The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jul 18, 2013

Looking ahead: Upcoming Festival Miami looks like classical standout

Posted by Gregory Stepanich

Cecile Licad. Photo by Sarah Black

The season is a few months away, but it’s during the summer that the various presenting organizations start to tell us what will be on their programs in the winter months.

Several major Miami music series announced their seasonal lineups in the past few weeks; here’s a look at some of the concerts coming for one of them, Festival Miami, which runs from Oct. 1-Nov. 1.

Festival Miami: This annual celebration of jazz, pop and classical at the University of Miami, now in its 30th year, features a good deal of new music in its 10 classical concerts.

It opens Oct. 4 with violinist Joshua Bell, an annual seasonal visitor to South Florida, performing with bassist and composer Edgar Meyer; the two will give the Florida premiere of Meyer’s Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass, accompanied by Thomas Sleeper and the Frost Symphony. Also on the program is a new concert march by composer Joel McNeely, and the Symphony No. 5 (in E minor, Op. 64) of Tchaikovsky.

Hila Plitmann. Hila Plitmann.

On Oct. 6, the Israeli-American soprano Hila Plitmann is the guest soloist with Gary Green and the UM Wind Ensemble in a song cycle of texts by women over the centuries called Labyrinth of Love, by American composer Michael Daugherty, who will be on hand for the performance. Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, in an arrangement by Merlin Patterson, also will be featured.

The Frost Chamber Players perform the Brahms Horn Trio (Op. 40) and Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, plus other works, in a concert Oct. 15. They’ll be followed the next day by the Manhattan Piano Trio, which will perform three pieces by UM faculty — Lansing McCloskey’s atmospheric Glisten, Dorothy Hindman’s Jerusalem Windows, and Charles Norman Mason’s Three-Legged Race. Other works from the standard piano trio repertoire, as yet unannounced, also are on the bill.

Elizabeth Caballero. Elizabeth Caballero.

The excellent Miami soprano Elizabeth Caballero, who made a memorable Magda in Florida Grand Opera’s recent production of Puccini’s La Rondine, gives a recital Oct. 18 of music by Puccini, Verdi and Mozart, among others, joined by mezzo Robynne Redmon and bass-baritone Kevin Short.

Cecile Licad, the terrific Filipina pianist, arrives Oct. 20 with an astonishing program of rarely heard music by piano virtuosos of the past, much of it American, including the Sonata No. 4 of Leo Ornstein, William Mason’s Silver Spring, a handful of works by the 19th-century crossover pioneer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and the Woodland Sketches of Edward MacDowell. Also in the lineup is the American Indian Diary of Ferruccio Busoni and the Piano Sonata (in C minor, Op. 21) of the French woman composer Cecile Chaminade.

More new music is in store Oct. 22 and 23, when the Uruguayan conductor and composer Jose Serebrier returns to the UM stage to lead the Costa Rica National Symphony Orchestra in music by Costa Rican composers Vinicio Meza (Oct. 22 and 23) and Marvin Camacho (Oct. 22), plus Serebrier himself (Oct. 23). Pianist Shelly Berg, dean of the UM Frost School of Music, will play Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue along with a jazz trio on Oct. 22, a concert that also will feature music from Shostakovich’s film score The Gadfly. The Oct. 23 concert also contains ballet music from operas by Verdi (Aida), Bizet (Carmen) and Borodin (Prince Igor); the Borodin will also include the services of the Frost Chorale, led by Karen Kennedy.

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), photographed by Roland Haupt in 1949. (Image courtesy Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), photographed by Roland Haupt in 1949. Image courtesy

The classical portion of the festival concludes Oct. 29 with a concert devoted to the music of Benjamin Britten, whose centenary is being observed this year. Tenor Tony Boutté, a UM faculty member who founded the Baroque ensemble Arcanum three years ago, is hosting the evening, which will include Canticle III, Suite on English Folk Tunes, the Choral Dances from the opera Gloriana, and a scene from the opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Students will perform the Elegy for solo viola and the Twelve Variations on a Theme for piano, and Boutté will sing Britten’s Three Small Songs, as well as Everyone Sang, an orchestral song he premiered while studying at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies in England.

Not to be forgotten is a free concert on Oct. 8, when a program devoted to new music by UM composition students is heard at Clarke Hall. The music heard here will be by winners of the 2013 Emerging Composers Competition.

This promises to be quite a challenging classical series for this 30th year of UM’s festival. I can’t recall a recent Festival lineup with so much new and should-be-repertory on it, and the Britten tribute will be a strong entry in the centenary celebrations. Here’s hoping it also provides more evidence of a shift in audience and performer orientation to fresh repertoire, whether newly composed or lying unfairly neglected in the libraries of our national attic.

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