by Howard Pousner for the AJC
To clarify: Billing themselves as the ATL Symphony Musicians, the players will present a Baroque music program titled "The Brandenburg Affair," featuring all six of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg concertos in a 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29 concert at the Westside Cultural Arts Center, it was announced this week.
The ASO players adopted the ATL Symphony Musicians moniker for benefit concerts at alternative sites, performed independently of ASO management’s auspices, when they were locked out of Symphony Hall during protracted and difficult collective bargaining agreement negotiations in 2012 and 2014.
Typically those sites were smaller, more intimate spaces like Westside Cultural Arts Center, a performing arts venue and gallery in West Midtown, drawing musicians and audiences closer.
Presented by the nonprofit ATL Symphony Musicians Foundation and Anacrusis Productions Ltd., which hope to make an end-of-summer concert by the ATL players an annual rite, “The Brandenburg Affair” will benefit the foundation’s educational outreach program.
Michael Palmer, a former ASO associate conductor who conducted the group during both lockouts, will lead the Aug. 29 chamber music concert.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians
As ATL Symphony Musicians: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29 at Westside Cultural Arts Center, 760 10th St. N.W., Atlanta.
As ATL Symphony Musicians: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29 at Westside Cultural Arts Center, 760 10th St. N.W., Atlanta. Doors open (with a “welcome reception”) at 6:30 p.m.; talk by ASO program annotator Ken Meltzer at 7 p.m. Tickets — $50, $75 VIP seating, $25 standing room only — via www.eventbrite.com.
Preview: Conductor Michael Palmer, ASO musicians, take on Bach’s “Brandenburg Affair” - Mark Gresham
This Saturday evening conductor Michael Palmer will lead a performance of all six of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Brandenburg Concertos” with ATL Symphony Musicians at the Westside Cultural Arts Center on 10th Street in West Midtown, also known as Westside.
The combined concert and social event, billed as “The Brandenburg Affair,” is a first-time cooperative production between Palmer’s own Anacrusis Productions, Ltd. and the ATL Symphony Musicians Foundation.
The “Brandenburg Concertos” are a collection of concerti grossi, a musical form where musical material is passed back and forth between a small group of soloists (the “concertino”) and a larger orchestra (the “ripieno”). The score to all six were presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg, in 1721, hence their common collective name.
Except for the first, they directly reflect the available musicians Bach had at his disposal while Kapellmeister at Köthen, and yet within that scope, exhibit remarkable variety. They are widely regarded as being at the apex of baroque orchestral works. Nevertheless, as familiar and frequently programmed as they are, they are rarely all heard together in one performance, as they will be on Saturday.
“Where else could you hear 11 featured soloists in one night?” says Todd Skitch, president of the ATLSM Foundation and an ASO flutist, who will be one of those concertino musicians. Skitch also notes that it’s a great way for the public to meet and mingle with the musicians in an intimate community space which encourages that kind of up-close social engagement.
Since the beginning of this year, Palmer had been shopping the idea of mounting a presentation of the complete Brandenburgs in Atlanta, just talking casually with various musicians he knows. As Palmer recounts the story, some of those musicians happened to be on the foundation’s board and in late spring one of them suggested the possibility of Anacrusis partnering with the foundation on the project.
Palmer began his professional career in Atlanta. At the age of 21, he was selected by Robert Shaw to become the associate conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Today, he is both artistic director of the Bellingham Festival of Music and professor of orchestral studies at Georgia State University. He has conducted the ATL Symphony Musicians on several previous occasions.
Although Palmer has led performances of individual Brandenburg Concertos many times throughout his conducting career, this is only the second time he has performed all six in one evening. The first time — at an event called “Bach, Beer and Barbecue” — was in the spring of 2014 with Chamber Music Amarillo in the five-story atrium of the Happy State Bank in Amarillo, Texas.
“People came out in droves,” say Palmer. “A lot of people there had probably never been to a classical music concert before. They hung over the balconies. After the big harpsichord cadenza in the fifth concerto, the whole place immediately burst into applause. It was a huge success.”
Palmer hopes to achieve a similar kind of success with this Saturday’s “Brandenburg Affair” event at Westside CAA, a former industrial building that has been renovated into a modern social setting with a capacity of around 500 and a prominent Art Deco bar.
Skitch suggests that late August is an ideal time for the foundation to present a program like “The Brandenburg Affair,” falling as it does late within the 10-week off-contract period for ASO musicians, helping fill a void in the city’s classical music scene in a way that draws attention to the foundation and its purposes.
The foundation has been primarily associated in the public mind with producing concerts by members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the moniker ATL Symphony Musicians during two lockouts. But with the 2014 ASO lockout months behind them, the foundation now seeks to become better known for its broader missions of musical outreach and education.
