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Classical Music Agenda (June 2012)

Over the summer months, a sleepy time for classical music in Washington, there may not always be enough going on for us to have even ten concerts to recommend. That is not the case next month, as the otherwise dormant city will be livened up by a few festivals in the neighborhood. We will also have some picks for summer festivals around the country, including some of the places Ionarts will travel to this summer.

The free concert series at the National Gallery of Art continues through the first weekend of July, and the first one in June will feature the JACK Quartet (June 3, 6:30 pm), in the East Building's auditorium. This exciting and distinctive group will play music by Roger Reynolds and student composers from the University of California in D.C. Tickets: FREE, no reservation required.

Also free is a concert on the Steinway Series at the Smithsonian American Art Museum by American Century Music (June 10, 3 pm). The program, as the group's name implies, features American music, composed by Ruth Crawford Seeger, Rebecca Clarke, William Schuman, and Robert Palmer. You can obtain a ticket in the G Street Lobby starting thirty minutes before the concert. Tickets: FREE.

The June Chamber Festival returns to the Kreeger Museum this month (June 8, 12, and 15, all at 7:30 pm). The American Chamber Players, who have shuffled their membership again after some troubles last year, offer unusual pieces for various chamber combinations, in the Great Room designed by Philip Johnson, one of the most intriguing places to hear music in the city. Music by Mozart, Kuhlau, Roussel, Smetana, and four-hands pieces by Debussy and Schubert are on the menu. Tickets: $35.

The biennial Washington Early Music Festival returns this summer (June 2 to 30), with a selection of concerts and workshops by historically informed performance ensembles of all kinds, mostly based in the Washington area. All of the concerts, hosted in the lovely acoustics of several churches throughout the city (and Arlington), offer beautiful music, but we give special emphasis to the concert by the Baltimore Consort called The Ladyes Delight (June 3, 3 pm) at St. Matthew's Cathedral; a concert devoted to the anniversary of Joan of Arc by the Suspicious Cheese Lords (June 22, 8 pm) at St. Mark's Episcopal Church; and a screening of Lon Chaney's silent film The Hunchback, with medieval music performed by Hesperus (June 30, 8 pm), also at St. Mark's. Tickets: $20.

available at Amazon
Silfra, H. Hahn, Hauschka
Silfra, the new collaboration between violinist Hilary Hahn and prepared piano player Hauschka (AKA Volker Bertelmann), came out last week. This unusual duo's tour to promote the album makes a local stop in an unexpected venue, The Birchmere in Alexandria (June 18, 7:30 pm). The style of music, largely improvised (at least initially), hovers between rock drive and New Age meditation. Tickets: $54.

Two silent film screenings with live music got our attention this month, both on the same day. The historical performance ensemble Hesperus provides the score for The General (1926, Buster Keaton), a free screening at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (June 9, 1 pm). Later that afternoon, the Cantate Chamber Singers perform the world premiere of a new score by Andrew Earle Simpson for The Wind (1928, directed by Victor Sjöström), at the American Film Institute in Silver Spring (June 9, 3 pm).

Philip Glass, b. January 31, 1937
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra continues playing into this month, including a performance of a notable world premiere: Philip Glass's new work for orchestra Overture for 2012 (June 17, 7 pm) at Baltimore's Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Commemorating the anniversary of the War of 1812, the performance will be augmented with a selection of other patriotic music by composers American and otherwise. Since it is indoors, we do not expect any cannons to be fired.Tickets: $15.

June is also the month for the National Orchestral Institute, a three-week apprenticeship for young orchestral musicians at the University of Maryland. The students have the chance to work with star conductors -- this year, Alan Gilbert, Leonard Slatkin, and Asher Fisch will visit, and some of the rehearsals will be open to the public -- and to perform a broad range of music, both for orchestral and chamber arrangements. Highlights include a kid-oriented free concert of Peter and the Wolf (June 24, 3 pm), two Mahler performances with Asher Fisch and mezzo-soprano Stefanie Irànyi (June 27 and June 30), and the New Lights concert (June 28, 8 pm), in which the students are encouraged to experiment with new music and new performance ideas.

The Castleton Festival, the month-long series of concerts on and around the summer estate of conductor Lorin Maazel in Rappahannock County, Virginia, kicks off this month, with an opening concert featuring mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves (June 22, 7:30 pm). In the festival's short history, this year features the least exciting selection of operas on the roster -- Rossini's Barber of Seville and Bizet's Carmen -- plus some orchestral and recital events. Tickets: $20 to $120.

The Wolf Trap Opera festival offers many of the same attractions, just at a somewhat shorter drive from the city and without the veteran hands of Lorin Maazel at the podium. The young singers brought on by the company this season will get a crack at Mozart's Don Giovanni (June 29 to July 5). It is hardly an adventurous choice, but it will easily sell out its run of performances in the smaller venue at the Barns. Tickets: $35 to $75. During the opening weekend of that run, the New York G&S Players will return to the big venue at Wolf Trap, the outdoor Filene Center, for a production of The Pirates of Penzance (June 29 and 30). Tickets: $12 to $50.

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