Did Saturday evening’s Go West! The Mythology of American Expansion production fully encompass the complete spectrum of the American West? That’s asking a lot from a mere two hours. But, at the end of the evening, we felt taken like companions on a journey full of bravery, discovery, ruthlessness, unreasonable hope and the pursuit of dreams.
Conductor Bruce Hangen made his Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra debut Thursday evening in the Amphitheater, leading the first of two season appearances.
This season, every concert represents a podium audition for Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra music director, a coveted position that has been vacant since 2011. The audience has been given a chance to vote in this democratic process, with some weight also given the musicians — who can tell in eight bars if a maestro has the real goods.
Three Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra members will discuss the various aspects of practicing and why it is an important part of a musician’s development during the last Symphony Partners Brown Bag lecture of the 2013 Season at 12:15 p.m. today in Smith Wilkes Hall.
During his 18 seasons as Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra’s music director (a role he served until 2007), conductor Uriel Segal honed the ideal formula for rousing the Chautauqua audience. His choices for Thursday night’s CSO concert consisted of two flaming masterpieces — gems to savor, as well as to challenge. [w/ SLIDESHOW]
Guest review by Tom Di Nardo
Tuesday evening’s Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra concert was designed as a concert of lighter music — light for us, the audience, though all four works were conceived as serious works by the composers.
Thursday evening’s Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra concert featured return appearances by conductor Christopher Seaman, who made his debut last season, and Ukranian-born pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk, making his sixth season visit. High humidity after a morning downpour isn’t helpful to keeping instruments in tune outdoors, but that didn’t seem to affect these responsive players.
Seaman retired last year after 13 seasons with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and he has conducted widely in Britain, Europe and with many American orchestras; like his fellow English-born conductor Simon Rattle, he began his career as a timpanist. He chose two extended works considered inadequate youthful works by their composers, both to be revised years later.
For Tuesday evening’s Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra concert, conductor Sarah Ioannides chose works defined by extremely varied rhythmic structures — urgently forceful in Gershwin, throbbing and shifting-repetitive in Piazzolla, supple and pliant for Debussy and subtly tricky in Dukas.
Ioannides, making her Chautauqua debut, boasts a remarkable background. Born in Australia, she grew up in England where she began her musical training at Oxford University and the prestigious Guildhall School. She soon received a Fulbright Scholarship to study with Otto-Werner Mueller both at the Curtis Institute of Music and at The Juilliard School, eventually becoming his assistant conductor. Her many awards include those from the Bruno Walter Foundation and the JoAnn Falletta Award for most promising female conductor.
Performing a work as complex and deeply felt as Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem” is a major challenge, especially when the instrumental and vocal forces can combine for only a single rehearsal led by a conductor making his Chautauqua debut.
Yet those assembled forces brought it to vivid life. Having heard the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus in Kleinhans Music Hall, there was little doubt about their prowess, especially in a work at the heart of their choral repertory. Baritone Tyler Duncan was also making his Chautauqua debut, with soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme a welcomed return guest.
Conductor Robert Duerr, a North Tonawanda native, minister, organist and founder of the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra, had led the chorus, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, last April. His extensive operatic assignments at the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera have enriched him with a special sense of drama — an attribute that afforded Brahms’ work the special propulsion it requires.