SFJAZZ hosts NEA Jazz Masters Tribute

Courtesy SFJAZZ

This week, SFJAZZ – in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts – hosts the 2022 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert, honouring Stanley Clarke, Donald Harrison Jr, Billy Hart and Cassandra Wilson. This free concert also launches a year-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of the program.

The concert host will be the 2018 NEA Jazz Master Dianne Reeves and in addition to performances by this year’s Jazz Masters, it will also feature Jeremiah Collier, Joe Dyson, Ethan Iverson, Dan Kaufman, Salar Nader, Nori Naraoka, Ruslan Sirota, Ben Street, and Mark Turner. The SFJAZZ Collective is included in the line-up, as well as Skylar Tang, the 16 year-old trumpeter who also performs with the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars.

Bassist, composer, arranger and producer, Stanley Clarke is regarded as one of the most influential performers in modern jazz history. Founding member of the jazz-rock fusion band Return to Forever – which included Chick Corea, Lenny White and Al Di Meola, and became one of the most popular jazz bands of its day – Stanley Clarke also established a charitable organization through which talented young musicians are awarded scholarships each year.

Donald Harrison Jr is a cultural activist, saxophonist, composer and educator. Known for his hard-swinging improvisational style, he was the creator of “Nouveau Swing” – a blend of jazz with R&B, hip-hop, rock and soul. He is dedicated to preserving the music and culture of New Orleans and the survival of its legacy, creating employment opportunities in his own bands for young musicians who had remained in the city after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Among the world renowned jazz artists from New Orleans and beyond whom he has mentored are Jon Batiste, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Trombone Shorty and Esperanza Spalding.

“The majestic drummer” (Detroit Free Press) Billy Hart is among the most sought-after and versatile jazz drummers of his generation, having recorded 12 albums in his own name, and performed as a sideman on more than 600 recordings. Also an educator, he teaches both nationally and internationally, and is the author of the book Jazz Drumming.

Vocalist, composer and guitarist, two-time Grammy-winner Cassandra Wilson has expanded the definition of jazz, using her distinctive voice and unusual arrangements to reinterpret standards into jazz, blues, country and folk numbers. As a leader, she has released more than 20 albums, and has been featured on recordings by artists such as Terence Blanchard, Bill Frisell, Charlie Haden, Angelique Kidjo and Luther Vandross. Her performance on Wynton Marsalis’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Blood on the Fields album has been widely acclaimed.

The NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship is the highest honor that the US bestows on jazz artists. Since 1982, the NEA program has elevated to its ranks a select number of living legends who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz -165 fellowships awarded to great figures in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Dianne Reeves, Miles Davis, Chick Corea and George Wein. For more information about the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters, visit arts.gov/honors/jazz.

The live webcast of the 2022 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert will begin at 7:30 pm PT/ 10:30 pm ET at arts.gov and sfjazz.org on 31st March 2022. In addition, a number of other websites will be screening the live webcast, and a number of radio stations will also be broadcasting the event. For a complete list of websites and radio stations, visit the SFJAZZ website. An archive of the webcast will also be available following the event at arts.gov.

In-person ticket reservations for this event are currently filled. Please click the ‘Check Ticket Availability’ button on the SFJAZZ website for any tickets that might have been returned. A limited number of walk-up tickets will also be available the night of the concert on a first-come, first-served basis. Patrons are encouraged to arrive from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to receive tickets via the Box Office standby line. Once the concert hall is fully at capacity, the concert will be streamed live in the Joe Henderson Lab for the public to view.

Information sourced from:

SFJAZZ program notes

Artists’ websites

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Capuçon plays Tchaikovsky with Concertgebouworkest

Gautier Capuçon © Anoush Abrar

This week, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouworkest is host to conductor Myung-whun Chung and cellist Gautier Capuçon who plays Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme. Also on the programme is Bruckner’s Symphony No 6.

