Sinfonia Salt Lake to perform 4 world premieres at the Utah Arts Festival

Presented by Sinfonia Salt Lake at Salt Lake City Public Library (Main Branch), Salt Lake City UT

Sinfonia Salt Lake at the Utah Arts Festival

The Sinfonia Salt Lake Sextet, David Price, violin, Cassie Olson, cello, Christina Castellanos, flute, Henry Caceres, clarinet, Jed Moss, piano and Henry Caceres, clarinet will perform 4 world premieres at the Utah Arts Festival, including the prize winning commission by Saad Haddad. Music director, Robert Baldwin will conduct.

The concert will feature the world premiere performance of the 2018 Utah Arts Festival Chamber Commission, Azwaj by Saad Haddad. Other music on the program is by composers, Stephen Jones, Ethan Wickman, and Chad Cannon. This FREE performance at the Arts Festival does not require Arts Festival admission. Enter through the Salt Lake City Library to access the auditorium.

Here’s a great review article on the composer and piece that won this year’s commission:

https://www.theutahreview.com/backstage-utah-arts-festival-2018-saad-haddad-youngest-recipient-ever-utah-arts-festivals-composer-commission-award-forthcoming-premiere-azwaj/

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Sinfonia Salt Lake Sextet from L to R: Jed Moss, Jeremy Megginson, Christina Castellanos, Henry Caceres, Cassie Olson, David Price, Robert Baldwin.

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The Winds of Programming Change

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Off the podium, orchestral programming is one of the most rewarding and challenging activities that I do. (See my link of concerts on this blog to view the whole shebang) Given the recent national conversation regarding diversity (or lack thereof) in orchestral programming, I thought it prudent to look at my own programming for next year with three of the orchestras for which I have the responsibility of programming: the Salt Lake Symphony, Sinfonia Salt Lake, and the University of Utah Philharmonia. I’ve only included “classics” concerts. Excluded are pops, family concerts and the like, as that would greatly skew the “living composer ”category. It’s also hard to determine for certain concerts where some pieces are quite short—for example the December 6 concert with Monika Jalili, which will include songs by Iranian composers, as each song is only about 3 minutes in length. How does one compare that to a larger work? So for the sake of not appearing to “cook the books,” I’ve combined all of those songs into one category, counting them as a value of “one composer.” So here’s the score, out of 44 pieces programmed on classics concerts between 3 orchestras:

Composers of color: 5

Silvestre Revueltas, Shalan Alhamwy, Mohammed Fairouz, Banned Iranian songwriters, Saad Haddad

 

Women composers: 5

Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Stacy Garrop, Fanny Mendelssohn, Mary Lou Prince, Alexandra Pakhmutova

 

Living composers: 13

Arvo Pärt, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Henry Wolking, Devin Maxwell, Nathaniel Eschler, Stacy Garrop, Mary Lou Prince, Alexandra Pakhmutova, Banned Iranian Composers (some?), +4 Composers for the Utah Arts Festival Commissioning Concert

While trying to program an engaging concert experience is my first goal, I do try my best to react correctly to the changing tides. I’ve no idea if this is a “good average” or not, but based on number of concerts, it appears to be more diverse than both the Cleveland Orchestra and Chicago Symphony, both of which had scathing articles (here and here) written earlier this year regarding their programming. (No judgment and not gloating, it’s just a statement of fact). Orchestral programming is exceptionally difficult to balance, considering the weight of the history of the repertoire. No other ensemble relies as much on the past as do orchestras. And therein lies part of the challenge.

So, what do the readers think? Does it look like a good average? And how will audiences respond? That is certainly a question to be answered from the seats next season, and perhaps from the box office in following years. I, for one, remain confident it is a direction we must take.

Feel free to make respectful comments below.

Copyright, 2018. Robert Baldwin, Before the Downbeat

Thoughts on Mozart’s Coda

To me, the opportunity to perform a masterwork is similar to being allowed to touch a sculpture by a great artist like Michelangelo or Rodin. To feel every texture and contour, tracing your fingers where the master artist made his/her creation; each texture, rise and fall an imprint on eternity. What’s more, if you look deeply enough, there is artistic DNA embedded there. And like a scientist, secrets will be revealed to the performing musician who studies and prepares with patience, focus and openness. Then those secrets soon begin to work their inner magic on the initiate.

