For many Dallas listeners, April's been a month long anticipated: the month that brings Mozart's Requiem. You could almost be forgiven for blowing off the rest of the month, were it not for a series of unexpectedly brilliant programs peppering the calendar in Requiem's wake. Courtesy some of the smaller, less-trafficked venues in town, these ambitious concerts, featuring both unknown talents and world-class musicians, run the gamut from local, wholly original premiers to challenging flirtations with giants of the avant garde. The Dallas' spring is looking bright indeed.
April 16: SMU Meadows' New Music Ensemble, SYZYGY, Presents Pēteris Vasks' Plainscapes at Caruth Auditorium Anytime -- anytime -- SMU's SYZYGY puts on, plays or, hell, attends an event, take notice; the program involved is sure to be as unexpected and radical as it is brilliantly framed and passionately executed. Google "SYZYGY" and you're met with as many rabbit holes as answers. From configurations of celestial bodies to psychoanalytical, biological and mathematical usages and poetic styling, there's an endless index of meanings for the term, all of which tell you everything and nothing about this ensemble's approaches and aspirations -- a collective seemingly driven by abstraction and emotion as much as technical proficiency. Apart from tackling the earthy drones and spiny consistency of Vasks' Plainscapes, this concert will see SYZYGY, alongside the Meadows Chorale (directed by Pamela Elrod Huffman), explore the spacial intricacies of sound as art, highlighting works by Dan Visconti and composer/theorist/aesthetician Toru Takemitsu. Visit meadows.smu.edu for more information.
April 16-19: The DSO Tackles Mozart's Requiem at The Meyerson Gloriously dark, at turns sublime and brutal, Mozart's final piece of music serves as a sweeping eschatological assault on death and dying. Aberrantly expressive, sometimes uncomfortably so, the Requiem is a triumphant monument to Mozart's impossible skill-set. Although arguably one of the most affecting pieces of music every written, with an infamous, although largely fabricated, backstory only deepening its mystique, the Requiem's content surpasses its reputation. Can the DSO match the challenge? The U.S. premiere of Wolfgang Rihm's Triple Concerto opens the program. This event has all the makings to be one of the absolute highlights of the DFW classical season. Tickets and information at mydso.com.
April 24: Soundings Presents Works for String Quartet and Percussion, With Ian Rosenbaum and The Parker String Quartet at The Nasher Billed as "a sonic adventure through tonalities at once ancient and new," the next installment of Nasher's Soundings music series features a world class collection of artists, musicians at the very top of their fields. Featured percussionist Ian Rosenbaum -- whose abilities artistic director Seth Knopp describes as "informed by a wonderful intelligence, interpretive insight and prodigious control" -- is among the most celebrated and sought-after percussionists in the world, and the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet (artists-in-residence at Harvard's music department, too) is nothing short of top shelf, as decorated and acclaimed as such collectives come. With pedigree sky high and the magnificent curation of Knopp at the helm, this looks to be yet another essential concert from this season's Soundings series. Tickets and more information at nashersculpturecenter.org.
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April 25: The DSO Presents Organist Leo Van Doeselaar On the FISK 100 at The Meyerson Few instruments are as haunting as the organ, and few evoke such a strong emotional gutshot -- a strange experience at once pulpy, perfervid, piquant and wintry, hovering somewhere between seductive and reverent. In celebration of the instrument's fascinating complexities and eccentricities, and showcasing the illustrious Fisk Opus 100 organ, the DSO presents Amsterdam's Concertgebouw organist Leo Van Doeselaar. The list of works to be performed:
Bach Prelude and Fugue in G minor Bach/Wilhelm Middelschulte Ciaccona in D minor Franck Grande Piece Symphonique Brahms Prelude and Fugure in G minor Brahms/Lionel Rogg Variations on a Theme of Haydn Saint-Saens/E.H. Lemare Danse Macabre
For tickets and additional information visit mydso.com.
April 25: SMU Meadows Presents Emerging Sounds: New Works by SMU Student Composers at Owen Arts Center This one's a wild card, which is precisely what makes it so very exciting. I imagine it's not everyone's cup of tea, but the prospect of seeing a surprise program, every last composition a premiere, brought to you straight from the raw imaginations of students -- unrestrained minds still very much in flux, bristling with urgency and that certain artistic abandon common to youth -- is enough to give me frissons. With the possibilities ranging from acoustic to electronic to chamber to who-knows, this event promises to be nothing if not refreshingly unpredictable. Visit smu.edu/meadows for more information.