Friday, December 14, 2012

Boulder, Fall 2012

Once a semester!  A fail,  a big time fail.   What a lazy guy when composing these little notes, but I've not been missing concerts or performances or musical events.  I'm just not that into doing these mini-reviews on a regular basis.  Every once in while it's okay, but I don't want to get into a habit requiring regularity.

Living in Boulder gives me opportunities to see a lot of classical music performances: some at the University of Colorado, the Boulder Philharmonic, the Takacs String Quartet, the Metropolitan Opera live in HD broadcasts, the Boulder Chamber Orchestra, and a few others that escape my memory right now.  While I used to comment frequently, this time I'll just make some summary observations.

First an editorial comment: Classical music is alive but wounded.  Money -- huge, previously unimaginable amounts -- is wasted on silly things in my mind.   Billions are spent on insulting television ads for political candidates and now an enormous sum is being spent of hiring a football coach. Orchestras and opera companies around the country are ending up bankrupt or in debt.  The mini-mind money-men can't tell the difference between a sonata and a toothbrush, so they spend unwisely for pigskins and troglodyte republicans (the party doesn't deserve capitalization now).   I haven't given up hope but I'm concerned.

Okay, the fall of 2012.  One highlight was an odd performance at the University of Colorado Faculty Tuesdays of Morning in Iowa by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.  It was odd in the combination of instruments (guitar. banjo, double bass, clarinet, saxophone, percussion and accordion) and had  excellent narration of the poem, written by Robert Nathan, 1944, and a very informative introduction. 

The Boulder Chamber Orchestra allowed me to hear a first -- a live performance of Poulenc's Concerto for Organ and Percussion with Kajsa Teitelbaum performing.  I don't hear a lot of organ works done live but this was a real treat.  It was weeks ago when I heard it but for some reason I can sill recall the thrill of the main themes.

Two student compositions from the CU Pendulum series stand out.  A strangely named piece for cello and piano by Ryan Connell "Deviation by Blood by Number" was exceptional.   I've listened to it several times on from the Pendulum web-site and it's haunting.  Hunter Ewan's work for string quartet "The Girl Who Screamed Dixie" played by the Arava Quartet from Australia was also great fun.  I remember smiling as I realized one of the Dixie themes was suddenly emerging from the complicated quartet sound.  Both of these pieces are now on the Pendulum web-site,   You might not appreciate student compositions but both of these are fun and worth hearing.

The CU school of music also sponsored a John Cage retrospective.  Cage's legacy apparently is greater that I thought.  While his Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano were okay, it was interesting to be able to see how the preparations were authored and implemented.  The visiting Third Coast Percussion from Chicago gave several performances with an astounding number of percussion objects -- they all made sounds so I guess you would classify them as instruments.

All in all it was a good fall for music in Boulder.

Monday, May 21, 2012

April and May

Negligence, negligence, negligence.   It's been a while but I've been attending musical events regularly here in Boulder.  I'll skip most but acknowledge a few.

First I want to congratulate the Tesla quartet for their success in London. They are wonderful musicians and I wish them luck as they venture back east into the vagaries of New York City.  Their final farewell concert was wonderful and I'm glad they did it.  Good luck and I'll watch for your certain success.

Secondly, the University of Colorado student orchestra premiered a work by the university's Carter Pann.  Apparently Pann spent a month in Maine, hanging out on the river estuaries of Damariscotta leading to the Atlantic.  In a piece entitled "Three Secrets in Maine", Pann musically sculpted scenes of his life on the ocean.  When I lived back east I, too, spent wonderful times off the coast of Maine so here was a piece of "program music" that I was pre-programmed for.  Yep, I was there and I heard it first myself.  The opening movement was about fish.  Pann saw and heard herring dashing up a fish-ladder.  To me it was exactly the sound of the pollock that swarmed round my sail boat one lazy afternoon when I floated into a school.  His sound performed by the Phil was just what I heard that day.  The third movement, "In Silence, Adrift under Venus, Alone", captured something that he did but I didn't.  He kayaked at night.  The sound of Maine at night: black flies, mosquitoes and rippling water was exactly what I heard when I wandered down to the docks, heavily coated in bug spray, waiting for late arrivals.  While perhaps I'll hear it again, Maine now reminds me of black flies, mosquitotes and in-laws. 

