Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Virginia Opera meets challenge

Virginia Opera has raised nearly $600,000 to match and surpass the goal of a $500,000 challenge grant made by an anonymous donor last January, adding more than $1 million to the company’s revenue.

The additional funds will be used for some 300 education and outreach programs statewide, as well as supporting the company’s four mainstage productions in 2012 and its Emerging Artists troupe.

Nearly 600 individual, corporate and foundation donors contributed to meet the challenge grant, said Russell P. Allen, Virginia Opera’s CEO and president.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: Stile Antico

Dec. 14, University of Richmond

When Oscar Wilde wrote that life imitates art, he coined a clever aphorism but demonstrated his ignorance of English history – specifically, religious history under the Tudor monarchs. Listening to the British vocal ensemble Stile Antico perform liturgical music of Thomas Tallis, William Byrd and their contemporaries, one could easily forget that Christianity in 16th-century Britain was a death struggle between Catholics and Protestants, accompanied by epithets, burnings, beheadings and general mayhem.

Stile Antico’s Advent-Christmas program, “Puer natus est” (“A son is born”), centered on Tallis’ unfinished Mass for seven parts by that name; sections of the Mass were interspersed with Byrd’s four propers for the fourth Sunday of Advent.

This was audience-friendly, if not quite fair to Tallis. His Mass, introduced in 1554, was written in the
plainchant-rooted “old” style, circumscribed in both pacing (adagio to andante and back) and expressive range (reverential and awed). An uninterrupted performance of the piece would have been sublime, but also might have sent listeners into a blissful stupor.

Byrd’s works, later in vintage and more musically concentrated and adventurous, added needed animation and variety. Robert White’s Magnificat and John Sheppard’s “Verbum caro,” which ended the two halves of the program, added still more harmonic adventure and playful joyousness to the proceedings.

Stile Antico sings in a style that is historically informed, yet not angelically denatured, as so many early music vocal groups tend to sound. This group’s 13 voices blend beautifully, but retain their individual characters – especially the bass voices, with their hint of grit – and audibly feed off one another’s energy and expressiveness.

In this performance, the singers, singly and collectively, pushed the expressive limits of the Tallis Mass, treated Byrd’s vocal weavings with spontaneity, and positively reveled in the intricacies and surprising eccentricities of the White and Sheppard works.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: Richmond Symphony

Erin R. Freeman conducting
Dec. 10, Richmond CenterStage

No two performances of any piece of music are exactly the same, but some works are more changeable than others. Handel’s “Messiah” is a prime example: Tempos, accents, ornamentation of melody lines, even solo voice registers, are all subject to change – and have been ever since Handel’s day.

This year’s Richmond Symphony “Messiah,” led by Erin R. Freeman, the orchestra’s associate conductor and director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus, was more upbeat than many past performances. Freeman opted for brisk, dance-like tempos in many of the work’s most familiar airs and choruses, notably “Hallelujah” and “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion.”

The Symphony Chorus responded with alert, finely articulated singing that didn’t stint on the work’s big choral exclamations but often sounded more intimate and expressively nuanced than this large ensemble generally does.

The solo quartet – soprano Michelle Areyzaga, countertenor José Lemos, tenor William Ferguson and bass-baritone Matthew Burns – varied in tonal and expressive character. Lemos was audibly more conversant in baroque ornamentation and expressive affectus than his colleagues, and that expertise yielded dividends in several alto numbers, notably “He was despised.”

Most of the solo numbers in this performance, however, were melodically straightforward and conversational or contemplative. Ferguson’s interaction with the chorus in the sequence beginning with “All they that see him laugh him to scorn” added a nice touch of theatricality.

The orchestra’s chamber-scale forces, the strings playing with historically informed low vibrato, maintained good balance with soloists and chorus, at least from my vantage. (I sat in a center-orchestra seat, not my usual perch in the balcony.)

Trumpeter Rolla Durham played “The trumpet shall sound” with his accustomed brilliance, and concertmaster Diana Cohen and principal second violinist Ellen Cockerham made fine work of their cameo duet in the “Amen” chorus.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 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 the season’s spirit . . . It’s all good.

