The month of January brings a late holiday gift to classical music lovers, with four different world-class performances at the Vilar Performing Arts Center by January 31.
These shows are part of the new classic Therese M. Grojean series, which is generously supported by a donation of $ 350,000 that Thomas Grojean made to the center in 2021. The gift was offered to honor the memory of his late wife, now the namesake of the series and their common love for classical music.
With this new source of funding, the Vilar is poised to be a center of reference for classical music for years to come.
“Sir. Grojean’s gift will be transformative for classic VPAC programming, allowing us to welcome truly distinguished artists and illustrious ensembles this coming season and for years to come,” said VPAC CEO, Owen Hutchinson.
Each show has a distinctly different style and offers a glimpse into the wider world of classical music. Upcoming performances include an acclaimed solo pianist, a Scottish folk music quartet, a Baroque-era orchestra and a romantic approach to chamber music.
Monday January 10 – Pianist Ilya Yakushev
Classical Music Month begins this Monday evening with a solo performance by famous Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev.
Yakushev has had a long and distinguished career, performing both solo and as a soloist with the symphony orchestras of New Haven, El Paso, Dubuque, La Crosse, Lake Forest and the Glacier Symphony. Yakushev has performed at a high level since he was a child, winning his first prize at the age of 12 at the Concerto Competition for Young Artists in St. Petersburg.
He has since received many other accolades, including the 1997 St. Petersburg Mayor’s Award for Young Talent, the 1998 Award for Excellence in Performance – a national honor presented to him by the Minister of Culture of Russian Federation in Moscow – and winner of the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati in 2005.
For his performance on Monday, Yakushev selected works from three different periods of classical music. From the classical period, he will open the show with Haydn’s Sonata in D major and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 23, the famous and very demanding “Appassionata”. Moving on to the Romantic period, Yakushev will perform three shorter works by Polish, Russian and Hungarian composers, before closing the show with the Three Preludes by 20th century composer George Gershwin.
“I tried to make it into a collection of exciting and entertaining works from three different periods of classical music, recognizable and enjoyable,” Yakushev said. “We all need to have a good time every now and then during the tough times we are going through right now. “
Yakushev has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York; Glinka Philharmonic Hall in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia; and Victoria Hall in Singapore; among countless others. This week he will be performing in the May Gallery, an intimate setting with limited seating and a lounge atmosphere that allows members of the public to be close to the artist while he performs for the hall.
“I really like small venues and more intimate settings,” Yakushev said. “There seems to be a better connection with the listener in places like this. I also like to talk a bit about the pieces I’m about to play and this allows the audience to better understand the work they are about to hear.
Tickets for Yakushev’s May Gallery show start at $ 125 and include cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
Sunday January 16 – Maxwell Quartet
Next Sunday, the Glasgow-based Maxwell Quartet will also perform in the May Gallery, bringing their unique blend of Scottish folk music and classical repertoire to the Vilar.
The quartet are close friends who grew up playing classical and folk music in youth orchestras across Scotland.
“When we were young we remember that folk music was sort of seen as the antithesis of classical music,” said cellist Duncan Strachan. “But as we played together in a string quartet these amazing musical pieces by Haydn, Beethoven, Dvorak and others, we quickly began to realize that folk music was really at the very heart of the musical universe of these composers.”
The group officially started in 2010 at the Royal Conservatory of Scotland, where its founding members met as postgraduates, and over time they have developed an innovative style that connects the songs of their youth to the technicality of a classical quartet.
“We started to relearn and revamp the Scottish folk music that we learned as a child for the quartet, and we quickly realized that it was something we not only loved to do, but seemed to work with. the classical repertoire in a really interesting and meaningful way, ”Strachan said.
The quartet will perform a number of songs from their soon to be released album, ‘Gather’, which weaves many strands of Scottish folk music and instruments translated into strings.
“It is a mixture of Gaelic songs, bagpipe music, violin music and Celtic plainsong, some of which are originally very old and others which are brand new compositions of the quartet,” said Strachan said.
Tickets for the Maxwell Quartet’s May Gallery show start at $ 125 and include cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
Tuesday January 25 – Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performs at the centre’s main venue on Tuesday, January 25. The Chamber Music Society is an organization dedicated to the performance and promotion of chamber music in New York City, which also presents over 80 concerts per season outside of Manhattan.
The performance at the Vilar will feature two violins, two violas, a cello and a piano. Together, the group will perform a program called “Romantic Perspectives”, an ode to the romantic music movement that flourished across Europe in the 19th century.
“Fueled by Beethoven’s vision, Schubert’s poetry and Schumann’s hyper-emotionality, the composers drew on themselves, often deeply inspired by their cultures of origin,” the program description reads.
The program’s repertoire, which is subject to change, includes pieces by Brahms, Mahler, Dvorak and Franck, and will give listeners a rich taste of what the Chamber Music Society contributes to the art form each year.
Tickets for the January 25 program start at $ 68 and $ 10 for students.
Monday January 31 – Apollo’s Fire Orchestra
The last day of the month brings one of the country’s most notable orchestras, the Apollo’s Fire Orchestra of Cleveland, to the Vilar Stage.
The Grammy-winning ensemble was founded by award-winning harpsichordist and conductor Jeannette Sorrell in 1992, and is dedicated to the Baroque ideal that music should evoke the various ‘Affekts’, or passions, of listeners.
Baroque music is a 17th-century European style that originated in the Renaissance and known for its grandiose, dramatic and energetic spirit.
“Baroque composers were very keen to emulate and revive the lost art of rhetoric – that is, the way great orators spoke to people and manipulated the emotions of their audiences,” Sorrell said. in the orchestra’s 25th anniversary video. “They used the rise and fall of their voices to either agitate the crowd, or leave it hanging during a break, or quietly bring it back to a moment of contemplation.”
The 15 musicians of Apollo’s Fire perform both original works and those of former masters of the Baroque style, creating a direct connection with the audience through intense ups and downs in their music.
“My goal is to bring the audience through a series of emotional moods,” Sorrell said. “If at the end of the show we send them off feeling better than when they arrived, then we’ve had a good night’s work.”
The orchestra has been on tour for nearly three decades and won the 2019 Grammy Award for “Best Classical Solo Vocal Album” for their album “Songs of Orpheus”.
The program that the orchestra will perform at the Vilar focuses on Bach and Vivaldi. The show will begin at 7 p.m. in the main concert hall.
“The size of this room is really perfect for our music and our instruments,” Sorrell said. “We like to attract people and feel their energy. It’s a two-way street.
Tickets for Apollo’s Fire Orchestra start at $ 68 and $ 10 for students.
To purchase tickets and for more information on upcoming shows in the classic Therese M. Grojean series, visit vilarpac.org.