. Interchanging Idioms: May 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Opera Colorado Appoints Ari Pelto - First Music Director in the Company’s History

Greg Carpenter’s contract renewed as General Director

DENVER, CO (May 20, 2015) Opera Colorado today announced the appointment of Ari Pelto as the first Music Director in its history and the extension of Greg Carpenter’s role as General Director through 2018. Pelto fills an important new role at the Company—partnering with Carpenter to further Opera Colorado’s mission, increase and diversify its programming and repertory, build the national scope of its Young Artists program, and further extend the Company’s reach through engagements in venues outside of the traditional opera house. Pelto will serve as Music Director designee beginning July 1, 2015 and take the helm as Music Director beginning July 1, 2016.

“This is an exciting moment in the history of Opera Colorado,” said Greg Carpenter. “Our hard work over the past few years has provided us with the platform we need to take risks and find ways to reach a variety of audiences. As we look to the future, we need an artistic leader who can continue to push the genre forward. Working with Ari Pelto over the past two years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my tenure at Opera Colorado. He is a talented conductor who is admired by both the singers and the Opera Colorado Orchestra, and his musical network is vast. Ari has embraced our community of supporters and they too have welcomed him as part of our family. He is the exact partner I need in creating an exhilarating future for Opera Colorado.”

Carpenter and Pelto will be responsible for selecting repertoire for mainstage productions and new works for development, determining the talent for each production, and establishing a creative vision for the Company’s future that both sustains the quality of work presented and broadens its presence in the community. He will continue to conduct several of the Company’s productions each year, including the upcoming world premiere of the new American opera The Scarlet Letter in 2016. Pelto has a long relationship with Opera Colorado, where he has served as Artistic Advisor since his acclaimed debut conducting Don Giovanni in 2013. In addition, he has conducted at opera companies across the country including New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Minnesota Opera, Portland Opera, and Utah Opera.

“From the first moments rehearsing Don Giovanni with the singers, orchestra and chorus of Opera Colorado in the spring of 2013, I knew this was a company to love,” said Ari Pelto. “I'm deeply honored to take the musical reins of Opera Colorado and I look forward to a long and productive partnership with Greg Carpenter, bringing high-level and inspired work to Denver.”

“Greg Carpenter and Ari Pelto have been a vital part of Opera Colorado’s success, presenting excellent programming that has been positively received by our community, actively engaging our youth in educational programming, and simultaneously building a solid financial foundation for our growth moving forward,” said Michael Bock, Chairman of Opera Colorado’s Board of Directors. “We are thrilled to now extend Greg’s role as General Director and bring Ari Pelto on board as our first Music Director as we look towards the future and continued evolution of Opera Colorado.”

Pelto takes on his official new role at Opera Colorado as the Company develops a five-year strategic plan focused on expanding artistic and educational offerings throughout Denver and Colorado. The plan marks another step forward for the Company, which has continued to see significant growth and success from the completion of a restructuring campaign in 2013, which has resulted in higher-than-anticipated ticket sales, sold-out performances, and surpluses in the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years.

About Ari Pelto
Ari Pelto was appointed Opera Colorado’s Artistic Advisor in 2013, following an acclaimed debut conducting Don Giovanni for the company. He recently conducted the Company’s 2014 production of Madama Butterfly, and is also set to conduct Aida in the fall of 2015 and the world premiere of the new American opera The Scarlet Letter in 2016. Pelto is in demand at elite opera houses, ballets, symphonies, and conservatories throughout the United States. After his highly praised 2004 début at New York City Opera with Verdi’s La Traviata, Pelto was engaged as a regular guest there, returning for Madama Butterfly, Jennifer Griffith’s The Dream President, La bohème, and Carmen. Recent highlights include La bohème with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the St. Louis Symphony; The Cunning Little Vixen at Chautauqua; Rusalka and La bohème at Boston Lyric Opera; Romeo et Juliet at Minnesota Opera; The Magic Flute, Figaro, and Hansel and Gretel at Portland Opera; as well as Carmen and Hansel and Gretel at Utah Opera. He has also been a regular guest conductor of the Atlanta Ballet. In 2012, he collaborated with Twyla Tharp on the premiere of her new ballet, The Princess and the Goblin. Pelto has conducted operas of Mozart and Stravinsky at the Curtis Institute of Music, Gluck and Mozart at the Juilliard School, Puccini and Massenet at San Francisco Conservatory, and Stephen Paulus and Raffaello de Banfield at the Manhattan School of Music. At the Oberlin Conservatory, he has led works of Mahler, Mozart, and Poulenc, and at New York University, works of Sibelius, Brahms, Dvořák, and Martinu. He has also conducted in Italy, Germany, and Bulgaria. Pelto studied violin performance at Oberlin and conducting at Indiana University.

