2007 Caramoor Festival Opens with Gala Concert

Classic Arts News   2007 Caramoor Festival Opens with Gala Concert
The 2007 Caramoor Festival opens its six-week run this evening with a gala concert by the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the organization's resident ensemble.

Peter Oundjian — celebrating his 10th anniversary as the festival's artistic advisor and principal conductor — conducts a program featuring Natasha Paremski (filling in for H_lne Grimaud) in Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, the overture to Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia and Kodšly's Dances of Galšnta.

(Oundjian arrives at Caramoor from his brand-new festival in Detroit, 8 Days in June, to which he immediately returns after the weekend.)

This summer Caramoor launches a two-year Latin American music initiative called "Sonidos Latinos," which explores indigenous musical traditions and contemporary trends. Integral to the festival will be Cuban-born Paquito D'Rivera, Caramoor's 2007 composer-in-residence, and Marco Granados, a Venezuelan flute player and composer who will be the initiative's musical advisor.

Eight Latin American-themed concerts over the next two seasons include a focus on the music of Venezuela and the world premiere of D'Rivera's Concerto for Double Bass, Clarinet/Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, which is titled Conversations with Cachao. The work was inspired by the Cuban musician known as "Cachao," an 88-year-old bassist who played everything from symphonies and ballets to silent movies, circuses, and nightclubs.

Another concert will see D'Rivera and Granados team with Alon Yavnai, Gonzalo Teppa, and the Daedalus Quartet for an evening of chamber music by Argentine composers Alberto Ginastera, Osvaldo Golijov and Fernando Otero.

On July 1, Caramoor will present the U.S. premiere of Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy) by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, the duo behind Spamalot. The comic oratorio, inspired by the film Monty Python's Life of Brian, will have two performances in Caramoor's Venetian Theater, at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., featuring Idle as both soloist and narrator. Oundjian (who is Idle's first cousin) will lead the Orchestra of St. Luke's with the Collegiate Chorale and featured soloists. (Oundjian conducted the world premiere earlier this month the new Luminato festival in Toronto.)

"As Messiah was to the Bible, so Not the Messiah is to Life of Brian" says Idle, a longtime member of the Monty Python troupe. "It is shorter than Handel, funnier than Handel, but obviously not as good theologically."

The 10th season of bel canto at Caramoor, under the leadership of Will Crutchfield, will feature Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, with soprano Julianna Di Giacomo, mezzo Laura Vlasak Nolen, tenor Barry Banks and bass-baritone Daniel Mobbs.

A semi-staged performance of Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix stars soprano Sarah Coburn in the title role, with mezzo-soprano Laura Vlasak Nolen as Pierotto, Banks in the role of Carlo, baritone Marco Nistico as Antonio, bass-baritone Ricardo Herrera as Marchese, and bass Eric Jordan as Il Prefetto.

Renowned Polish contralto Ewa Podles will sing Azucena in two concert performances of Verdi's Il trovatore, alongside Di Giacomo as Leonora, Mobbs as Ferrando, tenor Francisco Casanova as Manrico and baritone Daniel Sutin as the Conte di Luna.

The chamber music lineup at Caramoor this summer includes the Formosa Quartet playing Debussy and Brahms as well as the world premiere of Shih-hui Chen's Mei Hua; the Pacifica Quartet playing Dutilleux, Bart‹k and Beethoven; the Jupiter String Quartet playing a new work by John Musto along with music by Beethoven and Mendelssohn; the Parker Quartet playing Lera Auerbach's Findings and Ligeti; and the Mendelssohn Quartet with pianist Jonathan Biss playing Brahms's Quintet in F minor (Op. 34) along with Haydn and Bolcom.

The roster of piano recitals includes Mitsuko Uchida in music by Beethoven and Schoenberg, Christopher Taylor playing Bach, and Gabriela Montero performing classical works along with some of her trademark improvisations.

Closing night of Caramoor 2007 comes on August 5 with Uchida playing Beethoven's final three piano sonatas, Op. 109-111.

The Caramoor Festival is held each summer at the Caramoor estate, a Mediterranean-style villa and garden compound in Westchester County, New York. Information and tickets are available at www.caramoor.org.

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