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Clarke Bustard
The Virginia Classical Music Blog
1125 Entries

Kevin Yu, a Texas violinist, has designed a tuxedo shirt, inspired by moisture-wicking athletic clothing, to ease the sweaty ordeal of playing classical music in formal wear. It feels like a winner: “Mr. Yu sold out his first run of 300 shirts in nine days” and back orders are accumulating rapidly, The New York Times’ Michael Cooper reports:

17 days ago | |
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John Scott, the British-born organist-choirmaster who was to have given a recital here in October in the Repertoire Recital Series of the Richmond chapter, American Guild of Organists, has died at 59.

Scott, the former organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, came to the United States in 2004 to become organist of St. Thomas Church (Episcopal) in New York and director of the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, one of the preeminent such ensembles in this country.

An obituary by The New York Times’ James R. Oestreich:

18 days ago | |
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“Nobody needs Rachmaninoff in America,” says the Russian minister of culture, Vladimir Medinsky, who is calling for the disinterment of the remains of Sergei Rachmaninoff from a cemetery in Westchester County, NY, and reburial of the composer-pianist at a memorial under construction at the former estate of his family in Russia, Norman Lebrecht reports on his Slipped Disc blog:


Rachmaninoff fled Russia after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. In the West, he maintained homes in the United States and Switzerland. He became a US citizen shortly before his death in 1943.
18 days ago | |
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With the beginning of the fall season a few weeks away, it’s time for our annual thumbnail guide to 2015-16 classical events in Richmond. As many as we know of to date, that is – no word yet from any of the area’s independent choruses, and some other groups and presenters are still be to heard from.

As classical events tend to be clustered on weekends, conflicts are common, and there are some unfortunate ones in the coming season:

– The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performs in the Rennolds Chamber Concerts series at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Singleton Arts Center on the same date, Feb. 20, as the Australian Chamber Orchestra in the Modlin Arts series at the University of Richmond’s Modlin Arts Center.

– On March 19, tenor Lawrence Brownlee sings at UR while the Horszowski Trio plays at VCU.

– A UR concert by the Takács Quartet with pianist Garrick Ohlsson is on April 15, as is the first of two Virginia Opera dates for Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” at Richmond CenterStage. That conflict can be worked around by opting for the April 17 matinee of “Dutchman.”

– On April 2, the symphony stages one of its single-night Masterworks programs (Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” Brahms’ Second Symphony and flutist Mary Boodell playing Laura Schwendinger’s “Waking Dreams”) in conflict with the Doric String Quartet and pianist Jonathan Biss at VCU. A partial work-around: Symphony music director Steven Smith will discuss and the orchestra will play the Brahms Second on April 1 in one of the new “Casual Fridays” offerings.

I’ve listed all the ticketed dates and series performances from major presenters, as well as faculty concerts at UR and VCU. Times and ticket prices can be found in the season announcements already posted, and will be listed, along with programs, casting and other details, in the monthly calendars from September onward.

9 – Catalyst Quartet (Modlin Arts Center, University of Richmond)
12-13 – Richmond Symphony & Symphony Chorus (Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony) (Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage)
13 – Andrew McEvoy, guitar (Singleton Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University)
25-27 – Alexander Paley Festival (St. Luke Lutheran Church)

2 – Justin Alexander Percussion Duo (VCU Singleton Center)
3 – Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia (Richmond Public Library)
4 – Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia (First Unitarian Universalist Church)
9/11 – Virginia Opera “Orpheus in the Underworld” (Carpenter Theatre)
10 – Igudesman & Joo (VCU Singleton Center)
12 – Patrick Smith, French horn (VCU Singleton Center)
16 – Richmond Symphony “Casual Fridays” (Carpenter Theatre)
17 – Richmond Symphony; Philippe Quint, violin (Carpenter Theatre)
18 – Sonia Vlahcevic, piano (VCU Singleton Center)
20/22 – Virginia Opera “La Bohème” (Carpenter Theatre)
22 – Charles West, clarinet (VCU Singleton Center)
24 – Juilliard String Quartet (VCU Singleton Center)
24 – Richmond Symphony Pops (“Nosferatu”) (Carpenter Theatre)
25 – Richmond Symphony; Jared Davis, clarinet (Randolph-Macon College)
31 – Richmond Symphony LolliPops (“Halloween Spooktacular”) (Carpenter Theatre)

