If you go to a classical concert in Dallas this month expecting to see 50 shades of gray hair in the audience and/or onstage, you'll likely be surprised. Several local organizations are gearing their programming towards younger crowds this March, wooing the under-40 set with more relaxed concerts in alternative venues and plenty of booze. Both the Dallas Chamber Symphony and The Dallas Opera are seeking out fresh, new talent, hosting open-to-the-public competitions for young pianists and vocalists. In fact, the majority of this month's most interesting concerts feature young performers. Here's the rundown:
March 6: The Polyphony Foundation Presents Young Arab and Israeli Musicians Side by Side Harmony: it's easier said than done when it comes to blending both sounds and cultures. The goal of the Polyphony Foundation is to teach young Arab and Israeli students to find common ground as they practice and perform classical music together. On Thursday, March 6, this group of talented young string players will perform at Southern Methodist University as part of their 2014 spring tour of American cities (other stops include Los Angeles and Washington D.C.). Tickets are $40 and the concert takes place in the Owen Arts Center's Caruth Auditorium. In addition to string quartet music provided by these inspiring students, Israeli singer/songwriter David Broza will perform. For tickets and more information, visit the Jewish Community Center of Dallas' website.
March 7: The Dallas Symphony's ReMix Series Returns Last fall, the Dallas Symphony launched ReMix, a new series in a new venue with marketing clearly aimed at courting a younger crowd. This weekend the series returns for its second installment, again offering a concert in a smaller, less formal venue (Dallas City Performance Hall instead of the Meyerson Symphony Center), drinks you can sip during the show and an opportunity to hobnob with musicians post-concert. Tito Muñoz, a 30-year-old American conductor who made a name for himself working with the alternative music venue/club Le Poison Rouge in New York, will lead the orchestra in a concert that features Argentinian composer Astor Piazzola's electric "Four Seasons". For tickets, visit the orchestra's website.
March 13: The Cliburn Foundation Launches Cliburn Sessions at Live Oak Music Hall In an attempt to provide Fort Worth with "a classically alternative music scene," the Cliburn Foundation is launching an exciting new series at Live Oak Music Hall and Lounge in Fort Worth. In this setting, classically trained musicians are encouraged to bend the traditional "rules" of concerts by interacting with the audience and blending classical music with jazz, pop and alternative. Expect a more relaxed atmosphere than you'd typically find and plan to enjoy some great music with a cocktail in hand. The immensely talented and entertaining Anderson and Roe Piano Duo kicks off the series on March 13. Tickets and more info here.
March 12-15: A Weekend of Piano and Vocal Competitions Hosted by the Dallas Chamber Symphony and The Dallas Opera It's a total coincidence that these two competitions are happening on the same weekend, but it is a great opportunity for local music lovers to hear a slew of fresh, young talented virtuosos play and sing their hearts out as they battle it out for top prizes. The best part? It's all free. The Dallas Opera's 26th annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition takes place all day Saturday, March 15 at the Winspear Opera House. The event is free and open to the public, so you can stop by throughout the day to hear up and coming vocal stars with Texas connections perform some of your favorite arias. You can even vote for your favorite; the winner will receive The People's Choice Award (read: cash money). This is the second year of the Dallas Chamber Symphony's International Piano Competition, presented in collaboration with SMU's Meadows School of the Arts. The competition takes place over four days (March 12-15), and like the opera's event, is free and open to the public. Highlights include masterclasses with SMU faculty members Joaquin Achucarro and Dr. Carol Leone. The competition takes place at the Caruth Auditorium. More info here.
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March 21: The Dallas Opera Presents Korngold's Die tote Stadt If you're not familiar with American composer Erich Wolgang Korngold, you're probably not alone. The early 20th century composer made a name for himself primarily with his romantically driven film scores, but his concert music has only recently found its way into more mainstream classical programming. Korngold's music is luscious and rich and he understands drama -- qualities that, when combined, make for compelling opera. Add to that a creepy, ghost-filled tale of obsessive love and murder and the impressive cast TDO has assembled and this production is worth your time and money. Performances run on March 21, 23, 26, 29 and April 6. Tickets available here.
March 23: Alessio Bax Plays Beethoven at SMU Just a few days before he performs the same program at Lincoln Center in New York, pianist Alessio Bax gives a recital at SMU's Caruth Auditorium that features Beethoven's always impressive "Hammerklavier" Sonata. Bax's recitals are always stunning: He plays with ease and virtuosity in addition to a compelling sound and touch. If you like piano recitals, don't miss this one. With tickets ranging from $7-$13, this is a steal of a deal. Call SMU's box office at 214-768-2787 for tickets and information.
March 21, 22 and 23: The Fort Worth Symphony Presents the Music of Wagner and Something Called a Didgeridoo The Fort Worth Symphony has a reputation for innovative programming and presenting newer, unfamiliar music alongside more traditional fare. This weekend's concerts in particular include some fascinating sounds, including music by Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe ("Earth Cry") that features the music of a didgeridoo, a 1,500-year-old wind instrument invented by indigenous Australians. The always rich music of Wagner's Ring Cycle concludes the program directed by FWSO Music Director Miguel Harth-Bedoya at Bass Performance Hall.
March 29: The Fort Worth Opera Brings Opera Shots Back to Dallas If you're an opera fan, you don't want to miss this evening of booze and song. The Fort Worth Opera's popular series "Opera Shots" returns to the gorgeous outdoor stage at The Foundry in Oak Cliff. It's opera in a bar, and it features music by young, talented rising stars who clearly have fun putting on this event, which means that you will have fun attending it. Bring your kids. Bring your dogs. Sing along. Or just sit back with a beer and enjoy concert-hall worthy music under the stars.