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More Than Just the Standards: IU Summer Music Fest Preview

For music lovers in Southern and Central Indiana, this summer’s IU Jacobs School of Music's Summer Music Festival will certainly be something exciting.

For music lovers in Southern and Central Indiana, this summer’s Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Summer Music Festival will certainly be something exciting. In addition to the numerous chamber music concerts being presented throughout the summer, the orchestra and the opera programs are gearing up for an exceptional series of performances.

Let’s begin with the summer opera, a work by Adam Guettel The Light in the Piazza. I spoke with Maria Levy, Executive Administrator of the IU Opera and Ballet Theater.

She told me that she has been trying to secure the rights to perform this work since 2005, “So we were very excited to be allowed to (perform) this show.”

It’s a love story, set in Florence, Italy, with some twists and turns along the way of course. Although, Levy assured me that there is a happy ending.

This is the collegiate premiere of The Light in the Piazza, a tradition at the Jacobs School. Dan Riddle, leading a cast of students in The Light in the Piazza. You can catch those performances on July 31, August 1, 7 and 8.

Now, it’s the orchestras’ turn, the aspect of the festival that gets me most excited. I met up with the guy who knows all about the summer orchestra series, Tom Wieligman, the Executive Administrator of Instrumental Ensembles and Special Performance Activity.

He spoke with me about the make-up of the two summer orchestras. In the Festival Orchestra, it’s a mix of professionals from all over the country and Jacobs School of Music faculty members sitting in the principal chairs. And then filling out the sections are students.

Wieligman explained how this is a very real-life musical experience, with only a few rehearsals per concert cycle, “and therefore the students and principal players see the light at the end of the tunnel quickly. It has to be ready now.”

The Symphony Orchestra is the student-manned orchestra, and those two concerts will be taking place on July 14 and August 11. Cliff Colnot is a regular guest at the Jacobs School of Music, coming down from Chicago where is the principal conductor of the Civic Orchestra. Music of Ravel, Hindemith, Tchaikovsky, and Schubert on those concerts.

Speaking of repertoire, for the Festival Orchestra, there are some standards and some definite crowd-pleasers. But there are some surprises as well. In the first Festival Orchestra concert on July 2, conductor David Robertson, the Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, will present music by Danish composer Carl Nielsen. That’s not a name that generally pops up on orchestra programs.

Then, on August 8, the Festival Orchestra plays music of Sibelius and the Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz. The conductor for that program is a new name to the IU Summer Music Festival, Giancarlo Guerrero.

A name familiar to Indiana music fans, Mario Venzago, will conduct the middle concert on July 23. He is the Music Director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. “I guess I call it a war-horse program,” Wieligman said, with music of Mussorgsky, Strauss, Debussy, and Ravel.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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