KEEPIN’ IT CLASSICAL: Bravo, Brahms and Bernstein

By on July 8, 2015

Some killer Bs dominate this week’s GTMF offerings

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Bravo Presents: Music in Town at Diehl Gallery

5:30 p.m., Wednesday at Diehl Gallery, 155 W. Broadway. $20, $15 day-of rush

In their concerted effort to cultivate a new audience this season, Grand Teton Music Festival is rolling out another fresh feature on this year’s programming: a series of smaller concerts hosted by Bravo!, the festival’s young patrons social club, held at intimate locations in town. This week’s concert will be hosted by Diehl Gallery, a contemporary art venue run by native New Yorker Mariam Diehl. The evening’s programming features two string quartets perfectly suited to a smaller gallery space: “Lullaby” is George Gershwin’s first serious composition written in 1919 as a student exercise assignment and Mozart’s “String Quartet No. 21 in D Major.” That piece was written in 1789 at the height of Mozart’s chamber music popularity for the King of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm II, an amateur cellist. This evening is a perfect date night choice, easy to get to and a big bang for the buck. No need to be a Bravo member to attend. Ticket sales are limited to 50 and include a glass of wine from event sponsor Landmark Vineyards.

 

Chamber Music: Debussy, Brahms, Ravel

8 p.m., Thursday at Walk Festival Hall, $25, $15 day-of rush

Thursday’s chamber music is a journey into the eras of musical romanticism, impressionism and modernism and features the vocal talent of guest artist and Grammy award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelly O’Connor. The program waltzes through the different music periods via works of Franz Berwald, a Romantic Swedish composer who actually made his living as an orthopedic surgeon, Brahms, a German Romantic era composer of such influence that he’s considered to be one of musical history’s “Three Bs” (alongside Beethoven and Bach), Debussy, the name of French musical Impressionism, and the likewise Impressionist master Maurice Ravel. O’Connor sings on Brahms and the program’s historical progression concludes with “The Great Train Race,” a work of demanding virtuosity and skill for solo flute by contemporary composer and flautist Ian Clarke.

 

Festival Orchestra: The Greats (Leonard Bernstein and Gustav Mahler)

Open Rehearsal 10 a.m., Friday at Walk Festival Hall; performances 8 p.m., Friday and 6 p.m., Saturday, $10 for rehearsal; $25-$55, $15 day-of rush

The Festival Orchestra concerts this weekend are built upon the timeless themes of life, love and loss. Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from Westside Story” will open for Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde” (The Song Of The Earth). Both of these works are considered to be some of, if not the greatest work by the respective composers. Bernstein released “Symphonic Dances” in 1960, three years after the smashingly successful Broadway premiere of the “West Side Story” musical, which also marked the show’s libretto/lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s first Broadway debut. A film by the same title was made in 1961, and the tale of forbidden romance and gang violence has seared it’s way into the hearts of millions of fans. Based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the play is set in the Upper West Side of New York City in the 1950s and chronicles the rivalry of two teenage gangs, the Jets (from Puerto Rico) and the Sharks (who are Caucasian). Tony of the Jets falls in love with Maria, sister to the leader of the Sharks, and love, drama and tragedy ensue. Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances” highlights some of the show’s most memorable tunes.

Austrian composer Gustav Mahler’s “Das Leid von der Erde” was written in 1909 and is a heartbreakingly beautiful and vulnerable work. During the summer of 1907, Mahler suffered three devastating personal losses. Due to political rivalries and anti-semitism, he was fired from his long-standing post of director of the Vienna Court Opera. His daughter, Maria, died from scarlet fever, and then Mahler himself was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. “With one stroke,” he wrote to his friend Bruno Walter, “I have lost everything I have gained in terms of who I thought I was, and have to learn my first steps again like a newborn.” In 1908, Hans Bethge published “Die chinesische Flöte,” a volume of ancient Chinese poetry translated into German. Mahler was so moved by the work that he chose seven of the poems to compose to music for “Das Leid.” He combined the genre of art song and symphony to create an unforgettable work for two voices and an orchestra, and unfortunately passed away before the symphony’s premiere under the direction of Bruno Walter in 1911. Guest vocalists Kelly O’Connor and Simon O’Neill will perform this weekend.

 

Inside The Music: Classical Meets Pop

8 p.m., Tuesday at Walk Festival Hall, Free

“Inside the Music” is an informal and educational program designed to share the background information of the featured works and to encourage audience participation in a classroom-style setting. This week’s host is festival musician Craig Hauschildt, who will walk the audience through a contemporary program of innovative and distinctly original modern works by composers such as Christopher Cerrone, Caroline Shaw and Elliot Cole, whose percussion-only work “Postlude No. 8” (2012) uses such unconventional techniques as running violin bows across vibraphone bars — a truly other-worldy and transcendental sound that you’ve probably never heard before and should mark your calendar to experience. PJH

 

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