, Japan, Cuba and the Middle East.

April 11 – UR Jazz Ensemble & Combo with strings, Mike Davison directing. Program TBA.

April 13 – UR Wind Ensemble, David Niethamer directing. Alfred Reed: "Othello;" other works TBA.

April 20 – UR Chamber Ensembles. Program TBA.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A theater organ's odyssey

by Bill Van Pelt
guest writer

When the Richmond Symphony played Saint-Saëns' "Organ" Symphony on May 15-16 at Richmond CenterStage's Carpenter Theatre, we heard the pipe organ that was built for the former Loew’s Theater in 1927-28 by the Wurlitzer firm of North Tonowanda, NY.

Or did we? In one very important way, we did not.

As an organ designed to accompany silent movies, and to fill an auditorium with robust sound, the Carpenter Theatre's organ installation has few peers.

John Eberson, the architect of the Richmond Loew's Theater and some 500 other movie palaces, knew from vast experience how to optimize placement of the organ's pipes for maximum connection with the audience in its seats. Marcus Loew chose Eberson as architect because of his track record, the same reason he chose Wurlitzer to supply an enormously efficient pipe organ of modest size and expense that could shake the building and its audience, or whisper to them.

Enormous efficiency from minimal resources characterizes the morph of the traditional, classically built concert-hall or church pipe organ into the theater pipe organ. Each pipe of a theater organ plays many times louder than its traditional counterpart in a church or concert organ is designed to play.

A theater organ of relatively few pipes produces a gigantic volume of sound. Theater operators and architects both liked this characteristic: The architect could devote less space to accommodate the organ pipes than would be required for a church or concert hall organ; and the theater operators had lower tuning expenses because fewer pipes require less maintenance and time spent tuning.

As well, the expense of paying several musicians of a pit orchestra to accompany a silent film was replaced by the expense of a single musician, an organist, who could marshall via the theater pipe organ a wide variety of effects, from doorbells and bird whistles to thunderclaps and the drone of a flotilla of airplanes, and a deafening cataclysm when necessary, beyond what the pit orchestra could possibly muster.

The key to controlling and making musical use of the colossal onslaught of organ tone emerging from the pipes was to enclose the pipes in a sound-inert box, sometimes made of concrete, with very thick and tight-fitting shutters on the front of the box to allow tone to emerge by slight and finely incremental opening and closing of the shutters via a control at the organist’s feet called the swell pedal. Most Wurlitzers have at least two such pedals controlling multiple sets of shades which enclose specific groups of pipes.

* * *

The Carpenter Center organ has 13 ranks of pipes divided into two groups, eight ranks on the left side of the proscenium and five ranks on the right, each group contained within a plaster-on-masonry chamber covered on the front with swell shutters. The organ chambers are located directly behind acoustically transparent curtains that the audience sees in an arched opening located behind and above a short balustrade on each side of the stage.

The original and very thick and tight-fitting organ shutters are now replaced at the Carpenter Theatre organ by ones that are not as sound-insulating and would be suitable for a less powerful church organ. So, this theater organ plays too loudly despite all of the other methods of controlling its volume at the disposal of the organist, such as drawing fewer stops and playing a minimal number of pipes.

Last month, organist Michael Simpson did all that was possible to make the organ sufficiently quiet for its role in the lovely second movement of the Saint-Saëns symphony, but it was still slightly too loud, thanks in part to the very effective placement of the pipes in the auditorium. If the original Wurlitzer shutters or similarly effective ones were in place, the organ would more likely balance the orchestra in quiet passages, and many more pipes could be used in louder passages to make a more satisfyingly full and complex sound without becoming so loud that the orchestra is overwhelmed.

The original Wurlitzer shutters were lost in the long journey that the organ took shortly after Loew's Theater closed in 1979. The organ was removed and given to the American Film Institute Theatre at the Kennedy Center in Washington. It was never installed in the very small theater; the console sat as an ornament near the box office. (The AFI Theatre was replaced in 2005 by the Family Theater, occupying some of the same space and largely rebuilt.)

The organ pipes and substantial mechanism – windchests, reservoirs and other parts – somehow passed to an owner in Texas, and the organ, or most of it, eventually landed in the warehouse of a pipe-organ parts broker in McMinnville, TN.