Dec. 1 (7 p.m.)
Dec. 2 (8 p.m.)
Dec. 3 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Christoph Eschenbach conducting
Golijov: commissioned work TBA
Britten: Violin Concerto
Midori, violin
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1
(800) 444-1324

Dec. 2 (8 p.m.)
Black Music Center (old church), Virginia Commonwealth University, Grove Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
Choral Arts Society
VCU Women’s Choir
Vocal Chamber Ensemble
“Choral Showcase”
Britten: “A Ceremony of Carols”
other works TBA
(804) 828-6776

Dec. 2 (8 p.m.)
Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Dec. 10 (8 p.m.)
First Presbyterian Church, 523 Park St., Charlottesville
Virginia Glee Club
Frank Albinder directing
Virginia Gentlemen
Christmas program TBA
(434) 924-3376

Dec. 2 (8 p.m.)
Dec. 3 (8 p.m.)
Dec. 4 (1:30 p.m.)
University of Virginia Chapel, Charlottesville
The Virginia Women’s Chorus
Katherine Mitchell directing
“Candlelight Concert,” program TBA
(434) 924-3376

Dec. 2 (8 p.m.)
Dec. 4 (2 p.m.)
Center for the Arts, George Mason University, Fairfax
Virginia Opera
Gerald Steichen conducting
Humperdinck: “Hansel and Gretel”
Karin Mushegain (Hansel)
Julia Ebner (Gretel)
Margaret Gawrysiak (Witch/Gertrude)
Eric Greene (Peter)
Jason Abrams (Sandman)
Elizabeth Baldwin (Dew Fairy)
Kevin Newbury, stage director
in English and German, English captions
(888) 945-2468 (

Dec. 3 (8 p.m.)
Dec. 4 (3 p.m.)
Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage, Sixth and Grace streets
Richmond Symphony Pops
Erin R. Freeman conducting
Richmond Symphony Chorus
One Voice Chorus
“Let It Snow!” holiday program
works by Handel, Berlioz, Humperdinck, Rachmaninoff, Leroy Anderson, others
(800) 514-3849 (ETIX)

Dec. 3 (4 and 7 p.m.)
First Presbyterian Church, 523 Park St., Charlottesville
The Virginia Consort
Youth Chorale
Christmas program TBA
(434) 244-8444

Dec. 3 (8 p.m.)
Dec. 4 (3:30 p.m.)
Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra
U.Va. University Singers
Michael Slon conducting
Martha Eason, soprano
“Family Holiday Concert”
carols and works by Tchaikovsky, Leroy Anderson, others
(434) 924-3376

Dec. 3 (2 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Kathryn Stott, piano
Ravel: Sonatine
Debussy: Nocturne in D-flat major
Franck: Prelude, Chorale and Fugue
Ginastera: Sonata No. 1, Op. 22
Villa-Lobos: “Valsa da Dor”
Fitkin: “Relent” (1998)
Fauré: Nocturnes Nos. 4, 6
(202) 785-9727 (Washington Performing Arts Society)

Dec. 4 (4 p.m.)
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 520 N. Boulevard, Richmond
Richmond Choral Society
Markus J. Compton directing
“Christmas with the Richmond Choral Society,” program TBA
(804) 353-9582

Dec. 4 (5 and 8 p.m.)
Cannon Memorial Chapel, University of Richmond
UR Schola Cantorum & Women’s Chorale
Jeffrey Riehl & David Pedersen directing
“Christmas Candlelight Services,” festival of lessons and carols
(804) 289-8980

Dec. 4 (3 p.m.)
Jefferson Center, 541 Luck Ave. SW, Roanoke
Roanoke Symphony
David Stewart Wiley conducting
Handel: “Messiah”
Adelaide Muir-Trombetta, soprano
Tara Bouknight, alto
John Hugo, tenor
Wayne Kompelien, bass
Roanoke Symphony Chorus
(540) 343-9127

Dec. 5 (7 p.m.)
Atrium of The James Center, 1051 E. Cary St., Richmond
Richmond Philharmonic
Robert Mirakian conducting
light classics and carols TBA, sing-along
donation requested
(804) 673-7400

