The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
The Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra has announced its 2013-14 season, which will continue its efforts to bring new music and emerging artists to Lexington.
The season will start Sept. 20 with a concert including Adam Schoenberg’s American Symphony and include the world premier of a new work by Schoenberg April 11. Schoenberg is the second composer in the Philharmonic’s Saykaly-Garbulinska composer-in-residence program with the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington. He is also composing a new work for the festival, Aug. 20-25.
The Philharmonic season will also include a screening of the 1925 silent classic The Gold Rush with the musical score by Charlie Chaplin and, for the traditionalists out there, a season-ending performance of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s iconic Symphony No. 9.
Guest soloists will start with violin phenom Caroline Goulding playing the Violin Concerto by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky in September and a return visit by classical guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas, whose last performance with the Philharmonic was the very first concert in the orchestra’s search for a new music music director that resulted in the hiring of Scott Terrell. His October 2007 performance was with then-Philharmonic candidate Kayoko Dan who ended up being hired by the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras and served two seasons as their music director before going on to lead the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra.
Terrell is entering his fifth season as the Philharmonic’s music director. Here’s the lineup of works and soloists.
Sept. 20, Revolution: Dmitri Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto featuring Caroline Goulding, Adam Schoenberg’s American Symphony, and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
Nov. 15, Fantasy: Engelbert Humperdinck’s excerpts from Hansel and Gretel; Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals featuring piano soloists Sonya and Elizabeth Schumann, and Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka.
Dec. 7: George Frideric Handel’s Messiah at the Cathedral of Christ the King featuring guest soloists and the Lexington Chamber Chorale.
Feb. 14, Tainted Love: Dominick Argento’s Valentino Dances, Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez featuring guitar soloist Pablo Sáinz Villegas, Felix Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring soloists and a combined womens’ choir from Asbury University and the University of Kentucky.
March 14, The Gold Rush. Full-length silent film featuring music score by Charles Chaplin.
April 11: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, world premiere by Adam Schoenberg, and Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto featuring cello soloist Narek Hakhnazaryan.
May 16: Claude Debussy’s Claire de Lune, Osvaldo Golijov’s Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra (soloist to be announced), Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 featuring soloists to be announced and a combined chorus from the Kentucky Bach Choir, Lexington Chamber Chorale and the Lexington Singers.
The season was announced at the Philharmonic’s March 1 concert featuring the contemporary ensemble Eighth Blackbird.
All performances are at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Kentucky’s Singletary Center for the Arts, except Messiah.
Subscriptions are currently available to only current subscribers. Subscriptions will ne available to the general public beginning May 1, ranging in price from $130-$350. Single concert tickets will go on sale at a later date.
For more information, visit lexphil.org or call (859) 2334226.
In the pre-concert talk (photo, above) pianist Alessio Bax has to caution himself against talking about Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini too much lest “I make myself nervous,” he said. “There are a lot of challenges.”
Philharmonic music director Scott Terrell says the orchestra had the man for the job.
“A lot of artists try to put their stamp on the music,” Terrell says to the audience gathered in the Singletary Center for the Arts’ President’s Room. “This requires the pianist to take the music that’s there and bring out the colors in it. That takes a seasoned artist, and we have one tonight.”
Noting that Bax plays every summer in Lexington with the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, Terrell said, “He’s a world-class pianist, we’ve wanted to have here a long time. It’s only taken three years.”
After playing the Star-Spangled Banner, the orchestra starts with Roberto Sierra’s Fandangos, a piece that sounds much like its name, clattering and blaring. At the pre-show, Terrell notes it was written for Leonard Slatikin and the National Symphony Orchestra and says the beauty of it is it uses a repeating pattern to create its world of growing energy. “It has three big arcs that lead you to the end” Terrell said. “It was a lot of fun to learn and play.”
That was America. It’s all Russian from here.
Bax and Terrell brought the mutual admiration society onto the stage, Terrell pointing out that the concert was the first of the Teresa Garbulinska initiative for new programs and emerging artists and noting the that Garbulinska’s widower, Ron Saykaly specified Bax be the first artist in the initiative.
Bax gives a crowd pleaser of a performance appropriately followed by the sounds of fireworks from Festival Latino a few blocks away during intermission.
Following the performance, Bax was in the lobby signing copies of his new Rachmaninoff CD, meeting old friends and getting a few serious offers to come back soon.
In his dressing room, he said, “It felt very good on the stage. We did a number of things different and everyone played right along. No one was on autopilot. We worked as a group well.”
When things are going that well, “we can make sounds and not just play notes.”
Having now experienced two Lexington area music groups, Bax said he thought the people and audience were the common thread.
“I feel very welcome here,” he said. “I imagine everyone does.”