Myung-whun Chung is currently Principal Guest Conductor of Staatskapelle Dresden – a role he has held since the beginning of the 2012/13 season, and he’s the first conductor to have done so in the history of the orchestra. He is also Honorary Conductor Laureate of The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Maestro Chung was formerly Music Director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Opéra de Paris-Bastille, and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

1 maggio 2000 a Torvergata. Chung © Riccardo Musacchio

Highlights of Maestro Chung’s 2021-22 season include a return visit to La Fenice to conduct Fidelio, and a European tour with the Wiener Symphoniker. He will also continue his regular collaborations with Staatskapelle Dresden, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, as well as his roles as Principal Guest Conductor of the Teatro Comunale di Firenze and Principal Conductor of the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome.

Gautier Capuçon © Anoush Abrar

Multiple award-winning cellist Gautier Capuçon, according to Gramophone magazine, “…. plays the cello with the control and wisdom of a much older musician. The lightness of his touch and the consistent clarity of his bow strokes are quite admirable in themselves, but when combined with an uncanny sweetness of tone in the higher registers they are breathtaking”. Regularly appearing with many of the world’s finest orchestras, conductors and instrumentalists, he is known for his profoundly expressive yet spirited artistry. He is both founder and leader of the ‘Classe d’Excellence de Violoncelle’ at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris and a passionate ambassador for the Orchestre à l’École Association, which takes classical music to more than 40,000 thousand school children across France.

This 2021/22 season includes performances with the philharmonic orchestras of Vienna, Munich and New York, the Cleveland and the Mariinsky Theatre orchestras. He is Artist-in-Residence at the Paris Philharmonie as well as the Wiener Konzerthaus, and performs on tour as a chamber musician at venues such as the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Tonhalle Zürich, Philharmonie Berlin and the Herkulessaal der Residenz Munich, as well as at festivals worldwide, including the Enescu, Rostropovich, Prague Spring, St Denis and Evian festivals.

Tchaikovsky by Émile Reutlinger – courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme in A major, Opus 33 was his first composition for cello and orchestra. Written between December 1876 and January 1877, the work was dedicated to cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, and for many years was known in a heavily edited version by Fitzenhagen. It would appear that, having composed the Variations, Tchaikovsky submitted the work to the cellist for checking, and he made some significant changes to it. Even though Tchaikovsky wasn’t entirely happy with Fitzenhagen’s amendments, he nevertheless orchestrated the piece from the piano arrangement by Fitzenhagen.

This version premiered in November 1877 at a symphony concert by the Russian Musical Society in Moscow, conducted by Nikolay Rubinstein. Tchaikovsky was abroad at the time and missed the performance, but press comment was said to be very favourable. Tchaikovsky’s original version of the Variations was performed for the first time on 24th April 1941 in Moscow, played by Danyl Shafran, conducted by Aleksandr Melik-Pashayev, and subsequently by Sergey Shirinsky.

Anton Bruckner by Ferry Bératon – courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Anton Bruckner completed his Symphony No 6 in September 1881, having worked on it for two years. He was known for reworking and revising his works, but with this symphony, Bruckner seems to have been satisfied with the original version. It was performed only once during the composer’s lifetime, and even then only the two middle movements. The first full performance took place in 1899, conducted by Gustav Mahler who had made a number of substantial cuts and other amendments. The premiere of Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony, as he had written it, took place in 1935, almost 40 years after the composer’s death.

Myung-whun Chung leads the Concertgebouworkest in Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, with soloist Gautier Capuçon, and Bruckner’s Symphony No 6, at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, on 30th and 31st March and 1st April. Tickets may be purchased via this link.

Information sourced from:

Concertgebouworkest programme notes
Variations on a Rococo Theme
Bruckner Symphony No 6
Artists’ websites

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SFJAZZ Collective releases new album

Courtesy SFJAZZ

The SFJAZZ Collective has just released a new album – Live From SFJAZZ Center 2021: New Works Reflecting The Moment. Representing what’s currently happening in jazz, the Collective has a mission to perform fresh arrangements of works by a modern master, as well as newly commissioned pieces by each member of the group. 

The Collective, which – according to Downbeat “boasts as much or more collective talent, firepower and critical acclaim than any other jazz ensemble going” – was founded by SFJAZZ in 2004, the group embodying the SFJAZZ commitment to jazz as a living, always-relevant art form. This leaderless ensemble is probably best described as a democratic composer’s workshop, having created numerous original compositions and new arrangements since its inception, honoring the music of artists such as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, António Carlos Jobim and Sly Stone.

