Classical music in Tucson doesn’t really take a vacation.
Throughout the summer, we’ve had a handful of pretty terrific concerts as well as classical music happenings to tide us over until the fall season kicks in in late September.
This weekend is another opportunity with the Endicott Players of Boston and Tucson performing a concert of American works beginning a 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St. It’s one of three concerts the ensemble — mezzo-soprano Pamela Dellal and Roy Sansom on recorder are from Boston; pianist Michael Manning lives and teaches in Tucson — will perform. They also were taking the performance to the Boston Conservatory at Berklee in Boston and The Forte House in San Francisco.
In addition to works by Theodore Chanler, Samuel Barber, William Bolcom and Leonard Bernstein, the Players will perform the world premiere of “Cantor Songs” by Texas composer Robert Gross set to six poems by Jeremy Cantor. The piece was composed for the Endicott Players.
Admission is free. Details: pameladellal.com/Endicott
Meanwhile on Sunday, Aug. 13, Reveille Men’s Chorus is kicking off its 23rd year with a meet-and-greet at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., beginning at 6 p.m. Admission is free and it’s a chance to meet the chorus and its new artistic director Brayton Bollenbacher. Details: reveillemenschorus.org
Here are a few other classical music events that have kept us busy this summer:
- Arizona Friends of Chamber Music launched a three-concert summertime recital series in the intimacy of Sea of Glass, 330 E. Seventh St. The finale featuring violinist Tim Kantor and a few friends/University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music colleagues, is Sept. 13. Tickets ($25)/details: arizonachambermusic.org
- Maestro Linus Lerner and his Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra colleagues released a CD on the internationally acclaimed classical label Naxos in mid-July of premieres of two concertos written for violist Brett Deubner. The CD, which is being distributed nationwide, is anchored by Amanda Harberg’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra and also includes her Elegy. Max Wolpert’s Viola Concerto No. 1 “Giants” rounds out the disc and is described in the Naxos liner notes as a work drawing on ancient traditions of storytelling.
The CD, funded in large part with a gift from Dorothy Dyer Vanek, was born from a meeting between Lerner and Deubner several years ago at which Lerner gave the New Jersey-based violist a copy of the SASO’s first CD “Celebration!” SASO and Deubner performed the two concertos on the new recording at the 2016 Gramado in Concert International Music Festival in Brazil, where Lerner also conducts, and then recorded it at Catalina Foothills High School.
Meawhile, in July, Lerner, with support from SASO patrons Vanek, Larry Leung, Bill Faris, Tim Secomb and the estate of the late Irving Olson, returned to Opera Festival of San Luis in Mexico. The orchestra performed in three operas — Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro,” Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus” and Rossini’s early opera “La Cambiale di Matrimonio” (The Marriage Contract).
The festival, which continues through Sunday, Aug. 13, included a vocal competition; winners will be featured with SASO in its annual Mexican Independence Day concert at Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., at 8 p.m. Sept. 15. Admission is free; sasomusic.org for details.
- St. Andrew’s Bach Society has been filling Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church beyond capacity this summer for its hugely popular concert series, but for the first time in as long as we can recall the organization had to post a sold-out notice on its website last week when it brought back two beloved Tucson musicians — violinist Steven Moeckel and oboist Lindabeth Binkley — for the first time together in nearly a decade. The audience crammed into the pews and filled the balcony; two dozen or more fans landed rock-star seats on the stage, getting a bird’s-eye view of the two former Tucson Symphony Orchestra musicians, accompanied by recently retired TSO pianist Paula Fan.
Watching the pair perform Bach’s Adagio from Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor and the “Erbarme dich, Mein Gott” movement from the composer’s stunning “St. Matthew Passion” was worth the neck ache from craning to see around the tall man sitting in front of us and the guy with the bushy hair sitting in front of him. It’s not surprising that Moeckel and Binkley performed beautifully, but the thrill was seeing how despite the separation of time and miles, they maintained the intuitive nuance of friends who never left one-another’s side.
Ditto for the musical camaraderie between Fan and Moeckel, with whom she has long collaborated in concert and in the recording studio, and Binkley, with whom Fan was a colleague for more than a decade before Binkley left to teach in her native Michigan.
From the first note of Saint-Saëns’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor Moeckel, sporting a super-hip stubble on his head and a subtle five-o’clock shadow, reminded us how much we miss hearing the warmth he coaxes from his well-traveled violin.
In the concert’s second half, Binkley took the spotlight for Saint-Saëns’ Oboe Sonata in D major. The piece is playful and bright, and Binkley, possibly out of nerves from standing before hundreds of appreciative hometown fans or just the nature of her laid-back personality, giggled a couple times. She brought out all the colorful harmonies and delicate humor of the piece.
St. Andrew’s Bach Society wraps up its 2017 summer season on Aug. 27 with violinists Tim Kantor and Michelle Abraham. Visit standrewsbach.org for tickets ($12/$6 for students).