Thirdly, the death of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau brought me to YouTube where there were many tributes for this great baritone.  While in college I attended a lieder recital by a traveling nameless singer and I was impressed.  When I commented about it to a friend, the music instructor for the college, he said "You should listen to Dieskau".  Fortunately he hired me to supplement the college music collection with an alumni donation of $5000, a lot for the early '60s.  I hit the catalogs, reviewed the current library and became good friends with Sam Goodies.  We had little of Fischer-Dieskau so I made sure that I fixed that problem.  Records were mailed to my PO box and I reviewed and cataloged them. Remember records? Round and black and often scratchy.  I was lucky enough to hear Fischer-Dieskau at a live concert when I lived in Germany, though I don't remember much other than my young son went along and enjoyed it. 

Now that he's dead, I've found a wealth of his singing on YouTube.  Interestingly I found a sound recording of him singing Wotan's farewell. I've just finished a second immersion into the Metropolitan Opera's HD broadcast of Wagner's Ring. I'm still not certain if I like the monster set or not but I can't complain about the singing.  Now Wotan's farewell to Brunnhilde is, as one music critic wrote, the saddest music written.  Sad but I love it and can't get enough of it.  James Morris is, to me, the ultimate Wotan. Bryn Terfel was almost as good and now there's Dieskau.  What a problem it is ranking art: Morris, then Fischer-Dieskau and then Terfel. 

Lieder led to opera.  Opera lead surprisingly to Mahler.  Fortunately I heard two performances of Mahler's "Resurrection" symphony this weekend.  Robert Olson's pace was right on, in my mind.  I sat up in the balcony for the second performance and positioned myself away from everyone but in good light.  I have a copy of the score and followed it closely.  How do conductors do it?  I got a bit lost towards the end of the third movement but the music jumps off the page and I finished with tears in my eyes.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hear ahead - part 2

The February 27th University of Colorado Artist Series featured András Schiff. It was a full audience for a big named performer but my wife was bored, bored, bored. The program started with Bach's Three Part Inventions which I enjoyed, though mildly. Schiff seemed mechanical and robotic though that sometime is Bach. Schiff next did some Bartok but the Bach muted my enthusiasm for it. What I was waiting for was Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. These 33 variations on a trite little theme are fun to listen to when you can focus on only listening. Schiff's playing was flawless and I felt I could hear each note clearly enough to try to pull out the theme as the variations proceeded. At first it was easy to hear them, at least two to my mind. They snuck in and were weaved in magnificently by Beethoven. I can't say that I recognized them all, my ear isn't sufficiently trained, but the important part relative to this post is that I "got" a lot of them. My mind was remembering and focusing. More later. Schiff is great, regardless of what my wife thinks. As I left Mackey, I teased a friend, complaining "He skipped number 17!" I hope he realized I was joking.

Here is an important point: I'm not a musician -- only a listener. I can read notes, barely. As a kid I played the accordion and again in the 1980s in Germany but that doesn't quite count. I enjoying trying to read scores while playing recordings, but often get lost, particularly with multiple repeats, etc. But I listen to a LOT of classical music, Nightly in bed plugged into earplugs I hear music on Pandora on my Chumby. Typically for an hour or more, I'll just listen and enjoy and think about the music. Pandora "recommends" music based on their musical Genome project. The thinking goes something like this: "if you like this, you'll like that!" A scherzo from a Beethoven quartet, only individual movements are allowed, might lead to another scherzo from a Mozart piano trio. Or a slow movement from a Mahler symphony might be followed by a long slow one from Bruckner. If you seed Pandora with strange composers, e.g. Geirr Tviett or Jolly Braga Santos, you sometimes get interesting music, sometimes not. The point of this diversion is that often I get hear completely unknown music as I'm lying in bed, in the quiet and the dark.

