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Music: Classical Compendium 

Spring concerts include Beethoven, Bach and beyond

Paul Huang - CARLIN MA
  • Carlin Ma
  • Paul Huang
Baroque, Bach and Beyond

The spring is jam-packed with classical performances celebrating some of history's best music.

Whether you're a fan of 17th century violin sonatas, of the drama of Shostakovich, the who-doesn't-love-that-guy appeal of Beethoven, or the modern minimalism of composers like Philip Glass, there's bound to be something playing in Tucson this spring that you'll enjoy. Ready, set... sit back and enjoy.

Tucson Symphony Orchestra

All TSO events take place at the Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave., unless otherwise noted.

All About that B. B as in Beethoven, arguably the most famous composer and pianist of all time. This night features two of his pieces. Symphony No. 1 in C Major, which premiered to huge success in the year 1800, was notable at the time for its use of sforzandi, or notations that indicate notes should be played especially loudly or softly. Symphony No. 6 in F Major, "Pastorale," which was composed at the same time as Symphony No. 5 (what a show-off), is one of his few programmatic pieces, or pieces to tell a narrative beyond the music itself. Also, it's in Disney's Fantasia. José Luis Gomez conducts. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16.

Eroica. This night first features violinists Lauren Roth and Michelle Abraham Kantor playing Mozart's Concertone for Two Violins and Orchestra. (If you were wondering, Mozart kind of made up the word "concertone" to mean something like "concerto+." In this case, the bonus is that the piece features two soloists. Then, Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Eroica. He produced in the midst of a period where he was going deaf and suffering from depression, but decided to throw himself more than ever into his music. It's big and long and altogether grand, even originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte. A 2016 survey of conductors in BBC Music Magazine literally rated this as the greatest symphony of all time. 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 1. Catalina Foothills High School, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive.

Barber Violin Concerto. Paul Huang, recipient of the 2017 Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists Award, is an absolute treat to listen to, especially playing a piece like American composer Samuel Barber's violin concerto. This work is expressive and beautiful, and its Wikipedia page tells an entirely fascinating, but not entirely verifiable story about its background, if you have a minute. Also, tonight is Barber's Adagio for Strings, which you might recognize from the movie Platoon, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 12 in D Minor, "The Year 1917," which is all about Vladimir Lenin. 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 13 and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 15.

American Soundtrack With Peter Bernstein. It's pretty inarguable that Elmer Bernstein was one of the greatest film music composers in history, even if you've never heard his name. He did To Kill a Mockingbird, The Magnificent Seven, Ghostbusters, The Age of Innocence and the Academy Award-winning Thoroughly Modern Millie, just to name a few. He was nominated for an Academy Award every decade from the 1950s to the 2000s. This man was prolific and unstoppable. At this special showing, his son, Peter Bernstein, conducts and narrates a musical journey through some of his father's film music. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 22.

Mahler "Resurrection." That same 2016 survey mentioned above ranked this as the fifth-greatest symphony of all time. If you've heard this huge and heart-wrenching piece, which reflects on the beauty of life after death and features German lyrics like "What was created must perish, what perished rise again! Cease from trembling! Prepare yourself to live!" then you likely agree. If you haven't heard it, then you'll likely agree soon. The soaring final movement features the TSO chorus and soloists, including soprano Kelley Nassief and contralto Emily Marvosh. 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 3, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 5.

True Concord Voices & Orchestra

Beethoven & Goethe. It's interesting to think about whom idols idolize. For example, Beethoven absolutely adored the writer Goethe. This night features both men's talents. On the Beethoven end of things, the group is performing "Choral Fantasy," a work designed to include an orchestra, a piano soloist (originally Beethoven himself), a chorus and vocal soloists. They're also playing his Mass in C Major, which was called, in its time, "unbearably ridiculous and detestable," but is these days appreciated as an underappreciated masterpiece. Then, we've got Brahms' Alto Rhapsody, based on Goethe's poem Hrzreise im Winter, featuring alto Emily Marvosh. 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21 at Valley Presbyterian Church in Green Valley, 2800 S. Camino Del Sol. 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23, at Catalina Foothills High School, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive.

Bach B-Minor Mass. This is a good piece for anyone who not only wants to be reminded of the glory of God, but who wants to be reminded that hard work and perseverance can pay off: Bach worked on this piece over a period of 16 years, but today it's recognized as one of classical music's greatest achievements. There are 27 sections, a huge variety of styles in this grandiose, not-to-be-missed piece. 7 p.m. on Friday, March 27, at Valley Presbyterian Church in Green Valley, 2800 S. Camino Del Sol. 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, at Catalina Foothills High School, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive. 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 29, at Catalina United Methodist Church, 2700 E. Speedway Blvd.

Civic Orchestra of Tucson

A Few of Our Favorite B's. Like the TSO "B" event, this concert does feature Beethoven, but you'll also be treated some Johannes Brahms and Béla Bartók. The ever-sassy Brahms composed the Academic Festival Overture, which you'll hear this evening, as a thank you for receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Breslau. To make it fittingly "academic," he based it on a bunch of fratty drinking songs. Bartók's Viola Concerto, a stunning showcase of mastery on the instrument, was one of the last pieces he ever wrote. And Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C Minor is one of the best-known compositions in classical music. 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, at Oro Valley Church of the Nazarene, 500 W. Calle Concordia. 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 15, at Crowder Hall, 1017 N. Olive Road.

UA Presents

click to enlarge Itzhak Perlman
  • Itzhak Perlman

Itzhak Perlman. Itzhak Perlman has won 16 Grammys, four Emmys and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has performed for the Queen of England, at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration and all over the world. He's spent the last 60 years wowing audiences with his blend of stunning virtuosity and pure joy in his work. He wanted to start playing the violin when he was 3, but he was too small, so he taught himself on a toy fiddle until he was big enough. By 13, he was at Juilliard, and the rest is history. Don't miss your chance to see him in Tucson! 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 1 at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.

Arizona Early Music Society

Rachel Baron Pine in Trio Settecento: An Italian Sojourn. Trio Settecento first formed in 1996 to record the complete violin sonatas of George Frederick Handel. With this performance, they are celebrating the 17th- and 18th-century violin sonatas of Italy, the birthplace of both the violin and the sonata. Pine is the violinist of the group (which also features John Mark Rozendaal on viola de gamba and David Schrader on keyboard), and she brings the pieces to life beautifully. Their most recent focus is on the works of Arcangelo Corelli and Franceso Maria Veracini. 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 22. St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church, 4440 N. Campbell Ave.

click to enlarge Ensemble Caprice
  • Ensemble Caprice

Ensemble Caprice: Sweet! Chocolate and French Music. Wow, talk about a night of luxury. French baroque music is a feast for the ears in the same way that chocolate is a feast for the taste buds. This performance by Ensemble Caprice, founded 30 years ago by acclaimed conductor, composer and recorder soloist Matthias Maute, features pieces by Charpentier, Couperin, Rameau, Marais, Leclair and Corrette. They've traveled all over the world, and they're sure to bring down the house in Tucson. 3 p.m. Sunday, April 19. Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St.


Arizona Friends of Chamber Music

click to enlarge Lineage Percussion
  • Lineage Percussion

Lineage Percussion. Does chamber music not usually make you think of percussion trios? This group, which aims to preserve and expand on the rich historical traditions of percussion, has premiered more than a dozen new works for percussion trio. In 2016, they got a bronze medal in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, making them the first percussion group in the group's 43-year history to be finalists in the senior division. They'll be playing literal banger. 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23. Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd.

Winter Chamber Music Festival. This week of music is unique in that it features both well-known pieces and unexplored compositions. From Mozart and Schubert to Philip Glass and Jeffery Cotton, it truly runs the gamut. For example, Australian composer Ross Edwards is premiering a new commission that includes instrumentation for the pipa, a four-stringed Chinese instrument. Russian-born composer, pianist and poet Lera Auerbach is also premiering a musical interpretation of winter, as part of a Four Seasons series. There's so much to see, and none of it should be missed! Sunday, March 1 to Sunday, March 8. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. every day except Sundays, when they are at 3 p.m. Leo Rich Theater, 260 S. Church Ave. On Saturday, March 7, a gala is taking place at 6 p.m. at the Arizona Inn, 2200 E. Elm St., instead of a standard concert.

Narek Arutyunian and Steven Beck. Arutyunian is an Armenian-born, Russian-trained clarinetist who won first prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions. Pianist Steven Beck went to Juilliard, and frequently plays for the Mark Morris Dance Group. In this performance, they'll be playing pieces by Bernstein, Carter, Copland, Bartók, Cage and Schoenfield. A full three out of the six pieces they're playing are called "Clarinet Sonata," so definitely come on down if you like clarinet sonatas. 3 p.m. Sunday, March 22. Leo Rich Theater, 260 S. Church Ave.

click to enlarge Jerusalem Quartet
  • Jerusalem Quartet

Jerusalem Quartet. These Israeli musicians first rose to international prominence for their performances of some of Shostakovich's pieces, so it's fitting that this night features his String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 68. He composed the piece in just 19 days. Bookending this piece is a nice contrast with two of Beethoven's string quartets. BBC Magazine once wrote "Their playing has everything you could possibly wish for." 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, and Thursday, April 2. Leo Rich Theater, 260 S. Church Ave.