* * *

In 1983, while the Loew's organ console was still on display at the AFI Theatre and the rest of it was presumed stored, Richmonders restored and reopened the old Loew's as the Carpenter Center, and the theater became the home of the Richmond Symphony.

Some organ enthusiasts, led by the late theater organist Bill Floyd, arranged for a donation to the Carpenter Center of a collection of organ parts from which they intended, as volunteers, to build a 25-rank organ to occupy the original organ chambers. That project took many more years than the volunteers anticipated and the organ was never played; but most of it had been installed in 1990 when the McMinnville organ broker, Roy Davis, offered to sell the 13-rank Loew's organ in his warehouse to the Carpenter Center for $25,000 and all of the parts of the 25-rank organ the volunteers were building.

Thus, the original Loew's organ returned to Richmond and was first played in 1991, but without its original swell shades. The insufficient shades that now enclose the organ are ones the volunteers had acquired from other sources for their project.

Fortunately, the work of restoring the pipes, windchests, reservoirs, windlines, and major parts of the Wurlitzer located in the chambers behind the leftover swell shades was entrusted to a firm of professional organ-builders owned by William Barger and Charles Nix of McDonald, TN, near Chattanooga. They charged a modest $75,000 for their work. The money for purchase of the Wurlitzer and the restoration was raised by The Muses, a support group for the arts center.

The parts outside the organ chamber, including the console that we see whenever someone plays the organ, were rebuilt and cosmetically restored by remaining members of the volunteer crew led by Fred Berger of Richmond and Nick Pitt. Berger, a telephone company engineer (now retired), and his compatriots logged some 25,000 volunteer hours in bringing an organ to the Carpenter Center and in restoring the Wurlitzer.

Before work commenced on the most recent renovation of the Carpenter Theatre, the Barger and Nix firm removed all of the pipes to safe storage and covered the windchests and other large parts to protect them from damage and dirt contamination, then reinstalled and tonally regulated the organ in the renovated hall.

* * *

Considering the long journey taken by the Loew's organ, its survival is remarkable and its important parts are either original to the Richmond Loew's theater or are identical Wurlitzer parts from another organ or organ. (The 13-rank Style 240 was very popular, Wurlitzer having built many of them among the approximately 2,200 theater organs the firm produced between 1914 and 1931.)

All of the pipes are believed to be original, but a few pieces of mechanism may be from other organs. One of these parts, the windchest in the right chamber, is probably from another organ because it is prepared to receive one more rank of pipes – the Style 240 was not so prepared. When Barger and Nix restored the windchest, they restored this unused portion as well, with the plan that, someday, one more colorful rank of pipes would be added to further extend the tonal pallette of the organ. Those preparations for an additional set of pipes are also reflected in the console as rebuilt by Fred Berger – the stops to control them are already present and wired-up.

Organ experts who have seen the work done by Barger and Nix and by Berger and his crew have found it highly craftsworthy, and nearly two decades of use have proven it to be reliable. Organists who have played the organ find it a thrilling theater organ with great presence in the auditorium.

Now, it could be even better, especially for playing repertoire for organ and symphony orchestra, if we could just put the correct swell shutters on the organ. Maybe another set of pipes, too.

Bill Van Pelt produces recordings of classical pipe-organ music on his Raven CD label, founded in 1978, and served as executive director of the Organ Historical Society from 1982 to 2006. He was recording engineer for the Richmond Symphony from 1971 to 1978, and director of media relations at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1972 to 1982.

June 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.


