Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Check out the complete program for the 2009 Autumn Classics

You are not going to want to miss any of this year's Autumn Classics! You may order your season tickets now and single tickets will go on sale to the general public (via CenterTix in the middle of August -- approximately Aug 15). Please check out this year's full program:

Friday, September 18

Saint-Saens Piano Trio No. 1 in F Major, Op. 18

Taneyev String Quartet No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 11

Saturday, September 19

Beethoven Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Minor, Op. 23

Schubert Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major, Op 162

Taneyev String Quartet No. 1 in B Flat Minor, Op. 4

Sunday, September 20

Beethoven Notturno for Viola and Piano, Op. 42 S

Bach Sonata No. 1 in G Major for Viola and Piano

Taneyev String Quartet No. 2 in C Major, Op. 5

Friday, September 25

Mozart Duo for Violin and Viola in G Major, K. 423

Taneyev String Quartet No. 5 in A Major, Op. 13

Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D Minor, Op. 49

Saturday, September 26

Taneyev String Quartet No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 7

Rachmaninoff Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Minor, Op. 19

Tschaikowsky Valse sentimentale, Op. 51, No. 6

Tsintsadze Georgian Melodies for Cello and Piano

Sunday, September 27

Bach Partita No. 4 in D Major for Piano Solo

Brahms Intermezzi for Piano Solo, Op. 118

Taneyev String Quartet No. 6 in B Flat Major, Op. 19

Monday, August 3, 2009

All six String Quartets by Sergei Taneyev will be showcased in two incredible weekends!

On behalf of all the musicians playing in this year's Autumn Classics I welcome you to an extraordinary musical adventure!

The six String Quartets by Sergei Taneyev form one of the most remarkable groups of compostions I have ever encountered. So imaginative in conception are they, and so skillfully realized for the demanding idiom of the String Quartet, that I have not felt as though I had discovered such another fascinating and astonishing world since first making the acquaintance of the music of Beethoven's last period.

From the outset of the First Quartet, which is dedicated to Taneyev's teacher, Tschaikowsky, composed in 1890 when the older master was still alive, to the dizzying conclusion of the last Quartet, from 1905, Taneyev explores an enormous variety of ideas, motives and inventions, for which he creates forms and sonorities that challenge and please us in ways that we've seldom or never seen before.

All of the performerfs in this year's Autumn Classics series have had occasion to marvel at and delight in learning other wonderful music by Taneyev. The idea of coming to know the six canonic Quartets (there exist three others, youtthful compositions which Taneyev declined to publish in his lifetime) followed naturally from this admiration. After ten exhilarating Spring days together in Southern California devoted to the exploration of this music, we are now thrilled to have the opportunity to share our discoveries and our passsion with our Anchorage audiences.

I don't know when, if ever, these Quartets have been performed all together in one series of concerts. It would be interesting to know about that but, in any case, the works are virtually unknown in our concert halls and the chance to play them and to hear them is definitely a very rare experience and, I'm sure you will agree, a richly satisfying one.

The other music on the programs for this year's Autumn Classics is being presented in such a way that you may meet the performers on grounds of their choosing. This I arranged by the simple expedient of asking them: What would you enjoy playing? And since they will enjoy performing it, I am confident that you will enjoy listening to it.

Thank you for coming to share these very special weekends of music with us!

Paul Rosenthal

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Susan Wingrove's Concert Conversations #4

I cannot believe we have reached the final concert of the 2009 Sitka Summer Music Festival. There have been so many unforgettable highlights – the stunning Mendelssohn Piano Trio on opening night, the wonderful gift of two passionately played Taneyev string quartets (little-known treasures that now have a huge fan base in Sitka), the Brahms Piano Quartet which left the audience enthralled, the Franck Violin Sonata played so exquisitely Tuesday night, and so much more. This annual gathering of musicians is a perfect example of true chamber music –supremely talented friends playing music because they love it and enjoy it, and that sets this festival apart from many classical concerts that I have attended. And another uniquely wonderful part of the Festival are the enthusiastic Sitka audiences. People really listen to music here – and it’s magical to feel and watch the chemistry between the performers and a totally engaged audience.

