Monthly Archives: October 2013

ASO review: A “backward in time” program handcuffs guest pianist Simone Dinnerstein [ArtsATL]

By Mark Gresham | 19 Oct 2013, ArtsATL

Simone Dinnerstein debuted “The Circle and the Child.” (Photo by Jeff Roffman)

Simone Dinnerstein debuted “The Circle and the Child.” (Photo by Jeff Roffman)

On Thursday evening in Symphony Hall, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performed music by Respighi, Prokofiev and Philip Lasser, led by Peruvian-born guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and featuring pianist Simone Dinnerstein as soloist. … • READ MORE on ArtsATL

Amid a crowded week of new music, Rivera, O’Connor and Spano perform at Bailey in advance of Carnegie Hall recital

by Mark Gresham | 18 Oct 2013

l-r: Robert Spano at the piano with Jessica Rivera and Kelley O'Connor at KSU's Bailey Center on Thursday

l-r: Robert Spano at the piano with Jessica Rivera and Kelley O'Connor at KSU’s Bailey Center on Thursday

This has been a week of interesting concerts in Atlanta which featured important presentations of new music, bit which have clashed in vying with each other for audience due to conflicting performance dates.

On Wednesday, typically an unattractive night for drawing an audience, both Bent Frequency and Atlanta Chamber Players were performing at the same time in different downtown locations. Since I cannot be in two places at once on behalf of ArtsATL, I previewed Bent Frequency’s performance of Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon’s staged cantata Comala at the Rialto, and reviewed Atlanta Chamber Players, including the world premiere of Charles Zoll’s completed “bailes encima del escritorio de nuestra juventud” (“dances atop the school desks of our youth”).

Thursday was no more advantageous in that respect. While the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, to which I was assigned for review, was performing the world premier of Philip Lasser’s piano concerto “The Circle and the Child” at Symphony Hall with pianist Simone Dinnerstein and guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya, the ASO’s music director, Robert Spano, was out in the far northwest suburbs being otherwise engaged as pianist in a recital with his vocal cohorts, soprano Jessica Rivera and mezzo Kelley O’Connor, at the Bailey performance Center on the Kennesaw State University campus in advance of two different appearances at Carnegie Hall.

The first of those Carnegie appearances is obviously a reprise of the recital with Rivera and O’Connor on Tuesday, October 29. But just four days before that, next Friday, October 25, Spano will take to the podium to lead the American Composers Orchestra in celebration of the 10th anniversary season of its Orchestra Underground series. Spano will lead the ACO in music by Peter Fahey, Christopher Theofanidis,Fred Lerdahl and Julia Wolfe. Both concerts are scheduled to take place in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall.

The recital at Bailey featured two new song cycles written specifically for Rivera and O’Connor. Rivera performed Jonathan Leshnoff’s “Monica Songs” while O’Connor performed “That Time With You” by David Bruce. Each cycle received its second performance on this concert, as the premieres took place out in San Francisco this past Sunday, October 13, although San Francisco Chronicle music critic Joshua Kosman had a few issues with that particular performance.

Rivera and Spano will perform three of the Leshnoff songs again this Sunday, October 20, at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, then the day after Spano’s ACO appearance will team up with O’Connor again in Cincinnati on Saturday, October 26, as part of the city’s Constella Festival before the trio heads for New York.

In addition to the new cycles by Leshnoff and Bruce, the touring program, as performed at Bailey, also includes a mix of vocal solos and duets by Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Gounod, Mendelssohn, Federico Mompou and Gabriela Frank.

Review: Atlanta Chamber Players debut impressive new piece by “Rapido!” champion Charles Zoll [ArtsATL]

By Mark Gresham | 17 Oct 2013, ArtsATL

Zoll and Paula Peace (far right) with musicians who performed his work: (from left) Tim Whitehead, Elizabeth Koch Tiscione, Helen Kim and Brad Ritchie. (Photo by Tim Redman)

Zoll and Paula Peace (far right) with the musicians who performed his work: (from left) Tim Whitehead, Elizabeth Koch Tiscione, Helen Kim and Brad Ritchie. (Photo by Tim Redman)

The Atlanta Chamber Players opened their 2013-14 season with a concert of music by Duruflé, Brahms and Charles Zoll at the New American Shakespeare Tavern on Wednesday night. … • READ MORE on ArtsATL

Preview: Bent Frequency to perform revamped “Comala” in prep for first international tour [ArtsATL]

By Mark Gresham | 15 Oct 2013, ArtsATL

Bent Frequency in rehearsal for “Comala.” (Photo by Mark Gresham)

Bent Frequency in rehearsal for “Comala.” (Photo by Mark Gresham)

On Wednesday, October 16, Atlanta-based new-edge music group Bent Frequency and PUSH Physical Theatre of Rochester, New York, will come together, along with a handful of guest musicians, to perform “Comala,” a “scenic cantata” by Mexican-born composer Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, at the Rialto Center for the Arts … • READ MORE on ArtsATL

30 Under 30: Percussionist Victor Pons stretches the bounds of electronics and vibraphone [ArtsATL]

By Mark Gresham | 14 Oct 2013, ArtsATL

Victor Pons

Victor Pons

At age 25, percussionist Victor Pons has emerged rapidly amid Atlanta’s growing new-edge music scene. The Goat Farm Arts Center describes him as being “amongst the radicals reshaping musical parameters” in Atlanta. Pons’ particular interest is in performing new works that involve vibraphone with live electronics, … • READ MORE on ArtsATL

KSU to host recital by Spano, Rivera and O’Connor this week on their way to Carnegie Hall

by Mark Gresham | 13 Oct 2013

Jessica Rivera | Kelley O'Connor | Robert Spano

Jessica Rivera, Kelley O’Connor and Robert Spano.