About Greg Carpenter
The fourth General Director in Opera Colorado’s 31-year history, Greg Carpenter guides both the artistic and administrative operations of the company. His role as General Director began in 2007, prior to which he served as Opera Colorado’s Director of Development from 2004 – 2007, overseeing all fundraising and Board of Directors activities. Prior to joining Opera Colorado, he worked for four years for the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. His work there included Special Projects Manager for the President of the National Symphony Orchestra from 2000 – 2001 and Manager of Development from 2001 – 2004. Carpenter’s extensive experience working in the arts also includes two years as the Artist and Event Services Manager for the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland and Special Projects Coordinator for the University of Maryland School of Music. From 1986 – 1998, Greg Carpenter performed as a professional opera singer. His work as an opera singer included both lead and supporting roles at Glimmerglass Opera, Central City Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, Cleveland Opera and Lyric Opera Cleveland. Carpenter currently serves on the Board of Directors for OPERA America, the national service organization for the opera industry. For the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention held in Denver, he served as Chairman of the Fundraising Committee. In 2009 Carpenter received a Livingston Fellowship Award in Leadership from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. He also regularly serves as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has served as a judge for the Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation Competition. Greg Carpenter received a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Wittenberg University, a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Michigan State University and he completed post-graduate studies at the University of Maryland School of Music.

About Opera Colorado
A cornerstone of Denver’s cultural community, Opera Colorado presents an annual season of three operas at its downtown Denver home, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The Company presents new works alongside standard repertoire, and reaches more than 35,000 students and community members throughout the Rocky Mountain region through a variety of education and outreach programming. Opera Colorado Young Artists, a seven-month residency for singers at the beginning stages of their careers, provides training for the next generation of American opera performers. Founded in 1983, the Company celebrated its 30th anniversary season in 2013 and celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in September 2015.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sono Luminus Releases Nordic Affect’s Clockworking

Featuring Music by Icelandic Composers Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Hildur Gudnadóttir, María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Hafdís Bjarnadóttir, and Thurídur Jónsdóttir

New York, NY – Sono Luminus announces the July 31, 2015 worldwide release of Icelandic ensemble Nordic Affect’s debut album on the label, Clockworking, featuring the music of five Icelandic women composers – Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Hildur Gudnadóttir, María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Hafdís Bjarnadóttir, and Thurídur Jónsdóttir. The album was recorded by Georg Magnússon at The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, with mastering and post-production by Valgeir Sigurdsson.

This week, Headphone Commute is featuring the exclusive premiere of the video for the title track, Clockworking by María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, well known for her work with Icelandic band amiina. Watch now at http://bit.ly/HCVideoPremiere.

Clockworking represents collaboration, connection, and passionately fierce creativity. As put by Nordic Affect’s artistic director and violinist Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir: “Clockworking, inhaling, exhaling; through music we immerse ourselves in creativity. We find moments of community and of individuality as we shape sounds from gut and wood. We encounter new spaces and interact with technology, which in turn affects how we play. We meet listeners with whom we connect and at times it feels as though we’re breathing as one.” At the core of each of Nordic Affect’s commissions on this album was the desire to explore the possibilities of their instruments (violin, viola, cello, and harpsichord) within a 21st century aesthetic while at the same time creating their own.

