Classical Music News of the Week, January 8, 2012

Organist Paul Jacobs 2012 Recitals in Los Angeles and San Francisco

Still venturous after his 2011 Grammy win and his string of successful concerts in New York and around the country, organist Paul Jacobs begins a busy new year with a mini-tour of California. On January 12, 2012, he will perform as part of UCLA Live at Royce Hall in Los Angeles. On January 22, he will appear at Davies Hall presented by the San Francisco Symphony.

Both recitals represent unique opportunities for Jacobs. In Los Angeles, Jacobs will play a diverse and illuminating program. In addition to works by organ stalwarts Edward Elgar and Olivier Messiaen, whose Livre du Sacrement was recorded by Jacobs in 2010, Jacobs's repertoire also includes pieces by contemporary composer John Weaver and three lesser known female composers: Florence Beatrice Price, Nadia Boulanger, and Jeanne Demessieux. The Davies Hall recital in San Francisco continues Jacobs's ongoing collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony (SFSO). 2010 saw Jacobs and the SFSO release an album of Copland's Organ Symphony and Ives' Concord Symphony. Jacobs will tour with the orchestra later in the season, performing on March 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, 2012 at Davies Hall, on March 22 at University of Michigan, and on March 29 at Carnegie Hall.

Jacobs will play two pieces on tour with the SFSO. Mason Bates's piece, "Mass Transmission" for electronica and chorus, takes as its inspiration radio transmissions in 1920s between Holland and Java. Bates is one of the most performed composers of his generation and currently holds the position of composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony. His work is characterized by the daring fusion of orchestral writing with the harmonies of jazz and the rhythms of techno and has found champions in such leading conductors as Leonard Slatkin and John Adams.  The other piece Jacobs will perform, Concerto for Organ and Percussion Orchestra by Lou Harrison, calls for an ensemble that includes plumbers' pipes and oxygen-tank bells. Throughout his career, Harrison experimented with unique orchestras and elements of non-Western music. As a prominent student of Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg, his bold explorations of alternate tunings, micro tones, and musical modes led him on a path to becoming one of the most important composers of the 20th century.

Paul Jacobs is one of the few organists in the world who is consistently committed to new works for the instrument. On  February 23, 24, and 25, 2012, he will debut Michael Daugherty's "The Gospel According to Sister Aimee" for organ, brass and percussion with the Pacific Symphony. In spring 2013, Jacobs will perform Stephen Paulus's new work, Concerto for Organ and Orchestra, with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra for its world premiere.

--Amanda Ameer, First Chair Promotion

Music Institute of Chicago Presents Violinist Cyrus Forough, February 18
The Music Institute of Chicago presents acclaimed violinist Cyrus Forough in concert Saturday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

Forough, joined by pianist Tatyana Stepanova, will perform Bach's Chaconne; Beethoven's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 6 in A Major, Op. 30, No. 1; and Prokofiev's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 80.

About Cyrus Forough:
Laureate of the Tchaikovsky International Violin Competition and Music Institute artist faculty member Cyrus Forough has performed in recital and with orchestras throughout four continents including command performances for international dignitaries. A prominent representative of the Franco-Belgian school of violin playing, he is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and a visiting professor at the Eastman School of Music.

About the Music Institute of Chicago:
The Music Institute of Chicago believes that music has the power to sustain and nourish the human spirit; therefore, our mission is to provide the foundation for lifelong engagement with music. As one of the three largest and most respected community music schools in the nation, the Music Institute offers musical excellence built on the strength of its distinguished faculty, commitment to quality, and breadth of programs and services. Founded in 1931 and one of the oldest community music schools in Illinois, the Music Institute is a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Each year, the Music Institute's world-class music teachers and arts therapists provide the highest quality arts education to more than 5,000 students of all ability levels, from birth to 101 years of age at campuses in Evanston, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Winnetka, and Downers Grove. The Music Institute also offers lessons and programs at the Steinway of Chicago store in Northbrook and early childhood and community engagement programs throughout the Chicago area and the North Shore. Nichols Concert Hall, an education and performance center located in downtown Evanston, reaches approximately 14,000 people each year. The Music Institute of Chicago's community engagement and partnership programs reach an additional 6,500 Chicago Public School students annually. The Music Institute offers lessons, classes, and programs through four distinct areas: Community School, The Academy, Creative Arts Therapy (Institute for Therapy through the Arts), and Nichols Concert Hall.

