Classical Music Treats for the Fall Season
The classical music season this fall provides especially rich offerings of 20th-century and contemporary music, a couple of outstanding choral presentations, and a remarkable number of performer exchanges between Cornell and Ithaca College. Here are some highlights. Be sure to confirm this information as schedules often change.
Orchestral and Ensemble Presentations
Ensemble X, comprised of Cornell and IC faculty and a perfect example of musicians collaborating over two Ithaca hills, for years provided creative programs devoted to new music. In 2006 the group went into retirement, but from time to time reappeared for occasional concerts, the most recent being last February in the Carriage House. Now Cornell pianist and organizer extraordinaire Xak Bjerken, founding member and co-artistic director with composer Steven Stucky (retired from Cornell and teaching at Juilliard) has resurrected Ensemble X. The group opens the season on Sunday, Sept. 14 in Barnes Hall, presenting Hindemith and Stockhausen, plus the first work they ever performed, by Schoenberg. Also, on this and every future program, the group will offer a recent work by a Cornell DMA student, this time by Loren Lioacono.
The Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, under music director Lanfranco Marcelletti in his farewell season, gives its first concert on Saturday, Sept. 27, with Haydn, Beethoven, and the Elgar cello concerto with soloist Steven Doane. On November 8 the CCO, saying farewell also to their concertmaster Linda Case, will feature her in the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by Piazzolla, plus music by Nepomuceno and Bartók. Both concerts are in Ford Hall.
IC’s Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jeffery Meyer, also in Ford Hall, plays new music by Fred Sturm, plus Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, on Friday, Oct. 3. Their second concert, on Thursday, Dec. 11, features Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach’s Concerto for piano and harpsichord, with fortepianist Malcolm Bilson and harpsichordist Gabriel Schuford, plus music by Ravel and a piece by David Lang with Stucky as narrator.
As part of Cornell’s conference and festival to commemorate the birth tercentenary of C. P. E. Bach, the period instrument ensemble Ars Lyrica Houston performs music by this Bach as well as by his brother Johann Christoph Friedrich, and Johann Hasse, in Barnes Hall on Friday, Oct. 3. Also in Barnes, more music by C. P. E. is presented by the Cornell Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Chris Younghoon Kim, along with members of the Cornell Baroque Orchestra, on Saturday, Oct. 4.
For something totally different, on Sunday, Oct. 5 in Bailey Hall the Cornell Symphony Orchestra, under guest conductor Andrés Tocachir, features works by Dal Porto, Márquez, and Ginastera, plus Bartók’s challenging Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion, and Orchestra, with pianists Xak Bjerken and Miri Yampolsky and percussionists Michael Compitello and guest Jihye Jung. On Friday, Nov. 14 in Bailey, the orchestra, led by Kim, premieres a work of Christopher Stark and performs Mahler’s fifth symphony.
New York State Baroque, now in its 26th season, opens on Saturday, Oct. 11 with a program of Italian music for the virtuoso singer called “Io Vidi in Terra,” with countertenor José Lemos, accompanied by Jory Vinikour, harpsichord, and Deborah Fox, theorbo. On Saturday, Nov. 8, the ensemble presents “Pepy’s Pajamas,” English cavalier music from the 17th century with soprano Laura Heimes. Both concerts are in Ithaca’s Unitarian Church on the corner of North Aurora and East Buffalo streets.
The IC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Meyer, on Sunday, Oct. 12 in Ford Hall, features a 2013 work by David Herzberg, and Rachmaninoff’s popular Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, with pianist Yampolsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s familiar Scheherazade.
The Cornell Concert Series presents “So Percussion” on Friday, Oct. 24 in Bailey Hall in a performance that includes new works by Cornell student composers. On Oct. 25 members of the Cornell Baroque Orchestra and two guest artists will feature an evening of French Baroque chamber music in Barnes Hall, while on Tuesday, Nov. 18 the group, led by Paul Miller, offers concertos by Handel and Corelli.
The Cornell Concert Series on Saturday, Nov. 15 in Bailey Hall presents the famed Canadian period instruments ensemble Tafelmusik in “The Galileo Project” with narration, choreography, and music of Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel, performed before a backdrop of images taken by the Hubble telescope and astronomers. The Cornell Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Kim, plays the Shostakovich Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra, with Yampolsky and guest trumpet Frank Campos, along with works by William Gardiner, Stucky, and Barber, in Barnes Hall on Sunday, Nov. 16.