The night after András Schiff's performance, the visiting violinist Andrés Cárdenes performed a wonderfully diverse program with several other faculty. Cárdenes, paired with pianist David Korevaar, opened with a Mozart Violin Sonata, K454. While waiting for it to begin, I'd been thinking about Schiff's Diabelli and the how memory helped me through the variations. K 454 is in my music library, but I hadn't heard it since at least the middle of 2007, so I approached listening to it as if it was new. While listening it suddenly dawned on me that I was anticipating un-played notes. I was sensing notes that were to be played but that hadn't been yet. Mozart's music has always been somewhat predictable to me -- there was this sense that a sequence of notes was always to be followed by just one specific next one. Then the realization him me, halfway through the Mozart, that I was hearing notes ahead of what was being played. The next piece was a Hindemith sonata but here I couldn't "hear ahead" so I wondered it. After the break Cárdenes, this time playing viola, performed a wonderful Quartet by Niccolo Paganini. Rounding out the group was Lina Bahn on violin, Judith Glyde on cello, and Niccolo Spera on guitar. Could I "hear ahead" on this new piece? Yes, it was happening again. I don't mean to say that I was always right, but I sensed that when I was wrong I was only off a little bit and I felt I was right more than I was wrong. The concert ended with two pieces by Debussy and Schedrin and during both I felt I could "hear ahead", perhaps not as clearly as with the Mozart or the Paganini, but I felt it was happening again. Turning on Pandoa later I heard and unfamiliar piece by Dvorak for cello labeled "Klicki". A quick internet search for "Klicki" didn't find anything either but it was unfamiliar to me and I was once again "hearing ahead".

This past Tuesday, the trio of Yumi-Hwang Williams, concertmaster and violinist with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Silver Ainomäe, principal cellist with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Hsing-ay Hsu, Artistic Director of the CU Pendulum series and pianist, performed the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio in A Minor, Op. 50. The second section of this incorporated 12 variations on a theme. I was unfamiliar with it, so I tested "hearing ahead". which seemed to work well though the fact that there were variations made it much easier. Hsing-ay Hsu started the concert with an intense rendition of Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The audience really loved it and the later Tchaikovsky. I couldn't agree more.

Before I quit, I want to again complain about classical music broadcast on the radio. I've stopped listening to the radio though I still hear it in the car. These supposedly public-supported "educational" stations play junk posing as art. They broadcast not music performances but just partial performances. Can't they see that the natural next step is to no long broadcast only movements but just "the best parts". If they can broadcast a movement of a symphony, why not just play the "pretty parts". Why wait for the whole last movement of Beethoven's 9th to hear the Ode to Joy, why not just start with that. Skip directly to "O Freunde, niche diese Töne!", why waste time? Mahler's symphony endings are triumphs, so why not just put them all together into one ending of endings? I'm sure the mini-minds of classical music producers could come up with something that would consolidate all great music to one 90 minute CD. Then they could convince "educational" radio to put it into a loop and get rid of all the announcers. Wouldn't that be great?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Hear ahead

It's a great time of year for music in Boulder. Concerts and recitals everywhere, with many free and most well attended. I'm happy.

I'm not as active blogging as I used to be. Other projects and activities use up a lot of my time, so it's taken a weekend away with some skiing and partying to free up time for this little submission. It's cold in my condo right now but it will be colder on the mountain tomorrow at 8:30.

I'd like to touch on a few concerts and recognize some good performances and then introduce an thought I had about music, so here goes.

First chronologically, the University of Colorado's (CU) Symphony Orchestra played Rossini's William Tell Overture followed by Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. Our favorite graduate student was concert-mistress -- she lives with us this year and is great. What I remember most was the beautiful cello solo by Andrew Briggs in the opening of William Tell. He's been to our house a few times, so I knew him a bit. He later in February was the winner of the CU Student Concerto Competition along with Cobus du Toit, who plays often with the Boulder Chamber Orchestra, so congratulations to both Andrew and Cobus.

