By Sebastian Spreng, Visual Artist and Classical Music Writer
With the 2013-2014 music season upon us, it’s time to look, compare, pick and schedule. The upcoming season evinces interesting progress in musical programming for a city as diverse and eclectic as ours, one in which achieving artistic and financial balance is a feat of magic, wrought only through audience support and generous patrons.
Gil Shaham, Yuja Wang, Simon Keenlyside, Javier Perianes, Benjamin Grosvenor, Deborah Voigt, Olga Kern, Vivica Genaux, Joshua Bell, Isabel Leonard, Emmanuel Ax, Maria Guleghina, Sol Gabetta, Richard Goode and Zubin Mehta are just some of the stars in the more dynamic and attractive programs, among them, performances of The Seven Capital Sins, Nabucco, No Exit, Mourning Becomes Electra, Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ, Scriabin’s Prometheus and several premieres, including a few world premieres. Here’s a quick look at what’s in store in order of starting date:
Held at the University of Miami’s Gusman Concert Hall, the seven-concert series directed by the indefatigable Doreen Marx kicks off the season with a recital by rising cellist Joshua Roman on Sept. 8. Definitely a good start. On Dec. 15, the 150 members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, under the direction of Gordon Roberts, are scheduled to deliver a rousing concert. In January, the Amernet String Quartet will perform with guest violist Michael Tree, followed by the New Trio on January 26. In February, it’s violinist Ray Chen, accompanied by Julio Elizalde, and in March, outstanding pianist Richard Goode in a recital that promises to be one of the highlights of the year, as does that of lyric mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, a young favorite in the Americas and Europe, scheduled for May 18.
An excellent program, with distinguished artists back by popular demand and to subscribers’ delight. The first concert, Death and the Maiden, by the renowned Ehnes Quartet, is followed soon thereafter by the trio composed of Cyprien Katsaris, Roberto Díaz and William DeRosa. Also back will be Anton Kuerti for an all-Beethoven recital, as well as Valentina Lisitsa and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson trio, a classic. Two specials are the Brahms Chamber Music Masterworks, performed by Joseph Kalichstein, Roberto Diaz and clarinetist Ricardo Morales, plus the happy choice of Ken Noda to sing Brecht/Weill’s The Seven Capital Sins with Wallis Giunta, a jewel of the genre finally in Miami. The series ends with the return of the great Benjamin Grosvenor, accompanied by the debut of the Escher String Quartet in Dvořák’s Piano Quintet.
Under the direction of pianist Roberto Berrocal, the series comprises three vocal recitals with three Cuban-American divas who enjoy an enthusiastic local following: Eglise Gutiérrez on Sept. 27, María Aleida Rodríguez on Dec. 13 and Elizabeth Caballero with James Valenti on May 16. Berrocal is scheduled to deliver a solo recital on March 14.
The festival hosted by the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music celebrates its 30th season with a month of classical music, jazz and other musical genres in a mix designed to attract a wide audience. This year’s stars, representing almost every discipline, include Paulinho Garcia, Karrin Allyson, Joan Osborne, Christian McBride, Luis Enrique and Dr. John & The Nite Trippers. Gloria Estefan headlines the opening gala on Oct. 1, while Joshua Bell and Edgar Meyer premiere the latter’s Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass with the Frost Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Sleeper, on the official opening night, Oct. 4. On Oct. 6, soprano Hila Plitmann performs a program titled Labyrinth of Love, and on Oct. 18, Elizabeth Caballero sings and receives the university’s 2013 Distinguished Alumna Award. On Oct 20, it’s pianist Cecile Licad with a fascinating program of 20th century classics.
The festival closes with two major events. José Serebrier, Festival Miami’s first artistic director (it was then called the International Music Festival of the Americas), makes an emotional return conducting the Costa Rica National Symphony Orchestra on both Oct. 22 and 23. The first evening features the U.S. premiere of Costan Rican composer Vinicio Meza’s Imágenes, Frost School Dean Shelly Berg and his jazz trio playing their version of Rhapsody in Blue, and a welcome curiosity, Shostakovich’s The Gadfly. The second program features the U.S. premieres of Marvin Camacho’s De la Sabiduría del Rey Salomón and Serebrier’s own They Rode into the Sunset, in addition to works by Bizet, Verdi and Borodin.