Poulenc Trio. This group, which consists of an oboe, bassoon and piano, is named for the French composer and pianist Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc. Tonight, they'll be playing the oboe bassoon and piano trios by Poulenc and Previn; Shostakovich's A Spin Through Moscow, Vázquez's Scherzo from "Tríptico" and Rossini's Fantasy on Themes from "L'Italiana in Algeri." Also, they'll play Viet Cuong's Trains of Thought as part of a mixed-media project, featuring a hand-animated film by artists Elizabeth and Alden Phelps. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9. Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W Speedway Blvd.

Arizona Opera

click to enlarge Riders of the Purple Sage - TIM TRUMBLE
  • Tim Trumble
  • Riders of the Purple Sage

Riders of the Purple Sage. So, yes, this is the name of what's probably the most popular western novel in history, by Zane Grey. But it was also Arizona Opera's fist commission, back in 2017. What could be more fitting for Arizona? Heroes and villains, soaring melodies, a love story, even a scene with a stampede. Now that we think about it, it's a wonder this didn't get made into an opera much earlier. Be sure to check out the much-anticipated return. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8. Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave.

Ariadne auf Naxos. Picture this: It's the early 20th century, and you're so rich that you decide to commission two pieces of entertainment for one of your dinner parties. One is an opera based on the myth of Ariadne in exile. The other is a troupe of absurd clowns. But you decide you want them to perform at the same time. That's the plot of this hilarious, delightful show, which explores the tension between high and low art as they attempt to gain the public's attention. It's also known for being gorgeously orchestrated. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 11, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 12. Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave.

Marion Rose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio Performances. Looking for a highlight reel? In Tucson for only one night, this evening features performances of some of the genre's most beloved scenes. The Studio Artists at this venue perform throughout Arizona while receiving well-rounded and personalized training that brings them to the next level over the course of a season. 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26. Pima Community College Center for the Arts West Campus Recital Hall, 2202 W. Anklam Road.

Fred Fox School of Music

There are soooo many incredible events happening through the spring at the Fred Fox School of Music, and we can't fit them all here. But here are a few, and visit music.arizona.edu to see more!

Sixth Annual David Russell Bach Prize Finalists Recital. Grammy Award-winning artist David Russell is one of the most sought after classical guitar soloist and teacher of today, and he comes to the University of Arizona every year to teach and perform. This competition is all about the music of J.S. Bach, which Russell describes as "satisfying on all levels: emotionally, intellectually, technically and historically. It has given me so much pleasure and happiness throughout my life." At this event, the four guitar student finalists will perform. This year, one player will be awarded a custom guitar by German luthier Dennis Tolz. 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26. Holsclaw Hall, 1017 N. Olive Road.

Hocket Piano Duo: Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff. The American Culture and Ideas Initiative is cosponsoring this performance by this Los Angeles-based piano duo dedicated to commissioning and performing contemporary music. This concert features the American premiere of Daniel Asia's "Piano Set II." 7:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 24. Crowder Hall, 1017 N. Olive Road.

Biosphere, Too. The University Community Chorus, along with some community partners, are celebrating Earth Day Tucson-style with this event. The interactive performance isn't just designed to highlight the beauty of our world, but also to provide tools and information about how we can better protect our one and only biosphere (because there's certainly not enough room for all of us in the Biosphere 2). 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 4. Crowder Hall, 1017 N. Olive Road.

Celebrating Progress: Music for the 19th Amendment. The Arizona Wind Quintet, which features Brian Luce on flute, Sara Fraker on oboe, Jackie Glazier on clarinet, Johanna Lundy on horn and Marissa Olegario on bassoon, is throwing a party in song with this performance. It marks 100 years since the passing of the 19th amendment, which guarantees and protects women's constitutional right to vote. 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, April 13. Holsclaw Hall, 1017 N. Olive Road.

UA Graduate String Quartet. Virtuosic and lovely, plain and simple. This group features Jaeook Lee on violin, Melisa Karic on violin, Raiden Thaler on viola and Diana Yusupov on the cello. Come see them play for free to brighten up your Wednesday evening and put a spring in your step this spring. 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 22. Hoslclaw Hall, 1017 N. Olive Road.

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