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River of Music

The visitor center at the Martin House Complex is Buffalo's newest venue for classical concerts

Music Niagara presents three weeks of chamber music and other attractions

Music Niagara, the premier summer musical event on the Niagara Peninsula, returns to Niagara-on-the-Lake for its 11th season with a full schedule of 35 events, running July 20-August 15.

Formerly known as the Niagara International Chamber Music Festival, the new name better reflects the diverse variety of musical formats the festival represents: jazz, cabaret, orchestral, and opera, as well as chamber musics. Diehard fans of chamber music need not worry, however, since while the organizers proclaim that the festival is now “More than Mozart,” the majority of events still feature chamber music in one form or another.

This year’s venues include the venerable St. Mark’s Anglican Church, as well as wineries, the Terrace at the Epicurean, and the Simcoe Park Band Shell.

Strings and Keyboards at St Mark’s

The gala opening on Monday, July 20, features the premier of a new work by Canadian composer Peter Tiefenbach commissioned by the festival, as well as Bach’s Wedding Cantata. To celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Felix Mendelssohn, violin soloist Bora Kim, a festival veteran at 16, performs Sextet in D Major and the Violin Concerto. Kim later returns on August 3, along with cellist Calvin Han, to perform sonatas by Bach, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn.

On July 24, African-Russian pianist Ellen Annor-Adjei performs sonatas by Haydn and Beethoven, with festival founder and artistic director Atis Bankas, violin, and Luke Pomorski, cello, joining her in Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No.2. The young pianist Amadeusz Kazubowski-Houston plays Chopin, Szymanowski, Buczynski, and Muczynski on Monday afternoon, July 27. That evening’s all Bach concert features the Festival Ensemble, along with harpsichordist Craig Winters, in the Brandenburg Concertos No. 3 and No. 6, as well as a pair of harpsichord concertos. On July 31, Russian pianist Mykola Suk, who made a strong impression in last season’s all Beethoven program, returns to play solo works by that composer and Franz Liszt, with the Festival Strings joining him in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.1.

The renowned Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska, “a born Chopin interpreter,” according to no less an authority than Arthur Rubinstein, makes her festival debut recital on August 1, playing the music of Chopin, Mozart, Schumann, and Ravel. On August 2, the St. Petersburg String Quartet, a favorite of Buffalo Chamber Music Society audiences, performs works by Glazunov, Borodin and Mendelssohn. Antoine Bareil, violin, and Sebastien Lepine, cello, play works by Halvorsen, Gliere, Honegger, Kodaly, and American bassist/composer Edgar Meyer on Saturday afternoon, August 8.That evening’s event features Robert Silverman, a festival audience favorite who is recognized as one of Canada’s premiere pianists, in an all Russian program of works by Shostakovich, Rachmaninov and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. A program of piano trios on August 13 features BPO principal cellist Roman Mekinulov, Charis Dimaras, piano, and Atis Bankas, violin in works by Haydn and Mendelssohn as well as the venerable American composer Samuel Adler, who, in a special guest appearance, will comment on his work.

Clavio Trio: Music for a Modern House

This past March saw the opening of the Eleanor & Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion at the Darwin D. Martin House Complex on Jewett Parkway in Buffalo. Set among the five Frank Lloyd Wright prairie-style buildings of the campus, the ultramodern, prize-winning glass design, by architect Toshiko Mori, serves as the visitor center of the Martin House Complex, but it will also serve as Buffalo’s newest venue for classical music concerts when the Clavio Trio presents a program of 20th-century music on Wednesday, July 22. A wine and cheese reception at 7pm precedes the concert, at 7:45pm. Proceeds benefit the ongoing efforts of the Martin House Restoration Corporation.

Now in its second year, the Clavio Trio consists of John Fullam, principal clarinet of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Deborah Greitzer, a long-time member of the orchestra’s first violin section; and cellist Linda Jennings, an assistant professor of cello at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Fullam and Greitzer formed Clavio to perform duos written for clarinet and violin, chamber music for those two instruments with other instruments, as well as repertoire that can be transcribed to include those two instruments.