The season, strong on keyboard music, starts with two piano festivals in IC’s Hockett Family Recital Hall—“From Russia with Love” on two Fridays, Sept. 5 and 12, when Charis Dimaras and his students focus on the piano preludes of Rachmaninoff; and “Pianamerica” on Tuesday and Thursday, Sept. 16 and 18, featuring students of Jennifer Hayghe and two guests playing American piano music.
The Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble (FLCE) presents Brahms, Vaughan Williams, and Schumann, with clarinetist Richard MacDowell, violinist Lara Sipols, and tenor Steven Nanni, at the Lodi Historical Society on Sunday, Sept. 14. The group performs Mozart and Schubert at the Morgan Opera House in Aurora on Sunday, Sept. 28, with violinist Janet Sung and cellist Heidi Hoffman.
Famed soprano Dawn Upshaw will perform with pianist Gilbert Kalish in Barnes Hall on Saturday, Sept. 27, as part of the Cornell Concert Series. Four keyboard recitals are part of the C.P.E. Bach festival at Cornell, two at Anabel Taylor Chapel—David Yearsley on the baroque organ on Oct. 2 and Peter Sykes playing the clavichord on Oct. 4—also on Oct. 2 Tom Beghin plays clavichord at the Carriage House, while Andrew Willis performs on the fortepiano in Lincoln B20 on Oct. 3. Both Beghin and Willis participated in Malcolm Bilson’s Beethoven sonata project on fortepiano in the mid-1990s, involving numerous concerts and an acclaimed recording. In Barnes Hall on Oct. 26 cellist John Haines-Eitzen and guest Matthew Bengston, playing piano and fortepiano, will perform music by J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, and the Sonata No.1 for Cello and Piano by Roberto Sierra. Two other fortepianists, Mike Lee and Ji Young Kim, will join the Formosa Quartet in presenting late chamber music by Schumann, including the Piano Quintet, op. 44, on November 4 in Barnes Hall. The quartet also gives a masterclass in the Hockett Recital Hall on November 8.
The FLCE has scheduled two house concerts at 102 First Street in Ithaca, the first on November 16 presents music for cello and piano, the second is a Bach Celebration on December 14, featuring music for piano and viola. The group’s Winter Chamber Concert on January 25 in the Unitarian Church includes violinist Janet Sung and flutist Barry Crawford, with music by Madeline Dring, Prokofiev, and Dvorák for flute, violin, and piano trio.
Three concerts in Barnes Hall feature a guest ensemble, the Horszowski Trio, violinist Jesse Milles, cellist Raman Ramakrishnan, and pianist Rieko Aizawa on November 19; Bjerken and guest Xiao-Dong Wang performing sonatas for violin and piano by Fauré, Stucky, and Richard Strauss on November 20; and the Los Angeles Piano Quartet on November 23, with Bjerken, Doane, violinist Mikhail Kopelman, and violist Katherine Murdock playing Beethoven, Brahms, and a new work by Christopher Stark.
Special Choral Presentations
On September 17 in Sage Chapel the Cornell Glee Club and Chorus present the celebrated Schola Cantorum from Oxford University in England, which is touring the eastern United States on its first visit since 1989. The second major choral event is a concert by the Prague Philharmonic Choir in Bailey Hall on November 2. This acclaimed ensemble, a leading representative of Czech music worldwide, will perform works by Dvorák and Janácek, and the magnificent Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil (Vespers). The Cayuga Vocal Ensemble will reprise their program “Celebrating Scotland” at St. James Church in Watkins Glen on September 13, and have a Cabaret fundraiser program at the Unitarian Church on Oct. 4, both conducted by music director Carl Johengen. Also on September 13 the 10th Annual Gospel Invitational Festival is in Ford Hall, where high school students from around the east gather for an evening of Gospel music, with conductor Raymond Wise and two soloists. On Oct. 11 in Ford Hall is a program called Choral Collage, with all four IC choruses, conducted by Janet Galván and Derrick Fox. The Ithaca Community choruses have scheduled three concerts—the Ithaca Gay Men’s Chorus on Oct. 18; Voices, directed by Baruch J. Whitehead, on January 10 in Ford Hall; and the Ithaca Community Chorus and Chamber Singers. The Cornell Chamber Singers will present a meditation on the themes of blessing and Thanksgiving featuring the works of American composer Carol Barnett in November 17 in Barnes Hall, while the Cornell Chorale will give its concert on December 5 in Sage Chapel. §