Preview: Missing classical music? Locked-out ATL Symphony Musicians perform three concerts
by Mark Gresham
Once the concerts at Conant are over, the ATL Symphony Musicians will hardly be done for the month. Next Tuesday, October 14, at Dunwoody United Methodist Church, they will present a single concert with guest solo cellist Matt Haimovitz. He will perform Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C and selected unaccompanied solo cello works. Prior will again conduct and his own composition, “Elegy for Aurora,” will be performed as well.
General admission is $25, at the door only, with discounts for seniors and students.
Plans are also in play for ATL Symphony Musicians to present a chamber music concert on Friday, October 17, at Peachtree Presbyterian Church’s Kellett Chapel. Details are still coming together, but anticipated performers include violinists David Coucheron and Anastasia Agapova, violist Catherine Lynn, cellists Christopher Rex and Brad Ritchie, flutist Todd Skitch, oboist Emily Brebach, clarinetist Laura Ardan, bassoonist Keith Buncke, harpist Elisabeth Remy Johnson and pianists Julie Coucheron, Tim Whitehead and Andrew Bayles.
General admission will be $20 with discounts for seniors and students.
Review: The music takes on a new urgency as locked-out ASO musicians perform at KSU | September 29, 2014
By Mark Gresham
Locked-out musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, under the moniker “ATL Symphony Musicians,” performed a pair of back-to-back free concerts of music by Beethoven and Dvořák in the Bailey Performance Center’s 620-seat Morgan Hall at Kennesaw State University Friday night.
The musicians engaged Michael Palmer to conduct, just as they had for two performances during the relatively brief lockout of 2012. Palmer was selected by Robert Shaw to be assistant, then associate, conductor of the ASO in 1967, as the orchestra was first working toward becoming a full-time professional orchestra. Palmer was with the ASO for 10 years, then became music director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Palmer returned to Atlanta in 2004 to teach at Georgia State University, where he is the Charles Thomas Wurm Distinguished Professor of Orchestral Studies. More prominently, for over 20 years Palmer has been the artistic director of the Bellingham Festival of Music.
ArtsATL attended the first performance at 7 p.m. The capacity audience stood and rendered thunderous applause for the musicians as they came onstage. The concert opened with Beethoven’s “Egmont” Overture. The symbolism was hardly lost on those who know Goethe’s play of the same name, for which Beethoven wrote the music.
The total energy in the performance is hard to describe. Morgan Hall itself contributed to the brightness and sheer volume of sound. It was the kind of force that hits you in the solar plexus rather than washing over the audience. The orchestra delivered a sharply stenciled performance that left no room for superfluous sentiment.
Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 represents the composer at his best. The 9th may be more popular, but No. 7 is more musically ambitious, arguably his greatest, and more deliberately cosmopolitan in style than his previous symphonies. Like Beethoven’s “Egmont,” Dvořák’s 7th nevertheless has within it a message of tenacious resistance to political oppression, according to the composer himself.
Palmer and the orchestra switched gears to a more rounded, embracing rendering appropriate to the work’s late romantic style. Though not everything about the performance was razor-sharp, the heart of the music overwhelmingly carried the day. Special kudos belong to principal horn Brice Andrus and the entire horn section in both works.
The second performance at 9 p.m. drew a capacity-plus crowd; extra chairs for overflow audience were placed behind the orchestra, and yet some late arriving fans had to be turned away, as there was no more room. The musicians clearly have a tribe of loyal fans.
Arts Education and Creative Careers in USA TODAY: Robert Lynch & Jane Chu
Robert Lynch, CEO of Americans for the Arts, and Jane Chu, Chairman of the NEA, write to USA Today on Creative Careers
Friday, September 19, 2014
Robert Lynch, CEO and President of Americans for the Arts, and Jane Chu, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, wrote for a special insert on arts education and creative careers in today's edition of USA TODAY. By no coincidence is National Arts in Education week, Americans for the Arts is currently hosting an ARTSBlog salon on creative youth development, and hosting our 8th annual National Arts Policy Roundtable focusing on arts and technology this week in Sundance, Utah.
Countless studies have demonstrated the immeasurable benefits of art education. Academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement and equitable opportunity - all things we want for our children - have been linked to a well rounded education that includes the arts. However, many schools across the country have made difficult decisions to eliminate or reduce their arts education programs due to budget constraints. Both Lynch and Chu use the numbers to link arts education to more innovative, creative, and successful adult professionals and citizens later in life.
Robert Lynch: "Not every young person will go on to be an artist. But they will all be better students, employees, and citizens if they indeed have opportunities to embrace their creativity." Read Lynch's full article, Make Art, Transform Lives: The Imprtance of Arts Education.
Jane Chu: "By increasing access to art education, we are not only equipping our children with creative reasoning, but we are helping to cultivate arts appreciation within a new generation." Read Chu's full article, Fostering Creative Career Exploration.
Check out the digital platform created to accompany the insert in USA Today at the link below.
Creative Career Exploration, USA Today Sep 19, 2014