Always blessed with exceptional musical treats, we are particularly fortunate to hear much music now by the great Ludwig van Beethoven, as 2020 marks his 250 th birth anniversary. Two highlights of the season, although far from Beethoven, include the visit of award-winning composer and A. D. White Professor-at-Large Wynton Marsalis to a Bailey Hall concert on March 20, which includes his piece “Big Train,” to be played by the Jazz Ensemble directed by Paul Merrill. On March 1 in Ford Hall, the Hockett Chamber Music Series at Ithaca College (IC) presents The King’s Singers—six former choral scholars from King’s College, Cambridge, England. Other outstanding events are listed below. Please check dates and venues as schedules can and do change.
ORCHESTRAL AND ENSEMBLE PRESENTATIONS
The IC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Octavio Mas-Arocas, plays music by American composers Gabriela Lena Frank and Fredrick Kaufman, plus the Hungarian Zoltán Kodály, on Feb. 28 in Ford Hall. Their concerto concert on March 29, same conductor and venue, features student winners, pianists Alexei Aceto and Harris Andersen playing Chopin and Rachmaninov, plus Brian Breen performing Golovko’s Concerto for Marimba. On Feb. 29 in Bailey Hall, the Cornell Symphony Orchestra, led by Katherine Kilburn, plays works by Frank and Sibelius, and accompanies the winner of the annual concerto competition. Their second concert is on April 19.
The Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Cornelia Laemmli Orth, presents “Pivotal Pieces” on March 7—music by Mendelssohn and Beethoven, plus Strauss’s Horn Concerto with CCO’s principal horn Scott Leger as soloist. On March 27, “Orchestral Finale,” led by Laemmli Orth, features music by Piazzola and Arriaga, plus Rodrigo’s guitar concerto with soloist Jordan Dodson, and closes with Schubert’s Symphony No. 5. Both concerts are in Ford Hall. The Cornell Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Katherine Kilburn, includes Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with faculty violinist Ariana Kim as soloist, in Barnes Hall on March 8. The ensemble’s final concert is on April 26. Ensemble X performs Stravinsky’s Octet for Wind Instruments, plus a premiere by Miles Jefferson Friday, with soloist Richard Valitutto, Sage Fellow in Cornell ’s DMA program, in Barnes Hall on March 22.
Two Cornell concerts to celebrate Beethoven take place in Barnes Hall, with pianists Malcolm Bilson, Xak Bjerken and Miri Yampolsky performing the final three sonatas on Feb. 14 and with fortepianist Mike Lee playing the Diabelli Variations on the 15. The CCO Chamber Music Series presents Beethoven and Casella on Feb. 16, Dvorák and Harbison on April 19 (both at the Unitarian Church), and on May 3 “Center Stage Brass” in the First Baptist Church features music from Rossini to Ewald, some jazz, and “Paris Skies” for cello and double bass by IC professor Nicholas Walker. The Cornell Concert Series in Bailey Hall on Feb. 27 offers the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, featuring Mozart’s Quintet K. 452 and later pieces for winds and piano.
The IC Beethoven project, with piano professor Charis Dimaris, his current students, and recent select alumni performing all 32 sonatas in the Hockett Family Recital Hall, continues with Concert VI on March 2—Opus 7, 13 (Pathétique), 27/1, 110; Concert VII on March 23—Opus 10/1–3, 79, 101; Concert VIII on April 13—Opus 78, 81a (Les Adieux), 111. The Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble with guests—violinist Susan Waterbury and tenor Steven Nanni—presents Janácek, Vaughan Williams, and Franck on March 8; and Beethoven and Brahms with guest violin Fritz Gearhart on May 10, both in the Unitarian Church. The Summer Chamber Concert on June 7 at the Lodi Historical Society offers guest clarinet Richard MacDowell in music of Beethoven, Weiner, and Dvorák.
Widely acclaimed since its NYC debut in 2011, the Horszowski Trio performs “Celebrated Women” in Barnes Hall on March 14, which includes a set of bird-themed pieces from three living women composers and Clara Schumann’s piano trio. That evening in the Unitarian Church, NYS Baroque presents “The Panther and the Rose,” Italian medieval music with countertenor, tenor and three instrumentalists. The ensemble’s final concert on May 16 in the First Presbyterian Church features the Diderot Quartet and baritone soloist, with string quartets by Haydn and Mendelssohn plus arrangements of songs by Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn. On March 17, Cornell’s Annette Richards plays a concert called “Listening to Italy” on the baroque organ in Anabel Taylor Chapel. Eric Plutz from Princeton plays from the symphonies by Louis Vierne, in celebration of the composer’s 150th birth anniversary, on the French romantic organ at St. Luke Lutheran Church on March 22.
Israeli fortepianist Assaf Sommer plays a program of Bach in Barnes Hall on April 11, including selections from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier. Music’s Recreation micro-philharmonic with narrator Steven Stull performs an arrangement of “Tubby the Tuba” plus Peter Schickele’s setting of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” on April 19 at CSMA. On April 25 in Anabel Taylor Chapel, Cornell organist David Yearsley and baroque violinist Martin Davids present a concert of 17th-century duets and solos.
Mayfest, Cornell’s acclaimed international chamber music festival, co-directed by Yampolsky and Bjerken, returns for its 13th season, May 15–19. Special guests are soprano Dawn Upshaw, violinist Maria Ioudenitch, cellist Timotheos Petrin, IC’s classical saxophone Stephen Banks, and pianist Daniel Anastasio.
The annual New York Young Men Sing, with the Cornell Glee Club joining area high school singers on Feb. 15 for a workshop led by guest directors Kayla Werlin and Wayne Abercrombie, closes with a concert in Sage Chapel. Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” IC’s annual opera presentation conducted by Christopher Zemliauskas, takes place in Dillingham Center, Feb. 18–23. The Schola Cantorum of Syracuse, directed by Barry Torres, offers small-scale masterpieces of early German composer Heinrich Schütz at St. Luke on Feb. 28.
The Cayuga Vocal Ensemble sings two concerts this season at St. Catherine of Siena. On March 15, a program titled “Passages” will be led by guest director Sean Linfors of IC. The second concert takes place on May 10.
The IC Choral Concert on March 2 in Ford Hall with the Choir, Treble Chorale, Madrigal Singers, and Chorus conducted by Janet Galván, Sean Linfors and Melodia Rinaldi, perform music by Vivaldi, Schubert, Haydn, Brahms and Paulus. The Cornell Symphony Orchestra’s concert on April 19 in Bailey Hall, led by Katherine Kilburn and Stephen Spinelli, includes the Poulenc “Gloria,” sung by the Glee Club and Chorus. On April 25, the Cornell Chamber Singers will perform, led by Spinelli. On May 2, the Cornell Chorale will be conducted by Kristin Zaryski, who directs choral and vocal music at Ithaca High School.
The Ithaca Community Chorus and Chamber Singers, directed by Gerald Wolfe at St. Paul’s Methodist Church on May 9, perform “Inexpressible Wonder,” by late 20th-century Russian composer Georgy Sviridov, and the Te Deum by Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály, accompanied by the CCO and four soloists. The Chamber Singers present Bach’s Cantata No. 4, “Christ lag in Todesbanden,” with orchestra and soloists.