On Oct. 29, there’s an appropriate celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten – almost a forgotten figure in these latitudes – with a varied selection of pieces performed Alan Johnson, Tony Boutté, the Frost Symphony Orchestra and the Frost Chorale, among others. The program includes the American premiere of Everyone Sang and the world premiere of Three Small Songs. On the last evening of its 2013 season, Festival Miami moves to the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall for a collaboration with Jazz Roots – A Larry Rosen Jazz Series in a tribute to composer Henry Mancini, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the film The Pink Panther. Participating in the celebration are several orchestras and stars, including French vocalist Cyrille Aimée, making her Miami debut.
The center of Miami Beach musical life, the American Orchestral Academy promises another high-quality season that combines smart, dynamic programming and noted figures from each discipline in exciting debuts and happy returns.
Oct. 5-6, Michael Tilson Thomas opens the official season with Four Sea Interludes from Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes (accompanied by a Tal Rosner video), Stravinsky’s Pulcinella suite and a second half entirely devoted to George Gershwin, with Cuban Overture and Concerto in F performed by no less than Yuja Wang. On Oct. 17, there’s an orchestral special with MTT and works by Berio, Castiglioni and Stravinsky. On Oct. 25-26 MTT returns with Emanuel Ax and Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4, complemented by Schumann’s Symphony No. 2. Fortunately, the star pianist is also scheduled to present a recital on Oct. 27 as part of a series devoted to soloists that includes Garrick Ohlsson on the piano in March.
In November, hear Sibelius and then Chopin played by Javier Parianes and the NWS conducted by Osmo Vänskä; in January, it’s Mozart and Prokofiev with James Gaffigan and Hillary Hahn; in March, Mozart and Vivaldi with countertenor Damien Guillon, Bernard Labadie conducting; and also in March, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 with Pablo Heras-Casado and Elgar’s Cello Concerto with Argentinean cellist Sol Gabetta. That same month, veteran Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos will join Garrick Olhsson to tackle Rachmaninoff, Albéniz and Respighi. In December, those who missed the opera will find consolation in Tristan and Isolde, an Orchestral Adventure, an arrangement by Henk de Vlieger conducted by Mark Wigglesworth, and enjoy Leila Josefowicz performing Stravinksy’s Violin Concerto.
MTT returns to put his distinctive seal on a Tchaikovsky celebration in February, as well as a fascinating Foss and Berio program within the Sounds of the Times series, which also features the ensemble Eighth Blackbird in December, Reinbert de Leeuw and soloists from the Ensemble Modern in January, and a Stravinsky concert, plus the world premiere of a piece to be announced, MTT conducting, in April. In May, MTT closes the season with Mahler’s nocturnal Symphony No. 7.
The chamber music series features the Miró Quartet on Nov. 3 and two major Britten works, Sinfonietta and Phaedra, with mezzo-soprano Amanda Crider, on December 22. Not to be misssed are the now traditional Encounters, Showcase, Pulse and other goodies, such as the well-attended wallcasts of the main concerts of the season.
For its Season Opening Celebration on Oct. 12, the group founded in Miami by Patrick Dupré Quigley presents a renowned mezzo-soprano who needs no introduction – Vivica Genaux. The subscription series begins Oct. 16 with Music of the Sistine Chapel, continues with Mozart’s Requiem and ends the year with the traditional Christmas concert and Handel’s Messiah.
The classical ensemble kicks off the New Year with a concert devoted to The Glories of Versailles and the French Baroque, followed in February by Bach’s Magnificat, performed together with the Firebird Chamber Orchestra. The group’s countertenor, Reginal Mobley, stars in Arias for Farinelli in March, and in April it joins the Spektral Quartet to perform Haydn’s Seven Last Words, one of the glories of the classical repertoire. Unmissable. In May, SF wraps up its season with Steal Away, a program wholly devoted to African-American spirituals.
The orchestra’s 25th season kicks off with two world premieres, Homage to Waldo Balart, a tribute to the Cuban artist, composed by MISO’s music director Eduardo Marturet, and Rincones de España, composed by Joaquín Rodrigo and guitarist Angel Romero, who will also perform. Schoenfield’s piano concerto Four Parables, played by Andreas Boyle, will enjoy its Florida premiere that same night, Oct. 20, at the Adrienne Arsht Center.