This Thursday, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra music director Robert Spano will be in metro-Atlanta but will not be on the podium with the orchestra at Symphony Hall.* Instead, Spano will be with soprano Jessica Rivera and mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, at the Bailey Performance Center’s Morgan Hall at the Kennesaw State University. The performance is part of a nationwide tour that will include an October 29th performance in New York City at Carnegie Hall.

The recital tour features two new song cycles written specifically for the two singers: David Bruce’s “That Time With You” for O’Connor and Jonathan Leshnoff’s “Monica Songs” for Rivera. Thursday’s performance at the Bailey will include both of these plus music by Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Gounod, Mendelssohn, Federico Mompou and Gabriela Frank. It will be only the second stop in their national tour, which kicks off today in San Francisco.

[ *On the very same evening that Spano, Rivera and O'Connor are engaged in their performance at the Bailey, down at Symphony Hall the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will feature guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and pianist Simone Dinnerstein in the world premiere of a new concerto by Philip Lasser, plus music by Respighi and Prokofiev. I will be on assignment at the ASO concert for ArtsATL. –Mark ]

ASO review: Susanna Mälkki makes Atlanta debut; orchestra pays tribute to Ralph Jones [ArtsATL]

By Mark Gresham | 12 Oct 2013, ArtsATL

Susanna Mälkki conducts the ASO. (Photo by Jeff Roffman)

Susanna Mälkki conducts the ASO. (Photo by Jeff Roffman)

On Thursday evening in Symphony Hall, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performed a concert of music by Ravel, Barber and Sibelius, led by Finnish guest conductor Susanna Mälkki and featuring ASO Concertmaster David Coucheron as violin soloist. … • READ MORE on ArtsATL

Preview: With pride, Lesbian and Gay Bands will premiere Atlanta composer Tim Jansa’s “Colors” [ArtsATL]

By Mark Gresham | 11 Oct 2013, ArtsATL

The Atlanta Freedom Bands concert band.

The Atlanta Freedom Bands concert band.

In the midst of the Atlanta Pride Festival this weekend, Atlanta Freedom Bands is hosting the 2013 national conference of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association. The LGBA’s massed band, which involves more than 200 musicians drawn from over 30 bands across the United States, will perform a public concert at the Ferst Center for the Arts on Saturday … • READ MORE on ArtsATL

A weekend with Puccini present, both large and small: Atlanta Opera and Peachtree String Quartet

by Mark Gresham | 8 Oct 2013

Peachtree Sreing Quartet

Peachtree String Quartet: Christopher Pulgram, John Meisner, Jennifer Humphreys and Yang-Yoon Kim

This past weekend the music of Puccini turned up in both large and small contexts. The most obvious was the opening night Atlanta Opera’s production of Tosca on Saturday, October 5. I’m not a frequent attendee of opera, but I enjoyed the show even if less critically than colleague James Paulk who reviewed the performance for ArtsATL. The remaining three performances of Tosca are tonight at 7:30pm, Friday, October 11 at 8pm and Sunday afternoon, October 13, 2013 at 3pm.

Tomer Zvulun, the AO’s new general and artistic director, spoke to the audience in advance of curtain time to thank donors and so forth, but the most interesting part was when he talked about how about 200 people were involved in this live production, onstage, backstage and in the pit, and made a point of saying that it all happens here, “not streamed from somewhere else,” which brought forth a semi-gasp and subsequent rumble amongst some of the audience in the front rows, as he was obviously referring to the Met’s internet broadcasts. Some local New York-ophiles evidently took umbrage. But Zvulun is right on target. I express it this way: A great city does not “deserve” great art, it creates great art.

The next afternoon (Sunday, October 6) Peachtree String Quartet performed the opening concert of their 2013-14 season at what one might call their “home venue,” the Garden Hills Recreation Center, uptown just southeast of the Buckhead business district in the quiet Garden Hills residential community. The quartet (violinists Christopher Pulgram and John Meisner, violist Yang-Yoon Kim and cellist Jennifer Humphreys) are all members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

There again was Puccini, this time represented by his six-minute elegy “Crisantemi” (“Chrysanthemums”) on a program wirh Haydn’s “Sunrise” String Quartet on B-flat major (Op. 76, No.4), Hugo Wolf’s brief “Italian Serenade” and Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A minor (Op. 13).

While not a picture perfect performance, the quartet has come a long way since their formal debut last season at Garden Hills. Sunday’s concert was a happy musical experience. The group has a good, consistent following and small venue itself was pretty much full. With a good foundation of audience support, one can only look forward to their continued development as an important local chamber ensemble.

The quartet is scheduled to perform on at the Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library this coming Monday, Oct. 14, on behalf of an ASO outreach partnership with the DeKalb County Libraries. That will the first of a series of free chamber concerts by ASO musicians that will take place at libraries across the county, running one performance monthly through May.

ASO review: Two new works, Ohlsson playing Rachmaninoff bring down the house [ArtsATL]

By Mark Gresham | 4 Oct 2013, ArtsATL

Conductor Robert Spano (left) with “Atlanta School” composer Adam Schoenberg.

Conductor Robert Spano (left) with “Atlanta School” composer Adam Schoenberg.

On Thursday evening, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, led by Music Director Robert Spano, performed a pair of 21st-century American works by Richard Prior and Adam Schoenberg and, with guest pianist Garrick Ohlsson as soloist, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 2. …
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