After departing Lexington Saturday morning, Bax is off to travel the world with engagements in Denmark, Japan, Korea, Washington D.C., Dallas, Columbia and other locales.
(above: Bax is greeted after the concert by Dr. Ron Saykaly, whose new initiative in honor of his late wife supported Bax’s appearance.)
Heading backstage after intermission, Bax accidentally steered toward the stage. When told no one would mind if he went back out, he joked, “they would if I went to conduct Firebird.” Closing out the evening is Igor Stravinsky’s game-changing work.
Terrell recalled his first time conducting Firebird, when he was a student.
“As a student, you’re just trying to figure out the floor, the door, the window, the ceiling — how do we do this? You’re just trying not to mess up the orchestra.”
Terrell pointed out some of the challenges of the work and said, “It’s really a great way to show off the orchestra for the first concert of the season.”
He also recalled the 1910 premiere of of Firebird, which was met with jeers and hurled fruit.
“I would have loved to have been there,” Terrell said, “to hear those sounds for the first time.”
Judging by the enthusiastic audience response at this show, Terrell and the orchestra had a pretty good night.
A note after reading the review: I ran into percussionist James Campbell before Wednesday night’s rehearsal, and he said, “Any night you’re playing Stravinsky is a good night.” I guess it is.
Program notes at orchestra concerts almost always tell you where a work was premiered, usually well over a century ago, and we can only imagine what it was like to be there and here a work by, say, Ludwig Van Beethoven or Franz Schubert for the first time.
For the classical music fan, the experience of hearing a fresh new work can seem like something for generations past as we now just take in museum pieces.
That is changing though in Lexington, and Friday night’s Lexington Philharmonic concert was the biggest evidence yet that this is becoming a community interested in hearing new classical works by composers who are still with us, sometimes even in the same room. Commissions and world premieres have been rolled out by other organizations in Lexington, notably by the University of Kentucky’s ensembles and the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington.
But it is a powerful statement when the area’s flagship arts organization says it is going to prioritize new music and perform it on its major concert series.
Friday night we were treated to the world premiere of Daniel Kellogg‘s How Radiant the Dawn, and the operative word there is treat. The piece, the first in the Philharmonic’s Saykaly Garbulinska Composer-in-Residence program, is Kellogg’s musical interpretation of the sunrise. He said in Thursday night’s Kicked Back Classics event, a prelude to Friday’s concert, that it wasn’t a programatic piece, but it was easy to see it that way.
Dawn opened with fluttering flutes that recessed into a steady tone before resuming flight. Soon, other colors were streaking across a developing meoldy, somewhat discordant but working toward a blazing unity. Among the many pieces of Kellogg’s sunrise were moments like a glissando in the lower strings, like birds crossing the horizon, and a short violin solo by Daniel Mason that was reminiscent of the orange shaft of sunlight that fired across pink clouds Wednesday morning.
Soon the sun was up, and we were in Gershwin’s bustling city or Copland’s west, Kellogg’s marriage of lush strings and proud brass giving this a distinctly American feel.
About a third of the way into Daniel Kellogg‘s Mozart’s Hymn the Lexington Philharmonic’s strings swelled and then burst, a luscious melody flowing under sparkling trills and tweets that carried the listener along.
It was enchanting, though the audience at the Philharmonic’s first Kicked Back Classics program of the season was somewhat prepared as Kellogg had just described for the audience how there were more than a dozen parts at work in that one moment of music.
“I love texture and I love color,” Kellogg told the audience. “And there’s no better way to do that than dividing the strings into 16 parts.”
In an interview last week, Kellogg told me that he likes to go places that let him talk to the audience about his music. In Kicked Back Classics, a program Philharmonic music director Scott Terrell developed to take the audience inside the music before classics concerts, Kellogg had an ideal format. Thurdsay’s program was a prelude to Friday’s Classics concert which will feature the world premiere of Kellogg’s How Radiant the Dawn, which the Philharmonic commissioned as part of the Saykaly Garbulinska Composer-in-Residence program.
The audience at the Downtown Arts Center was treated a complete performance of Mozart’s Hymn, which the Philharmonic will play in its April 26 Classics concert, as well as excerpts from How Radiant the Sky which depicts the sunrise Kellogg often watches from his studio outside Boulder, Colo. We were introduced to an opening flutter of flutes, chamber-like sections that lean on the principal players and a “seagull effect” produced by viola and cello players sliding their finger along the strings. The preview raised the curtain on a piece that seems to have a variety of colors in a brief window of time, sort of like a sunrise.
But we did not, of course, hear the whole thing. That’s for Friday night’s concert.
Kellogg said, “The piece is not complete until it is played by these people,” referring to the orchestra, “for an audience.”