Next CU had "Faculty Tuesdays", a concert featuring outstanding professors as performers. It's weekly and I try to go to most of them. More and more people in Boulder are coming to these, rightfully so. Jeffrey Nytch, director of the Entrepreneurship Center for Music, put together an eclectic program calling on many of the faculty. My favorite was a piece by Graham Fitkin, "Hard Fair" for Soprano Saxophone and Two Pianos. David Korevaar and Carter Pann slammed into this piece on piano and Grant Larson screamed with the Sax. I'd love to hear it again.

It was a very windy Wednesday and the CU Pendulum program was without program notes --they had "blown away" supposedly but understandably. The winds at my house that day, right below the National Center for Atmospheric Research lab, were measure at over 90 miles per hour. CU Pendulum features student compositions and new faculty works and I've enjoyed them in the past, though this one was a little less persuasive. One student composition went on interminably with unintelligibly spoken poetry covering sometimes interesting by mostly boring music. I encourage student compositions, so try, try again. What was interesting was a faculty work by John Drumheller -- its hard to say it's a composition since it was a dynamically computer processed transmission of a live performance by Nicolò Spera on a 10 stringed guitar. Perhaps Drumheller composed the guitar music, but with experimental music like this, one can't be sure.

On Friday night my wife and I went to an interesting performance sponsored by Playground, an off-shoot of the Boulder Symphony Orchestra, a relatively new group in town. The performances, mostly solos and duets, were by contemporary composers like Stockhausen, Reich, Berg and Gorecki. Two performances in particular stood out. Another computer enhanced performance by Ben Cantu on guitar playing "Electric Counterpoint" by Steve Reich. Having heard Drumheller's work earlier, it was a good comparison and very well done. Secondly, with high kudos, was performance of Gorecki's Piano Sonata No 1, Opus 6 performed by Heidi Brende Leathwood. Gorecki is most noted for his 3rd Symphony but has some interesting piano music including at least one Piano Concerto. This sonata was as electrifying as the recording of that concerto and compliments to Ms. Leathwood for tackling it.

The next night the Boulder Philharmonic, under Michael Butterman, gave a full audience a full plate -- Shostokovich, Gulda and Schubert's "Great C Major Symphony". Friedrich Gulda was new to me -- in fact I thought it was Fulda until I realized, after a Wikipedia search, that I had an F for a G, with Fulda a town and US Army base in Germany. Gulda was apparently quite the pianist but an oddball, faking his own death late in life. The piece, Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra, was performed by Joshua Roman, a young upcoming performer tied into the TED program. I have to say that it left me puzzled. Roman's cello was miked, though I suppose to guarantee clarity in the cavernous Mackey auditorium. The 5 movement piece centered on a cadenza that went on and on and on -- Roman clearly commands his instrument but this solo riff caused unfamiliarity to spawn boredom. The last two movements were better and more interesting, so the audience sprang up cheering. I guess they liked it more than I did.

While I had intended for this post to cover more, I think I'll stop here and introduce "head-ahead" on the next one.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Starting a new year

Okay, 2012 has to be better politically than last year. Troglodite republicans have destroyed the evening meal time when I listen to the news. It used to be music but the local station now only plays snatches of tracks so hogwash is better than garbage. What me worry?

January hasn't been bad. A decent Boulder Philharmonic performance of Howard Hanson's "Romantic" Symphony preceeded by the Takac String Quartet featuring Britten's String Quartet No 2 was a good start for the year. I was over-confident in my musical knowledge and bet Gerry Walther that Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" was based on a theme by Frank Bridge, the composer she featured in a small mini-concert. Wrong! She won $5 knowing, as I should have, that it was a Purcell theme, not Bridge. I'm glad I don't bet on the stock market.

A young friend invited me to a BBQ. Not what you think but a Boulder Bassoon Quartet performance. This instrument is a bit of a loner, not exactly a featured instrument or one that you want your kids to aspire to, but a solid and interesting one. This quartet performed an actual bassoon quartet written by Marjan Mozetich, a contemporary Canadian. I've heard other bassoon music by Mozetich and have always enjoyed it. He has a sound -- if you've heard him once you can recognize him again, kind of like some lesser known composer like Hovhaness and Martinu. A true mark of genius?