The current Collective line-up features Chris Potter and David Sánchez on tenor saxophone, trumpeter Etienne Charles, Warren Wolf on vibraphone, pianist Edward Simon, Matt Brewer on bass, Kendrick Scott on drums, vocalist and guitarist Martin Luther McCoy, and vocalist Gretchen Parlato.

Each year, the Collective undertakes a four-night residency at the SFJAZZ Center, recording live their arrangements of that season’s tribute artist and an original composition by each member.

This new album was recorded onstage at SFJAZZ’s Miner Auditorium in October 2021, reflecting issues such as racial injustices, the global pandemic and political polarization, as well as new approaches to a selection of classic songs associated with peace, freedom and social commentary. Included are Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, the classic anthem Lift Every Voice and Sing and Abbey Lincoln’s Throw it Away.

Each numbered, limited edition CD set includes a 24-page booklet with exclusive photographs, liner notes, an article by Marcus Crowder and interviews with the band members about their arrangements.

SFJAZZ Collective’s latest album, Live From SFJAZZ Center 2021: New Works Reflecting The Moment, is available to buy from the shop on the SFJAZZ website.

The SFJAZZ Collective’s Spring 2022 tour starts this week:

March 25, 2022 Arsht Center – Miami, FL

March 27, 2022 City Winery- Chicago, IL

March 28, 2022 Dakota – Minneapolis,MN

March 31, 2022 SFJAZZ (NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert) – San Francisco

April 2, 2022 Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild – Pittsburgh, PA

April 3, 2022 Annenberg Center – Philadelphia, PA

April 5, 2022 Sony Hall – New York, NY 

April 6, 2022 Berks Jazz Festival – Reading, PA

April 7, 2022 South Orange PAC – South Orange, NJ

April 8, 2022 Berklee Performance Center – Boston, MA

To buy tickets for these US performances, follow this link.

The SFJAZZ Collective European Summer Tour 2022 starts in June:

June 24, 2022 Bela Bartok Hall – Budapest, Hungary

June 25, 2022 Barbican – London, UK 

June 26, 2022 Elbphilharmonie – Hamburg, Germany

June 27-28, 2022 Cité de la musique – Paris, France

July 1-3, 2022 Canary Islands Jazz Festival

To buy tickets for these European performances, visit the website of the respective concert halls and/or venues.

Information sourced from SFJAZZ program notes

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A Concert for Peace at Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur

Poster courtesy Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur

Tomorrow evening, March 22nd, Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur and the City of Nice present a Concert for Peace in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Proceeds from this performance will be donated to an association which is helping the children of Ukraine during the devastating conflict in their country.

Taking place on the stage of the Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, the concert has been arranged by pianist Nicolas Bringuier and his wife Olga Monakh. Under the name Duo Siloti, the couple performs a wide repertoire of works, including many written for four hands and two pianos, as well as numerous transcriptions of symphonic works. Among Duo Siloti’s performances have been those of the Mozart Double Concerto at the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as at the Vienna Musikverein with the Wiener-Concertverein under the direction of Yoel Gamzou.

Also appearing at the Concert for Peace are violinists Boris Brovtsyn and Diana Tischchenko, violist Alexander Zemtsov, cellist Gary Hoffman, baritone Volodymir Kapshuk and pianist Jonathan Benichou.

Composers whose works will be performed include Brahms, Dvorak, Fauré, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Tchaikovsky and Skoryk.

Further information is available on the Opéra Nice website and tickets may be reserved online via this link.

Information sourced from:

Opéra Nice programme notes
Artists’ websites

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San Francisco Ballet presents West Coast premiere of Ratmansky’s ‘The Seasons’

Misa Kuranaga in Ratmansky’s The Seasons // © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet continues its 2022 season with contemporary updates of two classical ballets – a revival of Bournonville’s La Sylphide and the West Coast premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s The Seasons.

Sarah Van Patten and Ulrik Birkkjaer in Bournonville’s La Sylphide // © Erik Tomasson

August Bournonville was a dancer and choreographer who directed the Royal Danish Ballet for nearly 50 years. He is regarded as having established the Danish style of ballet, and many of his works have remained in the repertoire of the Royal Danish company for over a century. He wrote La Sylphide in 1836, adapting the original French ballet, which was loosely based on a tale by French writer Charles Nodier, and choreographed in 1832 by Filppo Taglioni for his daughter Marie. Bournonville set his ballet to music by Norwegian composer Herman Severin Løvenskiold (1815 – 1870), who was just 19 at the time, and it premiered on 28th November, 1836, at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen. It’s one of the oldest ballets in existence and has the oldest Romantic ballet score still being performed today.

