Whether you're an avid classical music
nerd fan, or a novice looking to expand your musical palette, there are plenty of diverse opportunities to hear exceptional live classical music in Dallas this month. From the alien sounds of a 200+ year-old organ in a museum, to the rich swells of the Dallas Symphony's strings during their opening concert, here's our nerd-approved list of the 10 best/most interesting classical concerts this September:
1. September 10: Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Returns to Bass Hall Stage Earlier this summer Ukranian pianist Vadym Kholodenko beat out 30 of the world's most talented young pianists to take home the gold medal at the 2013 Cliburn International Piano Competition. On September 10, he'll return to the stage where he claimed his victory and perform what is sure to be an impressive one-man-show of virtuosity and lush, romantic music. Don't miss this chance to hear a young pianist at the top of his game. For tickets, visit the Cliburn foundation's website.
2. September 12: Oldovini Organ Concert at SMU's Meadows Museum A part of the Meadows Museum's permanent collection, this very old instrument was built in Portugal by Pascoal Caetano Oldovini in 1762. Every month, SMU's distinguished (and adorable) organ and harpsichord professor Larry Palmer gives a demonstration of this antique organ for free at the Meadows Museum. This month he will be joined by some of his students to perform a concert featuring music by blind composers (John Stanley, Pablo Bruno and Jean Langlais). No tickets are required. Just show up and experience some strangely beautiful and unique music. The concert starts at 5:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Meadows Museum and is free to the public.
3. September 13-15: Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Plays New Music Too often, American symphony orchestras shy away from presenting newly composed music and rely on standard classics; not the Fort Worth Symphony, which in this weekend's program will perform music by their newest composer-in-residence, Irishman Donnacha Dennehy. Dennehy's song-cycle, That the Night Comes, is based on the poetry of Yeats. More familiar fare by Richard Strauss rounds out the program. For tickets, visit the orchestra's website.
4. September 15: The Dallas Opera and the Dallas Museum of Art Bring Art and Music Together In the first of their "Music and Masterpieces" series, the DMA and TDO join together to present a Spanish-inspired afternoon of music and art. The best part? Both the concert and the docent-led tours are free. Starting at 2 p.m., tenor David Portillo will give a concert featuring music from North, South and Latin America. Free guided tours of the DMA's Mesoamerican, South American and Mexican collections start after the concert and include both ancient, pre-Columbian works and modern masterpieces.
5. September 17: The Dallas Chamber Symphony Presents Kazuhiro Takagi In the first concert of its sophomore season, Dallas' newest classical music organization gets off to a strong start with a concert that juxtaposes old and new music and features its newest member, Japanese violinist Kazuhiro Takagi. In his first performance as the orchestra's concertmaster, Takagi aims to impress with the dazzlingly beautiful music of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in D minor. Arvo Pärt's Cantus, a haunting modernist tribute to composer Benjamin Britten, provides a solemn interlude before the orchestra returns to more standard classical repertoire with Tchaikovsky's beautifully lush Serenade for Strings. The concert starts at 8 p.m. at City Performance Hall. Tickets and more information here.
6. September 19-22: Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Play Tchaikovsky Tchaikovsky's fifth symphony begins with a hushed, solemn marching melody that slowly expands and builds into an intensely moving and rich work of late romanticism. This is the kind of music that pulls you in and doesn't let you go until the triumphant horn blasts of the finale. If you're a symphony-going novice, this is a great way to experience Maestro van Zweden as he leads the Dallas Symphony and the stunning acoustics of the Meyerson Symphony Hall. Visit the DSO's website for tickets and check out this video of Jaap van Zweden discussing the other work on the weekend's program, Hector Berlioz's Les Nuits d'été.
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7. September 20: Bite-Sized Opera at SMU Take a midday break and check out the vocal chops of SMU's Meadows School's student opera stars. The first of this year's brown-bag series Opera Free For All starts at 1 p.m. and is open to anyone dropping in or passing through the Owen Arts Center's Bob Hope Lobby. Bring a sack lunch and enjoy a mini-serenade as each member of the Meadows Opera Theatre Ensemble has one minute to show off his or her voice in rapid-fire speed-singing succession of 60-second arias. This event is free and no tickets are required. For more information, call the Meadows box office at 214-768-1951.
8. September 21: Cliburn at the Modern Presents Composer Kevin Puts This unique Saturday afternoon concert features the music of composer Kevin Puts. The Cliburn foundation presents this rare opportunity to hear a composer speak about his music in person followed by live performances of several of his fascinating chamber works including Ritual Protocol -- a piece for solo marimba. Moderator Shields-Collins Bary will interview Puts about his compositional process, inspiration and language. The concert and conversation takes place at the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art at 2 p.m. For more information and tickets, visit the cliburn.org.
9. September 21: The Altius Quartet Play Glass This free concert features a young, talented group of string players who have recently won high praise (including first prize in the Plowman Chamber Music Competition's String and Piano division). Newly named the first Graduate String Quartet in Residence at SMU's Meadows School of Arts, this group has energy and passion in addition to impressive technical skill. This concert, held in Caruth Auditorium, features beautiful Romantic-era music by Schubert and Dvorak as well as the modernist pulsations of Philip Glass' String Quartet No. 5.
10. September 28: Renée Fleming at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala If it's a diva you want, a diva you shall have. The DSO always brings in a big-name soloist for its annual gala concert and this year it has snagged American opera super-star Renée Fleming. Gala tickets are on sale on the orchestra's website and for a whole bunch of extra cash, you can support the orchestra (and get good and tipsy) at pre- and post-concert gala events. You'll want to pull out your big-girl shoes for this one; Dallas symphony lovers will be gown-clad and tuxedoed for this glamorous evening of music.