French composer Olivier Messiaen wrote his Quatuor pour la fin du temps in 1941, while a German prisoner of war. Composed for violin, clarinet, cello, and piano—the only available instruments—the work, with its mystical beauty, has become Messiaen’s most often performed composition, and Clavio will perform the Intermède movement, a scherzo that has no piano part. Zoltán Kodály’s Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7, composed in 1914, is a virtuosic, vastly demanding work, rivaled only by Maurice Ravel’s work for the same two instruments, and it incorporates many elements of Kodály’s field studies in Hungarian folk music. German violinist Adolf Busch (1891-1952), best remembered as the founder of the renowned Busch Quartet and the duo partner and later father-in-law of pianist Rudolf Serkin, helped found the still ongoing Marlboro Music Festival in 1951. The music of Brahms, Max Reger, and Othmar Schoeck much influenced Busch’s compositional style, and, according to John Fullam, the Hausmusik Duett Nr. 1, op. 26 Nr. 1 for violin and clarinet “displays an incredibly sophisticated organization,” while “melodic inspiration and elegant, adventurous harmonies” characterize the Deutsche Tänze, op. 26 Nr. 3 for violin, clarinet and cello.

Tickets are $20. For more information, call 856-3858.

Sing out

Vocal artistry gets its due at this year’s festival, with a special event at St. Mark’s featuring the preview performance, on Thursday, July 23, of the International Opera Theater’s world premiere of Italian composer Carlo Pedini’s opera Iago, with a cast of international singers singing multiple roles. For the last six seasons, the IOT has presented operas based on the works of Shakespeare in both the US and Italy. Iago will have its world premiere in Citta della Pieve, Italy, in August 2009, and its American premiere in Philadelphia in June 2010.

On July 26, soprano Patricia O’Callaghan sings the music of Weil, Cohen, and Satie, accompanied by Andrew Downing, bass, and Robert Kortgaard, piano, in a cabaret evening at St. Mark’s. Kortgaard returns with soprano Suzie Leblanc on August 9 for Chansons d’amour, a program featuring music from Mozart to the songs of the cabarets and salons of Paris. On August 6, Roman Mekinulov accompanies his wife, soprano Sebnem Mekinulov, along with Alexander Mekinulov, piano, and Atis Bankas, violin, in the music of Schubert, Schumann, and Shostakovich. August 7, the innovative vocal quartet, Voices Relyea, presents a program featuring the works of Bach and Mendelssohn that travels from the sacred to the profane, from the church to the saloon. The final celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Felix Mendelssohn occurs on August 14, when pianist Nina Kogan, daughter of legendary Soviet violinist Leonid Kogan joins soprano Marie Fischer, and Atis Bankas, violin, with the Festival Strings in works by Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn and Hugo Wolf.

Noel Coward

This might be described as the “Year of Noel Coward” at the Shaw Festival, with the production of all 10 one-act plays by Coward—a world-first by any professional theater company—and Music Niagara offers a pair of programs devoted to the words and music of Coward. On August 3, actors Christopher Newton, Director Emeritus of the Shaw Festival and Jennifer Phipps are joined at St. Mark’s by Craig Winters, piano, Atis Bankas, violin and Luke Pomorski, cello, in Between the Wars, a program devoted to the music and words of Coward. The entire festival concludes at the same venue on August 15, with Where Are the Songs We Sang, featuring soprano Zorana Sadiq and baritone Alex Dobson, along with Peter Tiefenbach, piano and the Festival Strings, in songs by Coward and Ivor Novello. Newton also appears on August 1, in a program that features performances of quartets by Haydn and McEwen by the Gould String Quartet, punctuated by the acerbic, often hilarious music criticism of G.B. Shaw.

Wine stops

A trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake is not complete without a stop at one of the region’s many vineyards, and this summer music lovers can enjoy three concerts each at both the Peller Estates Winery and the Inniskillin Winery. On July 25, and August 8, the Festival Strings perform string quartets by Haydn and Mozart, while on August 1, Alla Aranovskaya, violin, and Boris Vayner, viola, join the Gould String Quartet in music by the same composers at the Peller Estate Winery. On July 25 and August 1, the Vivaldi Underground series features the Festival Strings in that composer’s L’Estro Armonico, while the August 8 concert features his Sinfonia and Concerto for Two Violins, in the Barrel Room at the Inniskillin Winery. A free afternoon concert on July 26 at the Simcoe Park Band Shell features the Festival Strings and the Lumina Ensemble of Hamilton Children’s Choir in a program of Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart.

All that jazz

Late Saturday night jazz performances by the John Sherwood Trio take place under the stars at the Terrace at the Epicurean on Queen Street, on July 25, August 1 and 8. On July 30, St. Mark’s Church hosts a special celebration of the music of Benny Goodman by the great jazz pianist Dick Hyman and friends. A trio of Sunday noon programs at the same venue, billed as Twelve O’clock Jump, offers “music with bite,” featuring the Doug Mundy Trio on July 26, Warren Stirtzinger, guitar, and Rob McBride, bass, on August 2, and vocalist Maria Shantz with Craig Winters, piano, on August 9.

For more information, call 1-800-511-7429 or visit

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