REFINED INTERPRETATIVE SKILLS DEFINE ELIAS QUARTET’S PERFORMANCE THURSDAY

CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF SALT LAKE CITY, Elias Quartet, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, March 26 

Great Britain’s Elias Quartet is always welcome in Salt Lake City. They’re four like minded musicians with remarkable interpretative prowess, astonishing technique and superb musicality.

Elias Quartet (Photo: Courtesy of the Artists)

They played in Salt Lake City Thursday to close out the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City’s current season. With a wonderfully well chosen program of Haydn, Britten and Mendelssohn, they showed they are equally conversant in 18th century expressions as they are in 20th century idioms.

The concert opened with Haydn’s Quartet in C major, op. 33, no. 3, The Bird.
The C major is one of the composer’s happiest and brightest quartets. The Elias gave a lyrically nuanced account with clean phrasings and articulation. Their interpretation was classically crafted and also infused with feeling, expression and depth.

In a completely different vein was the companion piece on the first half — Britten’s Third Quartet in G minor.

The composer’s final work, written in the year before he died, it is an intense emotional journey. It’s austere in its darkness and one can feel the pain and suffering that Britten must have experienced during the last year of his life.

The Elias gave a stellar reading that captured the earnestness of the music. They brought keen insight into a work that is difficult to play convincingly due to the intricate interplay among the four instruments. But they pulled it off wonderfully and it felt as if it had been written for them instead of the Amadeus Quartet (which premiered it shortly after Britten’s death in 1976).

The concert ended with a powerfully delineated reading of Mendelssohn’s Quartet in F minor, op. 80.

The Elias underscored the work’s romantic passion and restless drive with its stirring account that didn’t miss any nuances in conveying the rich palette of expressions.

They also played a pair of short Scottish pieces as encores.

Posted in Concert Reviews | Leave a comment

USU’S OPERA THEATRE TO STAGE MENOTTI’S QUIRKY ‘HELP, HELP, THE GLOBOLINKS!’

Gian Carlo Menotti wrote about two dozen works for the stage, but none of his operas and theater pieces, with the exception of Amahl and the Night Visitors and perhaps The Consul  and The Telephone, have become part of the repertoire of opera companies in the United States.

Among this extensive output there is one little offbeat work he wrote in 1968 that seems strangely out of place, the oddly fascinating Help, Help, the Globolinks!, which the composer called an opera “for children and people who like children.”

The story is about a group of aliens, called Globolinks, who are invading Earth.

When the opera opens, a busload of children returning to school stalls unexpectedly and is soon surrounded by these creatures. The kids soon discover that the aliens are repulsed by music. Emily, the only child who took her violin with her on the bus, bravely goes off alone with her instrument to get help.

In the meantime, the teachers become concerned that the students haven’t arrived yet and go out to find them. They reach the youngsters and then set out to find Emily. The principal, Dr. Stone, is able to save Emily in a final gesture of kindness before he transforms into a Globolink himself.

One of the Globolinks (Photo: Courtesy Utah State University Opera Theatre)

Utah State University will be performing a fully staged production of Help, Help, the Globolinks! this Saturday in Kent Concert Hall. “We’re super excited to do this,” said director of opera Dallas Heaton in a phone interview with Reichel Recommends. “It’s a quirky piece and we’ve been having a lot of fun putting it together.”

In the original version, the Globolinks are afraid of music, and are always accompanied by electronic sounds. They stand as a symbol for Menotti’s conviction that live music was dying in part because composers of the day (the 1960s) were rejecting it and instead were writing for electronic media.

In USU’s version, the Globolinks come to Earth for a slightly different reason. “We’ve taken that idea and modernized it,” Heaton said. “They come here because they’re drawn to our use of cellphones and other devices. They’re here out of curiosity.

“It was [stage director] Stefan Espinosa’s idea and I think it’s fabulous.”

Set and costume designer Dennis Hassan had a great time coming up with designs, Heaton said. “I think he’s had some brilliant ideas. The Globolinks look more like aliens, with tentacles, headdresses and big eyes. They look scary, more than we had intended, but they’re impressive.” They’re also going to be on either drywall or jumping stilts, Heaton said.

Originally, the production was going to be in the newly renovated Utah Theatre in downtown Logan, but the project hasn’t been fully completed yet. “We had to shift to Kent, which because of its cavernous size isn’t really suited to opera.

“It’s big for the kids to fill with their voices, and we’re not using amplification because I’m morally opposed to it.”

But the young cast has stepped up to the challenge, Heaton said. “They’ve done a very good job with it. They’ve invested themselves in it and they’ve been impressive.”

Among the cast are Megan Warburton (Emily); Shalayna Guisao (Madame Euterpova, the Music Teacher); Jacob Spjute (Dr. Stone); and Jaron Putnam (Bus Driver). As the Globolinks are Kylie Evans, Sam Meredith, Josh Musselman and Andrew Taylor.

Heaton will conduct members of the USU Symphony Orchestra.