Cyrus Forough performs Saturday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students, available at musicinst.org or 847.905.1500 ext. 108.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Daniil Trifonov, Winner of the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition, to Perform with the National Philharmonic
Pianist Daniil Trifonov performs Tchaikovsky's majestic Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor with the National Philharmonic, led by Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, on February 4, 2012, at 8 p.m. and on February 5, 2012, at 3 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. Also on the all Tchaikovsky program are the Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, the Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy and the 1812 Overture.

The Tchaikovsky Competition triumph is the crowning achievement of a series of awards garnered by Trifonov, who in May won First Prize and Gold Medal at the 13th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv and in 2010 won third prize in the 16th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. Held every four years in Moscow, the Tchaikovsky Competition includes the disciplines of piano, violin, cello and voice.  In past years, the piano category has been won by such legends as Van Cliburn and Vladimir Ashkenazy. In Moscow in June, the International Tchaikovsky Competition awarded pianist Trifonov First Prize, a Gold Medal, the special prize for Best Performance of a Mozart Concerto and the Audience Choice Award. On the final day of the competition, he was selected as the Grand Prize winner.

Born on March 5, 1991 in Nizhny Novgorod, Trifonov is a graduate of the Gnesin School of Music in Moscow, where he studied with Tatiana Zelikman. Since 2009, he has been studying with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 2008, he won first prize in the San Marino International Piano Competition and fifth prize in the International Scriabin Competition in Moscow.

Maestro Gajewski is widely credited with building the National Philharmonic to its present status as one of the most respected ensembles of its kind in the region. The Washington Post recognizes him as an "immensely talented and insightful conductor," whose "standards, taste and sensitivity are impeccable." In addition to his appearances with the National Philharmonic, Maestro Gajewski is much in demand as a guest conductor. In recent years, he has appeared with most of the major orchestras in his native Poland, as well as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in England, the Karlovy Vary Symphony in the Czech Republic and numerous orchestras in the United States.

Gajewski attended Carleton College and the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, where he earned a B.M. and M.M. in Orchestral Conducting. Upon completing his formal education, he continued refining his conducting skills at the 1983 Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, where he was awarded a Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellowship. His teachers there included Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Andre Previn, Gunther Schuller, Gustav Meier and Maurice Abravanel.

Gajewski is also a winner of many prizes and awards, among them a prize at New York's prestigious Leopold Stokowski Conducting Competition and, in 2006, Montgomery County's Comcast Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Achievement Award.

The National Philharmonic is known for performances that are "powerful," impeccable" and "thrilling" (The Washington Post). The National Philharmonic boasts a long-standing tradition of reasonably priced tickets and free admission to all young people age 7-17, assuring its place as an accessible and enriching component in Montgomery County and the greater Washington, DC area. As the Music Center at Strathmore's ensemble-in-residence, the National Philharmonic showcases world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces conducted by Maestro Gajewski and monumental choral masterworks under National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson.

The National Philharmonic also offers exceptional and unique education programs, such as the Summer Strings and Choral Institutes. Students accepted into the Summer String Institutes study privately with National Philharmonic musicians, participate in coached chamber music and play in an orchestra conducted by Maestro Gajewski.

Tickets for the "All Tchaikovsky" concerts on February 4, 2012 at 8pm and on February 5, 2012 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore are now available as part of National Philharmonic's 2011-2012 subscription season. To purchase, please visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore ticket office at (301) 581-5100. Kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette).  ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone. In addition, parking is free.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa