Eastman School Celebrates Debussy and Bach During a Fall Filled with Musical Highlights

Updated August 17, 2012

August 16, 2012

More Information:
For Media Only: Helene Snihur (585-274-1057, hsnihur@esm.rochester.edu)

Two major festivals centering on famous composers, one celebrating the sesquicentennial of Claude Debussy’s birth and the other showcasing the organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach, highlight the fall concert season at the Eastman School of Music.

But it’s not just classical music that folks can enjoy. Early music, new music, world music, jazz — performed by soloists and ensembles, vocalists and instrumentalists, Eastman faculty and students, and guest artists – will fill the School’s concert halls and be offered in community venues as well.

August 22 marks the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth, but Eastman is devoting the month of October to the composer. “The Prismatic Debussy” festival features an “Extravagant Debussy” gala opening concert on Saturday, Oct. 13, with the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, Eastman Wind Ensemble, and Chorale performing works ranging from Printemps to the last two acts of the opera Le Martyre de saint Sébastien. Other performances include a Musica Nova concert on Wednesday, Oct. 17, of new works by Eastman composers inspired by Debussy, and a concert of Eastman students and faculty members performing chamber arrangements of his works in a non-stop surround-sound setting on Saturday, Oct. 20.

The final weekend of “The Prismatic Debussy” features a crossover arrangement of Pelléas et Mélisande, the composer’s only completed opera, on Friday, Oct. 26, with a small ensemble of classical and jazz musicians performing the music while accompanied by projected panels from a comic book by artist P. Craig Russell based on the drama. The pioneering comic book artist will also speak about his work at the Memorial Art Gallery on Thursday, Oct. 25. The festival draws to a close with a symposium, recital, and Internet2 master class on Saturday, Oct. 27, focusing on five recently discovered Debussy songs.

As part of “The Prismatic Debussy” festival, the School’s Sibley Music Library presents an exhibition of original Debussy manuscripts, including the complete working draft of his great impressionistic orchestral poem La Mer, and other rare materials October 1 through 27.

“Bach and the Organ” is the theme of this year’s Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative (EROI) Festival, which explores the many connections between the organ and one of its most influential composers Sept. 27 through 30. The festival features master classes, scholarly presentations, and concerts. Among the headliners is the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble, which presents two performances of a program of festive vocal and instrumental music on Saturday, Sept. 29 (prior to the ensemble’s appearance in the School’s Kilbourn Concert Series on Tuesday, Oct. 2).

The opening concert of “Bach and the Organ” on Thursday, Sept. 27, recreates Felix Mendelsson’s 1840 Leipzig performance of Bach’s organ music, which was Mendelssohn’s only public recital on the organ and which revived interest in the 18th century composer. World-renowned solo performers include Jacques van Oortmerssen (Friday, Sept. 28), Joel Speerstra (Sept. 29), Robert Bates (Sept. 30), and Edoardo Bellotti (Sept. 30).

EROI Festival performances will take place on several instruments throughout Rochester: the Craighead-Saunders Organ in Christ Church, which is modeled on the kind of organ Bach played and for which he wrote his music; the Italian Baroque Organ at the Memorial Art Gallery; the Halloran All-Saints Organ in Sacred Heart Cathedral, built by Paul Fritts and inspired by an early 17th century organ in the Netherlands; and the 1893 Hook & Hastings Organ Romantic Organ, currently being installed in Christ Church.

Series Present Guest Artists, Faculty in Recital

Guest artists are featured in Eastman’s different concert series. In addition to the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble on Oct. 2, the Kilbourn Concert Series features Belgian classical guitarist Raphaella Smits, the first woman to be awarded the coveted First Prize in Spain’s Certamen Internacional de Guitarra Francisco Tarrega Competition, on Tuesday, Dec. 4; the genre-defying Brooklyn Rider String Quartet on Tuesday, January 29; and Russian pianist and 2010 Gilmore Artist Award winner Kirill Gerstein on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2012.

The Barbara B. Smith World Music Series presents India’s renowned violin duo of Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi and Kala Ramnath in “Raga Rendezvous” on Friday, Sept. 14. The series features Ballaké Sissoko, a virtuoso on the Kora, a lute-harp from Mali, and Vincent Segal, a French trip-hop cellist, on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. The seven-piece Colombian band Cimarron, which performs rhythmic and virtuosic dance music, appears on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, and the series wraps up on Monday, April 29, 2013, with Gamelan Lila Muni, Eastman’s resident Balinese percussion ensemble.

The new season of the Eastman-Ranlet Series, centered on the literature for string quartet, launches on Sunday, Oct. 14, with the Kopelman Quartet, headed by Eastman Professor of Violin Mikhail Kopelman, performing works by Tchaikovsky, Penderecki, and Franck. The Ying Quartet, Eastman’s quartet-in-residence, is featured twice in the series. The ensemble will present a new work by Kenji Bunch along with pieces by Bartok and Beethoven on Sunday, Dec. 2, and perform again on Feb. 3, 2013. The 2012-2013 series concludes on March 3 with the Grammy Award-winning Pacifica Quartet performing works by Haydn, Shostakovich, and Ravel.

Eastman faculty members are world-renowned soloists and chamber musicians, packing in audiences when they perform out-of-town, and their recitals at the School are an important part of their performing schedule. The Eastman Faculty Artist Series, generously sponsored by  Patricia-Ward Baker, kicks off with saxophonist Chien-Kwan Lin on Sunday, Sept. 16, and will feature the first faculty recital on Wednesday, Nov. 14, by Italian-born violinist Federico Agostini, who joins Eastman this fall. Other faculty performing this fall include violinist Lynn Blakeslee on Saturday, Oct. 20; percussionist Michael Burritt on Sunday, Oct. 28; Mark Kellogg, trombone and euphonium, on Oct. 29;  jazz trumpeter Clay Jenkins on Tuesday, Nov. 6; pianist Enrico Elisi on Sunday, Nov. 18; and cellist Steven Doane on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

. . . And More

The fall concert schedule at the Eastman School of Music also includes a tribute concert to composer, arranger, conductor, and legendary jazz professor Rayburn Wright by the Eastman Jazz and New Jazz Ensembles and guest alumni artists on Friday, Oct. 12. Eastman Opera Theatre presents Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia Nov. 1 through 4. Eastman and the University of Rochester’s Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies present a concert celebrating the works of 20th century Polish composer Karol Szymanowski on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Eastman’s organ department continues its series of monthly concerts on the Italian Baroque Organ at the Memorial Art Gallery on Sundays, Oct. 21, Nov. 18, and Dec. 16, and joins the Christ Church Schola Cantorum for the inaugural concert of the Hook and Hastings Organ in the church on Friday, Nov. 30.

The fall season includes a multitude of concerts — most of them free — by Eastman’s impressive vocal and instrumental student ensembles, with repertoires ranging from early music to jazz. The high-level, enthusiastic presentations by the talented student orchestras, wind and jazz ensembles, and choral and chamber groups give local audiences many unbeatable opportunities to hear great music.

A full listing of concerts and events can be found on the web by visiting Eastman’s homepage at www.esm.rochester.edu. The 24-hour MusicLine at (585) 274-1100 offers recorded information on concerts in the coming four-to-seven days. Information is also available by calling the Concert Office at (585) 274-1110 during business hours.

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