Two University of Colorado faculty performances were also enjoyable, though my current cold prevented me from completely enjoying them. Paul Erhard performed on two different double bass instruments in an evening of mixed classical and jazz. I have a friend playing double bass who once explained to me that there are several options on the instruments. Most only have 4 strings but some have 5. The principal bassist at the Colorado Music Festival was playing one, though the rest of his colleagues were playing one 4 stringed instruments. Based on first impressions, I though Erhard was switching from 5 to 4, but n0 -- both were 4 stringed. What do I know?

David Korevaar thrilled a large Tuesday night audience with 4 Bach Partitas. He always packs the house. My cold and cough forced me to leave at intermission. Oh, if only I had seen a doctor earlier.

Yesterday was a two-fer: a symposium on the future of the orchestra and Pendulum. Pendulum has student performances of faculty, visiting faculty and student composers. This was no different and, while well received, was problematic. Hsing-Ay Hsu accompanied Patrick Mason in a 20 minute piece by Ben-Amot. The music was fine but following Judeo-Spanish poetry with unpredictable breaks was really, really hard. Pendulum's highlight for me and some friends as Raechel Sherwood's "BOSS" performed by the Tesla Quartet. Though only two movements, it never lost interest and when it ended, I wanted more. Not bad for a young student composer. The Tesla continues to impress me with their playing and confidence on stage. This is their second year at CU and it will be a shamed to see them move on.

The musical entrepreneurial program, run by Jeffrey Nytch, sponsored a discussion on the future of orchestra. The panel included 2 representatives from the Colorado Symphony (I didn't write down their names), Gary Lewis from CU and conductor of the Midland Texas Orchestra, and Kevin Schuck, executive director of the Boulder Philharmonic. The discussion focused on the changing environment for classical orchestra and the challenges they face. I go to concerts at all of them (forget Texas) and I can understand the problems. The CSO is facing declining attendance and funding support and a complex board situation. My wife and I and friends would go the the CSO, but the traffic, parking, dinner and concerts ended with to much frustration. We've pretty much stopped going to Denver. I'm glad that the plans include the CSO coming to us, rather than the other way around. We'd love to hear them closer, perhaps at Mackey.

An interesting observation by one of the panelists struck true to me -- we've lost a generation of music lovers when school music programs were cut in the last decader or two. It's no wonder pop music is so horrid but profitable and covered by attorneys. The younger generation missed out and grasped what they could and it wasn't much.

The symposium was a good first step. I've suggested to Nytch that more follow with possible topics like:

* Orchestral/Union relationships. The musicians need them and I support them, but are they having a negative effect?

* Intellectual property rights and copyright. Are they limiting ourmusic experience? Are lawyers desecrating art?

* The missing generation. How do we get back our children's lost musical experience? Is music in pre-college education dead?

* Programming and familiarity. Are the "classics" limiting the reach to audiences and is some programming overplayed and chasing away audiences?

* Pensions. Can't musicians just die without them?

Okay, enough for tonight. January was pretty good. If only I could shake this cold.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Nirvana Boulder

It's wonderful to live in Boulder and have so much access to classical music. Lots and lots and lots of live classical music. Granted, two performances were live broadcasts of the Metropolitan opera, live classical music is alive and well in Boulder, Colorado. In the past two weeks I've seen 3 operas, one requiem, a Beethoven symphony and chamber music galore, 11 performances in all, and, yes, I'm a glutton when it comes to classical music.

Starting out on a Sunday afternoon, the University of Colorado's School of Music put on a very solid "Marriage of Figaro". Two singers stood out: Wei Wu as Figaro and Meagan Mahlberg as the countess. Each opera performance demonstrates the rising quality of the singers being attracted to Boulder.

