My sinuses are finally clearing from the Christmas vacation flu/cold/snot/crap that's been going around. And just in time, too, because there are some great concerts coming up in the next few weeks and it's impossible to fully appreciate the delicate vibrations of the world's most expensive violin or catch all the nuanced voicing that world-class pianists conjure from felt-covered hammers on strings when your hearing is impaired by congestion. So break out the neti pot and Sudafed and check the list below for the best concerts coming up this month.
January 11: The Avant Chamber Ballet Brings Live Music and Dance Together at the Dallas Museum of Art Too often great ballet and dance performances are accompanied by mediocre, lifeless recordings of classical music. That will not be the case this Saturday, when the Fine Arts Chamber Players' presents the Avant Chamber Ballet as part of their popular Bancroft Family Concerts series. The ballet company, founded in early 2012, is dedicated to pairing dance with live musical accompaniment. At this Saturday's free performance in the DMA's Horchow Auditorium, the group will dance to live performances of chamber music by Kurt Weill, Camille Saint-Saens and Erik Satie. Faces of the Sun, a new piece choreographed by the group's artistic director, Katie Puder, and set to new music by the organization's composer-in-residence, Chase Dobson, closes out the program.
January 10-12: Fort Worth Symphony Guest Artist Performs on World's Most Expensive Violin This weekend's Fort Worth Symphony program features the music of Prokofiev, including a performance of the composer's second violin concerto by guest artist Anne Akiko Meyers. Meyers famously performs on the world's most expensive violin -- an instrument on permanent loan to her from an anonymous source who reportedly paid more than $16 million for the 18th-century instrument. Before Meyers takes the stage, the orchestra will continue it's tradition of introducing audiences to fresh, contemporary classical music with a performance of Crane, a one-movement work by FWSO Composer-in-Residence Donnacha Donnehy. For tickets, visit the orchestra's website.
January 16-18: French Pianist Hélène Grimaud Plays Brahms with The Dallas Symphony Orchestra Jaap van Zweden leads the DSO in a program featuring the always-popular and familiar New World Symphony by Antonín Dvorák. While the nostalgic theme of this symphony's ubiquitous second movement may be overplayed, it is a work packed with interpretive potential. The concert's first half will feature French pianist Hélène Grimaud playing Brahms' second piano concerto. In contrast to this weekend's Fort Worth Symphony program, this music is pretty standard, conservative fare, but in the hands of Van Zweden, Grimaud and the DSO, it should still pack a punch.
January 23: The Cliburn Presents Olga Kern in the Kimbell's New, Awesome Renzo Piano-Designed Recital Hall Olga Kern has maintained a loyal fan-base in Dallas and Fort Worth since taking home the gold medal in the 2001 Cliburn International Piano Competition. Kern, who has a big sound, impressive technique and usually a fabulous gown (or three), always draws a big crowd, and since this performance also marks the opening of the Kimbell's shiny new Piano Pavilion auditorium, her two-night appearance is a must-see. The new space is visually stunning, and this concert will give audiences a taste of its acoustic assets, too. Unfortunately, the event is sold out, so if you don't already have a ticket, you're out of luck.
January 26: Learn About the Nuts and Bolts of Opera Production with The Dallas Opera's Director of Production, John Toia OK, so this isn't actually a concert, but it is a free event followed by a reception with free wine and hors d'oeuvres. It's also a great opportunity to learn about what goes on behind the scenes of an opera production at the Winspear. On Sunday afternoon, January 26, The Dallas Opera Guild presents a lecture by TDO's Director of Production John Toia. In February, the opera company will produce an innovative and technologically-driven opera by MIT professor Tod Machover; Death and the Powers is a futuristic opera that incorporates actual robots on stage -- not your average opera production -- so it should be fascinating to hear Toia's take on the upcoming production. More information on The Dallas Opera's website.
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January 31: AT&T Performing Arts Center Launches New Recital Series with Pianist André Watts In an attempt to fill a gaping hole in Dallas' classical music offerings, AT&T Performing Arts Center has launched a new classical series at the Winspear Opera House that will attempt to do in Dallas what The Cliburn Foundation has done so successfully in Fort Worth for years: bring in big-name touring artists for solo recitals. At the end of this month, the ever-charming, seasoned pianist André Watts, a familiar face to Dallas symphony-goers and Mr. Rogers audiences alike, will open the series.
January 31: SMU Meadows Musicians and Dancers Do Stravinsky This SMU Meadows Wind Ensemble all-Stravinsky concert is a great opportunity to explore the music of one of the 20th century's greatest minds. In addition to beloved classics like the The Firebird Suite and Concerto for Piano and Winds, the group will also perform Circus Polka, a "ballet for elephants" that was originally performed by 50 ballerinas and 50 elephants. Performers from SMU's Division of Dance will join the musicians. No word on whether any elephants will take the stage. For tickets and more information, visit the school's website.