Dec. 6 (7:30 p.m.)
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Grove Avenue at Three Chopt Road, Richmond
choirs of St. Christopher’s School
Service of Lessons and Carols
(804) 288-2867

Dec. 6 (8 p.m.)
Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Handel: “Messiah” sing-along
Donald Loach directing
(434) 924-3376

Dec. 6 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Narek Arutyunian, clarinet
Steven Beck, piano
program TBA
(800) 444-1324

Dec. 7 (8 p.m.)
Dec. 8 (8 p.m.)
Phi Beta Kappa Hall, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg
Dec. 9 (8 p.m.)
Regent University Theater, Virginia Beach
Dec. 10 (8 p.m.)
Chrysler Hall, 201 Brambleton Ave., Norfolk
Dec. 11 (2:30 p.m.)
Ferguson Arts Center, Christopher Newport University, Newport News
Virginia Symphony
Robert Franz conducting
Handel: “Messiah”
Máire O’Brien, soprano
Elise DesChampes, mezzo-soprano
Brian Stucki, tenor
Brian Banion, bass-baritone
Virginia Symphony Chorus
(757) 892-6366

Dec. 7 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Augustin Hadelich, violin
Rohan de Silva, piano
Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 30, No. 1
Poulenc: Violin Sonata
Zimmermann: Sonata for Solo Violin (1951)
Brahms: Sonata for violin and piano No. 1 in G major, Op. 78
Sarasate: “Zigeunerweisen”
(800) 444-1324

Dec. 8 (7 p.m.)
Dec. 9 (8 p.m.)
Dec. 10 (8 p.m.)
Dec. 11 (7 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra Pops
Steven Reineke conducting
The Canadian Tenors
Children’s Chorus of Washington
“The Greatest Gift,” program TBA
(800) 444-1324

Dec. 9 (7 p.m.)
Dec. 11 (3 p.m.)
Virginia Center Commons, 10101 Brook Road (U.S. 1), Glen Allen
Central Virginia Wind Symphony
Mike Goldberg directing
Ellen Broen, vocalist (Dec. 9)
Kat Simons, host (Dec. 9)
Audra Honaker, vocalist (Dec. 11)
Mikki Spencer, host (Dec. 11)
“Holiday Spectacular”
Anderson: “A Christmas Festival”
Carter: Overture for winds
Sousa: “The Fairest of the Fair”
Bocook (arr.): Selections from “Wicked”
Ricketts (arr.): Selections from “Grease”
Lavender (arr.): “John Williams In Concert”
Anderson: “Bugler’s Holiday”
Swearingen: “Christmas Favorites”
Ployhar: “Christmas Sing-Along”
Anderson: “Sleigh Ride”
(804) 342-8797

Dec. 9 (7:30 p.m.)
Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Park Avenue at Harrison Street, Richmond
VCU faculty and student performers
“VCU Music Holiday Gala,” program TBA
proceeds benefit VCU Hospitality House
(804) 828-6776

Dec. 9 (8 p.m.)
Salem Civic Center, Roanoke Boulevard at U.S. 460 (alt.), Salem
Roanoke Symphony
David Stewart Wiley conducting
Adelaide Muir Trombetta, soprano
Hollins University Choir
Roanoke College Children’s Choir
“Holiday Pops Spectacular,” program TBA
(540) 343-9127

Dec. 9 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Eric Owens, bass-baritone
Craig Rutenberg, piano
works by Wolf, Schumann, Schubert, Debussy, Duparc, Ravel, Wagner
(800) 444-1324

Dec. 10 (7 p.m.)
Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage, Sixth and Grace streets
Richmond Symphony
Erin R. Freeman conducting
Handel: “Messiah”
Michelle Areyzaga, soprano
José Lemos, countertenor
William Ferguson, tenor
Matthew Burns, baritone
Richmond Symphony Chorus
(800) 514-3849 (ETIX)