Set in Scotland in the 1800s – a time during which the country was regarded as an exotic, faraway land – La Sylphide opens on the morning of the wedding between James and his fiancée Effie. Relaxing in an armchair, James has his reverie disturbed by the presence of an ethereal and alluring sylph, which sets in train a series of events that leads to a trail of infatuation, betrayal and, finally, tragedy.

Sarah Van Patten and Ulrik Birkkjaer in Bournonville’s La Sylphide // © Erik Tomasson

This production in two acts is staged by San Francisco Ballet’s Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer, Helgi Tomasson, with Anita Paciotti and Katita Waldo. Scenic and costume designs are by Jose Varona.

Alexei Ratmansky’s association with San Francisco Ballet goes back to 2003, the year in which SF Ballet became the first US company to commission a ballet from him. The Seasons is both a celebration of Ratmansky’s decade as artist-in-residence at American Ballet Theatre as well as a tribute to Marius Petipa (1818-1910), one-time Premier Maître de Ballet of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg and known as the “father of classical ballet”.

San Francisco Ballet in Ratmansky’s The Seasons // © Erik Tomasson

One of Ratmansky’s many reimaginings of the ballets of Petipa, The Seasons is the ninth of his works in the San Francisco Ballet repertoire. It has been set to the original – and lovely – score by Alexander Glazunov which was composed for Petipa in 1900, and – while the ballet dropped out of the Russian repertoire after a few years – the music became Glazunov’s best-known concert hall work, reflecting as it does the undoubted influence of Tchaikovsky. The ballet has no narrative, but each of the four scenes is symbolic of, and inspired by, a force of nature, providing endless opportunities for choreographic and design creativity.

San Francisco Ballet in Ratmansky’s The Seasons // © Erik Tomasson

Ratmansky’s The Seasons premiered in New York City in May of 2019 as a co-commission of San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.

This production is staged by Nancy Raffa, with costumes designed by Robert Perdziola.

San Francisco Ballet in Ratmansky’s The Seasons // © Erik Tomasson

Performances of La Sylphide and The Seasons run at the War Memorial Opera House until March 20th. The San Francisco Ballet Orchestra is conducted by Music Director Martin West.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Ballet program notes

English National Ballet program notes

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International stars Dance for Ukraine

Alina Cojocaru and Ivan Putrov in ‘Don Quixote’ © O Putrov

A fabulous evening of dance is scheduled for Saturday 19th March, when a host of international ballet stars present Dance for Ukraine – a fundraising gala at the London Coliseum – which has already sold out.

Organised by former Royal Ballet stars and impresarios, Ukrainian Ivan Putrov and Romanian Alina Cojocaru, this spectacular display features some of the world’s finest dancers who will be showing their solidarity with the people of Ukraine in what promises to be a memorable occasion.

Ivan Putrov and Alina Cojocaru in ‘Don Quixote’ © O Putrov

Among the artists joining Cojocaru and Putrov are Principals of The Royal Ballet – Argentinian dancer Marianela Nuñez, from Italy Federico Bonelli, Russian dancer Natalia Osipova, Brazilian Mayara Magri, Fumi Kaneko from Japan and British dancer Reece Clarke. From English National Ballet – Ukrainian dancer Katja Khaniukova, Isaac Hernández from Mexico, Francesco Gabriele Frola from Italy and US dancer Emma Hawes, and from the Paris Opera Ballet French dancer Mathieu Ganio.

This wonderful gesture has a particular significance for Alina Cojocaru and Ivan Putrov, since they trained together as young students in Kyiv, before moving to The Royal Ballet School and thereafter to The Royal Ballet in London. They wanted to show their support for friends and family by gathering together a group of colleagues to help raise funds for the victims of the conflict raging in Ukraine.

