Friday night’s opening concert for the 2010 Sitka Summer Music Festival was absolutely fabulous, and Sunday’s Family Concert was a smashing success and tons of fun for all. Wow! So now it’s time for the next round of events, and since we have been lucky enough to enjoy some perfect sunny days, you have no excuses for staying home and gardening (or fishing, playing soccer or softball). Tonight is the first of the Festival’s new free Movie Nights at 7 p.m. at the Sitka Visitor Center Theatre at the edge of Totem Park. The film “True Lies” features cellist Armen Ksajikian as a terrorist limo driver AND he also plays the music for his own death scene. Come get ALL the details from Armen and enjoy the movie! (Families, take note: The feature is “R” rated.)
Friday night’s 8:30 p.m. concert opens with a gorgeous string quartet for the unusual combination of violin (Paul Rosenthal), viola (Marcus Thompson), and two cellos (Armen Ksajikian and Eugene Osadchy) by Russian master Anton Arensky. The work is dedicated to his mentor Tschaikowsky, and the beautiful themes throughout the piece reflect the influences of Russian church music and one of Tschaikowsky’s songs.
Next on the program, pianist Jerome Lowenthal will perform Two Nocturnes, Op. 27, and the Piano Sonata No. 2 by Frederic Chopin. This is Chopin’s two-hundredth birthday year, and Sitka audiences can celebrate by hearing several of his most beautiful piano solos. Piano historian James Huneker described the first Nocturne as having “the gloomiest and grandest of Chopin’s moody canvasses” and the second, which features an especially lovely melody and delicate ornamentation, “a song of the sweet summer of two souls.” Two years after Chopin wrote what was to become his most famous piece, the eerie Marche Funebre, which I guarantee will be instantly recognizable to everyone at the concert, he added three more movements to frame the haunting march, creating a dramatic, landmark sonata. Pianist Anton Rubenstein described the short but stunningly effective final movement as “winds of night sweeping over churchyard graves.”
Friday’s concert will conclude with the lush, impassioned Piano Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 47, by Robert Schumann. The featured musicians include Frederieke Saeijs (violin), Pamela Goldsmith (viola), Eugene Osadchy (cello) and Ursula Oppens (piano). All I need to tell you is that this is one of chamber music’s rich masterpieces – and the entire concert will be another heartfelt event. My guest at the pre-concert lecture at 7:30 pm will be violist Marcus Thompson, a longtime Festival artist and a wonderful friend. Please join us for some fun facts about the music, composers, and Marcus!
Join me and cellist Zuill Bailey at the Sitka Library on Sunday evening at 6:30 for the annual Yummy Lullaby program. Special guests will include Gordon the Bear and his good friend Purple Bunny. Last year’s story about Gordon’s journey from his cozy bed in Totem Park to attend a Sitka Festival concert was a fun adventure, so wear your pajamas and join us for more stories, music, and cookies!
Tuesday night’s 7:30 pm concert begins with the return of dynamic artists Ik Hwan Bae (violin) and Sung Mi Im (piano) playing Franz Schubert’s Rondo Brillant. This virtuosic, richly scored piece places great demands on the artists and it’s just glorious to hear. The couple will also perform Capriccio by Danish composer Niels Gade; he was one of the most important Danish musicians in the 19th century. This charming work is brilliant, elegant, and entertaining – an audience-pleasing gem.
We have a final chance to hear the unusual grouping of three cellos this year in one of the most gorgeous works for this combination of instruments, Requiem for Three Cellos and Piano by David Popper; Zuill Bailey, Evan Drachman, and Jeffrey Solow will be joined by pianist Doris Stevenson. Last on the program will be the remarkable String Quartet in C Major, K.465 “Dissonant” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This inventive, harmonically adventurous quartet was dedicated to his inspiring friend Haydn.
The second Classics at Larkspur will start at 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening. Join a few of the Festival artists for intriguing conversation and live music while enjoying a beverage and some delectable treats. This is a new event for the 2010 Festival, and last week’s attendees had a terrific time! And don’t forget that there will be a free brown-bag lunch concert on Thursday at noon at the First Presbyterian Church…you are welcome to bring food or just sit and enjoy the music while others eat their sandwiches. It’s always fun to see which artists will appear and hear a few details from them about the music they will play. The musicians are simply fantastic!
As you can see, there are concerts/activities for a wide range of musical interests and all ages this week at the 2010 Sitka Summer Music Festival. So, head to the Centennial Building on Friday and Tuesday evenings, and our other locations for Movie night, Classics at Larkspur, Yummy Lullabies, and the Brown Bag concert! Sitka has some of the world’s finest musicians in town. Don’t miss a note of what they have to share!