We always have a ton of wonderful concerts for classical music lovers, and this fall promises special treats for those who especially appreciate music for the organ and for voices. The biggest event of the season takes place in early September, so mark your calendars now.
The Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies at Cornell presents a conference and concert festival with an imposing title—The Organ in the Global Baroque. The festival, in honor of late Dutch organist and educator Jacques von Oortmersson, runs from September 6 through 8 at various venues on the Cornell campus, with central focus on the university’s early 18th-century style baroque organ, installed at Anabel Taylor Chapel in 2010. Besides a keynote talks and conference papers, eminent international recitalists, including Cornell’s Annette Richards, Westfield Center’s executive director from 2007 to 2017, will perform music from the 17th-century golden age of the organ repertory to the present day.
Choral and Vocal Music
After these tributes to the king of instruments come the many voices. Cornell’s Concert Series opens in Bailey Hall on September 14 with Roomful Full of Teeth, a Grammy-winning and revolutionary eight-voice ensemble that explores a bold and wide-ranging sound palette and a great variety of singing techniques. Also in Bailey, on September 22, is the annual Homecoming Concert when this year the Cornell Glee Club and Chorus, led by Robert Isaacs, celebrate the Glee Club’s 150th anniversary with past favorites. The Cayuga Vocal Ensemble (CVE), led by Carl Johengen and accompanied by organist Jeffrey Snedeker, performs works by Maurice Duruflé at St. Luke Lutheran Church on October 7, the hauntingly beautiful Requiem, Opus 9, and “Quatre Motets sur des thèmes grégoriens.”
The Cornell Glee Club with Isaacs marks its 150th anniversary again on November 3 at Sage Chapel with a new program of folksong, world music, Renaissance motets, and contemporary works. Also on November 3, in Ithaca’s Unitarian Church, our premier early music ensemble, NYS Baroque, presents a brilliant selection titled Venice—five singers with continuo accompaniment will perform 17th-century music by Barbara Strozzi and her contemporaries. The Cornell Chamber Singers and organist Michael Plagerman, led by Stephen Spinelli, will offer Evensong in Sage Chapel on November 17, a program from the Anglican Church repertory.
For the holiday season, the Cornell Chorale, under the direction of Spinelli, performs Part I of Handel’s Messiah with guest soloists and the Cornell Chamber Orchestra in Sage Chapel on November 30 in Sage Chapel. The annual Lessons and Carols programs are in Sage Chapel on December 2 and 3, featuring the Cornell Glee Club and Chorus directed by Isaacs, along with carols involving audience participation and traditional readings by members of the Cornell community. And for Messiah again, the CVE and Cayuga Chamber Orchestra (CCO) will be joined by soloists soprano Elena Galván, mezzo soprano Dawn Pierce, tenor Dann Coakwell, and bass-baritone David Neal, all led by guest conductor Grant Cooper, at St. Paul’s Methodist Church on December 8.
Orchestral and Ensemble Highlights
NYS Baroque opens its 30th season with a big concert called Celebration! It brings the ensemble’s best musical friends—including violinist Julie Andrijeski, and, naturally, musical director Deborah Fox with her theorbo—to the Unitarian Church on September 15 to perform music by such familiar composers as Georg Philipp Telemann and Marin Marais. The CCO, led by music director Cornelia Laemmli Orth and celebrating its 42nd season this year, starts out on September 21 (note that this is a Friday performance) with A Heroic Beginning, featuring local star pianist and Cornell faculty member Miri Yampolsky in a performance of the Schumann piano concerto, Opus 54. The concert opens with the Overture from “Orfeo ed Euridice” by Gluck and closes with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, called “Eroica”—about as heroic as you can get. On November 3, the orchestra conducted by Laemmli Orth presents the Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 by J. S. Bach and a 2006 work by Steven Hartke inspired by Bach called “A Brandenburg Autumn.” The concert closes with a big splash, concertmaster Christina Bouey and cellist Steven Doane from Eastman performing the Brahms double concerto, Opus 102. Both concerts are in Ford Hall.
The Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble (FLCE) offers its Fall Concert at the Lodi Historical Society on September 30, with piano quartets by Mozart and Brahms, played by Janet Sung, violin; Roberta Crawford, viola; Stefan Reuss, cello; and Michael Salmirs, piano. A special event on October 7 at the Morgan Opera House in Aurora features flutist Barry Crawford who joins Sung, Crawford, and Reuss in music by François Devienne, Zoltán Kodály, and Mozart. Also on October 7 in Ithaca’s Unitarian Church, the CCO Chamber Series opens with Music without Borders, featuring Trio for Flute, Violin and Piano by 20th-century Italian composer Nina Rota, Three Songs for Piano Trio by Syracuse-based Diane Jones, and the Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 87, by Antonín Dvorák. The Cornell Concert Series presents violinist Jennifer Koh in Bailey Hall on October 21, accompanied by composer-pianist Vijay Iyer.
On November 16 Béla Fleck, banjo; Zakir Hussain, tabla; and Edgar Meyer, bass, will perform in Bailey Hall as part of the Cornell Series. With 20 Grammy awards among them for composition and performance, they are players who move with ease through the sound worlds of classical, bluegrass, and North Indian music. The CCO’s second chamber concert, on November 18 and called Generational Gap, presents music by composers spanning three centuries and several countries, Danish composer Carl Nielson, contemporaries American Frank Proto and Finnish Esa-Pekka Salonen, and German Beethoven, whose “Archduke Trio” will be performed. The FLCE Winter Chamber Concert is in the Unitarian Church on January 20, 2019, with violinist Liana Koteva (from the Rochester Philharmonic) and bassist Spencer Phillips (on the faculty at Eastman) joining Crawford, Reuss, and Salmirs in a program of music by Mozart and Rossini, and ending with the ever-popular “Trout” Quintet by Schubert.
Be sure to check dates and venues closer to concert times as these can often change.