Leon Fleischer played Prokofiev's 4th piano concerto with the Irish Chamber Orchestra. This is the first time I've heard that concerto live and never understood that it was for the left hand only. I never realized how many left-hand only piano pieces there were. Wikipedia lists 41, including compositions by Strauss, Hindemith, Martinů, Britten and a raft of others. For reasons known only to pianists, there don't appear to be any written for the right hand. I wonder why?

The university's Pendulum series was up next. A monthly concert of music written by faculty and graduate students, it's always appealed to me. The music is varied, some accessible, some not, but always worth the short trip to the music school. One particular piece, a piano quintet by Steve Sachse, was the best of the lot.

I went from Mozart's "Marriage" on Sunday to the Met's "Don Giovanni" on Saturday. While it's not fair to compare a university performance to the Met, there's something about a live performance that's hard to beat. Musically and vocally the Met is hard to beat. The Met had just been forced to replace the ailing Gary Lehman in their upcoming "Siegfried" with a young Jay Hunter Morris from Paris, Texas. He was interviewed by Rene Fleming at the "Don Giovanni" intermission and had a wonderful observation. When asked if he was wary or star-struck by a role at the Met, particularly one as difficult as that of Siegfried, he replied with something like "When the lights go down and I get into character, I don't know if it's the Met or a high school gym". Great response. The next Saturday he sang his heart out and was a Siegfried to remember.

More Mozart was on the agenda that Saturday. After listening to "Don Giovanni", my wife and I went with friends to a performance of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra's Mozart "Requiem". The Ars Nova Singers and soloists provided the vocals for a packed house. It was a solid performance and got a rousing ovation. Interestingly, after we left the church we saw a flash mob dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" on the Pearl Street Mall. From the religiosity of Mozart to strangely dressed dancers and zombies in a short block's walk. Only in Boulder.

Next up was a performance by the Takács String Quartet. Janacek's "Kreutzer" and Ravel's only quartet preceded a Dvorak String Quintet with Paul Erhard on String Bass. I particularly like the quintet. Erhard's instrument looked larger than any I had seen before, probably an illusion.

The next night I attended one of the Tuesday Colorado faculty performances, this time featuring music written by Carter Pann, composition and theory professor. It's hard to select a favorite here. Janet Harriman played a delightful harp piece "Emerald's on Artemis" and Joel Hastings, coming to Boulder from Florida State University, played 8 selections from Pann's "The Piano's 12 Sides ... for Joe Hastings". I had a great view and found it interesting to watch Hasting's facial expressions as he played. Back in high school I had a good friend who went to Julliard for keyboard studies. My friend and Joel both showed the same concentration and intensity and passion. It's a piano thing that I'll never understand. The graduate student quartet studying with the Takács this year, the Tesla Quartet, played Pann's 1st String Quartet. This was my favorite for the evening. I liked the quartet so much that I came back and ordered a recording the next day. I hope this recording is as good as the Tesla's performance though a live performance always wins out.

After attending a graduate student viola recital on Wednesday, we went to the Cantabile Singers performance later that night. The featured work was Ralph Vaughan Williams's "Flos Campi". The violist was Gerry Walther from the Takács String Quartet. This was a first for me, both for the piece and for the soloist stopping shortly into the work with a technical problem on her viola. With the problem fixed, Gerry finished the work flawlessly and got a standing ovation.

Following the endurance test of Wagner's "Siegfried" on Saturday, my wife and I attended a performance of a new group of 13 string musicians, Sphere. Founded this past spring, this time they granted me an earlier wish: another performance of Jeffrey Nytch's "Epilogue". I had heard it performed in September by the Tesla Quartet and now a performance by a small string ensemble. While the composer said he favors the ensemble version, I'm a bit partial to the string quartet version. The Sphere's performance of the young Shostakovitch's "Prelude and Scherzo" was dazzling.

Finally, yesterday afternoon I heard the Clavier Trio (Arkady Fomin, Jesus Castro-Balbi and David Korevaar) perform works by Haydn, Paul Schoenfeld and Brahms. I had convinced myself that I would recognize the Brahms Opus 8 Trio in D Major, but I was very wrong. This was completely new to me and I really responded as they played the scherzo.