Artistic Director Paul Rosenthal has coordinated a superb program for the grand finale on Friday. Sitkans, this is your last opportunity; the artists will be going home – to other commitments – and we will be living for the coming months on the memories of the 2009 musical banquet. So treat yourself and a friend or family member; the 8:15 p.m. concert promises to provide us lucky listeners with one final evening of emotionally-charged music!

First will be a masterwork by the “Father of the string quartet,” Franz Joseph Haydn. Biographer Otto Jahn sums up his contribution to the musical world nicely, writing, “The quartet was Haydn’s natural mode of expressing his feelings. The poet and the peasant, the lonely man and the man of mirth and wit, the devout Christian and the lover of earthly joys reveal themselves in some of the most poignant, or radiant, or ingratiating, or rowdy, or tragic music that he was to write.” Four wonderful string players will play the E Flat Major, Op. 76, No. 6 quartet – viewed by music lovers as a compositional treasure house.

The exceptional and intense cellist Mark Kosower and his wife Jee-Won Oh will partner to play Claude Debussy’s marvelous 1915 sonata, a work which reflects the composer’s fascination with Harlequin, a traditional white-masked clown who had a sad heart and unfulfilled dreams; the spirited music also became an outlet for Debussy’s despair over the outbreak of World War I. Alexander Tcherepnin’s Songs and Dances for Cello and Piano will follow – composed in 1953, and dedicated to the legendary cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, the colorful work alternates Georgian and Russian songs with Tartar and Ksazakh dances. Mark will also be my guest at the pre-concert chat at 7:30 p.m. to provide more details about these pieces and his Sitka experiences.

The concert, and the 2009 festival, will conclude with Cesar Franck’s remarkable Piano Quintet in F Minor. The quiet and unassuming composer was thrilled whenever his music was played – and he tried to present the manuscript of this work to his friend Saint-Saens, the pianist/composer who played the premiere. Saint-Saens walked disdainfully and abruptly off the stage, leaving the score on the piano to express his negative opinion. Others protested the “shocking emotionalism” of the piece. But, the public was wiser than the critics – and this has become one of the most beloved of chamber works. Full of extraordinary drive and passion, dramatic intensity and gorgeous scoring, people were amazed that a quiet, serene organist and teacher could produce such a stunning work. Anyone who heard the gorgeous performance of Franck’s violin sonata on Tuesday night will know this is a can’t-miss feast of heartfelt melodies and lush harmonies.

I want to thank this community for hosting such a wonderful music festival, and for allowing me to be a part of this for the last twenty-five years. The opportunity to learn about the music and human history is a never-ending source of pleasure in my life, but the best part of all is to see and hear these amazing performances every June. The music speaks straight to the heart at every single concert; so join the SSMF for a great finale Friday night!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Susan Wingrove's Concert Conversations #3

So far, every Sitka Festival concert has been a gem. It doesn’t matter whether you are a classical music addict or someone who is just curious about chamber music – this is the real deal. Sitkans, it just doesn’t get better than this, and I go to concerts whenever and wherever I can. Everybody has very busy schedules – work, family, exercise, etc. – but you are really, really cheating yourself if you have not attended one of these concerts yet. And this week you have some fantastic options – go to every one of them! We will get to hear some amazing Taneyev string quartets, works which feature the flute, and many more musical marvels – played with heart and passion.

Friday night, two pieces will feature the elegant and soulful flutist Lorna McGhee. Rossini’s Quartet in B Flat, written when he was just twelve years old, works just perfectly when the flute takes over the first violin part – his philosophy was simple – “Delight must be the basis and aim of this art.” This is a joyful and engaging work, full of wonderful melodies which percolate with Rossini’s trademark humor. Next, Lorna and cellist Jeffrey Solow will play “Jet Whistle,” a colorful work by Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos. Historian David Ewen describes his impressive legacy, saying that it “beats with the heart and pulse of his native Brazil…He was, in short, Brazil in music.” Famous for his enormous energy and appetites, an addiction to black cigars and even blacker coffee, in 1950, Villa-Lobos crafted the cheerful Jet Whistle overflowing with the spirited humor associated with popular Brazilian dance music. The concert will conclude with the first of two Taneyev String Quartets featured on the weekend concerts. Although not well known to general audiences, the Russian Taneyev is very highly regarded for his inventive writing and “noble spirituality, sincerity and purity of lyrical emotion.” The powerful A Minor Quartet, composed in 1900, includes a slow movement that pays tribute to Nature and “pictures the untroubled beauty of nighttime silence, but it also contains human feelings, such as languor, passion, pleading, suffering, and tenderness.”