* Not-quite doldrums: With the fall-to-spring season winding down, it’s time to check the oil and kick the tires for summer-festival road trips. The prime Richmond attraction is Centenary United Methodist Church’s summertime showcase of early music, with Stanley M. Baker conducting the Festival Choir and period-instruments orchestra in works of Samuel Wesley, nephew of Methodist patriarch John Wesley, on June 27. . . . On the road, the Fredericksburg Chamber Music Festival, June 1-4 at St. George’s Episcopal Church (with a bit of klezmer music on opening night); the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival (you know who plus Barber, Mahler, Schumann and folk singer-instrumentalist John McCutcheon), June 13-20 at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg; and the Washington Early Music Festival (French-accented this year), June 4-26 at various D.C. venues (who could resist the June 13 program, "Au Naturel" by The Suspicious Cheese Lords?) . . . Tickets are scarce for pianist André Watts playing Beethoven’s "Emperor" Concerto with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony, June 5 at Strathmore in the Maryland suburbs of D.C., and cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing Osvaldo Golijov’s "Azul" with Jeffrey Kahane and the National Symphony, June 29 at Washington’s Kennedy Center; but still available for percussionist Evelyn Glennie’s performances of Erkki-Sven Tüür’s "Magma" with Neeme Järvi and the National Symphony, June 10-12 at the Kennedy Center, and cellist Alisa Weilerstein playing Beethoven, Britten, Chopin and De Falla, June 15 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington. . . . Pianist Soheil Nasseri plays Chopin, Schumann and Beethoven alongside music by contemporary Iranian composers, June 6 at Strathmore. . . . Actors Derek Jacobi and Richard Clifford, countertenor David Daniels and baritone Robert McDonald join the Folger Consort in readings from Shakespeare’s "The Tempest" with incidental music by Matthew Locke, plus arias by Handel, June 11 at Strathmore.

June 1 (7 p.m.)
St. George’s Episcopal Church, 905 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg Chamber Music Festival:
Bayla Keyes & Peter Zazofsky, violins
Steven Ansell, viola
Michael Reynolds, cello
Paul Glenn, double-bass
Carol Wincenc, flute
Alexander Fiterstein, clarinet
Kathleen Reynolds, bassoon
William Scharnberg, French horn
Michele Levin, piano
Christina Crowder, accordion
Nielsen: "Serenata in vano"
Beethoven: Serenade, Op. 25, for flute, violin and viola
klezmer selections TBA
Dvořák: Trio in F minor, Op. 65
(540) 374-5040

June 1 (7:30 p.m.)
June 4 (7:30 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington
Washington National Opera
Plácido Domingo & Patrick Fournillier conducting
Thomas: "Hamlet"
Liam Bonner/Michael Chioldi (Hamlet)
Diana Damrau (Ophelia)
Samuel Ramey (Claudius)
Elizabeth Bishop (Gertrude)
John Tessier (Laertes)
Leo An (Polonius)
José Ortega (Marcellus)
Thaddeus Strassberger, stage director
in French, English captions
(800) 876-7372

June 3 (7 p.m.)
St. George’s Episcopal Church, 905 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg Chamber Music Festival:
Bayla Keyes & Peter Zazofsky, violins
Steven Ansell, viola
Michael Reynolds, cello
Alexander Fiterstein, clarinet
Michele Levin, piano
Rossini: Quartet No. 1 in F major
Haydn: "The Seven Last Words of Christ"
narrator TBA
Brahms: Clarinet Quintet
(540) 374-5040

June 3 (7 p.m.)
June 4 (1:30 p.m.)
June 5 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Iván Fischer conducting
Rimsky-Korsakov: "Scheherazade"”
Stravinsky: "The Rite of Spring"
(800) 444-1324

June 4 (7 p.m.)
St. George’s Episcopal Church, 905 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg Chamber Music Festival:
Bayla Keyes & Peter Zazofsky, violins
Steven Ansell, viola
Michael Reynolds, cello
Paul Glenn, double-bass
Carol Wincenc, flute
Michele Levin, piano
C.P.E. Bach: Quartet in G major
Prokofiev: Sonata in C major, Op. 56, for two violins
Handel-Halvorsen: Passacaglia for violin and double-bass
Dohnányi: Piano Quintet in C minor, Op. 1
(540) 374-5040

June 4 (8 p.m.)

