Indy's classical music begins anew 

click to enlarge Urbański & ISO members
  • Urbański & ISO members

With the passage of Labor Day, music lovers come in from the heat to bask in the warmth and glow of live classical music. Whether your taste runs to symphonic, chamber, vocal and/or recital music—all these genres have presenters ready to welcome you to their various venues.

First and foremost is the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, now rather stable after its notorious contract lockout nadir of Sept. 2011. A bit smaller in size with a slightly fewer number of concerts, the ISO has gained in adding run out concerts to Avon venues and the Carmel Palladium to its regular Hilbert Circle Theatre series. About half of these will be under the baton of its young music director Krzysztof Urbański. My pick for the ISO's most rewarding concert event of the season takes place on Oct. 9 and 10. Then guest conductor Hans Graf, along with four vocal soloists and the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir will present only the second ISO performance ever of Beethoven's monumental Missa Solemnis (Solemn Mass) in D, Op. 123, a torturous work for the choir, but sublimely rewarding in the end. A more unusual highlight comes on June 10 and 12 with Urbański closing the season by conducting a semi-staged production of Bizet's opera Carmen.

The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra celebrates the ascension of its new music director Matthew Kraemer. Aside from five regular concerts from the stage of the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler, the 33-piece ICO will perform live background music to the silent Harold Lloyd film Speedy at the IMA's Toby Theater on March 4. On Oct. 10 the ICO opens its series featuring Tessa Lark, the silver medalist of the 2014 quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, under a dual sponsorship with the IVCI Laureate Chamber Series.

Music for forces smaller yet is featured on the Ensemble Music Series, with its home base at the Indiana History Center's Basile Theater. Of its five season concerts, the Kelemen Quartet offers another dual sponsorship with the IVCI on Oct. 20. Barnabas Kelemen was the gold medalist in the 2002 competition. On Nov. 11, the Elias Quartet will make its debut Ensemble appearance.In an unusual move, the Elias offers its patrons a choice with which string quartet to end its program: Beethoven's A Minor, Op. 132, Beethoven's C Major, Op. 59 No. 3, or Mendelssohn's E-flat Major, Op. 51. I pick Op. 132 by far.

And now to the IVCI Laureate series, devoted to highlighting the laureates (the top six players) of present and past competitions. The series' first two concerts were described above. The third, on Nov. 11, features Mihaela Martin, the IVCI's first gold medalist (1982), now a member of the Michelangelo String Quartet. What especially attracts me is their opening work, Haydn's Quartet in G, Op. 77 No. 1 (1799), which I consider the greatest work of any genre that he left us and my first live hearing of it. It goes without saying that it should have been played last. And it's not too late to change the ordering . . .

Indianapolis Opera, having suffered severe financial woes, has had to dispense with large-scale, repertory, Clowes Hall productions in favor of lighter, smaller, mostly contemporary fare. Their fall offering already happened in late summer: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Michael Nyman, presented on Aug. 21, 22 and 23 at the Schrott Center. Their next production, Opera's Rising Stars, featuring finalists from Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, takes place on Jan. 30 and 31. Perhaps we can hear some rising young divas launching their careers. The American debut of Mansfield Park by Jonathan Dove will appear on March 18, 19 and 20, again at the Schrott Center.


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Tom Aldridge

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