Monday, January 30, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Anna Netrebko (right) and Jonas Kaufmann are the big draws of "3 Superstars in Berlin," showing Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the Crownpoint Stadium 12. The third singer in the spotlight: Uruguayan bass Erwin Schrott.
While Schrott also has a major career -- with Mozart's Don Giovanni as one of his specialties -- he's not as well-known to U.S. audiences as his two colleagues. Maybe this concert, taped at an outdoor venue in Germany last year, will let him gain from their box-office power.
The Met's multiplex audiences know them well. Netrebko -- offstage, Schrott's wife -- appeared most recently as Henry VIII's doomed wife in Donizetti's "Anna Bolena." Kaufmann starred last in the 1940s-era updating of Gounod's "Faust" in December. The movie-theater series has yet to feature Schrott.
In the concert, the three will mix-and-match in music ranging from "Don Giovanni" and "Faust" to "Porgy and Bess" and "West Side Story." The screening starts at 7 p.m. at Crownpoint on Monroe Road.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
If you're old enough to remember gathering around the TV set to see the last episode of "M*A*S*H" -- or if you've caught it more recently on a rerun -- you'll remember that Mozart's Clarinet Quintet helped the series draw to a close. Because of a schedule switch at UNC Charlotte, it will help close the school's chamber music festival tonight, Jan 26.
There'll be no comparison between the sizes of the audiences. But the "M*A*S*H" finale, which set a record for TV ratings when it first aired, must've won some admirers for one of Mozart's sunniest and most eloquent works. I worked in a record store at the time, and if my memory isn't tricking me, we did get some people asking for it.
In any case, Mozart has never been lacking for fans. If you're one of them, you know what to do.
If you're a into music of today, of course, you're unfortunately losing a chance to hear a work by one of today's most acclaimed composers, Osvaldo Golijov. Mozart's quintet is replacing Golijov's "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind," a klezmer-tinged work that also features the clarinet. The note from UNCC about the change didn't give the reason. The concert starts at 8 p.m. at UNCC's Robinson Hall.
If you're disappointed about Golijov, Friday's visit by the Salzburg Chamber Soloists may at least offer something of a consolation prize. The group's concert at Central Piedmont Community College will include a rarely heard gem by a 20th-century master.
The 16-member ensemble from Mozart's hometown will bring along a soprano to perform Benjamin Britten's "Les Illuminations" Benjamin Britten. Written when Britten was just 19 years old, it's a series of spirited and atmospheric songs based on poems by France's Arthur Rimbaud. The soloist: Karine Polverelli, a soprano with French and U.S. training.
The evening's French connection will continue with a string-orchestra arrangement of Maurice Ravel's String Quartet. The players will also include a not-so-familiar work by their hometown boy, Mozart -- his Adagio and Fugue in C minor -- and Antonin Dvorak's "Notturno." The concert starts at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan 27, in CPCC's Halton Theater.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
As the very existence of UNC Charlotte's new uptown building shows, the school is on a mission to become a more of a player in its hometown. For the next week, the college's musicians are taking the lead.
Thursday, Jan. 19, UNCC's College of Arts + Architecture will launch a new-music series, Fresh Ink, with a concert and art installation at the stack-of-books building uptown. The next day, Jan. 20, the school's second annual chamber-music festival will open at Robinson Hall on the main campus. Three more chamber concerts will follow, through Jan. 26.
Thursday's Fresh Ink concert will feature music by John Allemeier of UNCC's faculty and two outside-Charlotte composers: Kevin Puts, whose works have been premiered by such high-profile players as Yo-Yo Ma and percussionist Evelyn Glennie; and Andy Akiho, a Princeton University doctoral student whose credits include a commission from the Grammy-winning vocal group eighth blackbird. UNCC faculty and other Charlotte professionals will perform.
The concert will start at 8:15 p.m. at the uptown building, 320 E. 9th St. At 6 p.m., UNCC will open a specially commissioned art installation by Anna von Gwinner, a German artist and architect. Gwinner's new work, "Betwixt and Between," will be in the new building's gallery.
The chamber-music concerts on the main campus make up the second edition of the festival launched last season by UNCC professor and violinist David Russell. He again is drawing together UNCC faculty, colleagues from other schools -- from UNC School of the Arts to the University of Wisconsin -- and Charlotte professionals. One concert will feature a guest group, the Catalyst Quartet.
If the Catalyst Quartet (pictured) plays as dynamically as it did when it visited CPCC last fall, it should certainly energize the festival. The quartet came to town as part of the Sphinx Ensemble. Both groups are sponsored by the Sphinx Organization, a national nonprofit that helps black and Hispanic musicians find opportunities in the classical-music world. The quartet took over for part of the concert. and dug into Alberto Ginastera's Quartet No. 2 -- which is also on the bill at UNCC.
The chamber concerts will in part look forward to another UNCC project: the Violins of Hope festival, coming in April. Violins of Hope will be built around 18 violins that belonged to victims of the Holocaust. With that in mind, the chamber music festival will include works written during and colored by World War II. Olivier Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time," for instance, was written in a prisoner-of-war camp in France.
The four concerts:
- Jan. 20 at 8 p.m.: J.S. Bach's "Goldberg Variations," arranged for string trio by Dmitri Sitkovetsky; Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2.
- Jan. 22 at 2 p.m.: Mozart's Piano Quartet in E-flat major; Olivier Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time."
- Jan. 24 at 8 p.m.: Catalyst Quartet in Beethoven's "Quartetto Serioso"; Maurice Ravel's Quartet; Anton Webern's "Langsamer Satz"; and Alberto Ginastera's Quartet No. 2.
- Jan. 26 at 8 p.m.: Erno Dohnanyi's Serenade; Osvaldo Golijov's "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind."
Monday, January 16, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Is the clarinet you played in the marching band gathering dust in a closet? Is your grandfather's trumpet abandoned in the attic? The Charlotte Symphony has a better use for them.
The orchestra is launching Instruments for Kids, a program that will supply instruments to students who can't afford them. To pave the way, an anonymous donor made a financial gift that will pay for fixing up "dozens and dozens and dozens" of long-neglected instruments, says Jonathan Martin, the orchestra's executive director.
The orchestra has plenty of use for them. Nearly 200 young people play in the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras, a subsidiary of the professional orchestra. The orchestra also spearheads a music program at Winterfield Elementary in east Charlotte, and symphony players help coach orchestra and band members at Northwest School of the Arts. For many of the students, the cost of instruments or private music lessons is a stumbling block.
"We're using music to change kids' lives," Martin says. "You can't start until you have an instrument."
All the orchestra needs now is instruments, and that's where you come in. If you clear that unused fiddle or clarinet out of the house, you can get a tax deduction in addition to knowing that you're helping add music to a young person's day. You can drop it off at any Charlotte Symphony concert or at the orchestra's ticket kiosk in the atrium at Two Wells Fargo uptown, 301 S. Tryon St. For details, call 704-972-2000 or go to www.charlottesymphony.org.
Winterfield Elementary photo: Todd Sumlin
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Renee Fleming. Denyce Graves. Jessye Norman. The three opera stars are just a sampling of the singers launched with the help of the Metropolitan Opera National Council, whose annual auditions are kicking off across the country -- Queens University of Charlotte on Saturday.
There's no guarantee that you'll hear the next opera-world luminary, but who knows? The Charlotte auditions' 2008 winner -- Rene Barbera, a tenor who studied at the UNC School of the Arts -- went on to be one of the nationwide victors in New York. Last summer, Barbera (pictured) made a splash at Opera Theater of St. Louis in Donizetti's "The Daughter of the Regiment," the source of the showstopper tenor aria that helped him win his Met prize.
On Saturday, 27 young singers will compete for scholarship money and the chance to go to the regional round in Atlanta. The contestants, aged 20 to 30, are required to have five arias ready, and each singer typically will perform two during the day. So a day at the auditions can be quite a feast of operatic music, familiar and otherwise.
The judges will include Mark Rucker, the baritone who appeared last year as Germont in Opera Carolina's production of Verdi's "La Traviata." He also portrayed Verdi's Macbeth here in 2004.
The contest starts Saturday at 10:30 in Queen's Dana Auditorium, 1900 Selwyn Ave. The suggested donation is $3 -- a bargain price for a full day of opera.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Blumenthal Performing Arts has slipped one of the most beloved names in the performing arts into its spring schedule.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will return to the Knight Theater on May 15-20, a little more than a year after it sold out a weeklong run there. A second schedule addition: The Knight will host another popular dance group, Pilobolus, for a single performance March 27.
The Ailey company's visit will be its first under new artistic director Robert Battle, who took over last fall from longtime dancer and leader Judith Jamison. The company will perform two of his works: "The Hunt," a showpiece for six men, and "Takademe," inspired by the rhythms of Kathak dance from India.
Here's what the three Charlotte programs hold:
May 15 at 7:30 p.m., May 19 at 2 and 8 p.m.: Paul Taylor's "Arden Court"; Rennie Harris' "Home"; Joyce Trisler's "Journey"; Ailey's "Revelations."
May 16 at 7:30 p.m., May 18 at 8 p.m.: Ailey's "Streams" (photo by Paul Kolnik); Ulysses Dove's "Urban Folk Dance"; Ohad Naharin's "Minus 16"; "Revelations."
May 17 at 7:30 p.m., May 20 at 3 p.m.: Ailey's "Memoria"; Robert Battle's "Takademe" and "The Hunt"; "Revelations."
We'll have more about those works in the Observer as the time approaches. But for the moment, here are a few items about them.
- "Arden Court" is the first Paul Taylor work the Ailey company has performed, and Battle says it's done as a tribute to a modern-dance pioneer whom the late Ailey himself respected. It will also be Charlotte's first look at Taylor's choreography in a long time.
- "Home" by hip hop choreographer Rennie Harris was inspired by stories of people living with HIV. It was premiered last Dec. 1, which was not only World AIDS day, but the anniversary of Ailey's death from AIDS in 1989.
- "Minus 16" by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin includes improvisation and audience participation. When Naharin's company performed it at the Spoleto Festival USA in 2007, the dancers went into the theater and pulled people onstage to kick up their heels. But they missed two prime candidates who were sitting there: N.C. Dance Theatre's Patricia McBride and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. Maybe things will turn out differently this time.
For details on the works, go to alvinailey.org. For tickets, blumenthalcenter.org.