Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Music & the New Season: A Tease

While we’re thinking about summer and planning vacations or weekend get-aways, it’s not too early to put a few days in July on your calendar for Market Square Concerts’ “Summer Music Festival 2009.” The first of its three concerts will take place on Wednesday evening, July 22nd (starting at an earlier-than-usual time, 6pm), at Market Square Presbyterian Church and the remaining two will take place at the Glen Allen Mill on the Yellow Breeches that Saturday evening (July 25th) and Sunday afternoon (July 26th). Check the web-site for more details – and for directions to the Mill, if you’re not familiar with it.

In up-coming posts, I’ll be telling you more about the works the Fry Street String Quartet will play along with violinist Odin Rathnam, pianists Stuart Malina and Michael Sheppard, oboist Gerard Reuter and bassist Donovan Stokes, including three of Beethoven’s early quartets, the Shostakovich Piano Quintet and Chausson’s rarely heard Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, plus one of the most popular works in the chamber music repertoire, Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet (perfect for sitting beside a beautiful tree-lined creek on a [hopefully] sunny Sunday afternoon).

If you’re on the Market Square Concerts’ mailing list, you should be receiving your brochures for the up-coming 2009-2010 Season (if you haven’t already – I got mine today).

If you’re not on the mailing list, check the web-site for details or contact the office at (717) 221-9599 or send e-mail to info@marketsquareconcerts.org.

There are six concerts between October 11th and April 24th, some at Whitaker Center and some at Market Square Presbyterian Church, where the concert series got its start. The January concert will take place at Temple Ohev Sholom in uptown Harrisburg.

Programs range from the Traditional to the Modern, opening with the Parker Quartet playing Beethoven & Mendelssohn in October and cellist Zuill Bailey playing sonatas by Mendelssohn & Brahms in November.

In February, an ensemble called Brooklyn Rider will feature, in addition to Schubert’s “Death & the Maiden” Quartet, the 5th Quartet of Philip Glass and the world premiere of a work commissioned by Market Square Concerts written by Lisa Bielawa (she’s going to be working on it while she’s in Rome this fall – you can read about that, here – and she’ll be one of the performers, as well).

In January, composer Jennifer Higdon – you may remember having heard “Blue Cathedral” and her Percussion Concerto with the Harrisburg Symphony in past seasons – will be in town when the Cypress Quartet plays her “Impressions,” a work they commissioned as a response to Claude Debussy’s String Quartet which is also on the program (along with Samuel Barber's Quartet, the original home of his famous Adagio for Strings). You can read my reactions to a performance the Cypress Quartet gave last year at Lebanon Valley College where the Debussy Quartet was also on the program. (BTW, they're back in the area in just two weeks with a performance in Steinman Hall of Lancaster's Pennsylvania Academy of Music for a program that will include Schubert's Quartetsatz, Mendelssohn's Quartet Op. 13 and Schubert's "Death & the Maiden" on June 24th.)

The last two concerts of the new season may be kind of complementary. March’s is an eclectic program with flutist Claire Chase performing Bach, Schumann and Debussy along with Pierre Boulez and a transcription of Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D Minor for solo amplified flute (I'm still trying to imagine how that is possible).

April’s, then, is a tribute to The Bard and his contemporaries, both literary and musical, with Parthenia, joined by actor Paul Hecht and soprano Jacqueline Horner, called “When Musicke and Sweete Poetry Agree,” just in time for Shakespeare’s birthday.

So even as you’re wondering how you’re going to make it through the summer, don’t forget to look ahead to the fall when the new season begins. There’s a lot going on in Central Pennsylvania and you don’t want to miss out on Market Square Concert’s 28th season!

And if you send in your full season subscription by July 15th, you’ll receive a new Beethoven CD by the Cypress Quartet which includes the Quartet Op.135.

- Dr. Dick

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jennifer Higdon's Music Live & On-Line

Though the official Market Square Concerts season is over and SummerMusic 2009 is just around the corner – can you believe it’s June already?! – I just wanted to post a little something about a composer whom you may have heard with the Harrisburg Symphony when they played her Percussion Concerto in March 2008. You can hear her “Blue Cathedral” on WITF-FM frequently (it was one of the 89½ Classics the first year, the only work on the list of audience favorites by a living composer).

Next season, January 2010 will be Jennifer Higdon Month in Harrisburg. A week before the Harrisburg Symphony plays “SkyLine” from her CityScape, Ms. Higdon will be in town when Market Square Concerts presents the Cypress Quartet who will perform her “Impressions,” a work she composed for them.

Right now, however, I want to tell you a little about her most recent world premiere, the Violin Concerto she composed for one of the great violinists on the scene today, Hilary Hahn (who had been a student in Higdon’s 20th Century Class at Curtis).

Since she premiered it in February in Indianapolis, Ms. Hahn has been performing it around the country and – last week – in England.

This week, it’s coming to Baltimore when the Baltimore Symphony performs the concerto with Hilary Hahn this Thursday & Friday evenings and Sunday afternoon at the Meyerhoff Hall and Saturday evening at the Strathmore Center. The program opens with Beethoven's Egmont Overture and ends with the Symphony No. 5 by Antonin Dvořák.

If you can't make any of those performances, you can hear the one recorded this past Thursday with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (its European premiere) on-line live today at 2pm at BBC-3 with a program that begins with Gershwin’s American in Paris and concludes with Elgar’s 1st Symphony. If you can’t listen to it then, you can find it on the BBC web-site where it will be available for the next 7 days.

The Concerto was also recorded in Liverpool by Deutsche Gramophone for future release.

Check out this video of violinist Hilary Hahn talking with her former teacher at Curtis about the Violin Concerto she wrote for her.

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You can also read my post at Thoughts on a Train about it and find a few more links there, including an NPR interview between conductor Marin Alsop and composer Jennifer Higdon.

Then I'll be back to tell you about July's SummerMusic concerts and take a look at the up-coming 2009-2010 Season!

- Dr. Dick