Enough for now. Classical music is abundantly available here in Nirvana, a.k.a Boulder, Colorado.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


The other night I attended the opening concert of the University of Colorado's Symphony Orchestra. Gary Lewis again enthusiastically leads the orchestra and programmed three works: Beethoven's Leonore No 3, Strauss's Don Juan and Brahm's Violin Concerto.

First an observation. It appears that some students are now required to attend a number of concerts as part of their class work. The students click-in and click-out with their cell phones and their 'clickers'. They do this to confirm attendance and convince their professors of their participation. I believe this was started last year and it seems to have a positive effect on students. Or at least I've convinced myself of that based on their reactions.

Gary Lewis's opening for the Beethoven was spot on -- bright and clear and very professional. The students sitting in front of me commented at the end something to the effect "Hey, they are really good! Surprisingly good!"

But what really got me was the young violinist Ross Snyder's Brahms. Snyder, the first violin with the Tesla Quartet, the student quartet studying directly under CU's famous Takács Quartet, was outstanding. Here for all the students was a different representative of CU. Not an athlete, not someone hyped on the sports page, but a quiet skilled musician. Classical music probably does not top most student's preferences, but that night the audience, again mostly students, erupted with genuine enthusiam to Ross's talent and to the orchestra's performance.

I suspect that the kids at CU that heard that performance will remember it for a long time, and perhaps classical music gained some converts.

Resuming in the fall

Restarting after a long absense is always tough. I'm lazy when writing about music, but active in trying to avail myself as much as possible to music.

The summer saw some concerts at the Music Festival. Michael Christie's programming was again not much to my liking, but I attended several concerts. As usual, the orchestra was in top form, but it seemed that something wasn't quite there. The Mahler 6th seemed lackluster and long; Schubert's "Unfinished" should remain incomplete, and the ending Berlioz was mismatched with a jazzy string trio. Enough said.

With the University of Colorado back in session, the school of music has begun to offer the standard fare:faculty performances, student recitals and the school orchestra. The school of music, under dean Dan Scher, continues to improve and the students certainly show it. The Tesla Quartet (Ross Snyder, Michelle Lie, Megan Mason and Kimberly Patterson) played crisp and certain Haydn, (G Major, Op 76 No 1) following the lead of their mentors, the Takács String Quartet. Takács also opened their season with Haydn (D Major No 53 "The Lark"). Clearly the students are learning well from their teachers. Takács also did Benjamin Britten's Quartet No 1 in D Major, the highlight of the evening for me: new and calm and clearly very British -- wish dashes and sprinkles of "Peter Grimes".

The faculty concerts got off with a bang with Elizabeth Farr doing double duty. In early September she performed on harpsichord some Bach's preludes and fugues from from the Well-tempered Clavier. Then nearing the end of September she played on organ Bach's Leipzig Chorale Preludes. As a non-musician, I find her stamina and attention to detail amazing. She writes her own program notes which I find very technical, but she also provides supplementary observations on the individual pieces that helped the listening. Keep it up.

CU celebrated the 10th anniversary of September 11th with a memorial concert that was packed. Gerry Walther, violist with the Takács, performed a very appropriate and somber excerpt from Shostakovich's last work, the Sonata for Viola and Piano. A young Canadian violist lived with us for two years and performed the whole sonata for her degree requirements -- it's a lovely piece with quotations from Beethoven's "Moonlight". For me, the highlight of this concert was a performance by 10 string players of Jeffrey Nytch's "Epilogue". Nytch, who is Director of the Entrepreneurship Center for Music at CU, pointed me to his web site ( where
I was able to access a orchestral version of "Epilogue". I really like this piece and hope others will get a chance to hear it.

I can't forget the Boulder Phil and Michael Butterman. The season opened with Hsing-ay Hsu playing the Bach Keyboard Concerto No 1 in D minor. The program notes omitted that this was a transcription by Busoni, so Hsing-ay worked her magic on the audience hearing slightly different Bach. The Phil's Mahler's First symphony was quite as successful, but Mahler is always good.