  • PERFORMANCE DETAILS: 
  • What: Utah State University Opera Theatre, Help, Help, the Globolinks!, by Gian Carlo Menotti
  • Venue: Kent Concert Hall, Utah State University
  • Time and Date: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. March 28
  • Tickets: $10 general, $8 seniors and youth, $5 USU faculty and staff, free for students
  • Phone: 435-797-8022
  • Web: www.arts.usu.edu 
Posted in CLASSICAL MUSIC, Concert Previews | Leave a comment

WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK IN MUSIC (MARCH 25-31, 2015)

(Be sure to visit our monthly concert calendar by clicking on “Events Calendar.”)

There are some great performances coming up in the next seven days in Salt Lake City and beyond. 

On Thursday, Great Britain’s Elias Quartet returns to Libby Gardner Concert Hall. They’ll be playing works by Haydn, Britten and Mendelssohn.

On Friday and Saturday, noted German conductor Jun Märkl returns to Abravanel Hall to lead the Utah Symphony in an extensive selection from Wagner’s Ring cycle. Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter will join them for Beethoven’s Second Concerto. The concert will also be played Thursday in Ogden.

Westminster College’s Opera Studio will present Philip Glass’ 1982 opera The Photographer this Friday and Saturday. It’s based on the homicide trial of the Anglo-American photographer Eadweard Muybridge, and draws on testimony from the trial as well as Muybridge’s letters to his wife.

Looking further north, there are several notable performances taking place this weekend in Logan. 

On Thursday the Baroque Band will play in Performance Hall on the Utah State University campus. On Friday, Craig Jessop’s American Festival Chorus will perform two French works, Poulenc’s Gloria and Fauré’s Requiem. Soprano Jennifer Welch-Babidge and baritone Darrell Babidge will join them.

Utah Sate Opera Theatre will present Gian Carlo Menotti’s quirky 1968 opera Help, Help, the Globolinks! twice on Saturday in Kent Concert Hall.

For a complete listing of concerts, please visit our “Events Calendar.” 

ROSE WAGNER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, “Man from Magdalena,” a one-woman play written by Patty Willis, with music by Mary Lou Prince, based on a true story, in November 2007 Manuel Jesús Córdova Soberanes, a migrant crossing the border, rescued an injured nine-year-old boy whose mother had just been killed in a car accident in the desert, with only eight hours from reaching his destination in Tucson, Soberanes halted his journey to help the boy, he later told reporters that he was thinking of his own four children when he decided to stay with the boy throughout the night, this event inspired Man from Magdalena, the story of a stranger who reveals himself as an angel in our midst, March 25, 7:30 p.m., Leona Wagner Black Box Theatre, $20 in advance, $25 at the door (all net proceeds will be donated to micro loans in Mexico and Central America through www.kiva.org), 801-355-2787, 888-451-2787, www.arttix.org.

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY, Saxophone Chamber Night, featuring two saxophone quartets playing musical styles from Baroque to ragtime, March 25, 7:30 p.m., University Parkway Center (northeast corner of University Avenue and University Parkway), free.

UNIVERSITY OF UTAH, Women’s Choir Festival, March 25, 7:30 p.m., Libby Gardner Concert Hall, in David Gardner Hall, free.

CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF SALT LAKE CITY, Elias String Quartet, the program will feature, Haydn’s Quartet in C major, op. 33, No. 3, The Bird, Britten’s Quartet No. 3 in G major, op. 94, and Mendelssohn’s Quartet in F minor, op. 80, March 26, 7:30 p.m., Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah, $30 general, $10 students with ID, tickets available at the door, www.cmsofslc.org.

CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LOGAN, Baroque Band, March 26, 7:30 p.m., Performance Hall, Utah State University, $24 general, $10 student (with ID), tickets may be purchased online or at the door, 435-797-8022, www.arts.usu.edu.

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY, “Seasons,” BYU’s Living Legends presents dancing, music and costumes celebrating the Latin American, Native American and Polynesian cultures, Janielle Christensen, artistic director, March 26, 7:30 p.m., de Jong Concert Hall, Harris Fine Arts Center, $12 general ($4 off with BYU or student ID, $1 off seniors and BYU alumni), 801-422-4322, www.byuarts.com.

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY, Student Composer Showcase, March 26, 7:30 p.m., Madsen Recital Hall, Harris Fine Arts Center, free.

UTAH SYMPHONY, presented by The Ogden Symphony Ballet Association, Masterworks Series, “Beethoven and Wagner,” Jun Märkl, conductor, Ingrid Fliter, piano, the concert will feature Beethoven’s Concerto No. 2, and Wagner’s Orchestral Suite from The Ring, March 26, 7:30 p.m., Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts, Weber State University, $16-$37, for more information and tickets, www.symphonyballet.org.

AMERICAN FESTIVAL CHORUS AND ORCHESTRA, “Fauré Requiem,” the concert will also include Poulenc’s “Gloria,” Craig Jessop, music director and conductor, with guest artists Darrell Babidge, baritone, and Jennifer Welch-Babidge, soprano, March 27, 7:30 p.m. Ellen Eccles Theatre, 43 S. Main, Logan, $12-$20 general, youth 8 years and older are admitted, no babes in arms, 435-752-0026, www.americanfestivalchorus.org.

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY, Woodwind Chamber Night, March 27, 7:30 p.m., University Parkway Center (northeast corner of University Avenue and University Parkway), free.

UNIVERSITY OF UTAH, Honors Concert, March 27, 7:30 p.m., Libby Gardner Concert Hall, in David Gardner Hall, free.

