The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
The Chamber Players of Central Kentucky’s concert on Sunday will pay tribute to a revered University of Kentucky music professor who died late last year.
Lucien Stark, who died Dec. 2 at the age of 83, joined the UK music faculty in 1976, after 15 years on the piano faculty at the George Peabody College in Nashville — now part of Vanderbilt University. He studied at numerous institutions including the Paris Conservatory, the Juilliard School of Music, and the University of Michigan, where he earned a Ph.D. in musical arts. After his retirement in 1994, he wrote two revered books on the music of Johannes Brahms that were published by Indiana University Press: A Guide to the Solo Songs of Johannes Brahms (1995) and Brahms’s Vocal Duets and Quartets with Piano: A Guide with Full Texts and Translations (1998).
“He wrote the books on Brahms’ vocal music with piano and, in retirement, added more than 60 transcriptions to the repertoire for two pianos, eight hands,” UK violin professor and Chamber Players member Daniel Mason wrote. “Lexington will have a chance to hear some of these Sunday.”
Mason and most of the musicians on Sunday’s concert were professional colleagues of Stark.
“I played with him in the Concord Trio for the first fifteen years I was here and it was my ‘finishing school,’” Mason wrote. “Impeccable musicianship, formidable intellect, and elegant taste are the descriptors that come to mind with Lucien.”
Musicians slated for Sunday’s concert, presented by the Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, include Mason, pianists Cliff Jackson and Irina Voro, cellist Benjamin Karp, soprano Catherine Clarke Nardolillo, and tenor Gregory Turay.
Also performing will be the Alabama-based Davis Piano Quartet, with which Stark collaborated to create transcriptions of dozens of works for two pianos and eight hands.
Quartet member Sandra Nelson is quoted in the concert program as writing that the group had difficulty finding repertoire to play until Stark, “turned his impeccable musicianship, formidable intellect, and elegant taste to arranging orchestral works for piano eight hands. We are now indebted to him for more than 60 arrangements of the great masters.” The Quartet will play six pieces at the 3 p.m. concert Sunday in the Singletary Center for the Arts Recital Hall.
The Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky will pull off quite a feat Sunday afternoon: It will get the Karp family together at one time.
For years, the busy Karps have enjoyed individually prominent roles in Lexington music. Dad Benjamin is a cello professor at the University of Kentucky, a soloist and chamber musician in the area, and he is an adjunct professor at Indiana University. Mother Margie is the assistant concertmaster for the Lexington Philharmonic; is on the adjunct faculty at UK, teaching violin and viola; and is a chamber musician.
Before going to Washington University in St. Louis, older son Jonathan was the concertmaster of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras’ Symphony Orchestra. Younger son Aaron, a junior in the math, science and technology program at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, was the principal violist in the Kentucky All-State Orchestra.
Occasionally, the Karps join forces as a string quartet, as at the Chamber Society’s annual Chamber Players of Central Kentucky concert, featuring area musicians. The Karps will play the first movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2 and Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8.
Margie says the Shostakovich was her sons’ idea. “Both of them just love that piece. Both of them have played parts of it before with different quartets with CKYO and different groups. Then we went to see the Emerson String Quartet at Centre College last year, where they played that, and they said, ‘We have to play that.’”
It will continue a familial collaboration that dates to days when Jonathan was just starting to play violin and Aaron would sit on the floor and bang on a drum.
Neither child was exactly a musical prodigy. Benjamin says their instruments took a fair share of abuse, including fingerboards that had to be glued back on. But they were born into a family where music is a natural part of life.
There isn’t any Black Sabbath music in Cliff Jackson’s repertoire, but over the years, the University of Kentucky associate professor of music has built a reputation as the Iron Man of the school’s voice program.
One of the cornerstones of that reputation takes place again Saturday, with the Metropolitan Opera National Council Kentucky District Auditions. Jackson will accompany all the UK competitors and probably most or all of the other hopefuls in their quests to win the first round of opera’s biggest talent search.
