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Eastman School of Music Debussy and Bach celebrations this fall

This fall, Eastman School of Music presents two major festivals that celebrate the lives and works of composers that shaped the world of classical music: “The Prismatic Debussy” focuses on the French composer’s breadth of works through lectures, concerts, and visual art; and “Bach and the Organ” – the theme of this year’s Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative Festival – features master classes, presentations and concerts on the one-of-a-kind Craighead-Saunders Organ, the most important Baroque-period organ in North America.
This October, the Eastman School of Music presents “The Prismatic Debussy”: a festival anchored by three weekends of creatively programmed events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the French composer’s birth. Highlights include the Festival Gala Concert, at which the Eastman Philharmonia, Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Chorale perform Debussy masterpieces for large ensemble; a chamber concert of Debussy in transcription; a chamber realization of his opera Pelléas et Mélisande for a crossover jazz and classical ensemble that will accompany projections of artist P. Craig Russell’s illustrations; and a symposium and master class on his vocal music, featuring the North American premieres of five recently-discovered Debussy songs. These events will be accompanied by world premieres of Debussy-inspired works by Eastman composers, and a month-long exhibition that includes a complete working draft of La Mer, as well as other rare materials, at the School’s Sibley Music Library, the largest of its kind in North America.
From September 27-30, the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative and the American Bach Society are partnering to present “Bach and the Organ.” Performances include a re-creation of Mendelssohn’s 1840 Leipzig concert of Bach’s organ music, which was Mendelssohn’s only public recital on the organ, and which revived interest in the 18th-century composer. Along with recitals on historic organs—including the Craighead-Saunders Organ in Christ Church—aand on a pedal clavichord at the Eastman School of Music, there will be a gala concert. That program will comprise a Bach organ concerto and festive cantatas by the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble directed by Paul O’Dette, and Christ Church Schola Cantorum directed by Stephen Kennedy, with such distinguished soloists as soprano Ellen Hargis and countertenor Daniel Taylor.
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The Eastman School of Music is ranked among the nation’s premier music schools, boasting Guggenheim Fellows and Grammy and ASCAP Award winners on its distinguished faculty. The school has been commended and nationally recognized for giving its students an intensive professional education, entrepreneurial opportunities in their musical disciplines, and the experience of a broader liberal arts education within the University of Rochester. Eastman’s prominent alumni include opera singers Renée Fleming, Nicole Cabell, Anthony Dean Griffey, Joyce Castle, and the late William Warfield; jazz musicians Ron Carter, Steve Gadd, and Chuck Mangione; composer-conductor Maria Schneider; and composers Dominick Argento, Kevin Puts, Charles Strouse, Michael Torke, and Jeff Beal. The school presents more than 700 public concerts a year and hosts a variety of prestigious festivals and events, including, most recently, the 40th International Viola Congress and the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.
Details of both festivals follow, and more information is available at All events are free and open to the public. To learn more about the Eastman School of Music, see the web sites listed below.
“Bach and the Organ” highlights:
Sept 27, 8pm
Re-creation of Mendelssohn’s 1840 Leipzig Bach organ concert
Hans Davidsson, David Higgs, William Porter
Craighead-Saunders Organ, Christ Church
Sept 28, 8pm
Recital by Jacques van Oortmerssen
Craighead-Saunders Organ, Christ Church
Sept 29, 1pm
Pedal-Clavichord recital by Joel Speerstra
Hatch Recital Hall
Sept 29, 6pm and 8:30pm
Concert of Bach organ concerto and cantatas by Bach and Stölzel
Soprano Ellen Hargis; countertenor Daniel Taylor; tenor Jason McStoots; baritone Jesse Blumberg; organists Eduardo Bellotti and William Porter; Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble, Paul O’Dette, director; Christ Church Schola Cantorum, Stephen Kennedy, director
Craighead-Saunders Organ, Christ Church
Sept 30, 2pm
Recital by Robert Bates (Bach’s Clavierübung III)
Halloran-All Saints Organ by Paul Fritts, Sacred Heart Cathedral
Sept 30, 5:30pm
Recital by Edoardo Bellotti (“Bach and the Italian Influence”)
Italian Baroque Organ, Fountain Court, Memorial Gallery
“The Prismatic Debussy” highlights:
Sat, Oct 13 at 8pm
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre
Festival Gala Concert
Eastman Philharmonia; Eastman School Symphony Orchestra; Eastman Wind Ensemble; Eastman Chorale
With illustrated introductions by Eastman Professor of Music Theory Marie Rolf
Printemps (1887), Prix de Rome work for orchestra
Three transcriptions for wind ensemble:
   Hommage à Rameau from Images, arr. Donald Hunsberger
   Sarabande from Pour le piano, arr. Mark Scatterday
   Marche écossaise, arr. Mark Scatterday
Nocturnes (1899) for orchestra and women’s chorus (critical edition by Denis Herlin)
   Nuages; Fêtes; Sirènes
Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien (1911) Acts IV and V (critical edition by Eiko Kasaba and Pierre Boulez)
Wed, Oct 17 at 8pm
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre
Musica Nova performs The Debussy Project: New works by Eastman composers, inspired by Debussy’s piano prelude “Des pas sur la neige”
Sat, Oct 20 at 7 and 9pm
Hatch Recital Hall
Eastman faculty and students
A prism chamber concert featuring non-stop, surround-sound performance, with arrangements of some of Debussy’s best-known piano music and songs
Fri, Oct 26 at 8pm
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre
Pelléas Redux – a crossover arrangement of Debussy’s opera to accompany P. Craig Russell’s comic book Pelléas et Mélisande
Sat, Oct 27 from 9:30am to 5pm
Hatch Recital Hall
Presentations and the North American premiere of five new songs
With guest scholars Denis Herlin, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, and Mylène Dubiau-Feuillerac, Université de Toulouse; and Eastman Professors of Music Theory Marie Rolf and Jonathan Dunsby
Oct 1-27
Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School of Music
An exhibit of Debussy manuscripts, including a complete working draft of La Mer, and “Minstrels” arranged by Debussy for violin and piano for Arthur Hartmann








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