UTAH SYMPHONY, Masterworks Series, “Beethoven and Wagner,” Jun Märkl, conductor, Ingrid Fliter, piano, the concert will feature Beethoven’s Concerto No. 2, and Wagner’s Orchestral Suite from The Ring, March 27-28, 8 p.m., Abravanel Hall, $10-$69 (tickets are $5 more on the day of the performance), see website or contact box office for information regarding student tickets, 801-355-2787, 888-451-2787, www.arttix.org, for further ticket information please call 801-533-6683, www.utahsymphony.org.

WESTMINSTER COLLEGE, Opera Studio, Philip Glass’ The Photographer, a chamber opera based on the homicide trial of Eadweard Muybridge, based on words drawn from the trial as well as Muybridge’s letters to his wife, commissioned by the Holland Festival, first performed in 1982 at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, March 27-28, 7:30 p.m., Vieve Gore Concert Hall, Jewett Center for the Performing Arts, $5 general, Westminster students, faculty and staff get 1 free ticket, 801-832-2457, www.westminstercollege.edu/culturalevents.

UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY OPERA THEATRE, “Help, Help, the Globolinks!,” by Gian Carlo Menotti, directed by Stefan Espinosa, March 28, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Kent Concert Hall, $10 general, $8 seniors and youth, $5 USU faculty and staff, free for students, 435-797-8022, www.arts.usu.edu.

SALT LAKE CHORAL ARTISTS, “Youth Honor Choir Festival,” March 28, 7:30 p.m., Libby Gardener Concert Hall in David Gardner Hall, University of Utah, $15 general, $10 students with ID, www.saltlakechoralartists.org.

UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY, Smiley Amano Distinguished Performers Concert Series, inaugural concert, Mary Anne Huntsman, piano, March 28, 7:30 p.m., The Performance Hall, free, however tickets are required, 435-797-8022, www.arts.usu.edu.

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY, Harp Solo and Ensemble, March 28, 7:30 p.m., Madsen Recital Hall, Harris Fine Arts Center, free.

UNIVERSITY OF UTAH, Sundays@7 Faculty Spotlight, Vedrana Subotic, piano, March 29, 7 p.m., Libby Gardner Concert Hall in David Gardner Hall, free.

JAZZSLC, Manhattan Trinity, Cyrus Chestnut, Lewis Nash and George Mraz, March 30, 7:30 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, $24.50 general, $10 students, 801-355-2787, www.arttix.org.

UTAH VALLEY UNIVERSITY, “Great American Songbook,” Jazz Ensembles, David Fullmer, director, March 30, 7:30 p.m., Ragan Theatre, $10 general, $5 students, $2 children under 16 years, 801-863-7529, or box office located in Noorda Theatre, or Campus Connection, www.uvu.edu/arts.

AMERICAN STRING TEACHERS ASSOCIATION, Stringfest Honors Recital, March 30, 7:30 p.m., Garrison Choral Room, Val A. Browning Center, Weber State University, free.

COVEY CENTER FOR THE ARTS, Lyceum Philharmonic, Kayson Brown, conductor, March 31, 7:30 p.m., Main Performance Hall, 425 West Center Street, Provo, free.

Posted in CLASSICAL MUSIC, EVENTS CALENDAR, Upcoming Concerts | Leave a comment

WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK IN THEATRE (MARCH 25-31, 2015)

(Be sure to visit our monthly theatre calendar by clicking on “Events Calendar.”)

THE GRAND THEATRE, The Skin of Our Teeth, By Thornton Wilder, Mark Fossen, director, combining farce, burlesque, satire, and elements of the comic strip, the author depicts an everyman family as it narrowly escapes one end-of-the-world disaster after another, from the Ice Age to flood to war, through March 28, Salt Lake Community College, 1575 S. State St., $14-$20, 801-957-3322, www.the-grand.org.

CENTERPOINT LEGACY THEATRE, Shrek The Musical, book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abair, music by Jeanine Tesori, beauty is only skin deep, but ogre goes straight through to the bone, through March 28, 7:30 p.m., also 2:30 p.m. matinees on March 21 and 28, Barlow Main Stage, 525 N. 400 West, Centerville, $17.25-$23.25, 801-298-1302, www.centerpointtheatre.org.

HERITAGE THEATRE, The Mikado, by Gilbert and Sullivan, how can you not have a good time visiting the town of Tittipu where Nanki-Poo (second trombone in a traveling band) wants to marry the lovely Yum-Yum, but she is promised to the tailor Ko-Ko, who has changed his occupation to Lord High Executioner so he can save himself from being beheaded for flirting, through March 28, 7:30 p.m., also 2 p.m. matinees on March 14 and 21, $10 general, $9 seniors/children under 12, S. Highway 89, Peery, 435-723-8392, www.heritagetheatreutah.com.

TERRACE PLAZA PLAYHOUSE, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, book by Jeffrey Lane, music and lyrics by David Yazbek,  directed by Dennis Ferrin, tells the story of two con men living on the French Riviera, Lawrence Jemeson makes his lavish living by talking rich ladies out of their money, Freddy Benson more humbly swindles women by waking their compassion with fabricated stories about his grandmother’s failing health, after meeting on a train they attempt to work together only to find the town isn’t big enough for the two of them, through April 4, 7:30 p.m., 99 E. 4700 South, Ogden, $12-$14 general, $11-$13 seniors/students, $9-$11 children (12 and under), 801-393-0070, http://terraceplayhouse.com.