Saturday night’s program opens with Impresiones de la Puna (1945) by Alberto Ginastera, the most famous Latin American composer in the years just after World War II. The Puna are spectacular mountain valleys located in the northern Andes; each movement of this piece for flute and string quartet is a short dance rich with Latin American flavor. Then we will enjoy another Taneyev string quartet - in A Major – a piece that is wonderfully transparent and appealing, a marvel in the form. If you have a chance to hear these underperformed but astonishing quartets this weekend, you will gain a quick understanding of Taneyev’s nickname, “the Russian Brahms.” The concert will close with our final salute to Mendelssohn’s two-hundredth birthday year, the remarkable A Major Viola Quintet. Mendelssohn was only seventeen years old when he wrote this radiant and profound masterpiece. The emotional high point is the gorgeous Intermezzo, a musical memorial to his beloved friend and former violin teacher, Eduard Rietz, who tragically died at the age of twenty-nine.

Next Tuesday’s 7:30 concert includes a lovely Mozart piano trio in E Major, the rapturously beautiful Franck Violin Sonata; Cesar Franck was not recognized as a major composer until the age of 68, and this serene, unassuming, and mystical man created one of the violin repertoire’s masterworks when he was 64. Haydn’s beloved C Major String Quartet, Op. 33, No. 3 “The Birds” will top off the program.

For extra info about the concerts, join me at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday – cellist Zuill Bailey and flutist Lorna McGhee will be my weekend guests for the lectures.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Susan Wingrove's Concert Conversations #2

The 2009 Sitka Summer Music Festival is off to a breathtaking start. For those of us lucky enough to attend the opening concerts, there was musical joy on the stage of Centennial Hall from the first note to the last – and the icing on the cake was the stunning moonlight reflecting on the water during the Mendelssohn Piano Trio Friday night. Absolutely unforgettable. And a great time was had by all at the Family Concert Sunday afternoon – kids of all ages were a fantastic and well-behaved audience. Now, for the second week. This Friday, the phenomenal artists already in town will be joined by cellist Zuill Bailey.

I have become addicted to Zuill’s remarkable CD which features the Mendelssohn Variations Concertantes for Cello and Piano and I am very excited about hearing this beautiful theme and eight elegant variations performed live. Composed when Mendelssohn was twenty years old, the piece concludes with “a sheer sense of frolic” for the audience and the performers; the cello and piano have wonderful interplay.

First-time Sitka violinist Keng-Yuen, who has a wonderful sense of humor in addition to being a top-rate performer, will be joined by Evan and Doris to play a Festival favorite, Arensky’s Piano Trio in D Minor, Op 32. Historian David Greene observed, “A regimen of drinking, gambling, and partying undermined his health. The son of a cello-playing physician, Arensky could not heal himself, and a promising career was cut short by illness and early death.” Heavily influenced by Tschaikowsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, the trio showcases the Russian composer’s melodic gifts and superb technique.

Jennifer Stumm will play an intense, rich viola solo with Doris at the keyboard, Benjamin Britten’s Lachrymae. Britten is one of the most important English composers of the twentieth century. Lachrymae, Reflections on a Song of Dowland, is ten atmospheric variations based on a piece for lute by John Dowland (1563-1626) called “If My Complaints Could Passions Move.” There is a dreamlike quality to the music; some listeners find that Britten’s use of pizzicato (plucked strings) provides a poignant musical image of falling tears.

Friday’s concert will conclude with Mozart’s Viola Quintet in E Flat Major, K. 614. This was his final chamber work, completed about eight months before his death. Mozart’s personal circumstances were becoming desperate as his debts grew. However, he created a score that is radiant and confident, intricate and life-affirming.

