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Here's what Gregory Sullivan Isaacs is excited about in the classical music and opera scene in the first half of 2011.

published Wednesday, January 5, 2011

With the very busy 2010 behind us, the New Year looks to be just as exciting in the classical music world. Below are some highlights.

If he doesn’t cancel again, we will finally get to hear pianist Leon Fleisher on Jan. 8 when he is presented along with pianist Katherine Jacobso by Chamber Music International at Caruth Auditorium. The two pianists make up the "Fleischer Duo." One highlight they will play is Schubert's tuneful Fantasy in F Sharp Minor for Piano 4 Hands. 

The intimate setting of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is the perfect setting for the Cliburn at the Modern series of encounters with composers. Two really big names are on the docket: William Bolcom on Jan. 29 and Joan Tower on April 2.

Dallas Chamber Music brings the distinguished Ysaye String Quartet to Southern Methodist University’s Caruth Auditorium on Feb. 28. Expect the highlight of that concert to be Debussy’s String Quartet.

The Dallas Opera mounts three productions this spring. They open with Gounod’s saccharine take on Romeo & Juliet on February 11, and then on the opposite end of the scale is Verdi’s gritty but tuneful Rigoletto, which opens on March 25. The last, Mussorgsky’s massive Boris Godunov, opens on April 1 (no kidding). The latter two run in repertory.

The Fort Worth Opera runs four simultaneous productions at the Bass Performance Hall from mid-May to early June. Gilbert & Sullivan’s ever-popular The Mikado opens on May 14. Witches and burned children are just some of the joys that await you on May 21 when Verdi’s Il Trovatore takes the stage. Handel’s version of Julius Caesar opens on May 28. An interesting sidelight here is that the three roles originally written for castrati will be sung by males—this time by fully intact (one hopes) countertenors. The series ends with a bang on May 24 when the plucky company produces Phillip Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox, a chamber opera based on Allen Ginsberg’s seminal beat poem Howl. The audience's reaction should be as interesting as what happens on the stage. This bombshell will go off in the Sanders Theatre in the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.

The Dallas Symphony has something terrific scheduled almost every week. However, a few outstanding highlights stand out. One is a new organ concerto, commissioned from Poul Ruders, for organist Mary Preston and the shamefully ignored Lay Family Concert Organ. It will premiere on Jan. 20. Ruders is an organ virtuoso himself so the results should be spectacular. We get to hear Music Director Jaap van Zweden’s take on Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 on March 24. Handel’s Messiah gets a more appropriate Easter performance on April 14 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 brings the season to a stirring close on May 19.

The always interesting Voices of Change has two explorations of new music. On Jan. 23, they will follow up the DSO and present a horn trio by the aforementioned Poul Ruders at Caruth Auditorium.

The Fort Worth Symphony has a must-hear concert on March 4 when they present “Ellis Island: The Dream of America” by composer in residence Peter Boyer, which celebrates the American dream, using actors, projected historical images from the Ellis Island archives, and music to recreate the American immigrant experience. Also of interest will be a performance of Tan Dun’s “Water Concerto” in which percussionist David Cossin creates “…unique, sensuous, organic and sometimes celestial sounds using a range of water-based instruments.” Indeed.

The summer will bring two outstanding Fort Worth summer festivals: the Mimir Chamber Music Festival and the PianoTexas 2011. Neither of these have been announced yet but we will get their program information on Theater Jones as soon as it is available.

What are you looking forward to in classical music and opera this spring? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks For Reading

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Let's Get Going
Here's what Gregory Sullivan Isaacs is excited about in the classical music and opera scene in the first half of 2011.
by Gregory Sullivan Isaacs

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