2007: Classical beginnings and endings 

2007 was the year that saw a beginning and an ending. Newly appointed Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Zachary de Pue assumed his “first chair” in September. As a result, the ISO strings delivered a sheen and a presence in the first six of the season’s 20 classical series concerts that we had not previously heard. In addition, Alex Kerr made his first appearance as the ISO’s principal guest concertmaster, also newly appointed and the first one in this country with that title.

This year regrettably saw the departure from Indianapolis of the Suzuki duo: Hidetaro, previous ISO concertmaster, and Zeyda Ruga, violinist and pianist, respectively. They had hosted for some 25 years the most celebrated local chamber series in town with their Suzuki and Friends. Zeyda was among the finest pianist/musicians to grace any city of our size, and she definitely will be missed. Some reported rancor is connected with their leaving Indy; that, too, is regrettable.

Indianapolis Opera gave us a sterling production of Giuseppe Verdi’s difficult-to-execute final opera, Falstaff, last May. In addition, this September saw an excellently sung season-opener in ISO’s production of Mozart’s final opera, The Magic Flute. Julia Kogan’s Queen of the Night and Marnie Breckenridge’s Pamina topped a group of above-standard singers delivering the most sublime music this side of Nirvana.

The Ensemble Music Society gets kudos for programming eighth blackbird, a sextet of players who took the avant-garde to new, entertaining heights on Nov. 28 — despite a 10-minute interruption, due to the flutist sustaining a mild head injury in the middle of a piece.

Soprano Elizabeth Futral appeared on Dec. 8 in the ISO’s Classical Christmas, giving us the best singing in that series since ISO Conductor Laureate Raymond Leppard launched it in 1998 with that difficult to deal with but greatest lyric soprano, Kathleen Battle.

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