This fall’s classical music season starts off with a great swell of sound. Mark your calendars for a major occasion, the dedication of a new French organ at St. Luke Lutheran Church on Oak Avenue in mid-Sept. (see Special Events below). The Cayuga Chamber Orchestra’s 40th anniversary season commences a week later, with new music director Cornelia Laemmli Orth on the podium. And the amazing Malcolm Bilson continues to perform, with two concerts in Nov.. Although 2016 marks just the 260th birth anniversary of Mozart, we still have the opportunity to hear three of his piano concertos, along other works. Several concerts pay tribute to the memory of long-time Ithaca resident, Cornell professor, and Pulitzer prize-winning composer Steven Stucky. Here are the season’s other highlights. Be sure to check dates and venues closer to concert times, as schedules do change.
Orchestral and Ensemble Presentations
The Ithaca College Chamber Orchestra opens the season on Sept. 11 in Ford Hall, under the leadership of interim director of orchestras Michael Hall. The gifted Jeffery Meyer has left that post to go to Arizona State. He will be greatly missed. On the program are a work by Milhaud and the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with soloist Michael Galván. The orchestra presents music of Bartok and Beethoven on Dec. 6, also in Ford Hall.
The CCO’s opening concert on Sept. 24, conducted by Laemmli Orth, features music of Ibert and Schubert, plus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K.488, with soloist Simone Dinnerstein. The orchestra’s second concert on Nov. 19, “Spotlight on Strings,” has concertmaster Christina Bouey as soloist the Beethoven Violin Concerto, op. 61, plus works by Elgar and Stucky. Both concerts are in Ford Hall. The orchestra also presents a family concert at the Tompkins County Public Library on Nov. 17, with free admission.
The Cornell Concert Series presents Sphinx Virtuosi with the Catalyst Quartet on Sept. 30 in Bailey Hall. The two groups perform a program of Spanish and Latin works, ranging from solo cello to string quartet to chamber orchestra. On Oct. 1 both the Cornell Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Chris Younghoon Kim, play in the same concert in Bailey Hall. The chamber orchestra performs Vivaldi and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 18 in B-flat major, K.456, with soloist Shin Hwang, and the symphony orchestra plays music by Kristin Kuster and Mahler. The chamber orchestra on Nov. 12 in Klarman Hall presents music by Jeeyoung Kim and Elgar, along with Mozart’s Piano Concert No. 14 in E-flat major, K.449, with soloist Bilson, while on Nov. 19 in Bailey Hall the symphony orchestra presents a modern work by Gabriela Lena Frank and more Mahler.
The IC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hall, plays a Family Weekend Concert on Nov. 5 in Ford Hall, featuring Dmitri Novgorodsky in the Grieg Piano Concerto, op. 16. The East Coast Chamber Orchestra performs in Ford Hall on Nov. 10 in a program of music by Turina, Adams, Lutoslawski, and Dvorak. On Nov. 13 in Ford Hall Ensemble X offers the second annual ICU Soundworks, featuring faculty and student musicians from Cornell and Ithaca College who will perform Steve Reich and Jonathan Harvey’s concerto with piano soloist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough.
Chamber Music and Recitals
Four concerts of piano music of Granados and Busoni will be presented in IC’s Hockett Recital Hall on Sept. 9, 10, 23, and 24.
The Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble opens its season at the Lodi Historical Society on Sept. 18 in an all-Mozart program with guest artists, violinist Janet Sung and clarinetist Richard MacDowell. On Oct. 9 the group presents a special event at the Morgan Opera House in Aurora, with guests Sung and flutist Barry Crawford performing music of Devienne, Beethoven, and Mozart. At the Unitarian Church on January 8 the ensemble has a program of Prokofiev, Stucky, and Fauré with guest violinists Nicholas DiEugenio and Susan Waterbury.
