New conductor David Danzmayr leads Breckenridge Music Festival opening night
Opening night at the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra on Thursday, July 16, means the official debut of David Danzmayr, the festival’s highly acclaimed new conductor and artistic advisor. Danzmayr, who also leads the Columbus, Ohio, Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, was selected last year after a summer series featuring prospective new conductors.
“This summer, I have chosen to feature the music of Felix Mendelssohn, a composer I believe is as great as Mozart or Beethoven, but much less well-known among music lovers,” said the Austrian-born conductor. “Like Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn was a child prodigy, capable on violin and viola and absolutely stunning as a pianist, concertizing widely around Europe to admiring audiences.”
Mendelssohn began composing at a young age. Some of his most popular works, such as Overture to a “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Octet for Strings, were written before he was 16 years old, Danzmayr said.
“Like Mozart, Mendelssohn’s music sparkles with wit and charm,” he said. His style “features the clean musical architecture and beautiful melodies of the Classical era, but with his own, very 19th century, Romantic expressive spirit.”
The 2015 Festival Orchestra series opens with Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony, including “The Hebrides” Overture and the Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64, featuring guest violinist Alexandra Soumm. The Moscow-born French violinist has collaborated with orchestras around Europe and made her U.S. debut with the Detroit Symphony two years ago. She is a sought-after talent who has worked with Danzmayr in the past, and she comes to Breckenridge because of him. The Mendelssohn concerto is among the top 100 violin concertos performed, according to Marcia Kaufmann, the festival’s executive director.
“It shows the quality of the instrument so beautifully that every violinist loves to play it,” she said.
The piece is juxtaposed with Wolfgang Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466 in the second half, featuring pianist Sophia Zervas, a recent high school graduate and division IV winner of this year’s Schmitt Music Piano Competition. The event closes with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 in A Minor.
“It’s easy for a season to settle into Beethoven and other familiar composers,” Kaufmann said about the choice to feature works by Mendelssohn. “If audiences come out time after time like ours do, it is a lot of fun to explore lesser-known composers. Mendelssohn is an example of one who is really top flight, though he is not programmed as much.”
A number of Mendelssohn’s works were inspired by his travels to the Scottish countryside.
“He wrote letters home, sometimes even accompanied by a scrap of melody he wrote in response to the scenery,” Kaufmann said. “He works with the instrumentation of an orchestra in almost miraculous ways, painting sounds that draw pictures in your mind.”
Danzmayr, like Mendelssohn, feels an affinity for Scotland, where he served as conductor for several years. He is the first new conductor of the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra — a chamber orchestra of professional musicians drawn from symphony orchestras across the nation — in two decades. As artistic adviser, he directs the programming of the five-week summer festival and conducts the first half of the series. The second half will feature artistic partners selected for their prowess in a given genre.
“I welcome you to join Breckenridge’s Festival Orchestra this summer to explore a broad range of music, including some of the orchestral and chamber music of Felix Mendelssohn,” Danzmayr said. “I am sure you will find yourself charmed and pleased to have added Mendelssohn to your musical acquaintance.”
Preceding the opening night concert is a kickoff party for advertising sponsors, local concierges, and media to glimpse the season’s offerings, with snippets of classical orchestra, Hollywood tunes, jazz, blues and bluegrass. The majority of the Breckenridge Music Festival’s funding comes from advertising sponsors and its fundraising group, Applause. Individuals and groups interested in sponsoring the festival and joining in the pre-concert festivities should contact Maggie Vander Pol, marketing and administrative manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 453-9142.
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