The season continues with the traditional Thanksgiving concert conducted by Marturet, followed by one devoted to Hollywood film scores in December and another, featuring waltzes, in January. The Valentine’s Day concert brings the premiere of Marquez’ Danzón No. 3 for Flute and Guitar with flutist Nestor Torres and Mexican guest conductor Alondra de la Parra. In March and April, concerts feature Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cell, the Prokofiev-Bach Symphony No. 2 and the world premiere of Garcia’s Celestial Voices. Closing the season, a Russian triple: Borodin, Tchaikovsky and the local premiere of Scriabin’s Prometheus.
The first season programmed by the FGO’s new general director, Susan Denis, to be conducted throughout by musical director Ramón Tebar, opens with the South Florida premiere of Marvin Levy’s Mourning Becomes Electra, a major American opera that will finally be staged in Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 7 as a tribute to the composer, who lives in that city, and in Miami on Nov. 16. The opera has aroused much curiosity because it is based on Eugene O’Neill’s play, in turn based on the Oresteia, and because it draws praise whenever it’s staged, which is rarely. It presents a unique opportunity for local audiences. Lauren Flanigan and Rayanne Dupuis play mother-daughter rivals engaged in a fierce confrontation of mythical proportions.
In January, we welcome the much-awaited Nabucco, a perfect tribute to the Verdi bicentennial in a Washington Opera production with Dario Solari and Nelson Martínez alternating in the title role, and Maria Guleghina, one of the top exponents of the demanding role of Abigaille, alternating with Susan Neves. In March, Tosca returns, with stage direction by José María Condemi and the debuts of Kara Shay Thomson and Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste as the Roman diva. The season concludes in May with Massenet’s Thais, replacing the originally planned Tristan and Isolde, which has been moved back to the 2014-2015 season and features the debut of Eglise Gutiérrez in the title role, directed by Renaud Doucet.
As part of the successful series Unexpected Opera in Unexpected Places, there’s the premiere of Andy Vores’ NO EXIT, based on Jean Paul Sartre’s play, at the Nowhere lounge in Miami Beach, Feb. 27-28 and March 1. It promises to be quite an existential cocktail.
A series of five concerts at the Knight Concert Hall begins with a recital by Deborah Voigt on Nov. 15 in her return to Miami, where she sang her first Tosca and Lady Macbeth with the Florida Grand Opera a few years ago. In December, there’s Itzhak Perlman’s traditional annual visit, and in late February, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin and featuring local favorite Olga Kern as piano soloist. In March, the series hosts the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, led by its music director, violinist Joshua Bell, and the following week, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta, performing Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8, a monumental work that finally comes to Miami in the hands of a great orchestra.
SAINT MARTHA CONCERTS, beginning November 16 (305-751-0005 – firstname.lastname@example.org)
The church presents five concerts between Nov. 16 and March 29, opening with a recital of Ernesto Lecuona songs performed by soprano Sandra López, accompanied by Paul Posnak on the piano. The ensemble Spanish Brass, from Valencia, Spain, offers something different for the holidays, as does the Vida Guitar Quartet in February, followed by the piano duo Hans Peter and Volker Stenzl and concluding with a Caribbean celebration featuring Nestor Torres, Paul Posnak and Tania León.
The Clevelanders’ winter residence at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall lasts six weeks between late January and mid-March and offers an attractive program, more venturesome that those of past seasons. In the first performance, the exceptional Gil Shaham plays Korngold’s Violin Concert, followed by Schubert’s Symphony No. 2 and a selction of Strauss waltzes, all conducted by the orchestra’s music director, Franz Welser-Möst. Welser-Möst returns with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Richard Strauss’ Don Juan and a series of songs by Strauss and Duparc, sung by Simon Keenlyside, one of the great baritones of his generation, who is making his Miami debut. Giancarlo Guerrero replaces FWM at the baton for the last two concerts. In February, there’s Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, and Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto, featuring Arabella Steinbacher, and in March, Holst’s The Planets (accompanied by a NASA audiovisual presentation) and Higdon’s Percussion Concerto, with Colin Currie as soloist.
Author’s note: This list is an overview and some music organizations have been omitted because their programs have not been updated. Please check their websites directly