All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church, 2300 Cathedral Ave. NW, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
Philip Cave, director & tenor
Roger Isaacs, countertenor
Michael McCarthy, bass
Kevin Payne, therobo
Scott Detra, organ
"Motets and Airs by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and his contemporaries"
(202) 232-4244

June 5 (8 p.m.)
St. Columba's Episcopal Church, 4201 Albemarle St., Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
The Vivaldi Project
"The French-Italian Connection," works by Vivaldi, Lully, Campra, Muffat
(202) 363-4119

June 5 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop conducting
Barber: Adagio for strings
Bartók: "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta"
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor")
André Watts, piano
$30-$90 (waiting list)
(877) 276-1444 (Baltimore Symphony box office)

June 6 (4 p.m.)
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 520 N. Boulevard, Richmond
Richmond Choral Society
Markus J. Compton directing
"A Sentimental Journey," music by Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, others
(804) 967-9878

June 6 (2 p.m.)
Chandler Hall, Diehl Arts Center, Old Dominion University, Norfolk
Virginia Arts Festival:
Fellows of John Duffy Composers Institute
vocal, instrumental works TBA (premieres)
(757) 282-2800

June 6 (2 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Kennedy Center Chamber Players
Walter Gieseking: Quintet for piano, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn
Szymanowski: "Myths" for violin and piano
Schubert: String Quartet in C major, D. 956
(800) 444-1324

June 6 (4 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Soheil Nasseri, piano
Chopin: Waltz in A flat major, Op. 30, No. 1
Chopin: Ballade in G minor, Op. 23
Schumann: Humoresque in B flat major, Op. 20
Hormoz Farhat: "Persian Bagatelles" (premiere)
Javad Maroufi: "Jila"
Javad Maroufi: "Khabhaye Talaei" ("Golden Dreams")
Ruhollah Khaleghi: "Ey Iran"
Beethoven: Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata")
(301) 581-5100

June 8 (8 p.m.)

Paramount Theater, 215 E. Main St., Charlottesville
Charlottesville Municipal Band
Steve Layman directing
"A New Season of Old Favorites," works by Sousa, Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, others
(434) 979-1333

June 9 (7 p.m.)
St. James's Episcopal Church, 1205 W. Franklin St., Richmond
Karen Johnson, violin
Joanne Kong, piano
Schumann: Sonata in a minor, Op. 105
Schumann: Sonata "Frei aber einsam" (excerpts)
Schumann: Fantasie, Op. 131 (third movement)
Schumann: Fantasy, Op. 17 for piano
Elgar: "Chanson de Nuit"
Elgar: "Chanson de Matin"
donation requested
(804) 359-1779

June 10 (7 p.m.)
June 11 (8 p.m.)
June 12 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Järvi conducting
Grieg: "Lyric Suite"
Erkki-Sven Tüür: "Magma"
Evelyn Glennie, percussion
Bernstein: "Candide" Overture & Suite
Duke Ellington: "Harlem"
(800) 444-1324

June 10 (8 p.m.)

Christ Church on Capitol Hill, 620 G St. SE, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
Harmonious Blacksmith
Linda Tsatsanis, soprano
Justin Godoy, recorder
Josh Lee, viola da gamba
John Lenti, lute
Joseph Gascho, harpsichord
"L'Amour et la Mort: Love and Death in 17th-century French Music"
(202) 547-9300

June 10 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop conducting
Barber: "Knoxville, Summer of 1915"
Janice Chamdler-Etemé, soprano
Brahms: "A German Requiem"
Janice Chandler-Etemé, soprano
Stephen Powell, baritone
The Washington Chorus
Julian Wachner directing
Morgan State University Choir
Eric Conway directing
(877) 276-1444 (Baltimore Symphony box office)

June 11 (7:30 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
VCU alumni concert
works by Bach, Debussy, Simon Sargon, Joseph Turrin, Alexander Goesdicke, others
(804) 828-6776

June 11 (8 p.m.)

St. Peter's Catholic Church on Capitol Hill, 313 2nd St SE, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
"A Festival of Praise"
anon: "The Mass of Tournai"
Peter Abelard: "Planctus virginum Israel"
works by Dufay, Josquin des Prez, Lhéritier
(202) 547-1430

June 11 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Folger Consort
Handel: arias TBA
David Daniels, countertenor
Matthew Locke: "The Tempest" incidental music, with readings from Shakespeare’s play
Derek Jacobi & Richard Clifford, actors
David Daniels, countertenor
Robert McDonald, baritone
(301) 581-5100

June 12 (8 p.m.)