1 – Atlantic Chamber Ensemble (Unity Christ Church of Bon Air)
3 – Andy Harnsberger, percussion (VCU Singleton Center)
6-7 – Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival; eighth blackbird (UR Modlin Center)
8 – Shanghai Quartet; June Moon Kyung Hahn, marimba (UR Modlin Center)
13 – Richmond Symphony “Casual Fridays” (Carpenter Theatre)
14 – Richmond Symphony; Orion Weiss, piano (Carpenter Theatre)
19 – Oberon String Quartet (St. Catherine’s School)
28 – Richmond Symphony LolliPops (“The Snowman”) (Carpenter Theatre)

4 – Richmond Symphony & Symphony Chorus (Handel’s “Messiah”) (Carpenter Theatre)
4 – VCU Holiday Gala (VCU Singleton Center)
5-6 – Richmond Symphony Pops (“Let It Snow!”) (Carpenter Theatre)
6 – UR Schola Cantorum & Women’s Chorale (Festival of Lessons and Carols) (Cannon Memorial Chapel, University of Richmond)
13 – Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia (Wilton House Museum)
15 – Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia (Holy Comforter Episcopal Church)

9-10 – Richmond Symphony; Virginia Opera Emerging Artists (Viennese New Year) (Carpenter Theatre)
14 – Richmond Symphony “Rush Hour” (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery)
15 – Yefim Bronfman, piano (UR Modlin Center)
17 – Richmond Symphony; Neal Cary, cello (Randolph-Macon)
24 – Sam Dorsey, guitar (VCU Singleton Center)
27 – eighth blackbird (UR Modlin Center)
28 – Atlantic Chamber Ensemble (VCU Singleton Center)
28-29 – Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia (First Unitarian Universalist Church)
30 – Richmond Symphony LolliPops (“Green Eggs and Ham”) (Carpenter Theatre)

5 – Richmond Symphony “Casual Fridays” (Carpenter Theatre)
6 – Richmond Symphony; Daisuke Yamamoto, violin (Carpenter Theatre)
7 – Richard Becker, piano (UR Modlin Center)
14 – Dana McComb, cello; Joanne Kong, piano (UR Modlin Center)
18 – Richmond Symphony “Rush Hour” (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery)
19/21 – Virginia Opera “Romeo and Juliet” (Carpenter Theatre)
20 – Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (VCU Singleton Center)
20 – Australian Chamber Orchestra (UR Modlin Center)
21 – Richmond Symphony; Gustav Highstein, oboe (Randolph-Macon)
27 – Richmond Symphony Pops; Jeans ‘n Classics (Carpenter Theatre)
28 – Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia (First Unitarian Universalist Church)
29 – Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia (“For a Look or a Touch”) (First Unitarian Universalist Church)

5-6 – Richmond Symphony & Symphony Chorus; Orli Shaham, piano (Carpenter Theatre)
14 – Bruce Stevens, organ (UR Cannon Chapel)
19 – Richmond Symphony LolliPops (“Carnival of the Animals”) (Carpenter Theatre)
19 – Lawrence Brownlee, tenor (UR Modlin Center)
19 – Horszowski Trio (VCU Singleton Center)
20 – Richard Becker & Doris Wylee-Becker, piano duo (UR Modlin Center)

1 – Richmond Symphony “Casual Fridays” (Carpenter Theatre)
2 – Richmond Symphony; Mary Boodell, flute (Carpenter Theatre)
2 – Doric String Quartet; Jonathan Biss, piano (VCU Singleton Center)
8 – Scott Dettra, organ (Ginter Park Presbyterian Church)
11/13 – eighth blackbird; Matt Ulery Trio (UR Modlin Center)
15 – Takács Quartet; Garrick Ohlsson, piano (UR Modlin Center)
15/17 – Virginia Opera “The Flying Dutchman” (Carpenter Theatre)
17 – Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia (Second Presbyterian Church)
23 – Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia (Richmond Public Library)
29 – Ahreum Han, organ (St. Paul’s Episcopal Church)
29 – VCU Opera (production TBA) (VCU Singleton Center)
30 – Richmond Symphony Pops; Steve Lippia, vocals (Carpenter Theatre)

1 – VCU Opera (production TBA) (VCU Singleton Center)
5 – Richmond Symphony “Rush Hour” (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery)
8 – Richmond Symphony (Randolph-Macon)
14-15 – Richmond Symphony & Symphony Chorus (Carpenter Theatre)
22 – Atlantic Chamber Ensemble (St. Luke Lutheran Church)
19 days ago | |
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Jared Davis, clarinet
Daniel Stipe, piano
Aug. 13, Richmond CenterStage

Jared Davis, the longtime assistant principal clarinetist of the Richmond Symphony who moved up to the first chair last season after Ralph Skiano decamped for the Detroit Symphony, is on a performing roll this week. On the heels of his performance in Beethoven’s Clarinet Trio, Op. 11, with the Richmond Chamber Players last weekend, he played a demanding set of French chamber pieces in the latest Summer at CenterStage concert.