PIONEER THEATRE COMPANY, I Hate Hamlet, by Paul Rudnick, Andrew Rally is on the top of the world, he’s a big TV star and he has just moved into a ritzy apartment in Manhattan so he can start rehearsals for his New York debut as Hamlet, but there’s only one problem – he hates Hamlet – and when the ghost of John Barrymore shows up to help him prepare for the role, he’s in for the ride of his life, through April 4, 7:30 p.m. (Monday-Thursday evenings), 8 p.m. (Friday and Saturday evenings), also 2 p.m. matinees (on Saturdays), $25-$44 (tickets will be $5 higher when purchased on day of performance), 801-581-6961, www.pioneertheatre.org.

HALE CENTRE THEATRE-WEST VALLEY CITY, Ghost, the Musical, book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, just off the boards of London and Broadway, adapted from the movie, it’s the story of Sam and Molly, exquisite devotion, betrayed friendship, a compelling murder mystery, comedic incantations and lastly, a love that transcends spheres, through April 11, 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. performances, $30-$33 general, $16 children (5-11 years, no children under 5 years permitted), 801-984-9000, www.halecentretheatre.org.

THE OFF BROADWAY THEATRE, Indianapolis Jones, the show follows Indianapolis Jones through foreign shrines, caves and an evil temple (not on Evil Temple Square) in search of Pandora’s Box, he is joined in his quest by his Asian sidekick and his bumbling old father, through April 11, 7:30 p.m., 272 S. Main, $10-$16, $11 (March 16, 23, 30 and April 6), 801-355-4628, www.theobt.org.

HALE CENTRE THEATRE-OREM, Les Misérables, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, book by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, tells the story of Jean Valjean, a runaway convict seeking redemption after serving 19 years in a prison for stealing a loaf of bread, his journey to freedom collides and converges with the lives of the worst and the best of humanity, through April 25, 7:30 p.m., also 11 p.m. and 3 p.m. matinees on Saturdays, $17-$21 general, $13-$17 children, 801-226-8600, www.haletheater.org.

ROSE WAGNER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, “Man from Magdalena,” a one-woman play written by Patty Willis, with music by Mary Lou Prince, based on a true story, in November 2007 Manuel Jesús Córdova Soberanes, a migrant crossing the border, rescued an injured nine-year-old boy whose mother had just been killed in a car accident in the desert, with only eight hours from reaching his destination in Tucson, Soberanes halted his journey to help the boy, he later told reporters that he was thinking of his own four children when he decided to stay with the boy throughout the night, this event inspired Man from Magdalena, the story of a stranger who reveals himself as an angel in our midst, March 25, 7:30 p.m., Leona Wagner Black Box Theatre, $20 in advance, $25 at the door (all net proceeds will be donated to micro loans in Mexico and Central America through www.kiva.org), 801-355-2787, 888-451-2787, www.arttix.org.

SCERA CENTER, The Secret Garden, performed by SCERA’s national award-winning high school company, “Acting Up,” the Tony-Award winning musical based on children’s literature reimagined by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman, tells the story of 11 year old orphan Mary Lennox who comes to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive Uncle Archibald and his invalid son Colin, March 25-28, 7:30 p.m., $8 adults, $6 seniors (65+ years) and children (ages 3-11 years), 745 S. State, Orem, 801-225-2787, www.scera.org.

UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY, The Rabbit Hole, by David Lindsay-Abair, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, Becca and Howie Corbett have everything a family could want, until a life-shattering accident turns their world upside down and leaves the couple drifting perilously apart, the play charts the bittersweet search for comfort in the darkest of places and for a path that will lead them back into the light of day,  March 25-28, 7:30 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee also on March 28, Black Box Theatre, $8-13, 435-797-8022, www.arts.usu.edu.

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY, A Winter’s Tale,  by William Shakespeare, directed by Lindsay Livingston, myth and misunderstanding intersect as a cast of colorful and passionate characters search for their happy ending in this tragicomedy, March 25-27, 31, April 1-3, 7:30 p.m., also 2 p.m. matinees on March 21 and 28, ASL interpreted performance on March 26, Pardoe Theatre, Harris Fine Arts Center, $8-$15, $8 matinees, $4-$5 off with BYU or student ID, $2 off for seniors/BYU alumni, 801-422-4322, www.arts.byu.edu.

DRAPER HISTORIC THEATRE, Hairspray, based on the film written and directed by John Waters, directed by David Beach, the enchanted tale of acceptance, beauty, and being true to yourself, March 27-28, 7 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinee also on March 28, $9 general, $7 seniors/students/military, $5 children 12 and under, all seats $5 for matinees, reserved tickets, $11 general, $9  seniors/students/military/children, 12366 S. 900 East, 801-572-4144, www.drapertheatre.org.

RADICAL HOSPITALITY THEATER, A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, the story follows Blanche DuBois through an eye opening journey wrought with shame, ego, deceit and ignorance, March 26-28, 7:30 p.m. (single seat viewing), March 27-28, 7 p.m. (dinner theater), Gateway Mall, in the old Anthropology space, $25 general, $110 dinner with pairing, $85 food only, www.radicalhospitalitytheater.com.