St. Peter's Catholic Church on Capitol Hill, 313 2nd St. SE, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
The Countertop Ensemble
"Les Douces Memoires: La musique anncienne de France"
Pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.
(202) 547-1430

June 13 (3 p.m.)
Lehman Auditorium, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg
Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival:
Festival Orchestra
Kenneth Nafziger conducting
Bach: "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 2
Joan Griffing, violin
Mary Kay Adams, flute
Sandra Gerster, oboe
David Wick, French horn
Bach: "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 5
Joan Griffing, violin
Mary Kay Adams, flute
Marvin Mills, harpsichord
John McCutcheon: songs, instrumental pieces
John McCutcheon, singer-instrumentalist
(540) 432-4582

June 13 (4 p.m.)

La Maison Française (French Embassy), 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
The Suspicious Cheese Lords
"Au Naturel: Early French Music for Unaccompanied Voices"
(202) 944-6400

June 13 (7 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano
Laura Ward, piano
Cavani String Quartet
works by Handel, Schumann, Chausson, Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, others
(202) 785-9727 (Washington Performing Arts Society)

June 14 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
Beethoven Found Philharmonic
Yuval Waldman conducting
Beethoven: “Macbeth” Overture
Beethoven: Oboe Concerto (andante)
H. David Meyers, oboe
Beethoven: "Choral Fantasy"
Aglaia Koras, piano
Aurelia String Quartet
City of Washington Chorus
Robert Shafer directing
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5
(800) 444-1324

June 15 (8 p.m.)
Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW, Washington
Alisa Weilerstein, cello
Inon Barnatan, piano
Beethoven: Cello Sonata No. 5 in D major, Op. 102, No. 2
Britten: Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 65
De Falla: "Suite Populaire Espagnole"
Chopin: Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 65
(202) 785-9727 (Washington Performing Arts Society)

June 16 (8 p.m.)

Capitol Hill United Methodist Church, 421 Seward Square SE, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
La Ménéstrandise
"Springtime in Paris," 18th-century works for recorders, oboe, gamba, harpsichord and bass
(202) 546-1000

June 17 (7 p.m.)
June 18 (8 p.m.)
June 19 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Juraj Valcuha conducting
Haydn: Symphony No. 85 ("La Reine")
Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 1
Jennifer Koh, violin
Mahler: Symphony No. 1
(800) 444-1324

June 18 (7:30 p.m.)
Lehman Auditorium, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg
Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival:
Festival Orchestra
Kenneth Nafziger conducting
Bach: Cantata 211 ("Coffee Cantata")
Anne Gross, soprano
Joel Ross, tenor
James Richardson, bass
Mahler: "Five Rückert Songs"
Heidi Kurtz, mezzo-soprano
Barber: "Knoxville, Summer of 1915"
Anne Gross, soprano
Osvaldo Golijov: "Lullaby and Doina"
(540) 432-4582

June 18 (8 p.m.)

St. Mark's on Capitol Hill, 118 3rd St. SE, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
Repast Baroque Ensemble
Amelia Roosevelt, baroque violin
John Mark Rozendaal, viola da gamba
Avi Stein, harpsichord
"La Pantomime," works by Leclair, Mariais, Rameau, Fourquery, Couperin, Morel
(202) 543-0053

June 19 (7:30 p.m.)
Lehman Auditorium, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg
Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival:
Festival Orchestra
Kenneth Nafziger conducting
Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 2
Chopin: Variations on "La ci darem la mano"
Lynne Mackey, piano
Barber: "Mutations from Bach"
W.F. Bach: Sinfonia in F major
Schumann: "Konzertstück" for four horns & orchestra
David Wick, Barbara Josenhans, Jay Chadwick & Tara Islas, French horns
(540) 432-4582

June 19 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
18th Street Singers
Benjamin Olinsky directing
"New Beginnings," works by Rachmaninoff, Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre, Howard Hanson, others
(800) 444-1324

June 19 (8 p.m.)

