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February 2019

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Classical Music Concerts in New York City, NYC

I Love Lucy, and a Double Dutch Treat

Gail Wein
January 31, 2019

Once in a great while, a performer comes along and proves her talent across a wide range of repertoire, inspires composers to create, and collaborators to collaborate. Soprano Lucy Shelton is such an artist, and on February 24 at Merkin Concert Hall, she’ll celebrate 40 years since her breakthrough Naumberg Competition win, and her debut recital in New York. Through the years she’s become renowned for her performances of early music, contemporary compositions, dramatic works, chamber music collaborations and a slew of recordings. The program includes selections from Rossini to Carter, and features guest artists The Westerlies, pianist Gilbert Kalish and others. Tickets available through Merkin Hall.

If reading about Lucy Shelton’s artistry has whetted your appetite for vocal music, you may be interested in the Brooklyn Art Song Society. All this season, BASS has been presenting music by “American Iconoclasts”, with excellent singers and superb programs. On February 1, Aaron Copland is the focus, with his Old American Songs and 12 Poems of Emily Dickenson on the program. On March 1, it’s George Gershwin, including his Porgy & Bess Suite. Performances are at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Two Dutch treats come our way in February. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – one of the finest orchestras in the world - comes to Carnegie on February 14 and 15. Daniel Harding conducts two classic programs: Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 on the 14th, and Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard on the 15th. Another fine ensemble from the Netherlands, Calefax, performs at the Frick Collection on February 3. When this quintet of oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone and bassoon launched in the 1980’s, it was the only one of its type. A number of similar ensembles have since popped up, and repertoire for this unusual instrumentation has grown exponentially, solidifying a new genre of chamber music. Two other programs of note are coming to the Frick in the next few weeks: the New York debut of the string quartet Quatuor Voce with the harpist Emmanuel Ceysson on February 24, and the lively early music group Ensemble Caprice on March 10.

Concert Artists Guild – an organization whose mission is to discover and nurture young talent – presents “Prevailing Winds” at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie on February 12. The program features both new and established artists, including Imani Winds, PUBLIQuartet and bassoonist Peter Kolkay.

On February 2 at St. Ann and Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn presents two terrific works that are hardly ever performed, and will complement each other beautifully: Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto with the phenomenal young violinist Paul Huang, and Duke Ellington’s rarity, The River Suite. Tickets at SOB’s website or at the door.

A New Year’s Resolution

Gail Wein
December 27, 2018

This year, I’m making a resolution to hear as much live music as possible. I like to make resolutions that are easy to keep.

New Yorkers can get a jump on 2019 concert-going with Clarion Choir’s performances of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil (Vespers) at Church of the Resurrection on East 74th Street. Performances are at 5 pm on both December 31 and January 1, and include ancient Slavonic chants interspersed between Rachmaninoff's settings.

January is a good time to pay tribute to the old and the new. Brooklyn Art Song Society celebrates composer Ned Rorem’s 95th birthday on January 4 at Brooklyn Historical Society. Soprano Sarah Brailey, baritone Steven Eddy, bass-baritone Dashon Burton and others perform the American composer’s tuneful music. Mozart’s Symphony No. 33 and Piano Concerto No. 27 (Javier Perianes, piano) are on Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s January 12 concert at Carnegie Hall, along with a new work by James Matheson.

Met Museum artist-in-residence Julia Bullock embodies the singer, activist and cultural icon Joséphine Baker at the Met Museum’s Great Hall on January 16 and 17. Poet Claudia Rankine and composer/percussionist Tyshawn Sorey created Perle Noire for Bullock. Theater director Peter Sellars staged the work, which will be performed by Bullock, Sorey and the new music collective International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

My Favorite New York Philharmonic Musician, Anthony McGill, is featured soloist with the Philharmonic. He performs Copland’s Clarinet Concerto on January 24, 25 and 26; Jaap van Zweden conducts. Julia Wolfe’s multi-media Fire in My Mouth, co-commissioned by the NY Philharmonic, receives its world premiere on this program. The tale of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, which killed over 100 young immigrant factory workers in New York City, is enhanced by video projections and the chamber choir The Crossing along with the Philharmonic.

Slightly less intense programs this month: The award-winning Argus String Quartet performs 21st century works in the beautiful environs of Wave Hill in Riverdale on January 13, and the young firebrands Stefan Jackiw, violin, and Conrad Tao, piano perform at 92Y on January 25.


Violin key

Gail Wein
November 29, 2018

It’s the time of year when we feel bound to tradition, and many people find that music connects them to fond memories and experiences from years past.

In classical music, there is no greater holiday tradition than Handel’s glorious oratorio, Messiah and there is a full complement of performances all over the city. New York Philharmonic delivers its version on December 11-15 with big-time soloists and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. New York Baroque Incorporated presents its rendition December 4 and 6 at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue. Downtown at St. Paul’s Chapel, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra with conductor Julian Wachner perform the great oratorio on December 13, 14, 16 and 17. December 19 brings the Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra, Kent Tritle conducting, to Carnegie Hall. And if you can’t help but sing along, The National Chorale invites you to bring your own Messiah score and join in with the choruses on stage for Messiah Sing-In on December 9 at Lincoln Center.

The Guggenheim Museum has made an annual tradition of performances of Prokofiev’s fanciful Peter and the Wolf, this year on December 1, 2, 7, 8, 9. Isaac Mizrahi narrates the classic tale, Ensemble Signal supplies the instrumental music, and a cast performs choreography by John Heginbotham.

The New York String Orchestra, comprised of talented teens cherry-picked from all over the United States under conductor Jaime Laredo, has appeared every December at Carnegie Hall for fifty years. Their program on December 24 includes Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, with soloist Yefim Bronfman. Joshua Bell is the soloist in Brahms Violin Concerto on December 28.

All six of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos performed by the musicians of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center are another longtime December tradition. Performances are December 14, 16 and 18 at Alice Tully Hall.

And if all this tradition is a bit much for you, you can escape to Venice– virtually, that is – with St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble in a program called Vivaldi’s Venice. December 4 at Merkin Hall, December 5 at The Morgan Library & Museum, and December 7 at Brooklyn Museum.

Enjoy the music, and happy holidays to you!

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