Tennessee Williams' 'Not About Nightengales,' BU Theatre Studio 210, through June 25

Vol. III No. 36   ·   Week of 23 June 2000   

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Premieres, debuts, and rarities highlight Summer Concert Series

By Eric McHenry

The 10th anniversary of the Summer Concert Series really snuck up on its founder.

Mark Kroll

  Mark Kroll. Photo by Fred Sway

“I was amazed to learn, as I was setting up this year’s series, that it was the tenth,” says Mark Kroll, SFA professor and chairman of the department of historical performance. “Time really does fly.”

In choosing material and recruiting musicians for the 2000 program, Kroll had his mind on another milestone — the 250th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s death. The series, which began June 20 and continues through June 29 in the Tsai Performance Center, features both familiar and lesser-known works by Bach, as well as classical and contemporary compositions for harpsichord and a number of premieres.

At 8 p.m. on June 22, Kroll will join three distinguished string performers — baroque cellist Thomas Fritzsch, baroque violinist Carol Lieberman, and violinist Waltraut Wächter — for a concert entitled “Bach the Violinist.” Along with trios for violin, cello, and harpsichord, the performance will include Bach’s Unaccompanied Sonata for Violin in G Minor, arranged by Robert Schumann for violin and piano.

“Bach wrote sonatas for solo violin in the 1730s and 40s, and then, 100 years later, Schumann decided to add a keyboard part,” says Kroll, who will perform that part himself. “It’s sort of like adding a string quartet to a rock band. That’s a little extreme, but you get the idea. It’s quite strange, and hardly ever performed. But it’s beautiful. It’s a great composer — Robert Schumann — expressing admiration for an even greater composer.”

Three first-time performances will highlight the free noon concert on June 28. Kroll and his protégé, Marina Minkin (SFA’90,’98), will play harpsichord duets by Viennese organist Peter Planyavsky (a Boston premiere), Sergei Prokofiev (an American premiere), and Vittorio Rieti (a world premiere).

Prior to his death in 1994, Rieti was what Kroll calls “walking history” — a colleague of Stravinsky, Ravel, Debussy, and Balanchine. “In Paris, he wrote the music for George Balanchine’s first ballet,” says Kroll. “We’re playing from his own manuscripts.”

The series, which opened June 20 with a performance of Bach’s “The Musical Offering,” will conclude on June 29 with an 8 p.m. recital by one of France’s leading young harpsichordists, Olivier Baumont, who teaches at a conservatory in Lille and directs a popular festival devoted to the music of François Couperin. Making his American debut, Baumont will play some familiar French baroque pieces, as well as a selection of rarely heard works from 18th-century Russia.

“This is very interesting,” says Kroll. “I didn’t even know, until recently, that there was harpsichord music from 18th-century Russia. But Baumont found it and recorded a whole album of it. And when I heard it, I said, ‘Boston has to hear these composers.’”

Until 10 years ago, Boston in the summertime was something of a classical musical desert. Kroll was able to create the oasis that is the Summer Concert Series, he says, because of a supportive Summer Term administration, a receptive BU community, and an air-conditioned but idle venue — the Tsai Performance Center.

“When June and July rolled around,” he says, “all the classical music left Boston and moved out to the mountains. There’s that great New England tradition of festivals — Tanglewood and Vermont and New Hampshire. And for the people who stayed in town, there was no classical music to speak of. Nothing. And I said, ‘Well, why not?’”

Summer Concert Series recitals are held in the Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Ave. Admission to all shows is $10, $5 for students and seniors, except the June 28 performance, which is free. For more information, call the School for the Arts at 353-3350 or the SFA Events Line at 353-3349, or visit the SFA homepage.


23 June 2000
Boston University
Office of University Relations