Alina Cojocaru and Ivan Putrov in Cranko’s ‘Onegin’ © O Putrov

All of the dancers are donating their services, English National Opera has waived its rental fee for the London Coliseum, and the ENO Orchestra and ENO Chorus and friends have volunteered to provide musical support for this event. Dance for Ukraine is produced by the dance charity Inspiration in Motion with net proceeds going directly to the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC), Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

For more information, please contact the London Coliseum on 020 7845 9300 or box.office@eno.org

These incredibly generous artists aren’t alone in their desire to help. From many artists the world over, some Ukranian dancers are themselves taking up arms to help their country, as can be seen in this videoclip from MSNBC and, according to a report from NPR in the United States, ballet schools across Europe are offering shelter, and opportunities for young Ukranian dancers to continue their studies.

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Concert for Ukraine – Metropolitan Opera broadcasts & streams worldwide

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus sing the Ukranian National Anthem prior to the opening of ‘Don Carlos’ – courtesy Met Opera

The Metropolitan Opera will hold a special benefit Concert for Ukraine [ on Monday, March 14th, at 6.00 pm (ET), in solidarity with the citizens of Ukraine. All ticket sales and other proceeds will go to supporting relief efforts in Ukraine.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chorus and soloists Lise Davidsen, Elza van den Heever, Jamie Barton, Piotr Beczała and Ryan Speedo Green in a 70-minute concert which will be broadcast live on radio, and streamed throughout the world.

Announcing the special concert, Met General Manager Peter Gelb said, “The Met and its artists, led by Yannick, wish to lend our support to the innocent victims of Ukraine, whose lives have been torn asunder. We hope the power of our performance will provide some measure of artistic solace, while helping to inspire empathetic people around the world to make donations.”

Yannick Nézet-Séguin © Hans van der Woerd

Maestro Nézet-Séguin said: “Music truly has the power to heal, and I hope this special concert will demonstrate our unwavering support for the suffering people of Ukraine. In times of crisis, it is so important that artists unite and provide consolation and inspiration through our work.”

The performance opens with Ukrainian bass-baritone Vladyslav Buialskyi leading the Met Chorus in a performance of the Ukranian National Anthem. Valentin Silvestrov’s orchestral work A Prayer for the Ukraine is followed by Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The Met Chorus will perform the emotional Va, pensiero from Verdi’s Nabucco, and soprano Lise Davidsen will sing Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs. The last movement from Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 in D minor, Op 125, features soloists Elza van den Heever, Jamie Barton, Piotr Beczala and Ryan Speedo Green in a stirring finale to the performance.

The concert itself has already sold out, but the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has information on a number of ways in which the country can be helped.

On radio, the concert will be broadcast in the US via many of the stations that regularly carry the Met’s Saturday matinee radio series, as well as member stations of National Public Radio. Please check your local listing for details. Internationally, the concert will be broadcast via the European Broadcasting Union, enabling it to be heard in most countries in the world.

The Concert for Ukraine will also be broadcast live on Met Opera Radio on Sirius XM Channel 355, and streamed around the world via the Metropolitan Opera website.
[www.metopera.org

A preview of this year’s Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo

Under the artistic direction of composer Bruno Mantovani, and with illustrious pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet in residence, this year’s Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo has a wealth of wonderful performances on offer.

Bruno Mantovani has been accumulating distinctions from international competitions since 1999, and has had his works performed at venues such the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Philharmonie in Cologne, La Scala in Milan, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Centre, the Cité de la musique and the Salle Pleyel. Orchestras which have performed his works include the Bamberg Symphony, Chicago Symphony, WDR Cologne, Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, Liège Philharmonic, BBC London, Lucerne Academy, Orchestre de Paris, Paris Opera Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, Czech Philharmonic, NHK Tokyo, RAI Turin, Sinfonia Varsovia, and RSO Vienna.

Bruno Mantovani – Artistic Director of this year’s Festival © Ferrante Ferranti

Mr Mantovani has collaborated with conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Sir Andrew Davis, Peter Eötvös, Emmanuel Krivine, Susanna Mälkki and François-Xavier Roth, as well as with the Paris Opera, musicians such as violinist Renaud Capuçon and pianist Philippe Jordan, choreographers Jean-Christophe Maillot and Angelin Preljocaj, and film maker Pierre Coulibeuf. As a conductor Mr Mantovani regularly leads the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the National Orchestra of Lille or Lyon, Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse and Orchestre de Paris. He has been headmaster of the Paris Conservatory since September 2010, and a special guest artist of the Musica Festival in Strasbourg since 2001.

The Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo has commissioned a new concerto by Bruno Mantovani – his Allegro barbaro for percussion and orchestra – which will have its world premiere on 31st March, performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, led by Finnish conductor Mikko Franck.

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet © B Ealovega

Artist in residence, award-winning pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, frequently appears with ensembles such as the Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and NHK Symphony orchestras, and has previously appeared at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, and with the London Philharmonic, Philharmonie de Paris, Monte-Carlo Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Seattle and Toronto Symphonies, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, at the BBC Proms with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and toured the UK with the Iceland Symphony.

Highlights of Mr Bavouzet’s current season include appearances with Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Polish National Radio Symphony. In recital, he has appeared in London at LSO St Luke’s for BBC Radio 3, and continued his residency at the Wigmore Hall, focussing on works by Debussy. The Financial Times says of Jean-Efflam Bavouzet: “He makes you listen to music as if you are discovering it Eureka!-style: yes, that’s what the composer must have meant”.

During the Monte-Carlo festival, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet will play Prokofiev’s Piano Concertos Nos 1 and 5, with the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra under Chief Conductor Marko Letonja, a series of recitals which include works by Haydn and Debussy, and he’ll give a Master Class as well.

Renaud Capuçon – courtesy Harrison Parrot

There’s also an appearance by French violinist Renaud Capuçon who, according to the New York Times ” … made a notable Philharmonic debut in Saint-Saëns’ Concerto No 3, playing with coppery tone, understated tenderness in the slow movement and charming daring in the finale”. He performs in a concert of works which include Beethoven’s Romances Nos 1 and 2 for violin, and Henri Dutilleux’s Sur le même accord, a nocturne for violin and orchestra. The Shostakovich Symphony No 15 is also on the programme of the concert by the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Latvian conductor Andris Poga.

The Festival programme also includes appearances by the Quatuor Voce strings, of whom Süddeutsche Zeitung writes “… it is without a doubt that this string quartet is one of the best ensembles in the world”. The quartet will perform works by Mozart, Shostakovich, Debussy and Ravel.

Armenia will be represented at the Festival, firstly by the Gurdjieff Ensemble, led by founder Levon Eskenian, who will play diverse works by Georges Gurdjieff, as well as the world premiere performance of Fourteen Pieces on Themes of Armenian Folk Songs – a work commissioned by the Festival Printemps des Arts, based on the original work by Komitas Vardapet. Armenian soprano Karine Babajanyan, accompanied by pianist Vardan Mamikonian, will sing a selection of melodies from Armenia and elsewhere.

The Festival also features the world premiere of a work by the Hallet Eghayan Company. Entitled Sept, les anges de Sinjar, it is set to a piece commissioned by the Festival from Armenian composers Aram Hovhannisyan and Michel Petrossian. Choreograpy is by Michel Hallet Eghayan. The dancers will be accompanied by the Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain (of which Bruno Mantovani is Artistic Director), under the direction of Léo Margue.

Other world premieres of works commissioned by Printemps des Arts are Bastien David’s L’Ombre d’un doute, a double concerto for cello and string orchestra, to be played by the National orchestra of Auvergne led by Spanish conductor Roberto Forés Veses, and Monegasque composer Yan Maresz’s Tendances to be performed by Baroque ensemble Les Folies Françoises, led by French conductor and violinist Patrick Cohën-Akenine.

The Festival is delighted to introduce jazz as a new musical genre this year, with a performance by The Amazing Keystone Big Band Jazz Orchestra playing Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf at its Family Concert on 2nd April.

A full list of events can be found on this link, and for further details, visit the Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo website.

This article first appeared in Riviera Buzz

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Josefowicz plays Stravinsky with Salonen & SF Symphony

Leila Josefowicz, photographed by Chris Lee

This week the San Francisco Symphony is led by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and joined by violinist Leila Josefowicz in a program of music which features the Symphony’s premiere of a work by Elizabeth Ogonek, the Violin Concerto in D Major by Igor Stravinsky and his music for the ballet The Rite of Spring.