Tuesday night’s one-hour concert at 7:30 p.m. will feature flutist Lorna McGhee and her husband, violist David Harding, in a lovely duo by French composer and teacher Francois Devienne (1759-1803.) He became the first flute professor at the newly formed Paris Conservatory and wrote many important method books and pieces for wind instruments. Also on the program is Mozart’s Flute Quartet in F Major (originally for oboe, but the piece works brilliantly featuring the flute) and the lush Sextet for Strings in B Flat Major by Johannes Brahms. He was the first major composer to write a sextet, which features pairs of violins, violas, and cellos, and the piece is sunny and optimistic. We will hear violinists Sarah Kapustin and Agnes Gottschewski, plus violist Roland Kato and cellists Armen Ksajikian and Jeffrey Solow for the first time this year.

My guest for the pre-concert lecture on Friday night will be violinist Keng-Yuen Tseng. Join us at 7:30 p.m. and you might find out how he managed to get the moon to hit the water at exactly the right moment at last Friday’s concert. The music starts at 8:15 – and be sure to keep Tuesday at 7:30 on your schedule; you deserve these fine concerts!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lost Brochures are a Mystery!

This year, the Festival bought the entire mail route for Sitka and sent a brochure to every single household in Sitka (over 4,800 pieces of mail)! However, not one brochure made it to Sitka despite the fact that they were mailed on May 5th. Therefore, we are behind on our Sitka advertising.

Plus, this was a gorgeous brochure. It was printed in full-color and featured Sandy Greba's artwork -- a beautiful crane, entitled "Standing Ovation".

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Susan Wingrove's Concert Conversation #1

After weeks of anxious anticipation, and many delicious hours spent doing research for the program notes for the 2009 Sitka Summer Music Festival, it’s finally time for the main event. And I am in shock as I contemplate the fact that this is my twenty-fifth year attending the Sitka Festival – how can this be possible! I feel very lucky to be able to immerse myself in the music and the rich histories of the composers. Now it’s time for the audience to join these fabulous artists. Friday night’s opening concert is the first of nine wonderful programs which will run through June 26th; beloved Artistic Director Paul Rosenthal has put together yet another memorable musical feast for this 38th year.

There will be three performances in the first five days - Friday’s 8:15 p.m. concert (and 7:30 pre-concert chat,) Sunday’s annual Family Concert at 3 p.m. (free!) and Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. program. Even if the weather continues to be glorious, it’s well worth it to head indoors as each event is a one-time-only gem. Rain or shine, live music superbly played is a treat for the soul – and Sitka is very, very lucky to have this annual chamber series.

Friday’s concert will open with one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s monumental unaccompanied cello suites performed by longtime Festival cellist Tony Elliott. He has been a favorite (and frequently re-invited) conductor for the Alaska All State Honor Orchestra for many years, and the students always respond enthusiastically to his personal warmth and musical passion. The D Major Suite has six stylized and contrasting dance movements. The piece is full of emotional depth and brilliant scoring; you will swear you are hearing more than one instrument.

Considered the rival of Beethoven in his day, Ludwig Spohr was a prolific composer who wrote more than 200 works. He created 19 virtuosic violin duets at the height of his fame. Critic Alex Ross described the 1824 D major Duo as “a genial slice of high Romanticism with lovely Schubertian themes strewn about indiscriminately.” Keng-Yuen Tseng and Paul Rosenthal will perform this remarkable and well-crafted piece.

This year is the 200th anniversary of Felix Mendelssohn’s birth, so we will be hearing several of his works during the 2009 series. Friday’s concert will conclude with one of chamber music’s great treasures – Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D Minor, Op. 49. Composer Robert Schumann described it as “the master trio of the age, as were the B flat and D major trios of Beethoven and the E flat trio of Schubert in their times.” Its tuneful melodies and persuasive character have made this one of Mendelssohn’s most popular chamber pieces. The ever-hopeful fisherman and elegant cellist Evan Drachman will be joined by one of the Festival’s founding musicians, versatile pianist Doris Stevenson, and new Sitka violinist Keng-Yuen Tseng.

Sunday’s Family concert has a top-secret theme but is bound to be loads of fun for people of all ages and interests. This free event concludes with ice cream floats for all. And, on Tuesday evening at 7:30 we have the chance to hear one of Beethoven’s early, majestic string trios, Op. 9, No. 2, and the gorgeous Brahms Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 60, nicknamed “Werther” for the sentimental hero of a Goethe novel about a man who kills himself due to the unrequited love for his friend’s wife. The emotional pinnacle of this work is the exquisite slow movement.

