Classical music series comes to Beaver Creek
The newly established Therese M. Grojean Classical Series brings four world-class shows to the Vilar Performing Arts Center in January
The month of January is bringing a belated holiday gift to lovers of classical music, with four different world-class performances coming to the Vilar Performing Arts Center between now and Jan. 31.
These shows are part of the newly established Therese M. Grojean Classical Series, which is generously supported by a $350,000 gift that Thomas Grojean bestowed on the center in 2021. The gift was given to honor the memory of his late wife, now the namesake of the series, and their shared love for classical music.
With this new source of funding, the Vilar is poised to be a leading center for classical music for years to come.
“Mr. Grojean’s gift will be transformative for the VPAC’s classical programming, allowing us to welcome truly distinguished artists and illustrious ensembles this coming season and over the years ahead,” VPAC Executive Director Owen Hutchinson said.
Each show has a distinctly different style and provides a vantage into the broader world of classical music. Upcoming performances include an acclaimed piano soloist, a Scottish folk music quartet, a Baroque-era orchestra and a romantic take on chamber music.
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Monday, Jan. 10 – Pianist Ilya Yakushev
The month of classical music begins this Monday evening with a solo performance from celebrated Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev.
Yakushev has had a long and distinguished career, performing both alone and as a soloist with the symphony orchestras of New Haven, El Paso, Dubuque, La Crosse, Lake Forest, and the Glacier Symphony. Yakushev has been performing at a high level since he was a child, earning his first award at age 12 at the Young Artists Concerto Competition in St. Petersburg.
He has since gone on to collect many other accolades, including the 1997 Mayor of St. Petersburg’s Young Talents award, the 1998 Award for Excellence in Performance – a national honor presented to him by the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation in Moscow – and the winner of the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati in 2005.
For his performance on Monday, Yakushev has selected works from three different classical music periods. Beginning in the Classical period, he will open the show with Haydn’s Sonata in D major and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 23, the famous and highly challenging “Appassionata.” Moving into the Romantic period, Yakushev will perform three shorter works by composers from Poland, Russia and Hungary, before closing the show with 20th century composer George Gershwin’s Three Preludes.
“I tried to make it an exciting and entertaining set of works from three different periods in Classical music, recognizable and enjoyable,” Yakushev said. “We all need to have a good time once in a while during tough times that we are living in now.”
Yakushev has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York; Glinka Philharmonic Hall in his native St. Petersburg, Russia; and Victoria Hall in Singapore; among countless others. This week, he will be performing in the May Gallery, an intimate setting with limited seating and a lounge atmosphere that allows audience members to be in close proximity to the performer as they play for the room.
“I enjoy smaller venues and more intimate settings very much,” Yakushev said. “There seems to be a better connection with the listener in places like that. I also like to speak a little about the pieces I am about to play and that gives the audience a better understanding about the work they are about to hear.”
Tickets for Yakushev’s May Gallery performance start at $125 and include cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
Sunday, Jan. 16 – Maxwell Quartet
Next Sunday, the Glasgow-based Maxwell Quartet will also perform in the May Gallery, bringing their unique blend of Scottish folk music and classical repertoire to the Vilar.
The members of the quartet are close friends who grew up playing classical and folk music in youth orchestras across Scotland.
“When we were young, we remember that folk music was kind of seen as the antithesis to classical music,” said cellist Duncan Strachan. “But playing together as a string quartet these amazing pieces of music by Haydn, Beethoven, Dvorak and others, we quickly began to realize that folk music was really at the very core of these composers’ musical worlds.”
The group officially began in 2010 at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where its founding members met as postgraduate students, and over time they have developed an innovative style that connects the songs from their youth with the technicality of a classical quartet.
“We started re-learning and rearranging Scottish folk music that we learned during our own childhoods for the quartet, and soon realized that this was something that we not only loved doing, but seemed to work together with the classical repertoire in a really interesting and meaningful way,” Strachan said.
The quartet will be playing a number of songs off of their soon-to-be-released album, “Gather,” which weaves together many strands of Scottish folk music and instruments translated into strings.
“It’s a mixture of gaelic songs, bagpipe music, fiddle music and celtic plain chant, some of which is originally very old, and some which are brand new compositions by the quartet,” Strachan said.
Tickets for the Maxwell Quartet’s May Gallery performance start at $125 and include cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
Tuesday, Jan. 25 – Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center is performing in the center’s primary venue on Tuesday, Jan. 25. The Chamber Music Society is an organization dedicated to the performance and promotion of chamber music in New York City, which also presents more than 80 concerts per season outside of Manhattan.
The performance at the Vilar will feature two violins, two violas, one cello, and one piano. Together, the group will perform a program titled “Romantic Perspectives,” an ode to the romantic movement in music that blossomed across Europe during the 19th century.
“Fueled by the vision of Beethoven, the poetry of Schubert, and the hyper-emotionalism of Schumann, composers tapped their inner selves, often deeply inspired by their native cultures,” the program description reads.
The program repertoire, which is subject to change, includes pieces by Brahms, Mahler, Dvorak and Franck, and will give listeners a rich taste of what the Chamber Music Society contributes to the art form each year.
Tickets for the Jan. 25 program start at $68, and are $10 for students.
Monday, Jan. 31 – Apollo’s Fire Orchestra
The final day of the month brings one of the country’s most stand-out orchestras, the Apollo’s Fire Orchestra of Cleveland, to the Vilar stage.
The Grammy-winning ensemble was founded by award-winning harpsichordist and conductor Jeannette Sorrell in 1992, and is dedicated to the baroque ideal that music should evoke the various “Affekts,” or passions, in the listeners.
Baroque music is a style from 17th-century Europe that came out of the Renaissance period and is known for its grandiose, dramatic and energetic spirit.
“Baroque composers were very conscious about imitating and reviving the lost art of rhetoric, meaning the way that the great orators spoke to people and manipulated the emotions of their audience,” Sorrell said in the orchestra’s 25th Anniversary video. “They would use the rise and fall of their voice to either agitate the crowd, or leave them in suspense at a pause, or bring them down quietly to a contemplative moment.”
The 15-piece Apollo’s Fire performs both original works and those of past baroque-style masters, forming a direct connection with the audience through intense highs and lows in their music.
“My goal is to take the audience through a series of emotional moods,” Sorrell said. “If by the end of the concert, we send them out feeling better than when they arrived, then we’ve done a good night’s work.”
The orchestra has been touring for nearly three decades, and won the 2019 Grammy Award for “Best Classical Solo Vocal Album” for their album “Songs of Orpheus.”
The program that the orchestra will perform at the Vilar focuses on Bach and Vivaldi. The show will begin at 7 p.m. in the main concert space.
“The size of this hall is really perfect for our music and our instruments,” Sorrell said. “We like to draw people in and feel their energy. It’s a two-way street.”
Tickets to Apollo’s Fire Orchestra start at $68, and $10 for students.
To purchase tickets, and for more information about upcoming shows in the Therese M. Grojean Classical Series, visit VilarPAC.org.