Ronald Saykaly didn’t know exactly what he was paying for.
The Lexington physician and his wife, former concert pianist Teresa Garbulinska, attended the inaugural Chamber Music Festival of Lexington in 2007 at the invitation of some friends.
At the first event, they met festival president Charles H. Stone. Saykaly says, “I was so impressed with what they did, the tremendous volunteerism and high quality of the performance, I told Charlie, ‘Look, if you ever need help, I’d be happy to help you with something.’”
Less than a year later, Stone came calling. He had met a young composer, Daniel Thomas Davis, and wanted to commission him to write a new work to be premiered at the second edition of the festival. Saykaly thought it sounded like a great idea. He had no idea what Davis would write and whether it would have a life beyond the festival, but he bought in.
“It turned out to be rather successful,” Saykaly says.
He has supported a commission at the festival each year since then.
Davis’ Book of Songs and Visions ended up being played around the United States and Europe, and it won the 2009 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. It came back around to the Bluegrass when Lexington Philharmonic music director Scott Terrell programmed a symphonic version of it for the orchestra’s 2010-11 season.
“I said, ‘Scott, you know, that’s my piece, and if you’re going to bring him here, I’d like to commission it,’” said Saykaly, who had joined the Philharmonic board about that time.
That planted the seeds for the Saykaly Garbulinska composer-in-residence program between the Philharmonic and the Chamber Music Festival, which will bring one composer to both orchestras every other year.
Davis’ Philharmonic commission last February was an informal start to the program. The commissioning of Daniel Kellogg, who wrote a piece called Look Up at the Sky for last summer’s Chamber Music Festival and will have a new work on Friday night’s Philharmonic concert, is the first formal manifestation of the effort.
“We sat down with Ron and said, we have these two entities,” says Terrell, who chooses the composer with Chamber Music Festival director Nathan Cole, a Lexington native and associate concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. “We have the orchestral entity where I, as a conductor, know there are composers really hungry to have new works commissioned. Then you have an organization that already has several new compositions under its belt. We said, there has to be a way this can work to our mutual strengths.”
It also can put Lexington on the classical-music map.
For decades George Zack has been a big part of the Singletary Center for the Arts. That become somewhat literal Friday night as the Lexington Philharmonic Guild unveiled a bronze plaque in honor of the orchestra’s music director from 1972 to 2009.
“One person can make a difference, and George Zack is a prime example of that,” said former Lexington vice-mayor and longtime arts supporter Isabel Yates at an unveiling ceremony prior to Friday’s Philharmonic concert. “He is a cultural icon in the city of Lexington.”
Concertmaster Dan Mason, who celebrates his 30th anniversary in his post next year, jokingly thanked George for, “putting your trust in a 10-year-old concertmaster,” congratulating his longtime collaborator.
“This is a momentous occasion, not just for George and his family but also for this region,” Mason said. “Under George’s direction, the Lexington Philharmonic became a pillar of the city.”
Accepting the honor, Zack said the one thing missing from the plaque was his wife, Kerry, who he said was a critical part of his 37-year tenure at the Philharmonic. Zack’s wedding band is visible in the bronze that shows Zack in the midst of conducting. It was made by Amanda Matthews and Brad Connell of Prometheus Foundry in Lexington.
The plate below the plaque reads, in part, “The People’s Maestro … Beloved maestro who shared his knowledge, enthusiasm and great love of music in the Singletary Center concert hall and throughout the Lexington Community.”
Zack noted that when he arrived in Lexington, the Philharmonic had yet to play some signature works in the symphonic repertoire including symphonies by Franz Joseph Haydn and Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. They and many more pieces had their Lexington premieres under Zack’s baton, and Zack said, “It has been a privilege to plow that ground with you and for you.”
In 2009, Scott Terrell succeeded Zack as music director, and he said at the ceremony that it was immediately clear to him the rich legacy that Zack created with the Philharmonic.
Zack closed saying to the audience, “Into Scott’s hands I commend the spirit of this orchestra. May it live forever, and it will, because of you.”
When composer Dan Kellogg graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music, he assumed that he needed to move to New York City, the center of the musical universe.
There were challenges, particularly in finding a place to live. Both he and his wife, concert pianist Hsing-ay Hsu, have grand pianos.
“Try telling that to a Realtor,” Kellogg said Thursday morning during a panel discussion on building creative communities at ArtsPlace.
Eventually, he and Hsu found a home — 1,600 miles west of New York, in Boulder, Colo., where he is an assistant professor of music at the University of Colorado and, most important, where he has found a creative community.
“It’s important to find people you want to live among,” said Kellogg, right. “I love having that local, small community, and I actually prefer this to what I could have in Manhattan.”