If you are interested in some extra information about the music and composers, join me on Friday at 7:30 in Centennial Hall with special guest cellist Evan Drachman for a pre-concert chat about the opening program and details about the Sunday Family concert. All the artists, from many locations, gather here as friends and colleagues to make world-class music. Let’s give a grand welcome to the 2009 Sitka Festival musicians – and give yourself the gift of glorious music to match the indescribably beautiful setting of Sitka.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cellist Zuill Bailey joins Suzanne Nance in the Portland (Maine) Studio

Please listen to this wonderful radio interview with Zuill Bailey. We hear about his new engagement with Sitka, as well as his 104 year-old Grandma. Click here to hear the whole interview.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Festival is Featured on Raven Radio

SITKA, ALASKA (2009-05-01) The Sitka Summer Music Festival has named a successor to founder and artistic director Paul Rosenthal.
Cellist Zuill Bailey will take over as artistic director for the 2012 season, on the eve of Rosenthal’s seventieth birthday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zuill Bailey Named Next Artistic Director for Sitka Summer Music Festival

For full release and social media links, please click here.

Zuill Bailey, one of the most sought after cellists performing today just got busier. Bailey has been appointed as the Artistic Director designate of the Sitka Summer Music Festival and series.

The announcement was made by Paul Rosenthal, Artistic Director of the Music Festival for nearly 40 years. Mr. Rosenthal, a world renowned violinist, will step down from the position in 2012, on the eve of his 70th birthday. Zuill Bailey will act as Associate Director of the Sitka Summer Music Festival and series and work hand in hand with Paul Rosenthal to insure the level of artistry and leadership continues through the transition and beyond.

Paul Rosenthal, stated, “Zuill Bailey, a magnificent cellist, known for having the highest artistic integrity, imagination, vision and leadership skills will prove to be an invigorating inspiration for the Sitka Summer Music Festival and series.”

The musical excellence of the Sitka Summer Music Festival and series inspires enthusiastic praise from Mr. Bailey. “I am truly honored to carry the torch for such a prestigious festival that makes an incredible impact on the arts and the State of Alaska.”

In addition to his extensive performing schedule, cellist Zuill Bailey is an exclusive Telarc recording artist, the Artistic Director of the El Paso Pro Musica Chamber Music Festival and series, and is Professor of Cello at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Mr. Bailey’s critically acclaimed “Russian Masterpieces,” CD has spent weeks on the Classical Billboard Charts. His upcoming CD of the complete Beethoven Sonatas for Cello and Piano will be available this summer in addition to the complete Bach Cello Suites in January, 2010.

To see an article in the Anchorage Daily News on the topic, please click here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Alaksa Airlines Features the Festival in an Advertistment

Whenever possible, all of our artists and staff fly Alaska Airlines. They are fantastic -- great service and Alaska-centric. We love Alaska Airlines and this year, they loved us back by featuring us in one of their 2008/2009 television commercials. Check it out here!

Summer Program is now Available!

2009 Sitka Summer Music Festival

Friday, June 5
Bach Suite No. 6 for Unaccompanied Cello in D Major, B.W.V. 1012

Anthony Elliott

Spohr Duo for Two Violins in D Major, Op. 67, No. 2
Keng-Yuen Tseng (violin), Paul Rosenthal (violin)

Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D Minor, Op. 49
Keng-Yuen Tseng (violin), Evan Drachman (cello), Doris Stevenson (piano)

Tuesday, June 9
Beethoven String Trio in D Major, Op. 9, No. 2
Paul Rosenthal (violin), Jennifer Stumm (viola), Anthony Elliott (cello)

Brahms Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 60 “Werther”
Keng-Yuen Tseng (violin), Marcus Thompson (viola), Evan Drachman (cello), Doris Stevenson (piano)

Friday, June 12

Mendelssohn Variations concertantes for Cello and Piano, Op. 1
Zuill Bailey
(cello), Doris Stevenson (piano)

Arensky Piano Trio in D Minor, Op. 32
Keng-Yuen Tseng (violin), Evan Drachman (cello), Doris Stevenson (piano)

Britten Lachrymae For
Viola and Piano
Jennifer Stumm (viola) & Doris Stevenson (piano)

Mozart Viola Quintet in E Flat Major, K. 614
Paul Rosenthal (violin), Keng-Yuen Tseng (violin), Marcus Thompson (viola), Jennifer Stumm (viola), Zuill Bailey (cello)