THE GRAND THEATRE, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare, March 26-28, April 1-4, 8-11, 7:30 p.m., Black Box, Salt Lake Community College, 1575 S. State St., $10 general, 801-957-3322, www.the-grand.org.

DESERT STAR PLAYHOUSE, Into The Hoods: A Fractured Fairy Tale, March 26-June 6, 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. performances, 4861 S. State Street, Murray, $18.95 adults, $10.95 children (11 years and under), www.desertstar.biz.

WEBER STATE UNIVERSITY, Arcadia***, by Tom Stoppard, Jennifer A. Kokai, director, do you wonder what it would be like to go back and witness a historical event, inside a pastoral English manor, two driven academics try to determine whether a volatile mix of lust and poetry led to a feud there 200 years earlier, the play moves between the 1800s and the present, and offers a powerful blend of logic, emotion, wit and heartache, March 27-28, 31-April 4, 7:30 p.m., Eccles Theatre, $10-$12, 801-626-7000, www.weberstatetickets.com.

Posted in EVENTS CALENDAR, LIVE THEATER, Upcoming Theatre Events | Leave a comment

WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK IN DANCE (MARCH 25-31, 2015)

(Be sure to visit our monthly dance calendar by clicking on “Events Calendar.”)

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY, Senior Dance Showcase, a concert of diverse dance works highlighting the artistry and stylistic voices of graduating seniors, March 21-22, 7:30 p.m., March 27, 7:30 p.m., and March 28, 2 p.m., Dance Studio Theatre, Richards Building, $6 general, 801-422-4322, or online at www.byuarts.com.

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY, “Seasons,” BYU’s Living Legends presents dancing, music and costumes celebrating the Latin American, Native American and Polynesian cultures, Janielle Christensen, artistic director, March 26, 7:30 p.m., de Jong Concert Hall, Harris Fine Arts Center, $12 general ($4 off with BYU or student ID, $1 off seniors and BYU alumni), 801-422-4322, www.byuarts.com.

UTAH VALLEY UNIVERSITY, “A Choreographer’s Showcase,” Hip Hop Company, Ashley Kimsey, faculty mentor, March 26-28, 7:30 p.m., Ragan Theatre, $7 general, $5 students, 801-863-7529, or box office located in Noorda Theatre, or Campus Connection, www.uvu.edu/arts.

Posted in DANCE, EVENTS CALENDAR, Upcoming Dance Events | Leave a comment

‘MAN FROM MAGDALENA’ IS COMPELLING AND POWERFUL

MAN FROM MAGDALENA, Leona Wagner Black Box, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, March 24; second performance 7:30 p.m. March 25, tickets at 801-355-2787, 888-451-2787 or www.arttix.org 

Illegal immigration is a serious social issue for the United States and cause for real concern. Unfortunately, all too often when we hear about a group of immigrants being deported or read about them dying in the desert from dehydration on their trek north, it doesn’t make a huge impression on us. After all, we didn’t know them. We just switch TV channels or flip to the sports page to read about our favorite team’s standings.

But it should matter to us. Every one of the migrants coming into this country has a story to tell. Every one of them is real and human and not merely a statistic to be used for political purposes.

Patty Willis

That’s the thrust behind Man from Magdalena, a compelling tale of one poor migrant’s journey across the border and about his selfless act that resulted in his deportation back to his home town of Magdalena, Mexico. It is told with conviction through words and music.

When Patty Willis read about the man, Manuel Jesús Córdova Soberanes, and how he stopped on his way to Tucson to help a young boy who had been in a car accident that killed his mother, it resonated with her. She felt compelled to tell his story. What she ended up with was a powerful theater piece that explores the human soul through the eyes of several people living in the desert no man’s land on either side of the Mexico/Arizona border.

Mary Lou Prince

Written as a one-woman play, the versatile Willis — who in addition to being a writer, actor and singer, is also the minister at the South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Salt Lake City — gave life to the various characters through her finely crafted and nuanced performance and infused them with depth and personality, and sometimes with wit and humor.

Mary Lou Prince’s music is direct, sincere and mesmerizing. Through simple means, often through no more than a straightforward Latin beat, she captured the scenes and characters vividly. It is a wonderful collaboration of words and music that has the power to draw the audience into the world of the migrant, or his mother and wife, or the rancher living near the border.

Joining Willis and Prince, who played the piano, were cellist Megan Titensor and singers Gloria Gardner Murdock, Nan McEntire and Brenda Voisard.

The eloquent music, the heart wrenching words and the strong performances by the six artists make Man from Magdalena impossible to forget.

There is one more performance today. Go and see it; it’s a show not to be missed.

Willis and Prince will be donating the net proceeds from these two performances to micro loan programs in Mexico and Central America to help the economic situation in these areas. To date the couple has underwritten close to $100,00 in loans through www.kiva.org.

