Gathering material for fall classical music presentations is always an amazing process. As usual there is a wonderland of concerts out there. And we welcome two new leaders to our scene this fall—

Robert Isaacs starts out as director of choral music at Cornell, while lute and theorbo specialist Deborah Fox begins as artistic director of New York State Baroque. Here are the season’s highlights. Mark your calendars and plan to be part of the essential audience. As programs and venues tend to be changed, do check ahead of time.  

Orchestras and Instrumental Ensembles

The Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, under the leadership of music director Lanfranco Marcelletti, opens its season on September 28 with a Haydn symphony and a Chopin piano concerto with soloist Jennifer Hayghe from Ithaca College. The program opens, as it will in the three other orchestra concerts, with a new piece, a commission project to encourage original works for small orchestra. The CCO’s second concert, on November 9, features Milhaud, Honegger, and Copland. Both are in IC’s Ford Hall.

NYS Baroque under its new director Deborah Fox starts off in the Unitarian Church on September 28 with “The Virtuoso Orchestra,” designed to show off this ensemble’s exceptional players, joined by a visiting bassoonist in music including Durante and Vivaldi. Their second concert, in the same venue on November 9, is devoted to works by baroque women composers, with soprano Laura Heimes accompanied by two violins, viola da gamba, harpsichord, and theorbo.

In the afternoon on September 29 the IC Chamber Orchestra, directed this year while Jeffery Meyer is on leave by Jonathan Pasternack (with a mile-long list of orchestral and opera conducting credits), will perform music by Handel, Husa, and Haydn in Ford Hall, while on December 11 they play works by Husa Visiting Professor Zohn-Muldoon, Poulenc, and Martinu. The IC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Pasternack performs the Tenth Symphony of Shostakovich and music by another Husa visiting professor, Sanchez-Guttierrez, and Jolivet on October 5. Their second concert, on December 7, will be led by guest conductors Brian DeMaris and José Luis Novo and features music by Wagner and Brahms.

The Cornell Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, both led by Chris Younghorm Kim with assistance by composer-associate conductor James Spinazzola, will present a program in Barnes Hall on October 7, where the chamber orchestra performs Roberto Sierra’s guitar concerto Folias and Grieg’s Holberg Suite, while the symphony plays music for the movies by Bernstein, John Williams, and Spinazzola. The chamber orchestra also performs in Barnes on November 20 with violinists Ariana Kim from Cornell and IC’s Susan Waterbury in music by Schnittke, Takemitsu, and Vaughan Williams.

The first concert in the Cornell Concert Series features the Mariinsky Orchestra, with guest conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn (yes, the famous author’s son) in Bailey Hall on October 7, playing an all-Russian program of Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, and the Symphony #5 of Shostakovich. On October 14 the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, directed by H. Robert Reynolds, presents music by Bernard, Bizet, Alwyn, Ibert, and Françaix in Ford Hall. In Bailey Hall on October 19 the Solisti Ensemble, artistic director Byung-Kook Kwak, will perform music by Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Shostakovich, and Brahms, and will be joined by the Cornell Chamber Orchestra in a work by Vaughan Williams. 

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Junichi Hirokami presents Strauss’s Oboe Concerto with soloist Erik Behr, plus music by Hindemith and Rachmaninoff, in Ford Hall on November 15. The IC Concert and Symphonic Bands will feature guest conductor Frank Battisti in a December 5 program that includes works by Barber Persichetti, Husa, Holst, and Copland.

Chamber Music and Recitals

We start off with a four-day keyboard treat at Cornell, with two recitals in Barnes Hall on September 6 and 7—the first featuring John Stetch and Doug Johnson in “Jazz Standards for Two Pianos,” the second presenting Ignacio Prego, 2012 winner of the Westfield Center International Competition, in the inaugural recital on a new Cornell harpsichord, with music by Couperin, Rameau, Purcell, and J.S. Bach—and two in Anabel Taylor, the first on the 8th (and on the 9th) with fortepianist Malcolm Bilson performing works by Schubert, Beethoven, and Schumann.

The Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble presents its Fall Concert at the Lodi Historical Society Building on September 15, with music by Mozart, James Stephenson, and César Franck and guest artists Wesley Nance, trumpet, and Gabriel Boyers, violin. They will perform works by Mozart and Brahms at the Special Event Concert on September 29 at the Morgan Opera House in Aurora, with guest artists clarinetist Richard MacDowell and violinist Lara Sipouls.

The Westfield Center International Organ Competition, and the accompanying academy, will take place at Cornell and at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester on September 22–29. Local performances—on the Schnitger baroque organ at Anabel Taylor—include an opening recital by guest Kimberly Marshall and Cornell’s David Yearsley on September 22, a recital by academy participants after 1½ days of master classes, the second round of the competition (6 contestants) from 3 to 11 p.m. on September 26, and the Prizewinners’ Recital on September 29. 

On October 1 in Barnes violinist Ryu Goto (whose famous sister, Midori, plays here a month later) with pianist Eri Kang performs sonatas by Beethoven (the “Kreutzer”) and César Franck, followed by famous violinist Wieniawski’s Original Theme and Variations, Op. 15. Also in Barnes, Cornell pianist Xak Bjerken and cellist Elizabeth Lyon (Cornell graduate student in classics who played at the last Mayfest) present sonatas by Beethoven and Brahms, plus a premiere by Christopher Stark on October 20. Also on October 20 in the Unitarian Church is the first concert in the CCO chamber series, with music by Colgrass, Schoenfeld, and Brahms, while the second on November 24 offers more familiar fare by J. S. Bach, Beethoven, and Smetana. 