Tuesday, June 16
Devienne Duo in C Minor for Flute and Viola, Op. 5, No. 3
Lorna McGhee (flute) & David Harding (viola)

Mozart Flute Quartet in F major, K.V. 370
Lorna McGhee (flute), Paul Rosenthal (violin), David Harding (viola), Zuill Bailey (cello)

Brahms Sextet for Strings in B Flat Major, Op. 18
Sarah Kapustin & Agnes Gottschewski (violins), Roland Kato & David Harding (violas), Armen Ksajikian, Jeffrey Solow (cellos)

Friday, June 19
Rossini Quartet No. 3 in B Flat Major for Flute and Strings
Lorna McGhee (flute), Sarah Kapustin (violin), David Harding (viola), Zuill Bailey (cello)

Villa-Lobos Jet Whistle for Flute and Cello
Lorna McGhee (flute) &
Jeffrey Solow (cello)

Taneyev String Quartet No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 11
Agnes Gottschewski (violin), Roland Kato (viola), Armen Ksajikian (cello)

Saturday, June 20
Ginastera Impresiones de la Puna for Flute and String Quartet, Op. 41
Lorna McGhee (flute), Agnes Gottschewski & Sarah Kapustin (violins), David Harding (viola), Zuill Bailey (cello)

Taneyev String Quartet No. 5 in A Major, Op. 13
Paul Rosenthal & Agnes Gottschewski (violins), Roland Kato (viola), Armen Ksajikian (cello)

Mendelssohn Viola Quintet in A Major, Op. 18
Agnes Gottschewski & Sarah Kapustin (violins), David Harding & Roland Kato (violas), Jeffrey Solow (cello)

Tuesday, June 23
Mozart Piano Trio in E Major, K. 542
Frederieke Eugenie Saeijs(violin), Mark Kosower (cello), Jee-Won Oh (piano)

Franck Sonata for Violin and Piano
Frederieke Eugenie Saeijs (violin) & Jee-Won Oh (piano)

Beethoven String Quartet in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3
Paul Rosenthal (violin), Frederieke Eugenie Saeijs (violin), Pamela Goldsmith (viola), Mark Kosower (cello)

Friday, June 26
Haydn String Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 76, No. 6
Paul Rosenthal (violin), Frederieke Eugenie Saeijs (violin), Pamela Goldsmith (viola), Mark Kosower (cello)

Debussy Sonata for Cello and Piano
Mark Kosower (cello) & Jee-Won Oh (piano)

Tcherepnin Songs and Dances for Cello and Piano, Op. 84
Mark Kosower (cello) & Jee-Won Oh (piano)

Franck Piano Quintet
Paul Rosenthal (violin), Frederieke Eugenie Saeijs(violin), Pamela Goldsmith (viola), Mark Kosower (cello), Jee-Won Oh (piano)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Festival invites you to join us this summer in SITKA!

We invite you to enjoy the shear sonic splendor of the 2009 Sitka Summer Music Festival! In the meantime, please check out our hotel feed advertisement. Crafted by Sitka's own Jeremiah Productions!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Standing Ovation -- Sandra Greba Creates 2009 Festival Artwork

Sandra Greba created this year's Festival artwork. Her image, entitled "Standing Ovation," will be used to brand all of the Festival's 2009 brochures, t-shirts, etc. We are thrilled with the the image and look forward to hearing your impressions of her work.

Friday, January 30, 2009

We invite you to write a review...

If you attend the Alaska Airlines Winter Classics this Feb 6, 7, and 8, please consider logging on to the Anchorage Daily News website and writing a review. Thank you!

Zbutton Just click the "Z" to be taken to our event on the ADN website.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chamber Music Ushers in the Inaugural Address

African-American Anthony McGill performed on the clarinet; French-born Chinese-American Yo-Yo Ma was the cellist; and Itzhak Perlman, born in Tel Aviv, was the violinist. The pianist was Gabriela Montero, who lives in the US, but is a native of Venezuela.

The music was Air and Simple Gifts by John Williams, the composer of a many a film score from Star Wars to Schindler's List, and it was composed especially for the occasion.