The music of American composer Elizabeth Ogonek has been described by the Chicago Tribune as “shimmering” and “dramatic”. Ogonek’s own description of her work Sleep & Unremembrance, which opens this week’s concerts, is “a collage of random images”, her inspiration having been drawn from one of Wisława Szymborska‘s poems, While Sleeping – one of the last works written by the Polish poet before she died in 2012.

Esa-Pekka Salonen – photo Andrew Eccles

Elizabeth Ogonek has worked closely with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – where she was composer in residence from 2015 to 2018 – and also with the London Symphony Orchestra – for whom she wrote Sleep & Unremembrance and as though birds.  Both pieces were premiered at the London Barbican Centre, under the direction of François-Xavier Roth. Projects for this current season include a new chamber work for the 75th anniversary season of the Chamber Music Conference and Composers’ Forum of the East, and a new orchestral work that has been co-commissioned by the BBC Proms and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Leila Josefowicz, photographed by Chris Lee

Leila Josefowicz – winner of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008 and the 2018 Avery Fisher Prize – is a staunch advocate of contemporary music for the violin. Highlights of Ms Josefowicz’s recent seasons include appearances with the Berliner Philharmoniker, the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, where she worked with conductors such as Susanna Mälkki, Matthias Pintscher and John Adams.

This current season, Ms Josefowicz has appeared with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, NAC Orchestra Ottawa, Oslo Philharmonic, Dresdner Philharmonie, Concertgebouworkest and Budapest Festival Orchestra. Engagements lined up for the next few months include performances of Matthias Pintscher’s La Linea Evocativa: A Drawing for Solo Violin in Washington DC and the Wigmore Hall in London, John Adams’ Concerto for Violin Orchestra with David Robertson and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Hartmann’s Concerto funèbre with Alexander Liebreich and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Stravinsky Violin Concerto with Nicholas Collon and the Dresden Philharmonic.

Igor Stravinsky – the composer whose work had such an extraordinary impact on the world of 20th century music – completed his Violin Concerto in 1931. The concerto was, to a degree, a collaboration between Stravinsky and Polish violinist Samuel Dushkin who, with the support of music publisher Willy Strecker, initially put the idea to Stravinsky. The composer was at first somewhat reluctant – mainly because he doubted his ability to write a work which would be “at once brilliant and practicable for the violin”, an instrument with which he wasn’t entirely comfortable. The partnership with Dushkin turned out, however, to be a successful one, as was the development of the concerto – as we now know. It was premiered on October 23rd, 1931, with Dushkin as soloist, and the composer conducting the Berlin Radio Orchestra.

It was Stravinsky’s 20-year collaboration with impresario Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes which gave the world The Rite of Spring. Having written the scores for The Firebird and Petrouchka, Stravinsky composed The Rite of Spring in 1911-12 (with further alterations being made in 1913 and 1943), dedicating the score to Nicholas Roerich, designer of the sets and costumes.

The composer was inspired by the somewhat unconventional choreography of Vaclav Nijinsky – which so perplexed the audience that it caused a furore at the ballet’s premiere on May 29th, 1913, at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. This premiere was conducted by Pierre Monteux who also led the first San Francisco Symphony performances of the original 1913 version in February 1939. The ballet – certainly one of the most influential works of the 20th century – is still regarded by some as a “startlingly modern work” (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

A posed group of dancers in the original production of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet ‘The Rite of Spring’, showing costumes and backdrop by Nicholas Roerich – courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was the subject of one of Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson ThomasKeeping Score programs, broadcast on PBS.

Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the San Francisco Symphony and guest artist Leila Josefowicz in a program of music by Elizabeth Ogonek and Igor Stravinsky at Davies Symphony Hall from March 10th to 12th. To book tickets, follow this link, and for further information, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.

These are the first in a variety of performances of music by Stravinsky that Salonen leads this season. He also conducts semi-staged productions of Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms (June 10th to 12th, 2022), and releases a digital-only performance of The Soldier’s Tale on SFSymphony+ in June, in a new staged production by director, designer, and filmmaker Netia Jones.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Symphony program notes

Igor Stravinsky

Stravinsky – Violin Concerto – Michael Steinberg, courtesy of San Francisco Symphony

Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring – James M Keller, courtesy of San Francisco Symphony

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