Saturday, April 01, 2006

Mickey to guest with Colorado Symphony


From Denver Post:

Bring the family, bask in the spotlight
By Kyle MacMillan Denver Post Fine Arts Critic

In 2006-07, the biggest changes in the Colorado Symphony's lineup will come in a couple of unexpected areas that typically don't get much attention - the family and spotlight series.

Other facets of the symphony's offerings, including its core Masterworks series and pops offerings, will remain largely the same in number and configuration. But the orchestra is bolstering what have been more or less peripheral add-ons.

The number of family concerts will remain at five, but the symphony has substantially beefed up the programs, with major guest artists on nearly every one, including percussionist Evelyn Glennie and pianist Christopher O'Riley.

Conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane, back for his second year as music director, will make his debut on the series, conducting two concerts starting with "Classic Halloween" on Oct. 26.

"In my mind, it's certainly not a throwaway series," he said. "It's something tremendously important. After all, we're talking about providing a way for families to experience the symphony if they can't logistically get to a regular Masterworks concert or if they can't afford the Masterworks."

Besides adding star power to the lineup, the orchestra is also adding creative twists to the programs. On April 15, for example, Kahane will join O'Riley for "One Hand, Two Hands, Four Hands, Eight Hands," a program exploring a range of piano repertoire.

"I think it should be a blast," Kahane said.

The spotlight series is also getting a boost, growing from four to five offerings. And for the first time, all the concerts will consist of stand-alone programs that have nothing to do with the the rest of the season.

The spotlight series began in 2002-03 with one concert designed as a kind of preview of the rest of the season. Since then, the notion that the programs have to relate to the rest of the season has steadily receded.

In 2006-07, each spotlight concert will have its own theme, such as "Aaron Copland's Greatest Hits" on Oct. 15 or "Sacred Masterworks" on March 18, including including works by Gabriel Fauré and Giuseppe Verdi.

Crowning the 2006-07 Masterworks lineup will be a two- week Ludwig van Beethoven festival, including all five of the composer's piano concertos, with Kahane as conductor and soloist.

They will be grouped with a June 8 solo recital with Kahane and performances of two of the composer's greatest choral creations: "Missa Solemnis" on June 7 and Symphony No.9 on June 9 and 10.

"This is a dream come true in a way, because those two pieces really belong together," he said. "In a sense, they're companion pieces that represent the summing up his (Beethoven's) work, and audiences rarely have the chance to hear them back to back."

The orchestra will present 17 pops concerts, with guest artists ranging from vintage country singer Glen Campbell to former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.

That's about the same number as usual, but unlike previous seasons, none of the programs
will be repeated. In recent years, the orchestra has gradually moved from themed pairs of programs to solo offerings with major solo artists.

"When we started doing one-night-only performances, we realized that we were able to maximize our capacity; we were able to expand the types of concerts that we can offer, and it seems to work," said Gene Sobczak, the symphony's executive vice president.

Many 2005-06 pops offerings have been sold out, and total pops revenues have already risen 45 percent from the previous season with several concerts remaining.

"We're basically becoming a presenter here in town," Sobczak said. "Now we're bringing in stars. And so we recognize in some ways we're going head-to-head with Live Nation and House of Blues and some of these other promoters, but that was part of our goal - to establish ourselves as a presenter of this sort of concert."

Fine arts critic Kyle MacMillan can be reached 303-820-1675 or kmacmillan@denverpost.com.

Colorado Symphony
2006-07 SEASON
Subscriptions go on sale today; single tickets will be available July 28
303-623-7876 or coloradosymphony.org

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