April foolery

By Peter A. Klein

Here are some musical announcements and news for the week of April 1:

Ever the Revolutionary. The Italian early music ensemble Mess’ Uppa di Voce will bring some hitherto-unknown works of Claudio Monteverdi to Seattle, at 2:00 PM Saturday in Our Lady of Perpetual Amazement Church in Wallingford. The group’s director, Dr. Alfredo Fettucine recently discovered the manuscripts in an empty barrel in a Venetian wine cellar, where some of the composer’s more prudent friends had hidden them over 350 years ago.

The centerpiece of the program is the dramatic cantata Galileo liberato, in which the renowned Renaissance scientist is freed from Inquisition house arrest by opponents of Pope Urban VIII. He builds an aerial sailing ship and travels the solar system with his new benefactors, singing the ritornello aria, Eppur si muove (Still it moves).
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Seaman conducts an energetic program Thursday

By: R.M. Campbell

The Seattle Symphony Orchestra entered into its holiday season Thursday night at Benaroya Hall with a varied, easy–to-like concert, only some of which had any bearing to Christmas. No one seemed to complain.

That is not surprising because the guest conductor for this program, to be repeated through Sunday afternoon, was Christoper Seaman, who conducted with flair and ebullience for everything on the podium. If this music were supposed to bring simple pleasure to the audience, Seaman was determined to carry out his assignment. The seasonal offerings were mostly of Tchaikovsky, one which has become a part of the Christmas weeks nearly everywhere in America and the other which has nothing to do with Christmas.

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Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker” Returns to McCaw Hall

By: R.M. Campbell

For more than 30 years now, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” is a fixture of the holiday season. Actually, its is in most American cities but few have similar visual charm and panache. And so, PNB opened its 2009 edition of this veritable warhorse over the weekend at McCaw Hall. By the end of the run of more than 40 performances, some 125,000 people will have seen the production. Nothing else in the region comes close to those numbers.

Sometimes people wonder why the company doesn’t just commission new decor and costumes and new choreography. Why should it when the current one sells so many tickets? A new production is always a risk from every standpoint, just as the present “Nutcracker” was in 1983 when it was first produced by a fledging ensemble. PNB is so established now there aren’t so many who remember those nervous days at the beginning when it struggled for everything. This “Nutcacker” was a huge gamble that paid off. They don’t always.

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Norwegian conductor returns to SSO podium this week

By: R.M. Campbell

Hearing a new conductor at the Seattle Symphony Orchestra used to be a simple pleasure. Now it has the hint of destiny since everyone may be a candidate to succeed Gerard Schwarz as music director in 2011. The motto at the symphony is that everyone is a candidate, no one is a candidate, which means no one can be ruled out. The symphony is filling every available guest conducting opening with one possibility or another.

Of course, the big opportunities are on the Masterpiece Series, the 22 most prestigious programs of the season. For four concerts starting Thursday at Benaroya Hall, Norwegian conductor Arild Remmereit made his local debut. He has conducted about eight American orchestras, including Atlanta and Baltimore, second tier orchestras in Germany and Austria and most of the major ensembles in Scandinavia. Remmereit studied in Olso, Stockholm and Vienna, where he now lives. He is in his early 40s.

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Another rising young performer

By: Philippa Kiraly

It’s always awe-inspiring to hear the Seattle Youth Symphony. To see 125 children, yes, kids, on stage performing difficult orchestral works with all the professionalism and technique of musicians years their senior in age and experience is exciting and hopeful. Not every teen or preteen is glued to a computer screen or a cell phone. To get where these kids have requires years of diligent practice and stick-to-it-iveness.

Sunday saw the first concert of the orchestra’s season under its music director Stephen Rogers Radcliffe. Beginning his fourth season with the orchestra, it’s clear that Radcliffe combines fine skills as an educator as well as excellent leadership on the podium. The program notes, written by orchestra members, are models of clear understanding and information.

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Review: Simple Measures “Earth”

By: Gigi Yellen

Two longhaired four-year-old girls danced during intermission, mimicking the Seattle Dance Project performers’ spins and holds. Whether from the front row, where these two little friends sat, or from a back corner just six rows behind them, where I and a dozen others stood, audience members got what they came for: close-up experience with dance and music, including enough deep rhythm to take some home. This was the second performance of this program in this all-purpose community room with folding chairs (with one more performance to go there, Sunday night November 15).

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