Davis, partnered by pianist Daniel Stipe, delivered stylish and almost note-perfect readings of Debussy’s “Première rhapsodie,” Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata, Milhaud’s Duo concertante for clarinet and piano and Louis Cahuzac’s “Cantilène.” By the clock, that may be a mini-concert; from the business end of a clarinet, it’s thoroughly maxi.

The Poulenc sonata, written a year before the composer’s death in 1963, requires both excellent technique and substantial musical sensibility. He was arguably the most successful 20th-century French opera composer, and much of his instrumental music feels as if characters, scenery and lighting wouldn’t be out of place.

Davis and Stipe played the sonata with the appropriate sparkling energy, but also captured the atmospherics and narrative suggestiveness of the sonata, especially in its central romanza. The energetic outer movements of the Poulenc fairly explicitly echo Debussy’s 1910-vintage rhapsody. Davis made those resonations clear, too.

He ably negotiated the quick-time exclamations and filagree packed into the brief showpiece of Cahuzac, and with Stipe gave a nice Parisian-jazzy undertone to the Milhaud.

Stipe, who has built quite a reputation as an organist during his time in Richmond, showed himself to just as impressive a pianist in three pieces from Book 2 of Debussy’s “Images.” His tonal control, color sensibility and balancing of voices were remarkable in ”Cloches à travers les feuilles” (“Bells through the Leaves”) and “Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut” (“And the Moon Sets over the Temple That Was”), and his speedy, glittering treatment of “Poissons d’or” (“Goldfish”) was thrilling.

Summer at CenterStage continues with violinist Susanna Klein and pianist Yin Zheng performing at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20 in the Gottwald Playhouse of Richmond CenterStage, Sixth and Grace streets. Tickets: $20. Details: (800) 514-3849 (ETIX); www.richmondsymphony.com
22 days ago | |
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Aug. 13
11 a.m.-2 p.m. EDT
1500-1800 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Pavel Josef Vejvanovsky: Serenada
Virtuosi di Praga/Oldrich Vlcek
(Koch Discover International)

Steve Reich: Double Sextet
eighth blackbird (Nonesuch)

Martinu: Nonet
Dartington Ensemble (Hyperion)

Mozart: Piano Quartet
in G minor, K. 478
André-Michel Schub, piano
Miami String Quartet members
(Musical Heritage Society/Virginia Arts Festival)

Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B flat major
Gewandhaus Orchestra, Leipzig/
Riccardo Chailly (Decca)

Schubert: Impromptu in C minor, D. 899, No. 1
Lambert Orkis, fortepiano (Virgin Classics)

Dvorák: Serenade for winds in D minor, Op. 44
National Chamber Players/Lowell Graham (Klavier)

Past Masters:
Brahms: Serenade No. 2
in A major, Op. 16
London Symphony Orchestra/István Kertész (Decca)
(recorded 1967)
23 days ago | |
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My review for the Richmond Times-Dispatch of the Richmond Chamber Players in the opening concert of their Interlude 2015 series:

26 days ago | |
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String quintets of Schubert and the Anglo-French early romantic George Onslow, an all-Bach chamber-orchestra program, cello sonatas of Beethoven and “For a Look or a Touch,” a chamber opera by Jake Heggie, the composer of “Moby-Dick” and “Dead Man Walking,” highlight the 2015-16 season of the Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia.

The society’s artistic director, James Wilson, will perform three Beethoven sonatas on a period-style, gut-strung cello, with Carsten Schmidt playing the fortepiano, the early hammered-string keyboard instrument that was used in Beethoven’s time.

Wilson will join other musicians playing baroque-period instruments in a chamber program at Wilton House Museum and the Bach program, which includes three of the “Brandenburg” concertos.

In the coming season, the Chamber Music Society will present six ticketed programs at First Unitarian Universalist, Holy Comforter Episcopal and Second Presbyterian churches, as well as Wilton, and two free programs at the Richmond Public Library.

Subscription packages for the six ticketed concerts are $144 for adults, $117 for seniors (60 and older), $31 for students. Single tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, $5 for students, for all ticketed concerts except the Wilton House program, for which the ticket scale is $35-$30-$10. No senior discount is offered for single tickets to the Heggie opera.