Dec. 11 (2:30 p.m.)
1 Welwyn Place, Richmond
Atlantic Chamber Ensemble
“House Specials: a Musical Meal of Your Choice”
works by Mozart, Rossini, Chopin, Piazzolla, others
reception follows
$10-$40 (limited seating, reservations suggested)
benefit for Neighborhood Resource Center of Greater Fulton
proceeds partially benefit scholarship fund for Williams Syndrome Association’s Music Camps for young people
(917) 414-3112

Dec. 11 (4 p.m.)
Bon Air Presbyterian Church, 9201 W. Huguenot Road, Richmond
Second Sunday South of the James:
Handel: “Messiah” sing-along
Anne Carr Regan conducting
Karen Floyd Savage, soprano
Heather Jones, mezzo-soprano
Andrew Seigle, tenor
James Lynn, bass
Kim Peachy, harpsichord
Stephen Henley, organ
donation requested
rehearsal at 1 p.m. Dec. 10
(804) 272-7514

Dec. 11 (4 p.m.)
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Lakeside Avenue at Dumbarton Road, Richmond
Greater Richmond Children’s Choir
Hope Armstrong Erb directing
“Festival of Holidays,” program TBA
(804) 201-1894

Dec. 11 (4 p.m.)
Rockfish Presbyterian Church, 5016 Rockfish Valley Highway, Nellysford
Virginia Consort
“A Blue Ridge Christmas,” program TBA
(434) 325-8292

Dec. 14 (7:30 p.m.)
Camp Concert Hall, Modlin Arts Center, University of Richmond
Stile Antico
“Puer natus est,” English Tudor vocal music for Christmas and Advent
(804) 289-8980

Dec. 15 (7 p.m.)
Dec. 16 (8 p.m.)
Dec. 17 (8 p.m.)
Dec. 19 (1 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Matthew Halls conducting
Handel: “Messiah”
Kiera Duffy, soprano
Matthew Shaw, countertenor
James Gilchrist, tenor
Neal Davies, bass-baritone
University of Maryland Concert Choir
(800) 444-1324

Dec. 16 (8 p.m.)
Sandler Arts Center, 201 S. Market St., Virginia Beach
Dec. 17 (8 p.m.)
Chrysler Hall, 201 Brambleton Ave., Norfolk
Virginia Symphony Pops
Robert Shoup conducting
Virginia Symphony Chorus
Virginia Children’s Chorus
“Holiday Pops,” program TBA
(757) 892-6366

Dec. 17 (3 and 8 p.m.)
Paramount Theater, 215 E. Main St., Charlottesville
Oratorio Society of Virginia
Michael Slon directing
brass ensemble
John Rutter: Gloria
Poulenc: “O Magnum Mysterium”
other Christmas music TBA
(434) 979-1333

Dec. 17 (4 p.m.)
Dec. 18 (7 p.m.)
Dec. 20 (7 p.m.)
Dec. 22 (7 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
The Washington Chorus
Julian Wachner directing
Carl Tanner, tenor
“A Candlelight Christmas,” program TBA
(800) 444-1324

Dec. 17 (8 p.m.)
Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, First Street at Independence Avenue S.E., Washington
Borromeo String Quartet
Seymour Lipkin, piano
Schuller: String Quartet No. 4
Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30
Schubert: String Quartet in D minor, D. 810 (“Death and the Maiden”)
Free; tickets required
(703) 573-7328 (Ticketmaster)

Dec. 19 (7 p.m.)
Dec. 21 (7 p.m.)
Dec. 24 (1 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
Choral Arts Society of Washington
Norman Scribner directing
Ural Philharmonic
Enkhbaatar Baatarzhyvan conducting
Irina Shishkova, mezzo-soprano
The Choral Arts Chorus
“Holiday Treasures from Russia,” program TBA
(800) 444-1324

Dec. 23 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
Washington National Opera Orchestra
Barry Hemphill conducting
Handel: “Messiah” sing-along
free tickets distributed at 6 p.m. in Hall of Nations
(800) 444-1324

Dec. 31 (8:30 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra members
Murry Sidlin conducting
Salon Orchestra of Washington
“New Year’s Eve at the Kennedy Center,” program TBA
dancing in Grand Foyer at 11 p.m.
(800) 444-1324