I thought that the music fit the occasion well. The air was thick with emotion and the somber music, which seemed to ask the listener to be quiet and reflect, was was good match. The music prepared us for Obama's address, which was sobering and serious but still allowed us to celebrate (at least a little bit!).

Click here to read an article regarding Yo-Yo Ma's reaction to be asked to perform at the Inaugural ceremonies.

Photo: Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and Anthony McGill play during the inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Obama's Call to the Arts

The president-elect's proposed Artists Corps is one plank in his push to revitalize the arts in education.

Los Angeles - While the Obama transition team works on headline issues such as the economy and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, a small but cautiously hopeful cadre of arts groups, arts educators, and artists from Los Angeles to Philadelphia and beyond is nursing the quiet hope that creativity will find its place beside the sterner faces of war and recession on the Jan. 20 White House to-do list.

To read the rest of the article, please visit

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Looking back at the Festival

Sitka Summer Music Festival
Alaska Business Monthly, June, 2000, by Steve Pilkington
I went on a web search, looking for past articles on the Festival. I really liked the one above because Heather McLean, our former Executive Director, describes the beauty and magic of the stage in Sitka so well.

Here are some others (not already linked to on our website):

Cleveland Music Festival's Festival Guide -- talks about how amazing it is that we have managed to survive in Sitka for so long (a town of only 8,000). Luckily for us, Sitkans are lovers of great art!

New sounds at the Sitka Summer Music Festival --
Harp pieces, the first in a cycle of Beethoven quartets and a Steinway are among the new features of this year's concerts

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Get a sneak peak at the Program Notes for the Alaska Airlines Winter Classics!

I invite you to join us for a weekend of stunning, passionate performances. Each evening features a unique program, with lush, romantic works by Haydn, Beethoven and others.

And celebrate our state's 50th anniversary with Paul Rosenthal's Bravura Variations on Alaska’s Flag.

So, please come inside and warm up – the Sitka Festival musicians will provide plenty of heat and excitement for a remarkable weekend of chamber music.

Scheduled artists are Paul Rosenthal, violin; Armen Ksajikian, cello; Arnulf von Arnim, piano.

To learn more about the music that will be performed each evening, please down load the program notes:

Program notes for Feb 6, 2009
Haydn Duo Sonata for Violin and Cello
Gliere Suite for Violin and Cello, Op. 39
Borodin Cello Sonata in B Minor
Beethoven Piano Trio in E Flat Major, Op. 70, No. 2

Program notes for Feb 7, 2009

Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 11
Schumann Carnaval, Op. 9
Mendelssohn Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 66

Program notes for Feb 8, 2009

Mendelssohn-Heifetz Song Without Words “Sweet Remembrance”
Mendelssohn-Kreisler Song Without Words “May Breezes”
Debussy-Hartmann Valse la Plus que Lente
Rosenthal Bravura Variations on “Alaska’s Flag”
Haydn Andante and Variations in F Minor for Piano Solo
Smetana Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 15

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Festival is now part of the PFD Charitable Contributions Program

The Sitka Summer Music Festival is pleased to announce that we are part of the new PFD Charitable Contributions Program for 2009. The Alaska Legislature passed a law in 2008 making this new way to give possible for all Alaskans filing for their PFD on-line.

For those of you who already support the Sitka Summer Music Festival, we appreciate your gifts and hope you will use this option to make an additional donation.

Your donation at any level will be carefully spent and will support one of Alaska's most valuable artistic treasures – the Sitka Summer Music Festival.

When you go on-line to sign up for your dividend, you will see the option called "The Gift of Giving." Search for us by choosing Statewide and our name (Sitka Summer Music Festival). Click and follow the instructions to make a new donation, or an additional gift.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Popular movies about the Romantic Composers

The only known photograph of Chopin (taken byBisson, ca. 1849, the year of the composer's death)
Taken from

I just watched the 1991 movie Impromtu ( "Nineteenth century feminist author George Sand (Judy Davis), as famous for her cigar-smoking and pants-wearing as she was for her writing, is at the center of this literary drama. Although she's fallen for composer Frederic Chopin (Hugh Grant), a number of obstacles stand in their way -- rivals, former lovers … even duels! This film was nominated for a New York Film Critics Circle Award and an Independent Spirit Award.")

It was a romantic comedy -- let me know what you think!