For more information, call the Chamber Music Society at (804) 519-2098 or visit www.cmscva.org

Dates, locations, artists and programs for the society’s 2015-16 season:

Oct. 3 (2 p.m.)
Gellman Room Richmond Public Library, First and Franklin streets
Nurit Pacht & Kyu-Young Kim, violins
Amadi Azikiwi, viola
Tomas Djupsjöbacka & James Wilson, cellos
“Boccherini 3, 4, 5”
excerpts of string trios, quartets, quintets

Oct. 4 (4 p.m.)
First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1000 Blanton Ave. at the Carillon
Nurit Pacht & Kyu-Young Kim, violins
Amadi Azikiwi, viola
Tomas Djupsjöbacka & James Wilson, cellos
George Onslow: String Quintet No. 12
Schubert: String Quintet in C major
pre-concert talk at 3:30 p.m.

Dec. 13 (7:30 p.m.)
Wilton House Museum, 215 S. Wilton Road
Tricia van Oers, recorder
Fiona Hughes, baroque violin
James Wilson, baroque cello
Carsten Schmidt, harpsichord
sonatas for recorder and violin by Handel, Telemann, Corelli
pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.

Dec. 15 (7:30 p.m.)
Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, Monument Avenue at Staples Mill Road
Martin Davids, Fiona Hughes & June Huang, baroque violins
Kyle Miller, baroque viola
James Wilson, baroque cello
Mary Boodell, traverso flute
Tricia van Oers, recorder
Margaret Owens, recorder and baroque oboe
Mary Elizabeth Bowden, trumpet
Carsten Schmidt, harpsichord
J.S. Bach: “Brandenburg” concertos Nos. 2, 4, 5
J.S. Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor
pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.

Feb. 28 (4 p.m.)
First Unitarian Universalist Church
Daisuke Yamamoto violin
Mary Boodell, flute
James Wilson, cello
Carsten Schmidt, piano
“Different Voices”
Fazil Say: “Four Cities” – “Sivas”
Erwin Schulhoff: Duo for violin and cello
Valerie Coleman: “Portraits of Langston”
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Piano Trio in D minor
pre-concert talk at 3:30 p.m.

Feb. 29 (7:30 p.m.)
First Unitarian Universalist Church
John Taylor Ward, baritone
Grant Mudge, actor
Daisuke Yamamoto, violin
Mary Boodell, flute
James Wilson, cello
Carsten Schmidt, piano
Jake Heggie: “For a Look or a Touch”

April 16 (2 p.m.)
Gellman Room, Richmond Public Library
performers TBA
“Beethoven in Words and Music”
curated by Angela Lehman

April 17 (4 p.m.)
Second Presbyterian Church, 5 N. Fifth St.
James Wilson, cello
Carsten Schmidt, fortepiano
Beethoven: Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 69
Beethoven: Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 102, No. 1
Beethoven: Cello Sonata in D major, Op. 102, No. 2
pre-concert talk at 3:30 p.m.
27 days ago | |
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Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio names the culprit in the theft of the Ames Stradivarius violin, stolen 35 years ago from her father, the late Roman Totenberg, and returned to his daughters this week:

28 days ago | |
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Aug. 6
11 a.m.-2 p.m. EDT
1500-1800 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Stravinsky: “Ragtime”
Boston Symphony Chamber Players
(Deutsche Grammophon/

Ravel: Sonata for
violin and piano
Joshua Bell, violin
Jeremy Denk, piano (Sony Classical)

Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F major
(orchestration by Ferde Grofé)
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop (Decca)

Smetana: “Libuše” Overture
Cleveland Orchestra/
Christoph von Dohnányi (Decca)

Handel: “Dettingen
Te Deum”
Christopher Tipping, alto
Harry Christophers, tenor
Stephen Varcoe & Michael Pearce, basses
Choir of Westminster Abbey
The English Concert/Simon Preston (DG Archiv)

Tchaikovsky: “Festival Overture on the Danish National Anthem”
London Symphony Orchestra/Geoffrey Simon (Chandos)

Past Masters:
J.S. Bach: “Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue,” BWV 903
Ralph Kirkpatrick, harpsichord
(DG Archiv)
(recorded 1959)

Beethoven: Sonata in
A major, Op. 47 (“Kreutzer”)
(orchestration by
Richard Tognietti)
Hyunjong Reents-Kang, violin
Camerata Bern

Kevin Volans: “Leaping Dance”
Netherlands Wind Ensemble (Chandos)
30 days ago | |
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