The FLCE’s popular home Salons, held at 102 First Street, take place on Oct. 7 with Beethoven Variations played by Sung and Michael Salmirs, on Nov. 20 with Salmirs presenting “Epic Chopin,” and “Twentieth Century Viola” on Dec. 18 with Roberta Crawford, MacDowell, and Salmirs performing music of Britten, Godfrey, and Clarke.
Our premiere early music ensemble NYS Baroque opens its 28th season on Sept. 24 in the Unitarian Church with the program “Barbara’s Venice”—music by 17th-century Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi—featuring four vocal soloists and five string players including two lutes. Their second concert, on Oct. 28 also in the Unitarian Church, presents 17th-century music in the Fantastic style, with strings, lute, and harpsichord—newly rediscovered works from manuscripts edited by the versatile Julie Andrijeski, who will be performing.
And for something entirely different, on Sept. 25 the JACK Quartet, specialists in contemporary music, plays a program in Barnes Hall, which includes Palimpsest, a Fromm Foundation Commission by composer and teacher of electronic music at Cornell Kevin Ernste. The group also performs works by Cornell DMA composers in Barnes on Sept. 28.
On Oct. 14 in Bailey Hall the Cornell Concert Series presents Zakir Hussain, tabla, and Niladri Kumar, sitar/zitar, in a program from their native India. The CCO Chamber Music Series opens on Oct. 16 with “Fall into Music,” a program of Glière, Leo Sowerby, and Beethoven’s Piano Trio, op. 101. Their second concert, “Music through the Ages,” features works by Irving Fine, Haydn, and Nielsen—his Wind Quintet. Both are at the Unitarian Church.
On Oct. 29, as part of the Department of Classic’s festival, a concert in Klarman Hall festures Annie Lewandowski’s song cycle for voice, harpsichord, and electronics, Bitter Banquet, a collection of songs and projections based on a character from Euripides’ tragedies. Performers include the composer (voice) and David Yearsley (harpsichord).
Pianist Tamara Stefanovich, returning to the Cornell Concert Series, will present music by Ligeti, Messiaen, Nicolaou, and others in Barnes Hall on Nov. 4. On Nov. 5 the Ulysses Quartet, winner of the Fischoff Competition—its first violinist is CCO concertmaster Bouey—will perform in Barnes Hall.
The Louis K. Thaler Concert Violin Series offers violinist Jorja Fleezanis, accompanied by IC dean and pianist Karl Paulnack, in Hockett Recital Hall on Nov. 6.
Guest artist Ignacio Prego presents J. S. Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations on Cornell’s 2012 harpsichord replica built by Thomas and Barbara Wolf (after Jacques Germain, 1785) in Barnes Hall on Nov. 10, a concert co-sponsored by the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies.
Malcolm Bilson, fortepiano, and guest tenor Markus Schäfer perform Schubert’s cycle Die schöne Müllerin in Klarman Hall on Nov. 13. Guest artist Ilya Poletaev plays Book II of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier on harpsichord, chamber organ, fortepiano, and modern piano in Barnes Hall on Nov. 19. Also in Barnes, on Nov. 21, fortepianist Mike Cheng-Yu Lee’s recital provides the second program in a five-part series of the complete Mozart piano sonatas performed on replicas of late 18th-century Viennese pianos. Music’s Recreation, devoted to family-friendly concerts with tour guide, offers “Songs without Words,” music of Mendelssohn, Villa-Lobos, de Falla, Rachmaninoff, Bach, and Copland on Nov. 20 at the Community School of Music and Arts.
Choral and Opera Presentations
The Cornell Glee Club, directed by Robert Isaacs, will give the annual Homecoming Concert on Sept. 24 in Bailey Hall, with program of folk songs, Renaissance motets, world music, spirituals, and the traditional Cornell songs.
The IC Choral Collage Choir and Women’s Chorale led by Janet Galván and the IC Chorus and Madrigal Singers under Sean Linfors present a Choral Collage concert on Oct 1 in Ford Hall, featuring Nicola Porpora’s Magnificat. The choruses will give their Winter Choral Concert on Nov. 30, also in Ford Hall. On Oct. 9 comes a concert version of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at Ford Hall.