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A musical score that weaves through the personal landscape while still clothed in tradition, Mozart’s Requiem is one of those works that is as satisfying both to the audience as well as to the performers–intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. We will preface the massive K.626 with one of Mozart’s other final and fantastically personal choral works, also written in the last months of his life, the ever-so-poignant Ave verum corpus, K. 618. Tender and introspective, it provides a perfect scene-setter to the Requiem.

Yes, I’m excited about this weekend’s performance. I cannot assure that you will be transported to a different plane of existence, but why take the chance that you may miss out? It’s something special! I hope you can join us.

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Mozart’s Coda
Saturday May 19, 2018 7:30 pm

Libby Gardner Concert Hall, Salt Lake City
Julie Wright Costa, soprano, Kirstin Chavez, mezzo-soprano, Robert Breault, tenor, Seth Keeton, bass
Utah Voices, chorus

Mozart Ave verum corpus
Mozart Requiem

Mozart’s Requiem has long been hailed as one of the great masterpieces of western art. To listen to this music is to be transported to a different time and space. Come hear the Salt Lake Symphony, Utah Voices and U of U Faculty Voice Quartet perform this masterpiece, as we bring our season to a close with style and gravitas. It’s a fitting end to a grand season of music.

Tickets: $15.
Available from utahvoices.org, or at the door with cash, check or credit card.

Free Parking for Libby Gardner Hall: 100 South and Wolcott (1450 East)

 

Sinfonia Salt Lake Announces Concert Season

For Immediate Release:

Sinfonia Salt Lake and Music Director Robert Baldwin are pleased to announce the 2018-2019 season. This season will feature many of the elements that Sinfonia Salt Lake has been known for since it’s founding in 2015: quality music, professional performances and an engaging musical experience. The 2018-2019 season will include favorites by Tchaikovsky, Respighi, Bach and Dvorak, as well as new works by Utah Composers.

Ticket information for all concerts, except the December program, is available at www.sinfoniasaltlake.com. For the December concert, patrons should visit: utahdiplomacy.org

An ensemble of local professional musicians, Sinfonia Salt Lake provides a refreshing face to the local Salt Lake City arts scene. Committed to offering engaging music rarely heard at traditional concerts, SSL offers an eclectic repertoire of music from the Baroque era through the present day shared in intimate concert venues. Sinfonia Salt Lake is proud to partner with Musician’s Toolkit, Utah Council for Citizen’s Diplomacy, the Utah Arts Festival and the Salty Cricket Composers Collective for the 2018-2019 season.

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Sinfonia Salt Lake Concerts for 2018-2019 Season

Monday, September 17: Late Summer Serenades, Melissa Heath, soprano

First United Methodist Church. 203 South 200 East, SLC 7:30 p.m.

  • Antonin Dvorak: Serenade for Winds, op. 44
  • Samuel Barber: Knoxville, Summer of 1915
  • Peter Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings

 

Saturday, December 1: Vivaldi by Candlelight – “Ciao, London!”

Gerald Elias, Guest Conductor. Partnership with the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy. First Presbyterian Church. 12 C Street, SLC 7:30 p.m. For tickets to this performance, please visit utahdiplomacy.org

  • All Baroque program featuring music by Vivaldi, Boyce, Geminiani and more!

 

Monday, January 7: Sinfonia Spotlight, featuring music with a Utah Connection, Celebrating Salty Cricket Composers Collective 10th Anniversary

First United Methodist Church, 203 South 200 East, SLC 7:30 p.m.

  • Stacy Garrop: Postcards from Wyoming (composed for Sinfonia SL)
  • Mary Lou Prince: Topaz for Koto and Chamber Orchestra
  • Devin Maxwell: Cloudseeding 6 for Bass and Chamber Orchestra (Premiere – collaboration/commission with Salty Cricket Composers Collective)
  • Henry Wolking: Gone Playin’

 

Monday, March 18: Looking Forward, Looking Bach

First United Methodist Church, 203 South 200 East, SLC 7:30 p.m.

  • Edvard Grieg: Suite from Holberg’s Time
  • J. S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4
  • Igor Stravinsky: Dumbarton Oaks Concerto
  • Ottorino Respighi: Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No. 1

 

Bonus events:

Benefit recitals featuring Sinfonia Salt Lake musicians on August 27, 2018 and May 6, 2019 where the ensemble members will partner with a local charity to raise money and awareness for their cause. First United Methodist Church, 203 South 200 East, SLC 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 22, 2019: Utah Arts Festival Composer’s Commission Concert

Salt Lake City Library Auditorium. 4:00 p.m. Free admission.

 

Hannah Galli | inner i art

Photo by Hannah Galli, Inner Art.

Earworm of the Day

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Traveling down memory lane to one of the most haunting songs I know. When I was a kid, I remember hearing ELP’s “Lucky Man” for the first time, getting wrapped up in it, and then being blown away when the last verse hit:

A bullet had found him
His blood ran as he cried
No money could save him
So he laid down and he died

Historical fact: the song was almost not recorded. (From Wikipedia): “On the last day of recording their debut album, Emerson, Lake & Palmer discovered they were short of satisfying the label’s contract requirement of 21 minutes of music per album side, and therefore needed one more song. Greg Lake began playing “Lucky Man”, a song he had written when he was 12 years old.”

12 freaking years old? Such depth….and that Moog synth – first time EVER used in a piece of popular music. And the arc and lyrics of the song. Amazing.

I am not sure there will be another creative team quite the same as Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer in popular music. Please help me understand if I am missing some creative genius on the current popular music scene. I highly doubt it. (I’m speaking of true compositional ingenuity, not a creative performer. There are plenty of those).

Much of ELP’s music is masterful, and I’ll add that “Karn Evil 9” from the album, “Brain Salad Surgery” is a true masterpiece that belongs in any discussion of the most important compositions in any genre of the second half of the 20th century. So there. And you thought I only listened to Bach.

Copyright, 2018. Robert Baldwin, Before the Downbeat.

Image from Wikipedia, courtesy Island Records.

Sinfonia Salt Lake and The American Spiritual Ensemble

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Sinfonia Salt Lake and The American Spiritual Ensemble

Monday, February 26, 2018

7:30 p.m.

First United Methodist Church

203 South 200 East, Salt Lake City

Tickets: $20 General Admission/$10 Seniors and Students

Tickets online and at the door

http://www.sinfoniasaltlake.com/

 

I am very pleased to be part of a special evening of music coming up on February 26, an evening of America’s finest music right here in Salt Lake City! Interspersed with the great American composer Morton Gould’s re-scoring of classic spirituals, Sinfonia Salt Lake will also be joined by the incredible voices of the American Spiritual Ensemble. Don’t miss this evening of some the most iconic American music ever created

About the ASE: The mission of the American Spiritual Ensemble is to keep the American Negro spiritual alive. The repertoire ranges from spirituals to classical to Broadway and dance. The American Spiritual Ensemble was founded by Everett McCorvey in 1995. Its members have sung in theaters and opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and abroad in Italy, Germany, Britain, Scotland, Spain and Japan. The repertoire ranges from opera to spirituals to Broadway. The members of the American Spiritual Ensemble are soloists in their own right and the vocalists have thrilled audiences around the world with their dynamic renditions of classic spirituals, jazz and Broadway numbers highlighting the Black experience.

Don’t miss this concert celebrating a truly American music during Black History Month!

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Photo of Everett McCorvey
Credit: Jonathan Palmer

Copyright 2018, Robert Baldwin. Before the Downbeat

A first poem (to be published)

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I am pleased to share Ghost Deer, my first poem to be published, appearing today in Grey Sparrow Journal. I hope you enjoy it. Honest feedback is most welcome. Be sure to check out the other poems in this issue as well. I’m honored to be included in such esteemed company, most notably the 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Poetry, Tyehimba Jess, whose poem leads off the issue.

Click the link to be taken directly to the poem.

https://grey-sparrow-press.com/robert-l-baldwin/

 

Image: https://www.geckosadventures.com/tales/what-is-your-european-spirit-animal/