Posted in CLASSICAL MUSIC, Concert Reviews, LIVE THEATER, Live Theater Coverage | Leave a comment

SPECTACULAR EVENING OF FRENCH CHAMBER MUSIC AT WESTMINSTER COLLEGE MONDAY

WESTMINSTER CONCERT SERIES, “An Evening of French Romanticism,” Vieve Gore Concert Hall, Westminster College, March 23

Monday’s Westminster Concert Series concert was a Francophile’s dream. With music by Camille Saint-Saëns, César Franck and Gabriel Fauré — three of the most significant French composers of the second half of the 19th century — it was an evening of high energy, intense emotions and refined expressions, played by a group of technically assured performers with a keen sense of interpretation and polished musicality.

From left: Claude Halter, Anne Lee, Alex Martin, Joel Gibbs and Karlyn Bond. (Photo: Courtesy Westminster Concert Series)

The concert opened with Saint-Saëns’ Piano Trio in F major. Saint-Saëns’ chamber music has taken a backseat to his orchestral works, but this trio is a gem in the chamber repertoire. The work exhibits a sophisticated blend of classically structured form and clarity of phrasing and expression and romantic sensibility. It is a captivating piece that is distinctly French in its exuberant melodicism.

Utah Symphony colleagues Claude Halter, violin, and Anne Lee, cello, together with pianist and Westminster Concert Series director Karlyn Bond, gave a scintillating account of the trio that captured its lyricism and charm. It was an engaging performance that was vibrant and well articulated and executed.

The other two works on the program — Franck’s Violin Sonata and Fauré’s Piano Quartet in G minor — are cut from a different cloth than the Saint-Saëns trio. Whereas the trio is delightful ear candy, the other two are weightier with more emotional depth and power.

Bond and Utah Symphony violinist Alex Martin gave a stunning perusal of the violin sonata. It was compelling and at the same time captivating. They underscored the work’s immense harmonic and emotional palette with their sensitive and intelligently conceived interpretation. As a duo they meshed well together; they fed off each other and complemented and balanced each other’s playing fabulously. Each was an extension of the other, and that is what chamber music is all about. And the result was a magnificent presentation of one of the most technically challenging and significant violin works from the late 19th century.

Closing out the evening was a stellar performance of the Fauré quartet by Martin, Lee, Bond and Utah Symphony violist Joel Gibbs. They explored the work’s overwhelming dark side with an intensely driven and impassioned reading. They played with fire and boldness, while never ignoring the intricate lyricism that is woven into the music.

While the work, of course, relies on the finely balanced collaboration among the four players — which was evident in their performance — it is for all intents and purposes a piano concerto. The piano part is huge and demanding, but Bond made it look easy.  She acquitted herself spectacularly and made this work come alive in her hands. But even though the piano is the dominant player in the quartet, Bond never overpowered or overplayed her partners. There was a wonderful balance among the four instruments that made this performance truly a collaborative effort.

There is no question that this was one of the most memorable concerts in the Westminster Concert Series’ history.

Posted in Concert Reviews | Leave a comment

POULENC AND FAURÉ ON AMERICAN FESTIVAL CHORUS PROGRAM

Craig Jessop has done some remarkable concerts since becoming music director of the American Festival Chorus in Logan. In the past he’s led his ensemble in several great choral masterpieces, including Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

This weekend he’s got French repertoire in his sights.

On Friday he’ll be leading his singers in two well known and stunning works: Francis Poulenc’s Gloria and Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem.

Craig Jessop

“I’ve conducted both several times, but this will be the first time I’m doing them in Logan,” Jessop said in a phone interview with Reichel Recommends.

While both are distinctly French in their harmonic language, putting the two works together on the same program offers some interesting contrasts, Jessop said. “No two pieces can be more unlike. There is a sassiness to the Poulenc, but there are also moments of supreme beauty.” These divergent aspects make the work appealing. “It’s one of my favorite pieces.”

Jessop said that Poulenc’s sacred music isn’t very spiritual — at least not in the way one expects music written to a liturgical text to be. “But what you find in the Gloria is the whole human experience, all the pain and joy of being alive.”

In many ways the Gloria has the same kind of child like wonder at God’s creations one finds in the music of Olivier Messiaen. Both composers expressed their feelings towards religion in a deeply moving, yet unique, way. “Poulenc had a profound religious experience when he went on a pilgrimage to the abbey at Rocamadour, France, where there is a shrine to the Black Virgin,” Jessop said, adding that the visit made a lasting imprint on Poulenc and on his sacred works. To Jessop that’s not a mystery; he understands why. “I was there [at Rocamadour] and sat in the same chapel. The statue is quite primitive in design, but it’s quite amazing.”

Fauré’s Requiem goes in a different direction and is, in Jessop’s opinion, “sublime and reassuring.” It’s a work that the maestro has wanted to do for a long time. “It speaks to me,” he said. He is especially taken with the Agnus Dei. “It is so healing. There is so much hope, love and assurance for the soul of the departed in this movement. I love it.  It’s what I want sung at my funeral.”

Joining Jessop and the choir will be soprano Jennifer Welch-Babidge and baritone Darrell Babidge.

The orchestra for the concert is made up of faculty members from Utah State University, along with a number of freelancers from Cache Valley and Salt Lake City. “My stipulation for doing this concert was to have a professional orchestra,” Jessop said. “I’ve been blessed to have many musicians who have been loyal to me for many years. I’m very grateful for that.”

