Busy days: Wallcasts, world premieres, Shaker songs and J.S. Bach

Arts / Article

Shaker children’s chairs, circa 1840, Enfield, Conn.

This week and weekend have almost the same level of classical arts activity that’s typical of the busier parts of the season. As well as Festival Miami, which continues Sunday with a youth orchestra event, there are plenty of worthy concerts in line over the next few days:

Seraphic Fire: Patrick Dupré Quigley’s choir opens its 11th season tonight at St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church in Miami, in the first of five performances that will take the group from Miami Beach to Boca Raton. This first program, Simple Gifts, is a collection of American religious and secular songs ranging from Shaker hymns (Give Good Gifts to One Another) to Samuel Barber’s Reincarnations and three songs by Morten Lauridsen. Also on the program are five pieces from Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs, including one of the most beautiful of all homegrown folksongs, The Little Horses; pianist Anna Fateeva is the accompanist. Seraphic Fire broke into a different level earlier this year with its Grammy nominations, and officials there say the group is in the best financial situation its ever enjoyed, with five new underwriters this season and a 33 percent increase in subscriptions. 305-285-9060; seraphicfire.org New World Symphony: The Wallcasts return Friday to the New World Symphony’s New World Center on Miami Beach, bringing concerts to the listening park outside the Frank Gehry-designed building on 17th Street and Washington Avenue. Officials with the orchestra had hoped they’d get about 1,000 people to see the free concerts, but last season, crowds were closer to 2,000. Friday’s concert will feature the New World fellows in music by one of the organization’s favorite American composers, Steven Mackey, whose Lost and Found, a “jeu d’esprit,” as the composer describes it in his program note, will be conducted by Joshua Gersen.

The major work on the program is the Symphony No. 3 of Beethoven (in E-flat, Op. 55), known by its subtitle, Eroica. Written in the first years of the 19th century, and freighted with dramatic stories such as Beethoven’s angry destruction of its original dedication to Napoleon (a freedom fighter turned dictator, he thought), what matters today is the compositional breakthrough he made in the work. It is so far ahead of every other composer of the time, anywhere, that it stands alone, and it forever changed the art of symphonic writing. You don’t need to know any of that to appreciate it; it’s a great joy to listen to, and Michael Tilson Thomas is bound to lead his charges in an exciting reading. And on Saturday night, the program is repeated at the Knight Concert Hall, with a special guest: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who will perform the Schumann Cello Concerto (in A minor, Op. 129). Ma has been here as a member of the band with his Silk Road Ensemble, so it’s good to see him return to center stage. 305-673-3331; nws.edu Konstantin Soukhovetski. Photo by Peter Schaaf

Miami Symphony: Eduardo Marturet opens his orchestra’s new season Sunday night with a varied program whose centerpiece will be the Piano Concerto No. 3 of Sergei Rachmaninov (in D minor, Op. 30), one of the most celebrated of all concertos for the instrument. The pianist is the young Russian Konstantin Soukhovetski, who has studied at Juilliard for years with Jerome Lowenthal. Marturet also will lead the MISO in the delightful Dances of Galánta of Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly and the late Seventh Symphony (in C, Op. 105) of the Finnish master Jean Sibelius. It’s a good mix of 20th-century works in the Romantic tradition that will show off the orchestra’s color capabilities to engaging effect. 305-275-5666; themiso.org South Beach Chamber Ensemble: Two major piano quintets are on the bill for the SoBe group, which plays Sunday afternoon at Miami Beach Botanical Garden, and next Tuesday night at the Coral Gables Museum. Violinists Luis Fernandez and Tony Seepersad, violist Rafael Ramirez, cellist Michael Andrews and pianist Ciro Fodere will play one of the 19th century’s finest quintets, the Quintet No. 2 (in A, Op. 81) of Antonin Dvorak, some of whose very best music is in the chamber realm. Paired with that is a marvelous 20th-century work, the Quintet No. 2 (in G minor, Op. 57) of Dmitri Shostakovich. Both performances take place in lovely environments, which is the intent of this series, called Music in Beautiful Spaces. But the music itself is worth any setting, and the pieces will be played by excellent Miami-area musicians. 305-673-2183; sobechamberensemble.org Juraj Kojs.

Living Artist Concert Series: A world premiere is planned Friday night at the Deering Estate at Cutler, when Tatry, a work by the Slovak composer Juraj Kojs (who teaches at Miami International), is played by the Deering Estate Chamber Ensemble: Violinist Scott Flavin, violist Laura Wilcox, cellist Ross Harbaugh and pianist Jose R. Lopez. The ensemble also will play music by Mahler (the early Piano Quartet), Hummel (the Piano Trio in G, Op. 354) and Dvorak (the A major quintet, with a second violinist). 305-235-1668, ex. 233; deeringestate.org

And this weekend, Lopez, in his incarnation as president of the South Florida chapter of the American Liszt Society, appears in two concerts at Florida International University. Saturday night, the focus is on Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy, which he will play after accompanying tenor Robert Bryant Dundas in the song that inspired the piano work. Pianist Kemal Gekic will perform Liszt’s transcription of the Schubert fantasy with the FIU Symphony under Grzegorz Nowak, and organist W. Dan Hardin will play the Organ Sonata in C minor of Julius Reubke, a sadly short-lived Liszt student who died at 24 in 1858. On Sunday evening, also at FIU’s Wertheim Hall, pianist Kamilla Szklarska plays Carl Tausig’s fantasy on themes from Polish composer Stanislaw Moniuszko’s opera Halka, and Wilcox and Lopez perform Joseph Joachim’s Hebrew Melodies (Op. 9), inspired by Byron. The rest is Liszt: the Mephisto Waltz No. 1, played by Javier Sardinas, and three works for two pianos played by Gekic and Misha Dacic. 305-348-0496; fiu.edu Miami Bach Society: Finally, the Bach Society gets its season going Sunday at the beautiful Coral Gables Congregational Church on Sunday afternoon with Adolfo Vidal’s Miami Chamber Players. On the program are Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos No. 3 (in G) and 6 (in B-flat), and two sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord played by gambist Mikaho Somekawa and harpsichordist Robert Heath. Performances of the Brandenburg concerti are relatively rare despite their status as the most popular things Bach ever wrote, so performances of these works are always an event. 305-669-1376; miamibachsociety.org