Musings from the Artistic Director

Unicorns and Mozart

OK, first the unicorns! Although patrons are usually very positive after concerts, shaking my hand as they exit the venue, there have only been a small handful of concerts where the reaction has been as enthusiastic as they were after the Menotti concerts this last weekend.  I think the combination of the elements in these concerts was particularly good – first off, the choir sounded nothing short of fantastic.  As I listened to the Samuel Barber “Reincarnations” (they were very effectively directed by our Mark Sheldon conducting intern this year, Matthew Stewart, thus allowing me to sit and listen), I reveled in the sound, the velvety blend, the impeccable tuning, the assured expressivity.  I think this bodes well for an excellent season, artistically speaking.  Bravo, singers!

Secondly, the enhancement of this concert by a quartet of marvelous dancers in absolutely fantastic costumes, expertly tailoring their dances to the two peculiar (and very different) spaces in which we performed the concerts, cannot be overemphasized.  The Ballet Arts Theatre troupe were a joy to work with, and carried off the choreography with great aplomb and pizzazz (if those two things are not mutually exclusive!).

Finally, the Confluence Quartet were wonderful, rendering my arrangement of the score very well indeed (a difficult set of pieces to begin with, doubtless made more complicated by the fact that my arrangement was a reduction of the original forces, which were mostly winds, so there were some idiomatic alterations that needed to be made, and more things had to be assigned to fewer players, etc.).  Special kudos to Richard and Don for adding the Rebecca Clarke “Lullaby and Grotesque” to the proceedings.

I was extremely pleased with the production, and was overjoyed that the audiences were so enthusiastic.  I wish the audiences had been a little larger, but it was unfortunate that we were up against a couple other local choral concerts last weekend, as well as the CSO (not to mention the Broncos on Sunday…).
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And Mozart: In early November St. Martin’s performs the Colorado premiere of a recently rediscovered 4-hand piano version of the Mozart Requiem by Romantic era composer and teacher Carl Czerny.

Carl Czerny (1791-1857) was an extremely prolific and well-regarded composer of the early Romantic era.  A student of Beethoven and a teacher of Liszt, Czerny’s reputation as a composer has declined over the last 150 years; but he remains well known among pianists as the composer of a wealth of affectionately despised piano exercises.  In this vein, he wrote a reputedly difficult and admired 4-hand piano version of the Mozart Requiem, performed to much acclaim in 1827, but subsequently lost.

Recently rediscovered in a library in Czerny’s native Slovakia, it has been published and is being revived with much fanfare around the world.  When I discovered the score (thanks to Dennis Blubaugh, Musical Resources of Toledo, for bringing it to my attention) at the national ACDA convention last March, I determined to perform it with SMCC as soon as I could.  Here are the performance details:

  • Friday, November 6, 7:30 pm, Montview Presbyterian Church, Denver (new 9’ Steinway grand)
  • Saturday, November, 7, 7:30 pm, Holy Cross Lutheran, Wheat Ridge (6’-some Kawai grand)
  • Sunday, November, 8, 3:00 pm, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Denver (9’ Bösendorfer grand)

It’s not too early to buy tickets by telephone (303) 298-1970 or ONLINE!