‘Dying art’ of classical music is alive, well

Fall offers multitude of artists, composers

BY ALINE REYNOLDS  |   Many out there believe that classical music is a dying art form that caters to the elderly. Young people like me would rather be at a Decemberists concert or listening to indie rock at a hip Williamsburg hole in the wall, right?

Well, most of the time, that’s true — even as a classically trained pianist, I’m not going to deny it. It’s a sad, indisputable fact that the audiences in orchestral and chamber music venues are predominantly made up of seniors.

But that trend can be broken, and it doesn’t always apply. There are still venues in our city that attract a mix of younger folk and that showcase young talent. What’s more, some musicians are fusing classical music with other genres to satisfy the ears of teens and young adults.

Here’s what’s in store for the fall:  

The most classical music you’ll find anywhere in Downtown happens at Trinity Wall Street and St. Paul’s Chapel, in the Financial District. The 2012-13 season offers classical tunes spanning the centuries — from Bach and Handel to Stravinsky to Reich — in the form of the churches’ long-running series of free concerts.

“Bach at One” runs from October to December 31, and resumes next spring. The series features the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street’s rendition of Bach’s pacifying cantatas and Lutheran Masses. The cantatas will be performed on Mondays, October 8, 15 and 29. In November, you can listen to others on Thursday, November 1 and Monday, November 5, 19 and 26.

On Thursday, October 4, “Concerts at One” will feature the North Sky Cello Ensemble’s performance of the classical pieces of Rubin Kodheli and others. On Thursday, October 11, Concerts at One will present works by classically influenced composers Derek Bermel and John Harris Harbison. And on the last Thursday of the month (the 25th), the series will host a performance of Mozart’s String Quartet in D minor and Beethoven’s String Quartet in E-flat major by Vienna’s Hugo Wolf Quartett.

On Monday, November 5, the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and the Trinity Choir will perform two Bach cantatas. If you can’t catch that one, stop by St. Paul’s the afternoon of Monday, the 12th, to hear more cantatas.

If you’ve had enough of Bach by then, check out the Trinity choir’s performance of Jennifer Higdon’s choral piece, “Deep in the Night,” as well as improvised chant.

Last but not least, visit the World Financial Center in late October to hear the Brooklyn Philharmonic performing the works of Brooklyn-based composers Matt Marks and Ted Hearne. “Soundcheck Live!” will take place on Thursday, October 25, in the Winter Garden. The performances, curated by John Schaefer, “celebrates the unparalleled diversity of the music scene in New York,” according to Brookfield Office Properties (owner and developer of the World Financial Center).

It’s comforting to know that young composers — albeit slim pickings of them — are investing their musical energies in classical music. Marks is a French horn player and composer of opera and theater music, and Hearne is a composer, conductor and performer whose musical tendencies span the gamut from traditional classical music to rock.

If you’re willing to venture out of Downtown, The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble, led by artistic director Petr Kotik, will perform “Beyond Cage” — a festival in honor of the late avant-garde musical legend John Cage’s 100th birthday. The concert, which will take place on Monday, October 22 at Carnegie Hall, will highlight major works by Cage, including “Atlas Eclipticalis” and “Winter Music” — performed together in their entirety for the first time.

Though the legend won’t be around to celebrate — he died in 1992 — some of his noteworthy successors will be present, including the Talujon Percussion Ensemble (featuring some world-class drummers), on October 30 at ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn.

Also participating in the “Beyond Cage” festival, on November 7, will be the Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra, coming all the way from the Czech Republic. The musicians will perform the New York premiere of Cage’s last orchestral work, “103,” composed for a 103-piece orchestra. The program will feature the world premiere of “individuals collective,” composed by classical experimentalist Christian Wolff — the first of his large-scale orchestra works to be performed in North America — and the U.S. premiere of “Accept,” by Czech composer Lucie Vitkova, which will be performed by a symphony orchestra, an accordion and a drum set.

If you’d rather head to the boroughs — or live there and don’t care to schlep to the city to listen to classical tunes — head over to Bargemusic, a venue just under the Brooklyn Bridge that is hosting a slew of fall concerts. Among them are Masterworks Series performances on the evenings of October 7, 12-14, 20-21 and 26-28; and November 2-4, 10-11, 18 and 23-25. The repertoire includes the world premiere of Harold Meltzer’s “Casa Battlót” and the New York premiere of Emmy Award-winning composer Glen Roven’s emotionally provocative violin concerto “Runaway Bunny.” The series will also feature the famed sonatas of Beethoven, Ravel, Bartók, Schubert, Britten and Rachmaninov — as well as Mozart and Mendelssohn string quartets and a Brahms piano trio and string sextet.

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