The Aaron Copland School of Music (ACSM) has an immensely entertaining lineup for its Fall season this semester. With performances showcasing styles from the Baroque with a modern twist, to the iconic melodies of Wolfgang Mozart, to the opaquely-textured 20th-century compositions of Jacques Ibert and Dmitri Shostakovich, this semester is sure to enthrall audiences with a diverse exhibition of performances.
The QC Opera Studio’s production of G.F. Händel’s Alcina is sure to spellbind audiences with the tale of a mystical enchantress and her sinister intentions towards any man that steps foot on her land. The Baroque era opera is traditionally set on an island, but Director Alexander Paul Sheerin aims to provide audiences with a contemporary vision, transporting us to Alcina’s underground nightclub. Sheerin envisions a cast in, “All white, lit mostly by disco and black lights, paired with an audience that’s encouraged to sit on the stage with the performers, and even participate in the action.”
When asked what specifically drew him to the beauty of Alcina, Sheerin affirms that Händel’s music is beneficial for young vocalists to master. Since Baroque vocal music has trademarks such as fast-paced melismatic passages and intense ornamentation, Sheerin aims to provide a safe environment for students to explore what is a new style for many of them. Alcina is set to be performed in LeFrak Concert Hall on November 17th and 18th at 7:30 pm.
The QC Orchestra has two sensational concerts planned this semester. This year’s premiere concert has three fabulous pieces programmed: Jacques Ibert’s Flute Concerto headlined by Mina Sukovic, William Grant Still’s Wood Notes, and Mozart’s Overture to the Magic Flute. The QC Orchestra is preparing to work under the direction of critically acclaimed guest conductor, Akiko Fujimoto. Fujimoto has just entered her fifth season as music director of the Mid-Texas Symphony, where she has been eulogized for her innovative perspectives on programming. The first concert is scheduled for October 26th at 7:30 pm. The second orchestral set consists of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major with soloist Adrian Gutierrez, as well as Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 4 in F minor. This performance will close out the QC Orchestra’s season on December 7th at 7 pm.
ACSM’s other major instrumental ensemble, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, has a wide array of styles selected, ranging from a traditional madrigal composed by Carlo Gesualdo, to an arrangement of King Crimson’s contemporary rock piece Vroom. Conductor Michael Lipsey aims to showcase the wide variety of talent that the Wind Ensemble encapsulates by covering a broad range of musical time periods that each require varying techniques and skill sets. Catch the concert on November 29th at 12:15 pm in LeFrak Concert Hall.
The QC Vocal Ensemble is also set to perform a uniquely charming selection of repertoire. Focusing on the repertory of the Renaissance, the Vocal Ensemble will collaborate with the Parthenia Viol Consort to produce a program of both student soloists and choral works, featuring the compositions of William Byrd and Thomas Weelkes. According to Dr. James John, conductor and musical director of the Vocal Ensemble, the combination of both Byrd and Weelkes’ music will make for a ‘very entertaining and exciting program,’ as their compositional styles are very distinct, despite being from the same musical era. This program has two scheduled performances, one on December 8th at 7:30 pm in LeFrak Concert Hall, and the other on December 10th at 4 pm at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields (487 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014).
However, perhaps the most intriguing performances are those of last semester’s concerto competition winners. Scheduled to perform are flutist Mina Sukovic, clarinetist Adrian Gutierrez, and pianist Abhay Saha. Each solosist had undergone two stages of auditioning for a panel of both ACSM faculty, as well as non-faculty musicians. “It’s not that I was preparing for a performance, I was preparing myself to become the clarinetist I seek,” said sophomore Adrian Gutierrez. Preparing an entire concerto with a full orchestra is no small feat. Not only does it take what is essentially a culmination of a lifetime of practice, but the relationship that is present between the soloist and ensemble is one that requires acutely focused rehearsal time. Sukovic agreed saying, “Besides preparing and knowing both my part and the orchestra parts really well, I find listening to the orchestra rehearsals important. Working closely with the conductor and my flute professor on the interpretation of details is a big part of the process.”
Not only is technique an integral aspect in providing an audience with a stellar performance, but fully understanding the context in which the piece was composed is equally imperative in communicating interpretation to listeners. Senior Abhay Saha said, “It takes months and months of dedicated time to research and understand the background, history, and purpose, as well as learning the piece itself and creating an interpretation. Not only do you have to be sure of your own interpretation, but you then have to worry about fitting in within an orchestral setting and being in communication with them.”
The public is welcome to witness the meticulous efforts of these three stellar instrumentalists on October 26th at 7:30 p.m. (Sukovic), December 7th at 7 p.m. (Gutierrez), and sometime in the Spring 2024 semester (Saha).