The Thursday morning panel, presented by LexArts in conjunction with the Lexington Philharmonic and the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, which concludes Sunday, focused on how to make Lexington closer to what Kellogg has found in Boulder, where the real estate is affordable and the indigenous arts scene is thriving. And thriving doesn’t mean an orchestra that presents the standard repertoire, museums that display the established masters, dance and theater troupes presenting the classics and main stages populated with artists on the way from point A to point B.
The discussion centered on fostering a community that creates new work and encourages risk-taking.
“Lexington is in a position to shape its own creative future,” said Scott Terrell, Lexington Philharmonic’s music director.
Based on his résumé alone, landing Daniel Kellogg as composer-in-residence for the 2011 Chamber Music Festival of Lexington seems like a coup.
His commissions range from a piece for the Philadelphia Orchestra to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth to a critically acclaimed composition for the new-music ensemble called eighth blackbird.
But, as has been the case with many of the people with head-turning résumés who have come through the 5-year-old festival, Kellogg, below, will arrive in Lexington this week for a reunion of old friends.
“Nathan Cole and I were classmates at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia,” Kellogg says, referring to the Lexington native who is now artistic director of the festival. “He actually premiered several of my works there when we were students as well as Burchard Tang, who is the violist.”
Kellogg’s visit isn’t just a coup or reunion, though. It also ushers in a new partnership between the festival and the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, in which both entities will commission new works from a single composer within a relatively short time. Lexington already got a taste of this with Daniel Thomas Davis, the festival’s first composer-in-residence, who brought his 2008 work, Book of Songs and Visions, back to Lexington early this year in an orchestral form with the philharmonic.
That dual presentation was a result of coincidence and several other factors. The formalized partnership in one city is unique in Kellogg’s experience.
Last year, Picnic with the Pops moved out of the Kentucky Horse Park and into Keenland’s Meadow at Keene Barn to allow for preparations for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which began the next month at the Horse Park. The one-night program featured Cirque de la Symphonie, and the location and program change proved to be a hit with many people, including Pops chair Tom Minter.
In a statement from the Picnic with the Pops Commission, Minter said, “Our return to Keeneland and a Friday night performance back on the schedule are a direct result of last year’s success and valuable feedback from our patrons.”
In Tiempo Libre, the event gets a mostly conservatory trained group that has a reputation for high-energy performances.
“They are riveting to hear and watch,” Philharmonic music director Scott Terrell said. “It will be a challenge to sit still, so my advice is – don’t!”
Mar30Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Classical Music, Downtown Arts Center, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Music, Musicals, Singletary Center for the Arts, Studio Players, Theater; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Broken, chool for Creative and Performing Arts, Exile, Garden District, Hairspray, Lexington Philharmonic, Studio Players, Tennessee Williams, The Rocky Horror Show, University of Connecticut Huskies, University of Kentucky men's basketball, Walter May
It used to be that area performing arts groups would go to great lengths to avoid presenting shows that would conflict with a University of Kentucky men’s basketball game.
But Saturday night, despite the fact that they will overlap with a portion of the Wildcats’ first Final Four appearance in 13 years, area theaters say they will go on with their shows as planned. The game against the University of Connecticut Huskies is scheduled to tip off at 8:49 p.m. (8:47 was too early?)
Among the shows that will be going on are:
~ The School for Creative and Performing Arts’ production of the musical Hairspray at the Lexington Opera House, curtain time is 8 p.m.
~ Actors Guild of Lexington and Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s production of The Rocky Horror Show, 7:30 p.m.
~ Exile’s concert to benefit the National Drug Endangered Children Training and Advocacy Center at the Singletary Center for the Arts, 7:30 p.m.
While it might seem to make sense to move out of the way of a major event for the community, Actors Guild Artistic director Eric Seale says moving a performance can often create as many problems as it solves.
“The real problem isn’t people who already have tickets, because you can call them up and tell them you’re making a change,” says Seale, who is overseeing two shows that conflict with the Cats – Broken and Rocky Horror. “But the people who are just planning to walk up and buy tickets, you have no way of contacting them.”
He recalled a production when Actors Guild was at the Downtown Arts Center that had to be cancelled due to a problem in the building. He said all patrons were called and understanding, but one couple that walked up planning to buy tickets at the door was really upset about the change.
He also notes that while some people may welcome a change that lets them see the show and the game, others who aren’t as fixated on basketball may not like it.
Last weekend, of course, there were also shows that went up against the Cats games Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Seale says the Friday night performance of Broken did have a light turnout, but the second nights of shows often do, and most area residents could have seen both the play and the Ohio State-UK game in their entireties.
The Lexington Philharmonic also reportedly had most of its audience in their seats for its entire performance last Friday night, which overlapped with the first half of that game.
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