Theater & art

Classical Notes

Premieres, projects among new season’s highlights

Jamie Kirsch is new Chorus pro Musica director.
Jamie Kirsch is new Chorus pro Musica director.

Even though a number of summer festivals are still in swing, it’s a good time to look ahead at what’s on the horizon for the fall. Here is a selection of recently announced plans for the 2013-14 season.

Chorus pro Musica has undergone a leadership change. Betsy Burleigh stepped down as music
director in June and was replaced by Jamie Kirsch, whose ambitious first season begins with a multifaceted Nov. 3 concert at Old South Church that includes works by Vaughan Williams, Tchaikovsky, Rautavaara, Liszt, Veljo Tormis, Gerald Finzi, and Eric Whitacre. On March 2 the chorus performs British composer James Whitbourn’s “Annelies,” a piece whose libretto is drawn from “The Diary of Anne Frank”; also on that program is Stephen Paulus’s “Hymn to the Eternal Flame.” (Paulus, sadly, suffered a stroke last month and as of this writing is still in what his website describes as an “unresponsive state.”) The group tackles Bach’s Mass in B minor on May 31.

Chameleon Arts Ensemble opens its season with a Paris-centric program on Oct. 5 and 6 (First Church in Boston and Goethe-Institut) that includes the Chopin Cello Sonata and works by Mendelssohn, Copland, Morton Feldman, and Richard Rodney Bennett. Among other highlights is a program of late works that features music of Brahms, Ravel, Ives, and Georges Enescu (March 22 and 23) and a fascinating concert that explores the entwining of musical pasts and presents, with pieces by Beethoven, Britten, and Saint-Saëns. That program also includes two Boston premieres, by Philippe Hersant and Judith Shatin (Feb. 1 and 2).


Among the hundreds of concerts that New England Conservatory will present during the 2013-14 season is a yearlong project called “Music: Truth to Power,” exploring music as a catalyst of societal and political change. Among the events for the project are the North American premiere of Chinese composer Tan Dun’s “Concerto for Orchestra (from Marco Polo)” (Sept. 25) and a Symphony Hall concert by the NEC Philharmonia under conductor Hugh Wolff featuring Beethoven’s “Egmont” Overture, Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto, and Shostakovich’s 11th Symphony (April 23).

Andrew Hurlbut
Hugh Wolff directs the NEC Philharmonia.

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In September, Steven Lipsitt will begin his 15th season at the head of the Boston Classical Orchestra, a talented chamber orchestra whose programs hew closely to the core symphonic repertoire. Lipsitt, a Brookline native, will team up with a former Bostonian, pianist Benjamin Pasternack, in Beethoven’s Third Concerto in the season opener, which also includes the overture to Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” and Haydn’s “Oxford” Symphony (Sept. 28 and 29 at Faneuil Hall). Soprano Jane Eaglen, a new member of the NEC faculty, will sing Wagner’s “Wesendonck” Lieder in November, and violinist Sharon Roffman, with whom the orchestra has collaborated several times, plays Mozart’s “Turkish” Concerto (Oct. 26 and 27).

Jennifer Koh begins the fall portion of Rockport Music’s season. Koh’s last visit to Rockport featured all six of Bach’s sonatas and partitas for solo violin; on Oct. 27, she’ll play all three of Brahms’s violin sonatas in the company of pianist Benjamin Hochman (Shalin Liu Performance Center). Pianists dominate much of the remainder of Rockport’s season, including Richard Goode, accompanying the young soprano Sarah Shafer (Nov. 24); Garrick Ohlsson (Feb. 2); and Stephen Hough (Feb. 28).

Finally, the inventive opera company Guerilla Opera offers two productions next season. The first is Andy Vores’s “No Exit,” based on the Jean-Paul Sartre play that gave birth to the overused line “Hell is other people.” Guerilla Opera commissioned and premiered “No Exit” in 2008; its new production goes up at the Zack Box Theater at Boston Conservatory, Sept. 19-22. In May, the company will present a chamber opera by Ken Ueno, a former Bostonian now on the faculty of the University of California Berkeley. His new work is “Gallo,” which, according to Guerilla Opera, “investigates how the landscape and man shape and transform each other.” It also promises “a beach made out of Cheerios and a countertenor vocalist in a chicken suit.”

Hvorostovsky rescheduled

The Celebrity Series of Boston has rescheduled a concert by the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. His Jordan Hall recital has moved from May 10 to May 29. According to the Celebrity Series, the change was made to accommodate “a very recent invitation for Dmitri to participate in a commemorative event in Russia for the end of the Second World War.”

David Weininger can be reached at

A previous version of this story misstated who will give the Boston premiere of “Annelies.” New England Conservatory will perform the piece on Oct. 24, 2013.