The University of Chicago Presents’ 2008/2009 season launched to great acclaim with the 10-day Olivier Messiaen Music Festival, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the French composer’s birth. The first undertaking of this type by the University’s 65-year-old music presenter, the Festival featured a lineup of renowned Messiaen scholars and musicians, as well as a world premiere composition by professor and former Messiaen student, Marta Ptaszynska. Performances by such artists as Dame Gillian Weir, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, John Bruce Yeh, Cho-Liang Lin, Gary Hoffman, Christopher Taylor, and Peter Hill offered insight into the works and faith of Messiaen and those he influenced.
Appearing in his own Guest Artist Series, bassist and composer Edgar Meyer performed to a near-capacity crowd in October with frequent collaborator and mandolinist Chris Thile. Meyer, a three-time Grammy winner and MacArthur genius, returned in April for a solo recital followed by an appearance with Barbara Schubert and the University Symphony Orchestra.
After a successful 45-year history, the revered Guarneri String Quartet took the stage of Mandel Hall as part of its farewell tour. Meanwhile, audiences were treated to UCP series debuts by the Zukofsky Quartet, Early Music ensemble Dialogos, tenor Nicholas Phan, cellist Johannes Moser, and guitarist Robert Belinic.
Paying tribute to the masters of past and present, UCP’s 2009/2010 season, titled “Engage. Enlighten. Enhance” invites audiences, both musically curious and veteran listeners, to “rediscover” the classics of the chamber world. University scholars, including Thomas Christensen, Philip Gossett, Berthold Hoeckner, Steven Rings, and Anne Robertson will host several pre-concert lectures throughout the season, providing fresh insight and commentary.
UCP’s cornerstone, the Classic Concert Series, opens October 9 with a Chicago debut by the ATOS Trio, winner of the 2007 Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson International Trio Award. Also featured on the series are the Pavel Haas Quartet, named BBC Magazine’s 2007 Newcomer of the Year, the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet, Emerson Quartet members Philip Setzer and David Finckel with pianist Wu Han, the venerable Orion String Quartet with pianist Peter Serkin, and an encore appearance by the Belcea Quartet.
With a diverse lineup, the Howard Mayer Brown International Early Music Series sees the welcome return of Christopher Taylor, performing Bach’s Goldberg Variations on a one-of-a-kind dual-manual Steinway piano dating from the 1920s and refurbished specifically for Taylor. Baroque orchestra Europa Galante, with conductor/violinist Fabio Biondi and flutist Frank Theuns, performs a concert of 17th-century favorites that includes Vivaldi’s timeless Four Seasons. Finally, the angelic voices of Trio Mediæval fill Rockefeller Memorial Chapel with a recreation of a vocal mass from 13th-century Worcester Cathedral manuscripts.
Now in its second consecutive residency with the University of Chicago, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra returns for two performances as part of UCP’s new Chamber Orchestra Series. In November, the SPCO appears with conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and soprano Dawn Upshaw for a concert that includes a world premiere by Alberto Iglesias written especially for Upshaw. Violinist Thomas Zehetmair then makes his Chicago conducting debut with the orchestra in April.
March 4–6, UCP is proud to present Beyond Flamenco: Finding Spain in Music. Conceived by Spain’s pre-eminent contemporary novelist, Antonia Muñoz-Molina, and music historian Joseph Horowitz, the three-day festival celebrates the cultural heritage of Spain through its music, poetry, and visual art. Conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez and pianist Pedro Carboné join the University’s Motet Choir, under the direction of James Kallembach, and the University Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Barbara Schubert, for works by such composers as de Falla, Rodrigo, and Albéniz. This festival, which also showcases the drawings and sculptures of Julio Gonzáles, is produced in collaboration with the Smart Museum of Art and the Department of Romance Languages.
Artist-in-Residence Pacifica Quartet performs classic works of the repertoire in its annual three-concert series, including Schubert’s Death and the Maiden and Beethoven’s Opus 131 Quartet in C-sharp minor. University Beethoven scholar Philip Gossett, who commemorates his retirement this season, provides the pre-concert lecture for the April 11 performance.
Celebrating its 45th season, Contempo continues to spotlight the best works from living composers. Under the artistic direction of composer Shulamit Ran and conducted by Cliff Colnot, Contempo features Grammy-winning artists-in-residence eighth blackbird and Pacifica Quartet. This season’s annual Double-Bill concert welcomes jazz artists Chris Potter and Kenny Werner.
The Double-Bill is also part of the new three-concert Jazz Series. From the Cuban mambo sounds of the Chuchito Valdés Quartet to the unpredictable set of “power piano trio” The Bad Plus, the Jazz Series is sure to be an exciting addition to UCP’s season.
Winner of the 2006 Concert Artists Guild competition and this year’s Regents Park Discovery Artist, the Brasil Guitar Duo has earned praise in recent years for its technical virtuosity and smooth performance style. The duo’s April 8 performance features classical works by J.S. Bach, Rameau, and Debussy alongside Brazilian folk and dance music by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Piazzolla, and Gismonti.
Tickets to all UCP events are now available. Call 773.702.8068, or visit chicagopresents.uchicago.edu for more information