Famed violinist Midori, with pianist Ozgür Aydin, will perform sonatas by Hindemith, Franck, Mozart, and Strauss in Bailey Hall on November 5 in the Cornell Concert Series. The family-oriented ensemble, Music’s Recreation, presents “The More Things Change . . . Themes and Variations” as its afternoon concert on November 17 at CSMA, with music by Mozart, Bach, and Chopin, among others, and Rosalind Feinstein as tour guide through a journey exploring this special genre. On November 19 in Barnes a recital by guest pianist Luis Fernando Pérez will feature Spanish composer Albéniz’s Iberia. Cornell’s fortepianist Malcolm Bilson, violinist Ariana Kim, and cellist John Haines-Eitzen present an evening of chamber music featuring Schubert’s Piano Trio in B flat, D. 898, also in Barnes, on December 4. 

Choral and Other Vocal Music

As tradition has it, Cornell’s men’s and women’s choruses each present a concert in the fall, and this season these events will introduce Robert Isaacs, the university’s new choral director. On September 21 in Bailey Hall is the Homecoming Concert with the Cornell Glee Club, while on November 2 in Sage Chapel the Cornell Chorus gives the Twilight Concert for the First-Year Parent’s Weekend, featuring a premiere by Flannery Cunningham, commissioned by the Chorus for this concert. Ithaca College also has a new director of choral music, Janet Galván, who has been at the college for many years and is well known here for her excellent preparation of challenging music. The IC choruses will present a Choral Collage on October 6 and a Winter Choral Concert on December 8, both in the afternoon at Ford Hall.

On October 14 in Ford Hall, the Ithaca College Concerts presents the Grammy Award winning vocal group New York Voices, which was started at IC and is now marking its 25th anniversary. The Cornell Concert Series presents The Rose Ensemble with artistic director Jordan Sramek on October 18 in Sage Chapel, in a program of sacred, secular, folk, and classic music called “Land of Three Faiths: Voices of Ancient Mediterranean Jews, Christians, and Muslims.” 

On December 3 in Barnes Hall, the Cornell Chamber Singers, under the leadership of assistant director of choral music John Rowehl,  will perform Salamone Rossi’s “Songs of Solomon,” “Ha-shirim asher li-Shlomo” in the Hebrew, and Chamber Singers will sing it in the original language. The Cayuga Vocal Ensemble, led by Carl Johengen, presents An Old-Fashioned English Christmas on December 7 in the First Presbyterian Church, featuring Benjamin Britten’s special Ceremony of Carols, with harp soloist Myra Kovary (in honor of Britten’s 100th birth anniversary), while the annual Sage Chapel Christmas program will be on December 8 and 9 this year. Look for more detail nearer to the holiday season. The Ithaca Community Chorus and Chamber Singers, led by Gerald Wolfe, will sing Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle in St. Paul’s Church on January 18.

Special Events 

On September 6 and 13, in the Hockett Family Recital Hall, are two Wagner-Liszt programs (in honor of Wagner, whose 200th birth anniversary is this year). IC pianist Charis Dimaras and his “fabulous” students will perform all the Liszt transcriptions of excerpts from Wagner operas, plus Glenn Gould’s excerpts from Götterdämmerung and Tausig’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”  Cornell has scheduled special programs on October 25-31 during the residency of A. D. White Professor-at-Large Christopher Hogwood, former conductor of the London-based Academy of Ancient Music at the forefront of the worldwide period instrument movement starting in the 1980s. Events include a lecture by Hogwood, a seminar on historical performance, a coaching session with the period instrument ensemble, and a subsequent concert in collaboration with NYS Baroque players including concertmaster Julie Andrijeski.

The “Hallowe’en Organ Extravaganza” is in Sage Chapel on October 31, featuring the 1924 silent horror classic The Hands of Orlac, with live accompaniment. The Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble’s founding husband and wife team, pianist Michael Salmirs and violist Roberta Crawford, will present two Salons at their home at 102 First Street, the first on November 10 featuring Liszt transcriptions of Wagner’s “Liebestod” for piano and Berlioz’s Harold in Italy for viola and piano, while the second presenting Debussy’s Préludes, Book II, and works by English violist-composer, Rebecca Clarke. 

And you can operas at the movies this fall, as the Met in HD continues on Saturday afternoons at the Regal Cinema at The Shops in Ithaca Mall.  On October 5 is Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, in a new production, conducted by Valery Gergiev and starring Mariusz Kwiecien as the eponymous hero (if that is the right term in this case—he’s more of a cad); on November 9 is Puccini’s highly popular Tosca, conducted by Riccardo Frizza, with American soprano Patricia Racette in the lead role; and the revered James Levine will conduct Verdi’s comic masterpiece (and final opera—it’s Verdi’s 200th birthday this year too) Falstaff, also in a new production, starring Ambrogio Maestri as the portly Sir John. All three should be outstanding. Regal shows an encore presentation, on Wednesday evenings (11 days later). My schedule says the matinees start at 1 p.m. but check with Regal to be sure. 


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