The Cayuga Vocal Ensemble, under the direction of Carl Johengen, after participating in the organ festival (see below) will sing on Oct. 16 in the Arts at Grace series at Grace Episcopal Church in Cortland, in a concert dedicated to the work of the late Cornell composer Robert Palmer.
The Cornell Chorus, conducted by Isaacs, gives a Twilight Concert for First-Year Parent’s Weekend on Oct. 22 in Bailey Hall.
The Cornell Chamber Singers, conducted by Stephen Spinelli, with members of the Cornell Early Music Lab, will be offering mostly holiday music at their concert on Dec. 1, so look for details in the later holiday calendar.
The Cornell Chorale, also directed by Spinelli, on Dec. 2 in Sage Chapel, will perform music based on Psalms, including works by Vivaldi and Britten, plus Hebrew psalm settings. On Jan. 14, 2017, the Ithaca Community Chorus and Chamber Singers, conducted by Gerald Wolfe, present the Vivaldi Gloria, and the Reicha Te Deum, at St. Paul’s Methodist Church.
A brand new endeavor, Chamber Music at NewPark, will have its opening on Sept. 9, 10, and 11 at NewPark, 1500 Taughannock Boulevard, just north of the Cayuga Nature Center, featuring world-class musicians mostly from the Toronto area. Programs include music of Vaughan Williams, Pärt, and Schumann on Sept. 9; Scriabin, Foss, Shostakovich, and Mendelssohn on the 10th; Bach, Mendelssohn, and Grieg on the 11th.
To open the “Technologies of Memory” series, composers Julia Wolfe (2015 Pulitzer Prize winner) and Michael Gordon, co-founders of the New York City-based group Bang on a Can, team up for a concert of their works focusing on spirituality and music on Sept. 15 in Sage Chapel. There will be music for choir, string quartet, amplified rock ensemble, and the premiere of Wolfe’s duo for cello and double bass played by CU cellist John Haines-Eitzen and guest bassist Tomoya Aomori.
From Sept. 16 to18 is the Dedication Weekend of the new French Romantic Organ at St. Luke Lutheran Church, 109 Oak Avenue. Co-sponsored by the Westfield Center and Cornell’s Department of Music, the festival presents three days of programs to celebrate and show off the recently installed organ. Constructed by Juget-Sinclair in Montreal, it replicates the sound and console design of late 19th-century organs built by Aristide Cavaillé-Cole and found in the great cathedrals of Europe— especially France—and in Latin America.
On Friday, Sept. 16, the Dedication Recital will be given by Michel Bouvard, professor of organ at the Paris Conservatoire and organist at the Royal Chapel in the Palais de Versailles. He will play music by Mendelssohn, plus the leading organ composers of France—Franck, Vierne, Bouvard, Dupré, Alain, and Duruflé.
On Saturday morning, Bouvard gives a master class with student performers from Cornell, Eastman, IC, and Syracuse, and in the afternoon an improvisation class with William Porter, also with student performers. The evening’s concert, “Organ in Collaboration with Instruments and Voices,” features music of Bonnet, Saint-Saëns, Duruflé, Vierne, Alain, and Poulenc. Performers include organists David Higgs, Anne Laver, Annette Richards, Jonathan Schakel, and Jeffrey Snedeker; the Cayuga Vocal Ensemble, conducted by Johengen; cellist Rosemary Elliott; soprano Megan Sharp; flutist Elizabeth Shuhan; and the St. Luke Brass, conducted by Erik Kibelsbeck. To close on Sunday morning, a Festival Service of Holy Communion includes Vierne’s Messe solonnelle, Op. 16, sung by the St. Luke Choir conducted by Kibelsbeck, with organist Snedeker. Guest organist Barbara Adler plays music of Franck for the prelude and offertory. §