The past few years, he has shared the piano bench less and less, and last year, he accompanied all 27 competitors, playing 54 arias.
“Well, if you’ve got the best, why go with anyone else?” UK voice professor Cynthia Lawrence says of the trend toward all competitors engaging Jackson to play for them.
“Sometimes I just look at it as a challenge,” Jackson says in his small office in the UK Fine Arts Building after a coaching session. “You just sit down and say, ‘I am going to play this whole competition,’ and you don’t really think about how long it takes.”
This Saturday might be a Met Auditions swan song, though. At the end of this school year, Jackson will retire from UK, leaving as one of the most respected and beloved members of the voice faculty, of which he has been a part since 1992.
Doctoral candidate Dannica Burson says that at the beginning of every school year, there is a meeting of all the students and faculty in the voice program, and when Jackson is introduced, “he always gets a standing ovation.”
“While all the students have different voice teachers, we all have Professor Jackson,” Burson says.
At UK and beyond, Jackson is revered for his incisive ear as a vocal coach and his skills as a virtuoso accompanist. The latter skill has carried Jackson around the world, accompanying marquee stars including soprano Kathleen Battle.
Reaching those heights sometimes required some steely resolve, and circumstances occasionally nudging him in the right direction.
Sep12Filed under: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Lexington Art League, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Musicals, Norton Center for the Arts, Opera, Singletary Center for the Arts, Studio Players, Theater, UK, Visual arts; Tagged as: 2010-11 Arts Preview, Cathedral of Christ the King, Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, Cliff Jackson, Edward Gorey, Garden District, Gorey Stories, Gustavo Dudamel, Itzhak Perlman, KY.7 Biennial, Legally Blonde -- The Musical, Lexington Art League, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Messiah, Norton Center for the Arts, Porgy & Bess, Singletary Center for the Arts, Stephen Currens, Studio Players, Tennessee Williams, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Woodford Theatre, UK Opera Theatre, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, University of Kentucky Theatre, Vienna Philharmonic
The 2010-11Central Kentucky arts calendar is bolstered by an unprecedented slew of performances during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. But outside of that, it is a really strong and interesting year with marquee touring artists coming into town and local groups programming interesting and, in some cases, organization re-defining seasons.
It is, quite frankly, a hard year to pick a short list of intriguing programs, but I’ll give it a shot.
Make sure to check out our entire 2010-11arts preview in today’s Lexington Herald-Leader. Our arts and entertainment editor Scott Shive and staff news assistants have put many, many hours into assembling this comprehensive list of events, and while yes, it is available online, the arts preview is one of those things that is really best experienced in the print format.
KY.7 Biennial at the Lexington Art League at the Loudon House, through Oct. 23 – The Loudon House’s second exhibit of contemporary work by artists from Kentucky and its contiguous states has the potential to be one of our international visitors’ best looks at the art of our region.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at The Woodford Theatre, Sept. 17-Oct. 3 - Woodford Theatre has emerged as a premier community theatre in Central Kentucky, and this show is their chance to stage the regional premier of a recent Broadway hit.
Vienna Philharmonic with conductor Gustavo Dudamel at Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts, Sept. 25 - This is an extremely rare chance to see the Vienna Philharmonic anywhere in North America outside of New York, and along with that, we get to see the hottest star in classical music today. They call him “The Dude” for a reason.
Gorey Stories at the University of Kentucky Theatre, Oct. 7-17 – If there is another play that has made the journey from the Guignol Theatre stage to Broadway, I am not aware of it. This production of Stephen Currens’ take on cartoons of Edward Gorey, which premiered at UK in 1974 when Currens was a UK student, is part of UK’s celebration of 100 years of theater on campus.
Lexington Philharmonic‘s Messiah, Dec. 2 and 3 at the Cathedral of Christ the King - This minimalist performance with the Lexington Chamber Chorale is one of several intriguing things the Phil is doing in the first full-Scott Terrell season.
