Volume 76, Number 22 | October 18 - 24, 2006

Clive on classical

The current musical season is one of the most promising in years, and we have the Metropolitan Opera to thank for setting the right tone for everyone else’s classical calendar. You don’t have to like opera to love Peter Gelb, who replaced Joseph Volpe at the helm of the Met. Despite a season calendar that continues to be dominated by warhorses, Gelb has managed to energize the old house with a feeling of modernity and vigor, bringing a free simulcast of his opening-night production to the streets of Times Square and announcing plans for live video feeds to movie theaters. Throughout the City, there’s a palpable sense that if the Met can wake up, the rest of us can do anything.

How does all this translate into attendance-worthy musical events? Here in Lower Manhattan, start with Mimi Stern-Wolfe’s amazing East Village concert Series at St. Mark’s Church. Working by her own set of rules and with her own limitless energy source, Stern-Wolfe continues to provide community musical events with higher artistic standards than can be found at expensive Uptown venues. Try this for imaginative programming: on Sunday, November 12 at 3 pm, “A Toast to the Steins” will include works by Leonard Bernstein and Marc Blitzstein; Gertrude Stein texts set by Finkelstein; Songs by William Bolcom/Arnold Weinstein and Jule Styne; and a flute/chamber suite by Don Stein. And as always, Stern-Wolfe will lead the Benson AIDS Series concert on World AIDS Day, December 1, this year at the Gay and Lesbian Center in Greenwich Village. (Last year’s concert was one of the best of the season Downtown.) For more information, visit www.downtownmusicproductions.org.

November 2 marks the return of the New York Scandia Symphony after a year’s absence. In the beautiful and acoustically vibrant Trinity Church at Broadway and Wall Street, the orchestra’s opening concert of the season will include works by Poul Schierbeck and Carl Nielsen, along with Hugo Alfvén’s familiar “Midsummer Night’s Vigil”. (Trust me — you know it and you’ve always liked it.) A donation of $2 is suggested (212-602-0747).

St. Paul’s Church at 315 W. 22nd Street is the performance venue for a new orchestra, the Chelsea Symphony. The program for its upcoming concerts, December 2 and 3, includes a world premiere: Aaron Dai’s “The Night Before Christmas,” as well as the Brahms Symphony No. 2 and Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante. A $10 donation is requested, as are seating reservations (212-874-3891).

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