A week after this concert, Jessop will direct a performance of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion in Logan. “It’s going to be a small choir of 20 singers,” he said. Twelve of the singers are USU students and eight are from the American Festival Chorus. And with two exceptions, the solo parts will also be taken by students. “It’s important to feature these students,” Jessop said. “I’m very proud of these kids; they’re doing a tremendous job.”

  • CONCERT DETAILS
  • What: Poulenc’s Gloria and Fauré’s Requiem, American Festival Chorus, Craig Jessop, conductor
  • Venue: Ellen Eccles Theatre, 43 S. Main, Logan
  • Time and Date: 7:30 p.m. March 27
  • Tickets: $12-$20 general, children 8 years and older admitted, no babes in arms
  • Phone: 435-752-0026
  • Web: www.americanfestivalchorus.org
  • ALSO: J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion, with 20-member choir consisting of USU’s choral singers and American Festival Chorus, Craig Jessop, conductor, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 85 E. 100 North, Logan, 7:30 p.m. April 3, free (suggested donation is $10).
Posted in Concert Previews | Leave a comment

FRENCH ROMANTICS ON WESTMINSTER CONCERT MONDAY

Monday’s Westminster Concert Series concert focuses on three 19th century composers who epitomize French romanticism: Camille Saint-Saëns, César Franck and Gabriel Fauré.

From left: Claude Halter, Anne Lee, Alex Martin, Joel Gibbs and Karlyn Bond (Photo: Courtesy Westminster Concert Series)

There is a common thread among the three composers, according to pianist and series director Karlyn Bond. “These three composers had something big in common besides being French; they were all virtuoso organists and held positions in major Paris churches for years. Franck’s style was significantly influenced by his understanding of the organ (particularly the mammoth French organs of the 19th century, with their somewhat unique expressive potential), and his improvisatory genius at the instrument, for which he was celebrated for decades at St-Clotilde,” Bond wrote in an email to Reichel Recommends.

On the program are Saint-Saëns’ Piano Trio No. 1 in F major; Franck’s Sonata for Violin and Piano; and Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor.

“Of these three works, the Franck is by far the best known, an indisputable masterpiece, and one of the most beloved works in the violin/piano repertoire,” Bond said in her email.

Saint-Saëns is best known today for his orchestral music and not so much for his chamber music output, something Bond laments. “The Saint-Saëns piano trios are not frequently performed but deserve more attention than they receive.”

Franck wrote only two piano quartets, and the one on the program happens to be the least known of the two. “Of Fauré’s two piano quartets, the C minor has received more attention than the G minor, though the latter is a truly impressive work. In it, romantic restlessness and intensity are perhaps even more pronounced than in the C minor, and more frequently interwoven with quirky, unexpected harmonies and harmonic progressions. About the serene slow movement, Aaron Copland said, ‘Its beauty is truly classic if we define classicism as intensity on a background of calm.’”

Joining Bond Monday will be Utah Symphony colleagues Claude Halter and Alex Martin, violin; Joel Gibbs, viola; and Anne Lee, cello.

  • CONCERT DETAILS
  • What: “An Evening of French Romanticism”
  • Venue: Vieve Gore Concert Hall, Westminster College
  • Time and Date: 7:30 p.m. March 23
  • Tickets: $15 general, free for students and Westminster College faculty and staff with I.D.
  • Phone: 801-832-2457
  • Web: www.westminstercollege.edu/culturalevents
Posted in Concert Previews | Leave a comment

ARENSKY AND SCHUBERT MAKE FABULOUS MUSICAL PAIRING

BONNEVILLE CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL, First Presbyterian Church, Ogden, March 21

An illuminating program that paired a relatively unknown work (by an unjustly neglected composer) with one of the staples of the chamber music repertoire closed out the ninth edition of the Bonneville Chamber Music Festival Saturday.

Anton Arensky

The Russian Anton Arensky is today an obscure composer who, like so many of his contemporaries, stands in Tchaikovsky’s shadow. But his music has a lot of merit and deserves to be revived.

The work by Arensky that was on Saturday’s program, the String Quartet No. 2, op. 35, is a glorious piece that contains many different elements, not the least of which an imaginative use of Orthodox chant-like melodies that are cleverly juxtaposed with effusive, soaring melodies that could have come from Tchaikovsky’s pen. Its problem, and the main reason why it is hardly ever played today, is the fact that it is scored for the unusual quartet combination of one violin, one viola and two cellos.

Fortunately, BCMF’s founder, Viktor Uzur, is a remarkable cellist with a wonderful sense of programming and he invited his former teacher, cellist Suren Bagratuni, to join him, along with violinist Livia Sohn and violist Mikhail Bereznitsky for a spectacular performance of the Arensky.

The four put their remarkable artistry on display as they gave a probing and vibrant reading of this neglected gem. They captured the lyricism of the work with their finely crafted expressions and delivery. The work is sectional in structure, but they brought cohesion to each of the three movements with their seamless and wonderfully balanced playing.

For the Schubert, violinist and Brigham Young University faculty member Monte Belknap joined the others. Their account was magnificent as they delved into the intricacies and nuances of the score. One of Schubert’s chamber music masterpieces, the five play it as if it had been written for them. They brought out the subtleties of the music with their sensitive and beautifully molded phrasings while also delving into its romantic passion.