UK Opera Theatre‘s Porgy & Bess, Jan. 28-Feb. 6 at the Singletary Center for the Arts – Not only will you have a lovingly crafted rendition of an American icon, you will also see some brand new theater technology as UK Opera and UK’s VIS Center unveil new video backdrops for the show.
Itzhak Perlman with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra at the Singletary Center for the Arts, March 5 - Perlamn is the latest – and probably greatest – marquee soloist to come in and perform with the UK Symphony. Oh, BTW, they’re also playing with Marvin Hamlisch conducting, working with the National Symphony and going back to Carnegie Hall this season.
Tennessee Williams’ Garden District at Studio Players, March 17-April 3 – Two Williams classic short plays, Suddenly Last Summer and Something Unspoken are one of several Studio highlights.
Legally Blonde – The Musical at the Lexington Opera House, April 15-17 – It’s really hard to pick a favorite in the Broadway Live season that includes The Color Purple, Spring Awakening and Spamalot! But this is the show that launched Lexington’s Laura Bell Bundy to Broadway stardom. Laura’s not in this show, and it is not the next great American musical, but it will give you a good idea what she accomplished.
Cliff Jackson with the Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, May 1 - A big retirement event for UK’s iron man pianist who is a consummate artist and routinely pulls off feats such as playing around 50 arias in one afternoon at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Jul23Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, LexArts; Tagged as: Bluegrass Community Foundation, Boomslang, Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, Fund for The Arts, Governor's School for the Arts, Kentucky Ballet Theatre, Kentucky Chinese American Association, KY Women Writers Conference, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Ballet Company, Lexington Chamber Chorale, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Lexington Fayette Urban-County Government, Lexington Opera Society, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Living Arts & Science Center, Music Institute of Lexington, Nexus: Toward New Land Art, Theatre of PossABILITIES, WRFL
LexArts recently announced that the 2010 Fund for the Arts campaign took in $1,003,000 and released its list of recipients of allocations and grants for the coming fiscal year.
The fund’s total exceeded the goal by $3,000 and included $450,000 from the Lexington Fayette Urban-County Government. Money raised by the campaign supports LexArts grants and allocations.
This was the first year for tiered allocation recipients, as LexArts split eligible organizations into two groups:
■ General Operating Support I, for not-for-profit arts organizations that are managed by paid full- time staff with budgeted expenses exceeding $250,000. The recipients are:
Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, $165,000
Lexington Children’s Theatre, $120,000
Living Arts & Science Center, $102,000
Lexington Art League, $62,000
■ General Operating Support II, for not-for-profit arts organizations managed by paid full- or part-time staff with budgeted expenses exceeding $50,000:
Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, $10,000
Lexington Singers, $9,000
Music Institute of Lexington, $5,000
■ LexArts Community Arts Grants, designated for specific projects and programs are:
Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, $7,500 for Kentucky Great Writers Series.
Kentucky Chinese American Association, $7,000 for Chinese New Year celebration 2011.
KY Women Writers Conference, $5,000 plus free use of the Downtown Arts Center for the Conference.
Lexington Ballet Company, $5,000 for new works in the 2010-2011 season.
Kentucky Ballet Theatre, $5,000 for 2010-2011 season.
Lexington Opera Society, $5,000 for Get Stuffed, a children’s opera that teaches healthy eating habits.
Lexington Chamber Chorale, $5,000 for additional community performances during its 20th season.
Governors School for The Arts, $2,500 for instrumental music program.
Theatre of PossABILITIES, $2,500 for a two-week theatre camp for children with ADHD, ODD and bipolar disorders.
Bluegrass Community Foundation, $2,500 for Legacy Trail Public Art Project.
WRFL, $2,500 for Boomslang, A celebration of Sound and Art.
Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky, $5,000 for 2010-2011 concert series.
Nexus: Toward New Land Art, $2,000 for artist expenses with temporary installation for the Loudoun House in Castlewood Park.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich