The Winds of Programming Change

Olaus Magnus Historia om de nordiska folken

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

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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.

MozartsCoda_digital poster

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.