This November, Dallasites will inevitably be bombarded by more than their fair share of words about the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Speeches, articles and commentary are essential to any memorial. Sometimes, though, words fail. And for as long as humans have grieved and remembered, they have used music to express the gap left between emotion and language.
Several of Dallas' classical music organizations are honoring Kennedy's life and commemorating his death this month with concerts that feature both new and old music. Both the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Nasher Sculpture Center have commissioned new works for the occasion.
Two of the world's biggest violin superstar virtuosos will also be in Dallas this month, and several local organizations are presenting great chamber music. Here's your complete guide to all the classical music you won't want to miss this month.
November 10: Orpheus Chamber Singers Celebrate the Many Sides of Kennedy The Orpheus Chamber Singers take the stage at Dallas City Performance Hall with a conceptual approach to JFK's life, presenting an evening of music inspired by a variety of the president's attributes and characteristics. The full, lush sound of a 24-voice professional choir will evoke Kennedy's Irish roots with traditional songs like "Danny Boy" and "The Kerry Dance." Music by living composers Arvo Pärt and Eriks Esenvald echo themes of love, death and legacy. For tickets and more information, visit the group's website.
November 10: Ensemble75 at Steinway Hall Dallas Steinway Hall's showroom is a great place to catch free Sunday afternoon concerts performed on the best pianos in town. Since 2010, Ensemble75 has brought quality programming to the space. On November 10, the group's concert features pianist David Korevaar and two beloved masterworks of the Romantic period by Schubert and Brahms. The concert is free and starts at 6:30 p.m. Just look for the giant "PIANOS" sign off of Central Expressway.
November 11: Dallas Chamber Music Society Provides a Monday Night Mental Break Put down your frozen dinner and give yourself a night off from the gym; sometimes the best way to recover from an excessively fun weekend and/or a case of the Mondays is to shut off your phone, settle into your seat and soak up the beautiful sounds of a live string quartet. The Dallas Chamber Music Society's November concert at SMU's Caruth Auditorium features music by the acclaimed Danish String Quartet. In addition to Mendelssohn's lovely String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13, the blond-haired gang of four will perform Scandinavian folk music and 10 Preludes by Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen. More info here.
November 12: The Cliburn Presents Midori at Bass Hall Superstar Japanese-American violinist and one-name wonder, Midori (not to be confused with the melon-flavored liqueur by the same name) has been wowing the world with her incredible talent since she took the stage at the New York Philharmonic at age 11. This month she makes her Cliburn at the Bass debut, continuing the organization's tradition of bringing big names and big talent to the Bass Hall stage. Midori will perform the music of Mozart, Hindemith and Schubert among others. Tickets and more information here.
November 19: Dallas Chamber Symphony Provides Comic Relief During their inaugural season last year, the Dallas Chamber Symphony proved it puts live music to movies better than almost anyone else in town. This fall, in their season's second concert, DCS continues the tradition of performing brand new music as live accompaniment to silent films at Dallas City Performance Hall. Music by composers Alain Mayrand, Penka Kouneva and Brian Satterwhite will accompany three classic comedies featuring Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. The chamber symphony will also present music by J.S. Bach (Brandenburg Concerto No. 3) and Benjamin Britten. If you've yet to check out the Dallas Chamber Symphony, this will be a great concert to do so. Tickets and info available on the group's website.
November 21-24: The Dallas Symphony Orchestra Remembers Kennedy with Joshua Bell and New Music by Conrad Tao Composer Conrad Tao is only 19, but that didn't stop the Dallas Symphony from choosing this remarkable young talent to compose a work in honor of this year's Kennedy assassination anniversary. The young composer focused on the concept of memory and the experience of Dallasites who lived through the traumatic event to inspire his work, The World Is Very Different Now, which will have its premier at the DSO concerts November 21-24. In addition to this new work, the symphony will perform Darius Milhaud's Murder of a a Great Chief of State, composed in 1964. The orchestra also welcomes hugely popular violinist Joshua Bell to the stage to perform music by Sibelius. Beethoven's Eroica Symphony rounds out what promises to be an interesting and moving program. Visit www.dallassymphony.com for tickets.
November 23: The Nasher's Soundings Presents the Brentano String Quartet The Nasher's Soundings series consistently presents its audiences with innovative and modern musical experiences. On November 23 at Dallas' City Performance Hall, the group presents a Kennedy memorial concert featuring the Brentano String Quartet playing music by modernist, avant-garde composers Olivier Messiaen and John Cage. Steven Mackey's One Red Rose, a new work jointly commission by the Nasher Sculpture Center and Carnegie Hall, will also be performed. If you don't make it to the performance hall, Mackey's music will also be performed on Sunday, November 24 at the Sixth Floor Museum. Tickets and more info here.