What we LOVED this year: Classical music

The 2010 classical music scene saw much change.

The 2010 classical music scene saw much change: The Zankel Music Center opened at Skidmore College to give the Capital Region its third new venue in as many years. The Lake George Opera at Saratoga changed its name officially to Opera Saratoga to better reflect its base of operations.

After 21 years, conductor Charles Dutoit, who headed the Philadelphia Orchestra at its summer home at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and Chantal Juillet, artistic director for the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival for 20 years, bade farewell to embrace other creative endeavors. Michael MacLeod, the general and artistic director for Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown for five years, also decided it was time to move on.

Despite the economy, most summer venues drew record crowds, with some organizations reporting sold-out houses. Orchestra, choral and chamber music events drew large crowds. Although most concerts were traditional in scope, including numerous world premieres, audiences were enthusiastic about a few unusual offerings: the high-wire/trapeze artists with orchestra accompaniment at SPAC and the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra, where instruments became soup for the finale. A new arts organization called Mosaic-Arts, based in Albany, also premiered with two stand-out concerts.

Top 10 concerts

The prodigious talents of pianist George Li, 14, awed a rapt crowd in a sensational program. Young Musicians Forum, Jan. 17. (Freedman)

Pianists Yefim Bronfman (March 27, Union College) and Garrick Ohlsson (Oct. 1, Troy). Electrifying. (Freedman)

Albany Symphony Orchestra under David Alan Miller in an all-Tchaikovsky night as it’s never played before. Palace Theatre, April 24. (Freedman)

Itzhak Perlman (April 11, Proctors), Leila Josefowicz (May 1, Troy), Sarah Chang (Aug. 3 and 19, SPAC), Lara St. John (Nov. 15, Troy). Violinists supreme. (Freedman)

Tanglewood’s Festival Chorus superb in Poulenc’s “La Voix Humaine” followed by Michael Tilson Thomas, on short notice, replacing ailing Boston Symphony music director James Levine to handily conduct Mahler’s Second Symphony, July 9. (Leslie Kandell)

A thrilling and rare recital from countertenor superstar David Daniels. Glimmerglass, July 31. (Freedman)

Conductor Christoph Von Dohnanyi lent gravitas to replace Levine in Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos.” He served it up with the lightness of a soufflé. Tanglewood, Aug. 1 and 2. (Kandell)

Dutoit/Yo-Yo Ma/Philadelphia Orchestra in Strauss, Elgar and Stravinsky. Fabulous. SPAC, Aug. 4. (Freedman)

Mosaic-Arts presentation of Gluck’s “Orfeo ad Euridice” showed that talent and a lot of imagination were enough to create a magical evening. Westminster Presbyterian Church, Oct. 30. (Freedman)

Mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn: an incomparable interpreter of songs. Union College, Nov. 28. (Freedman)

Categories: Life & Arts

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