World-class pianist, conductor and improviser Donal Fox is known for his fusion of classical and jazz music — though he leans to the spontaneity side of jazz. The Donal Fox Inventions Trio won’t know what they’ll be playing for audiences at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater until well after they’ve arrived.
Classical music might have been relegated to the labs of evil geniuses in popular culture, but Bard College’s James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Music Christopher Gibbs thinks there’s more to the realm of Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms than stiff upper lips.
Valerie Capers describes her sound as a soft kind of jazz, something to listen to on a cool summer’s night. Nothing experimental or too avant garde. Something comfortable; perhaps a tune from the Great American Songbook. The musician’s performance at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater will mark her debut at Chautauqua Institution.
It’s no secret — though the outside world may think classical music is dying, those on the grounds know it is alive and well at Chautauqua.
The Falk family certainly believes so. Each year, the Falk Scholarship Fund supports one of the many students studying the arts at Chautauqua. This year, the scholarship was awarded to Amy Pikler, a violist in the School of Music.
“I had heard about the program through other people who have gone here,” she said. “I was looking for a program that provided merit scholarships for music study, and Chautauqua offered that.”
“Do you know Pisa?” asked violinist Aleksey Igudesman. “There’s the Leaning Tower. The funny thing is, not just the tower is leaning in Pisa. Even the stage we were on, in a beautiful theater — it was leaning so much I had vertigo, because I thought I was going to fall down.”
“I have walked on some stages and been very frightened, yes,” agreed Hyung-ki Joo, pianist and the other half of the classical music comedy duo performing their show, “A Little Nightmare Music,” at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.
“I’ve been frightened of the stage, because it swooped down into this black pit,” Joo said, making arm motions as if to keep himself from falling.
It is easy not to have stage fright doing what they do, because what they do is unique, hilarious, smart and offers the revelation that comedy, classical music, popular culture and celebrity make a surprising and fantastic mix.