Their eloquent playing let the music speak for itself and made the work shimmer with lyric beauty. This was especially noticeable in the Adagio, where the five brought an otherworldly glow, even in the more stormy middle section, to their reading that was enthralling, thanks to their carefully crafted and executed delivery.

Posted in Concert Reviews | Leave a comment

‘MAN FROM MAGDALENA:’ A STORY OF HOPE AND HUMANITY

Like so many others from poor villages in Mexico and Central America, it was Manuel Jesús Córdova Soberanes’ dream to come to the United States to work and help his family back home in Magdalena, Mexico. But it was never going to happen. Crossing the border into Arizona one night, Soberanes stumbled across a young boy who had been in a car accident that had killed his mother. Rather than leaving him to continue his journey through the desert north to Tucson, Soberanes decided to stay and spend the night with the boy and comfort him. When the authorities found them in the morning, Soberanes told them what had happened. When the story broke in the local media, people were moved by his selfless act and many tried to help him stay in this country. They appealed on his behalf, but to no avail. Soberanes was deported back to Mexico.

Patty Willis

When Patty Willis and Mary Lou Prince, who were living in Tucson at the time, heard the story they were touched. “It’s such a beautiful story, I felt I needed to tell it,” Willis said. It was important to her because it “shows humanity. Manuel was a hero that night. Nobody would have known if he hadn’t stopped, and he knew he would go back to Mexico when the authorities came. That was his third attempt to cross the border. He gave up everything to help this boy.”

It took her awhile, but Willis, who was still in seminary at the time, finally began writing a play based on what had happened. “I let it ruminate for 18 months, but one day I started to work on it, and as I was writing it I realized it would be a one person play.”

Willis likes the one-person format, because,“it gives you a chance to walk in the shoes of other people.”

Mary Lou Prince

After Willis had completed the play, Prince, who is a composer, started working on the music. “I had actually already written some pieces that hadn’t been intended for the play,” Prince said. “One of them happened to have a Latin beat and Patty wrote words for it.” Once she threw herself into composing for the play, the music just flowed. “It came together really quickly,” Prince said.

The two now live in Salt Lake City, where Willis is the minister at the South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society and Prince is the church’s music director. Next week, Man from Magdalena will receive its Utah premiere in the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. “This will be the 22nd performance,” Prince said. “It’s been done a lot in Arizona, and it’s also been performed in Indiana and California.”

Willis will be acting and Prince will accompany at the piano. They’ll be joined by cellist Megan Titensor and a vocal quartet made up of Willis, Brenda Voisar, Nan McEntire and Gloria Gardner Murdock.

To learn more about the play log on to www.manfrommagdalena.com.

Willis and Prince will donate all net proceeds from the performance to micro loans in Mexico and Central America through www.kiva.org. “We like the organization because you can choose which country you are interested in and you can see the profiles of people who want to start their own business,” Prince said. “And it’s up to you to decide how much you want to help.”

The loans have to be repaid, Prince said, and most of the recipients are quick to pay the money back. “We’ve funded over 600 businesses, and we’ve only had one or two people who defaulted,” she said.

Instead of keeping the money, Prince and Willis reinvest it when their loans are repaid. “So far, performances of Man from Magdalena have underwritten over $94,000 in loans,” Prince said.

In addition to the loans, the couple has also donated $2,000 to Soberanes, who now lives and works in Mexicali.

  • PERFORMANCE DETAILS
  • What: Man from Magdalena
  • Venue: Leona Wagner Black Box, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
  • Time and Date: 7:30 p.m. March 24-25
  • Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door
  • Phone: 801-355-2787 or 888-451-2787
  • Web: www.arttix.org
Posted in Articles, Concert Previews, LIVE THEATER | Leave a comment

THIERRY FISCHER LAST MINUTE REPLACEMENT FOR BBC SYMPHONY BOULEZ CELEBRATION

Thierry Fischer

The Utah Symphony’s music director, Thierry Fischer, will be stepping in on short notice to conduct the BBC Symphony’s “Boulez at 90” concert at London’s Barbican on March 21, replacing the originally scheduled conductor Francois-Xavier Roth.

The concert is the culmination of a weekend series of concerts and other events marking the 90thbirthday of the legendary French composer, conductor and mentor Pierre Boulez. The nonagenarian has had a long and fruitful association with the BBC Symphony dating back to the early 1960s and including a stint as its chief conductor.

Pierre Boulez (Photo Credit: Eric Marinitsch)

On the March 21 program are two works by Boulez: the orchestral version of Notations and the massive Pli selon pli (Fold by Fold), the composer’s seminal masterpiece. A setting of poems by Stéphane Mallarmé, the large scale song cycle  was written between 1957-62. At over an hour it is the composer’s longest work. Joining Fischer and the orchestra for this performance will be the Korean soprano Yeree Suh.

Fischer is an ardent fan of Boulez’s music who doesn’t shy away from undertaking large, demanding programs. He is also a well known figure at BBC Symphony concerts. His last appearance with the ensemble was last season, when he conducted another massive work, Olivier Messiaen’s Éclairs sur l’au-delà (Illuminations of the Beyond).

For more information about the “Boulez at 90” celebration log on to http://www.bbc.co.uk/symphonyorchestra.

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment