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Showing posts from February, 2024

Dover Quartet's new violist and her colleagues have artistry shaped by Curtis

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Philadelphia's Curtis Institute, long among the most prestigious American conservatories for advanced musical education, generated the Dover Quartet , which comes to Indianapolis March 13 under the auspices of the Ensemble Music Society.   (The concert, with music by Turina, Schubert, and Janacek, is at the Indiana History Center.) A few years before the quartet's formation in 2008, Julianne Lee had graduated with a double major in violin and viola. She launched her career as an orchestra player, becoming a first-desk violinist in the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops orchestras.  Dover Quartet on the move: Camden Shaw, Julianne Lee, Bryan Lee, and Joel Link.  At the beginning of the current school year, she renewed her Curtis connection again as the Dover's new violist . Her new colleagues are Curtis-educated founders of the ensemble, whose Indianapolis appearances go back to 2019. The Dovers have a residency at Curtis, a teaching and performing home base from which the

Cyrus Chestnut for APA: Giving puckish charm and floridity to jazz-piano roots

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Cyrus Chestnut focuses in Sunday's first set.  His recorded history, building a lot of his music out of the black church, confirms Cyrus Chestnut 's solid basis as a pianist worth including in the American Pianists Association 's Grand Encounters series. The APA presented the now-veteran pianist from Baltimore  in two sets Saturday night at the Jazz Kitchen . Over the past 30 years in recordings, I've been impressed by Chestnut's old-soul piano style and his imaginative, personalized extension of that kind of brio and intensity. He gets into quotation and paraphrase, but not excessively, and can come up with filigree that grows naturally out of a tune's basic narrative. Tending to nourishment of the roots never seems far from his mind. As demonstrated in the first set, too, he enjoys exploiting the whole keyboard, making every register ring out in its characteristic fashion. On "Breezin'," he followed wittily, with aggressive left-hand octaves, upo

ISO: Choral masterpieces pose effective contrast of spiritual and secular values

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The perpetual seesaw of sacred and profane, which rocks this weekend's Classical Series concerts of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra , makes for special excitement.  Igor Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms," not performed by the ISO since 1982, occupies the program's first half with its spiky, austere reverence. Recoiling from the lavish writing for orchestra that brought him fame before World War I, the Russian composer moved into a restrained style that also eschewed Romantic expressiveness. As the ISO program note points out, he was even explicit about music's inability to express anything but itself.  Yet "Symphony of Psalms" is quite moving especially in the third section, where the music certainly Austrian conductor Hans Graf seems to have lots to say about the texts. In these performances, those are projected overhead so the audience can easily follow along throughout both works on the program.  Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana," a

ISO season moves into a new era with a new music director

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With anecdotal reports coming in at high praise, it's likely that Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra audiences in 2024-25 will hear the enthusiasm the musicians have for the rec Mario Venzago, whose exit as ISO maestro was contentious ent appointment of Jun Märkl as the orchestra's eighth music director. In this first season under his artistic leadership of the Classical Series, Märkl will conduct six subscription weekends. The first weekend of his conducting in his new role will be Jan. 16-18 in a program of Beethoven's 7th Symphony and Manuel de Falla's "Three-Cornered Hat" ballet music.  Beginning with a return to the Hilbert Circle Theater podium by Mario Venzago, the sixth music director of the ISO, at the annual Gala Concert Sept. 28, the season will end with  Märkl conducting Beethoven's "Choral" Symphony, No. 9 in D minor, on June 20-21, featuring four vocal soloists and the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir. The concert will be filled out with t

Mining its region for musical gold, Danish String Quartet visits again

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 The trimmings were in Valentine's Day red, but the precious metal on this visit by the Danish String Quartet was the pure gold of the ensemble's arrangements of Nordic and North Atlantic folk music. Attracting a large crowd Wednesday evening at Indiana Landmarks Center, the top-drawer  DSQ devoted its concert's second half to that growing part of its repertoire. Danish String Quartet paid its third visit here. There was the first appearance in its touring of the Hardanger fiddle, a Norwegian violin and a matter of intense pride. Frederik Øland played the ancient folk instrument in a generous second-half stretch of the concert. Its eight strings, four of them sympathetic (resonating to the activated four), have helped give rise to the affectionate mockery Øland summed up as Hardanger fiddlers spending half their lives tuning and the other half playing out of tune. He got it right, however, avoiding that legendary lifelong musical task of Sisyphus.  I found especially fetc

To play Beethoven, Augustin Hadelich returns to the arena of his triumph

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Decades ago, the leading American concert violinist Isaac Stern appeared as a talk-show guest and talked briefly about audience behavior. He told of a time he was playing the Beethoven concerto, and during the second movement— which "goes straight up to heaven," I remember him saying — he noticed that a woman in the front row had draped her coat over the edge of the stage. Stern continued, of course, but reported  being annoyed at the sight of that coat. "That's my space!" he exclaimed justifiably of the stage he and the orchestra had occupied.  I bring that up in this account of Augustin Hadelich 's performance Friday night of the  same concerto with IVCI gold medalist Hadelich has a host of fans here. the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, with Vladimir Kulenovic on the podium. (A second performance happens this afternoon at 5:30.) It's relevant because not only is there a spiritual dimension in Beethoven's Larghetto that Hadelich and the orchestr

'Queen' takes audience into macro matters of survival through prism of private life

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I can't think of many plays where the actors must master characterizations that present them as knowledgeable about arcane matters. "Queen" is an exception, and if it weren't for clarity of context, the audience at Summit Performance Indianapolis 's new show might almost need a glossary to understand "bee colony collapse," neonics, threshold effect, oversampling data,  trading derivatives and, for many, the intricacies of poker. It's taken me a while to understand confirmation bias, but at least I was in the neighborhood of getting it before attending the final dress rehearsal of "Queen," which opens tonight at Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centr e. And I knew how to interpret "NRDC" because I used to be a donor to the National Resources Defense Council. Thank goodness for the North Star of All Truth, that's Google, for giving more substance to my quickly processed impressions of this enthralling drama about friendship, academic co

'Romeo and Juliet': Collaboration of ballet and orchestra launched for May production

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Don Steffy, Kevin Lin, Yoshiko Kamikusa, and James Johnson flank ballet and orchestra maestri Victoria Lyras and Jack Everly at event celebrating forthcoming "Romeo and Juliet" production.  Seven seasons into Indianapolis Ballet' s existence and 90-plus seasons into Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra 's continuous presence here, the two performing forces will work together to produce "Romeo and Juliet," a ballet based on Shakespeare's romantic tragedy using Sergei Prokofiev's score, on the first weekend of the city's storied month of May. At a celebration of the collaboration Tuesday at the home of Jackie Nytes, a board member of both organizations, the venture was hailed by IB's founding artistic director Victoria Lyras as something that mostly makes her "so happy for my dancers — there's nothing like working with an orchestra....You feel this music more: I love it more than the choreography." Out of discussions between the two or

Dave Stryker takes his music up the road to the Jazz Kitchen

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 Dave Stryker has capped his deeply rooted career in jazz guitar with academic credentials, including a Rachel Caswell guests, flanked by Dave Stryker and Rob Dixon.    well-established presence in Bloomington on the jazz faculty of Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. That's just one of three connections as an educator to put beside his recent addition to an  online school . His well-schooled playing is not academic in any disparaging sense, however.  Though well established in New York City for many years, Stryker drew upon Hoosier connections and a Louisville link for a return to the Jazz Kitchen Friday night. Sean Dobbins , a fellow adjunct professor at IU, was on drums, and their colleague Rachel Caswell joined the band for two numbers during the set I heard. Rob Dixon represented the home front on tenor sax, and Kentuckian Kendall "Keyz" Carter completed the traditional format on organ.  Stryker's completeness as a bandleader was always evident.