Hailed for its “affectionate explorations” (BBC Music Magazine) and “commitment to their repertoire” (Classical Music), Nordic Affect is Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir, violin and artistic director; Gudrún Hrund Hardardóttir, viola; Hanna Loftsdóttir, cello; and Guðrún Óskarsdóttir, harpsichord. The ensemble was formed by a group of period-instrument musicians who are united in their passion for viewing familiar musical forms from a different perspective, and for daring to venture into new musical terrain. Since the group’s inception in 2005, Nordic Affect has played repertoire ranging from the dance music of the 17th century to electronic compositions of today.

The album’s title track, Clockworking for violin, viola, cello and electronics, is by María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir. The piece was written for Nordic Affect and premiered at Iceland Airwaves in 2013.

2 circles for solo violin was written for for Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir by Hildur Gudnadóttir in 2013. The piece is a part of an ongoing observation of the relationship between a musician and her instrument, in which one person becomes two sound sources.

From beacon to beacon for violin, viola, cello and electronics by Hafdís Bjarnadóttir is a “conversation” between two lighthouses. The trio plays notation based on a weather forecast for the Gardskagaviti lighthouse. Electronic sounds were recorded outside the Gardskagaviti lighthouse in wintertime and inside the Galtarviti lighthouse in mid-summer. The piece reflects the vagaries of the Icelandic weather – storms have a beauty of their own that can bring calmness despite howling winds and unruly seas.

INNI - musica da camera for violin and electronics was written for Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir by Thurídur Jónsdóttir in 2013. The subtle and fragile harmonics of the baroque violin interact with a soundscape made of an infant's murmur, with an old lullaby woven into the texture.

Shades of Silence for violin, viola, cello and harpsichord was written for Nordic Affect by Anna Thorvaldsdottir in 2012. The work explores the subtle nuances of silence.

Sleeping Pendulum for violin and electronics was written for Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir by María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir in the winter months of 2010. The electronic part is based on a recording of Halla’s baroque violin playing combined with bell chimes. The solo part fluctuates between free writing and a stricter style. The work was shortlisted in 2012 at the International Rostrum of Composers.

About Nordic Affect: Nordic Affect can be heard on the Deutsche Grammophon (Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Aerial), Bad Taste Records, Musmap, and Brilliant Classics labels and has received glowing reviews in the international press alongside the Kraumur Award and Iceland Music Awards. Since its debut in 2005, Nordic Affect has performed to critical acclaim at festivals such as TRANSIT festival (BE), Dark Music Days (IS), November Music (NL), BRQ Vantaa Festival (FI), Skálholt Summer Concerts (IS), Copenhagen Renaissance Festival (DK) and Iceland Airwaves (IS). Its members have individually performed and recorded with Jóhann Jóhannsson, The English Concert, Concerto Copenhagen, Anima Eterna Brugge, Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, and Björk. In 2013, Nordic Affect was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize and in 2014 was named Performer of the Year at the Iceland Music Awards.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Boston Pops Kicked Off ITS 2015 Season Wednesday, May 6, with a celebration of Conductor Keith Lockhart’s 20th Anniversary with The Pops

Keith Lockhart led opening night program featuring Broadway sensation Bernadette Peters, music by Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams, and a new orchestral arrangement of  Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”

Celebrating Keith Lockhart’s 20th anniversary as Boston Pops Conductor, the orchestra's 2015 Spring Season opened on Wednesday, May 6 at 8 p.m. with Tony Award-winning actress Bernadette Peters as the special Opening Night guest. Maestro Lockhart was fetted in grand fashion at the end of the evening with a five-foot tall cake presented on stage at Symphony Hall.

Keith Lockhart opened the first concert of the 2015 Boston Pops season with John Williams’ celebratory “Sound the Bells!,” a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the singer’s birth, and the premiere of a new orchestra arrangement of Meghan Trainor’s hit pop song “All About that Bass,” written exclusively for the Boston Pops. The Broadway megahit “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”—the first piece Keith Lockhart led in 1995 after being appointed Boston Pops Conductor—opened the second half of the program, which featured Broadway songstress Bernadette Peters in a selection of beloved songs from the Broadway and great American songbook canons. Complete details about the 2015 Boston Pops season are available at www.bostonpops.org.