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.

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