Performance and presentation are big recurring themes at the School of Music this quarter as our students and faculty put finishing touches on the good work they've done this academic year. Our events calendar shows very few empty days between now and the end of spring quarter and offers a range of sounds that would astound (or perhaps confound?) the “typical” listener. Members of our audiences this quarter may opt to hear the entirety of the Preludes and Fugues of Shostakovich, a revival of music by Harry Partch, performed on instruments he built himself, a new take on Mozart’s operatic masterpiece The Magic Flute, and plenty of improvisational art music that defies easy categorization. The challenge for music-lovers then becomes how to choose among the range of musical adventures available to them. Let us suggest just a few of many, but do visit our events calendar for the full range of performances and scholarly activities.
The UW School of Music and Seattle production company Pacific MusicWorks embark this spring on the second production of an innovative collaboration: a new translation of Mozart's The Magic Flute that puts a modern spin on timeless music, as PMW is wont to do. New dialogue by UW Drama artist-in-residence Karen Hartman and direction by Dan Wallace Miller sets our Magic Flute in 2015 Seattle, and recent Grammy winner Stephen Stubbs conducts what he calls the Northwest's first historically informed Magic Flute performed by a classical orchestra.
Producing professional opera productions in an academic setting yields many wonderful results. This year, in addition to the professional cast production running May 8-10 at Meany Theater, we join with PMW on May 6 to present a special student cast performance. Same direction, same sets, same orchestra, but featuring in the principal roles some of the best of our talented voice students. The production is free and open to the public, so do join us!
In other student-teacher-professional collaborations, we are pleased this year to partner with the student-led Improvised Music Project to present IMPFest VII May 1-3 at the UW Ethnic Cultural Center. Guest artists performing with UW students this year are the legendary bassist Steve Swallow and renowned saxophonist Chris Cheek, joined by guitarist and UW affiliate professor Bill Frisell and Jazz Studies faculty Cuong Vu, Ted Poor, and Luke Bergman as well as School of Music Director Richard Karpen.
Faculty pianist Craig Sheppard, meanwhile, has undertaken the daunting challenge of Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues and performs the entirety of this incredible body of music on Sat. April 25 at Meany Theater. Peter Kelley of UW Today caught up to Sheppard recently with some inquisitive questions. Read on for more about the pianist, the composer, and the work.
The passage of our beloved Advisory Board member and alumnus Donald Thulean in early April marked the end of a connection with the School of Music that spanned nearly six decades, since Thulean was a student at UW in the 1940s earning degrees in orchestral conducting. He went on to serve the state and our region as conductor of the Spokane Symphony and numerous other musical posts, and to give generously of his time and insight in a variety of volunteer leadership positions. In gratitude for his service to the UW School of Music and to the Seattle Symphony, we dedicate our April 24 Side by Side concert by the UW Symphony and the Seattle Symphony to Donald Thulean.