Classical Music Sampler: March 2010

By Caldwell Titcomb

Yo Yo Ma

The world’s greatest living cellist makes his home here, though he tours the world most of the time. Yo-Yo Ma makes a local appearance thanks to the Celebrity Series.

March 2: The Contemporary Music Ensemble in residence at Boston University, Alea III, under the direction of Theodore Antoniou, offers a free concert in celebration of the late eminent composer/teacher/conductor Lukas Foss (1922–2009). Works by Foss to be performed are “Echoi,” “For Toru,” “Elegy for Anne Frank,” “For Aaron,” “The Prairie,” and “Behold! I Build an House.” The concert also will include “Nineteen Epigrams,” new music written by 19 of Foss’s students. At the B.U. Concert Hall, 855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, 7:30 p.m.

March 6: The Boston Modern Orchestra Project, conducted by Gil Rose, presents a program entitled “Strings Attached,” which will feature Scott Wheeler’s “Wakefield Doubles,” Stephen Hartke’s “Alvorada,” Milton Babbitt’s “Correspondences,” Betty Olivero’s “Neharót Neharót” (with Kim Kashkashian as viola soloist), Nathan Ball’s “Stained Glass” (New England Conservatory winner), and Bartók’s “Divertimento.” At New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA, 8 p.m.

March 7: The Boston Conservatory Orchestra, led by Bruce Hangen, puts a welcome spotlight on Scandinavia: Carl Nielsen’s rarely performed “Helios Overture” (1903), Einojuhani Rautavaara’s “Cantus Arcticus” (1972, concerto for bird & orchestra), Hilding Rosenberg’s “Sinfonia Concertante” (1935), and Jean Sibelius’s glorious Symphony No. 5 (1919), Sanders Theatre, at Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, 2 p.m. (with a pre-concert lecture at 1 p.m.)

March 8: The New Center for Arts and Culture presents Osvaldo Golijov’s “Passion” along with his chamber piece “Tenebrae,” the latter played by the Borromeo String Quartet. The evening also includes a chat between the composer and “Boston Globe” music critic Jeremy Eichler. At Temple Israel, 477 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA, 7:30 p.m.

March 11–13: It is not often that opera productions are offered to the public free of charge, but that is what OperaHub is doing with Alexander Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg (The Dwarf), completed in 1921 and based on Oscar Wilde’s story “The Birthday of the Infanta.” It will be sung in German with a projected English translation. At the Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. For advance reservations, e-mail

March 12–18: The New England Conservatory will present a six-day festival celebrating the avant-garde composer (and sometime literature professor) Christian Wolff (b. 1934). He has composed more than 175 works, and the festival’s free concerts will include 21 of his works from 1950 to the present. Among the pieces are the U.S. premieres of “Quodlibet” (2007) and “Rhapsody” (2009), and the world premiere of “Songs From Brecht: The Exception and the Rule.” For exact dates, times, and pieces, visit here.

Lukas Foss

Alea III, under the direction of Theodore Antoniou, offers a free concert in celebration of the late, eminent composer/teacher/conductor Lukas Foss (1922–2009).

March 12–23: The Boston Lyric Opera presents the Welsh National Opera’s production of the comedy Ariadne auf Naxos (1916) by Richard Strauss. The 29-year-old American soprano Marjorie Owens will undertake the title role, with Brandon Jovanovich as Bacchus and Boston University alumna Rachele Gilmore as Zerbinetta. Erik Nielsen conducts. Sung in German with English surtitles. At the Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, March 12, 17, 19, and 23 at 7:30 p.m.; March 14 and 21 at 3 p.m.

March 13: Wellesley College professor and pianist Charles Fisk salutes the bicentennial of Chopin’s birth with a free all-Chopin concert: Nocturne in C-minor, Ballade in A-flat (Op. 47), Fantasy in F-minor (Op. 49), Polonaise-Fantasy in A-flat (Op. 61), and Polonaise in A-flat (Op. 53. Also on the program is the Sonata in G-minor for cello and piano (Op. 65), with cellist David Russell. Jewett Auditorium, Wellesley campus, 106 Central Street, Wellesley Hills, MA, 8 p.m.

March 14: The first Boston Jewish Music Festival presents Ernest Bloch’s esteemed “Avodath Hakodesh” (“Sacred Service,” 1930-33). Participating will be the Chorus Pro Musica, the Zamir Chorale, and the New England Philharmonic. The event also includes the premiere of a new commission by Andrew Rindfliesch. At John Hancock Hall, 180 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA, 3 p.m.

March 19: The Boston Early Music Festival continues its twentieth anniversary season by presenting the French chamber ensemble Les Folies Françoises, directed by Patrick Cohën-Akenine. The program, entitled “Great Parisian Masters Under Louis XV,” features music by Jean-Marie Leclair, Jean Barrière, and Joseph Royer. At the First Church of Cambridge, Congregational, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA (just off Harvard Square), at 8 p.m. (a free pre-concert talk with the artists takes place at 7 p.m.)

Composer Peter Lieberson

Composer Peter Lieberson

March 25–30: A Boston Symphony Orchestra commission, the eagerly awaited world premiere of Peter Lieberson’s “Farewell Songs” for baritone and orchestra takes place with Gerald Finley as the vocal soloist. James Levine conducts this along with Debussy’s wonderful “Jeux” and Schubert’s Symphony in C-major (“The Great,” D. 944). At Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA, March 25, 27, and 30 at 8 p.m.; March 26 at 1:30 p.m.

March 26: The world’s greatest living cellist makes his home here, though he tours the world most of the time. Yo-Yo Ma makes a local appearance thanks to the Celebrity Series, partnered by pianist Kathryn Stott. They will play Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata (D. 821), Shostakovich’s Sonata in D-minor (Op. 40), Piazzolla’s “Le Grand Tango,” the Gismonti/Carneiro “Bodas de Prata & Cuatro Cantos,” and a cello transcription of Franck’s A-major violin sonata (M. 8). At Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA, 8 p.m.

March 27: The celebrated Tallis Scholars, founded in 1973 and led by Peter Phillips, return to town in a vocal program entitled “Franco-Flemish Masters of the Renaissance.” The featured composers are Josquin Des Prez, Loyset Compère, Jean Mouton, and Nicholas Gombert. At St. Paul Church, 29 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA (corner of Bow and Arrow Streets off Harvard Square), at 8 p.m. (Phillips will give a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.)

March 28: The Harvard University Choir and Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, led by choirmaster Edward E. Jones, present J.S. Bach’s monumental “St. John Passion” (BWV 245), with tenor Frank Kelley as the Evangelist. At the Memorial Church, One Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA, 8 p.m. (the world’s leading Bach scholar, Christoph Wolff, will give a pre-concert talk)

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