St. Mark's on Capitol Hill, 118 3rd St SE, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
Modern Musick
"Salon Parisien: Instrumental Music by Rameau, Boismortier and Corrette"
(202) 543-0053

June 20 (4 p.m.)
St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 2480 Batterson Road, Powhatan
Greater Richmond Children's Choir
Hope Armstrong Erb directing
program TBA
(804) 598-3754

June 20 (6 p.m.)
The Gardens at Sunday Point, Brandermill, 4602 Millridge Parkway, Midlothian
Richmond Philharmonic
Robert Mirakian conducting
"Just for Fun," light-classical & pops works TBA
(804) 673-7400

June 20 (10 a.m.)
Lehman Auditorium, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg
Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival Leipzig Service:
Festival Choir & Orchestra
Kenneth Nafziger conducting
Marvin Mills, organ
Bach: Cantata 39, "Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot"
Anne Gross, soprano
Joel Ross, alto
James Richardson, bass
Barber: Adagio for strings
Bach: Sanctus in D major, BWV 238
donation requested
(540) 432-4582

June 20 (3 p.m.)

St. Paul's Parish, K Street, 2430 K St. NW, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
Barbara Hollinshead, mezzo-soprano
Howard Bass, lutes
"Airs de Cour," 16th- and 17th-century French songs and solos
(202) 337-2020

June 20 (7:30 p.m.)
Grace Episcopal Church, 1607 Grace Church Road, Silver Spring, MD
Washington Early Music Festival:
L'Arabesque Baroque
Leslie Nero, violin
Billy Simms, therobo
Douglas Wolters & Cariolana Simon, viols
"An Evening at Versailles: Court Music for the Sun King"
(301) 585-3515

June 22 (12:10 p.m.)
Church of the Epiphany, 1317 G St. NW, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
Arco Voce
Rosa Lamoreaux, soprano
Elizabeth Field & Nina Falk, violins
Douglas McNames, cello
Steven Silverman, harpsichord
William Sharp, baritone
John Moran, viola da gamba
"Airs du Coeur," works by Monteclair, Leclair, Couperin, Guillemain, Jacquet de la Guerre
(202) 347-2635

June 24 (7 p.m.)
June 25 (8 p.m.)
June 26 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra Pops
Marvin Hamlisch conducting
Jim Owen, Tony Kishman, Tom Teeley, Chris Camilleri & Martin Herman, guest stars
"Classical Mystery Tour," music of The Beatles
(800) 444-1324

June 24 (8 p.m.)

St. Mark's on Capitol Hill, 118 3rd St SE, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
Ensemble Gaudior
"Splendors of Versailles," works by Rameau, Couperin, Marais
(202) 543-0053

June 25 (8 p.m.)
St. Mark's on Capitol Hill, 118 3rd St. SE, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
Armonio Nova
Constance Whiteside, director & medieval harp
Marjorie Bunday, alto
Allison Mondel, soprano
Jay White, countertenor
Craig Resta, vielle
Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, mezzo-soprano
"When Love Was Art: Passionate Music from the Age of Chivalry"
(202) 543-0053

June 26 (8 p.m.)
St. Mark's on Capitol Hill, 118 3rd St. SE, Washington
Washington Early Music Festival:
Stephen Ackert & Keith Reas, organs
Steven Silverman & Atsuko Watanabe, harpsichords
"Four Early Keyboards," program TBA
(202) 543-0053

June 27 (5 p.m.)
Centenary United Methodist Church, 411 E. Grace St., Richmond
Centenary Festival Chorus & Orchestra
Stanley M. Baker conducting
"A Walk with Wesley"
Samuel Wesley: Concerto in D major
Grant Hellmers, organ
Risa Browder, violin
Samuel Wesley: "Funeral Anthem on the Death of the Late Charles Wesley"
Brittany Brooks & Lynn LaBarre, sopranos
Emily Martin, alto
Todd Minnich, tenor
Dustin Faltz, baritone
Samuel Wesley: "Exultate Deo" (orchestral version)
Samuel Wesley: "Ode to Saint Cecilia"
Anne O’Byrne, soprano
Lynn Kotrady, alto
John C. Ford Jr., bass
$15 suggested donation
(804) 648-8319

June 29 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Jeffrey Kahane conducting
Ravel: "Alborada del gracioso"
Ravel: "Ma mère l’oye"
Ravel: "Rapsodie espagnole"
Osvaldo Golijov: "Azul"
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
$30-$125 (waiting list)
(800) 444-1324