John Frayne: Big-name composers highlight Krannert's early spring schedule

John Frayne: Big-name composers highlight Krannert's early spring schedule

"If winter comes, can spring be far behind?" wrote the poet Shelley. Hardly had the post echoes of the Christmas concerts died away than the wheels of the new spring season began to turn at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

In a few weeks, the Moscow Festival Ballet with Sergei Radchenko directing, will arrive. Their repertory offerings this year will be Peter Tchaikovsky's masterpiece "Swan Lake," on Jan. 16, "Don Quixote," based on Cervantes' famous novel, with music by Ludwig Minkus, on Jan. 17, and "Cinderella" with music by Sergei Prokofiev on Jan. 18. All performances begin at 7 p.m. in the Tryon Festival Theatre.

UI Professor William Heiles on Jan. 18 will give a recital in the Foellinger Great Hall in which he will parallel Fantasies and Fugues and Preludes and Fugues of Johann Sebastian Bach with Nocturnes and Ballades of Frederic Chopin, an unusual combination, but Chopin was devoted to the keyboard music of Bach.

At 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25, the Minnesota Orchestra, a high-ranking orchestra famous for its many recordings, will perform in the Foellinger Great Hall. Since I have been reviewing concerts, I cannot remember a visit from this famous ensemble. Finnish conductor Osmo Vanska, renowned for his interpretations of the music of Jean Sibelius, will open the concert with Sibelius' early tone poem "En Saga." Pianist Inon Barnatan, who appeared at Krannert last January, will join the orchestra in Tchaikovsky's famous and iconic Piano Concerto No. 1. After this barn burner, the concert will end with one of the triumphs of Ludwig van Beethoven's "middle period," his Symphony No. 7 in A major.

The birthdate of Wolfgang Mozart will be celebrated on Jan. 27 in the Foellinger Great Hall by the UI Symphony, conducted by Donald Schleicher. Professors Yvonne Redman and Nathan Gunn will sing arias and duets from "The Magic Flute," and soloists Professors Rochelle Sennet, William Heiles and Timothy Ehlen will join the orchestra for Mozart's Concerto for Three Pianos in F Major, K. 242.

The Sunday Salon series at 3 p.m. Jan. 28 will offer a concert by the winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, guitarist Jiji (Jiyeon Kim), who is from South Korea. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute and is pursuing a master's degree at Yale University. On the Foellinger Great Hall stage, she will be playing a very ambitious program of pieces by 10 composers, of which the more familiar names include Isaac Albeniz, Leo Brouwer, Dominico Scarlatti, Marin Marais, Bach, Steve Reich and Alberto Ginastera. Aside from the seating on stage, lower price tickets are available for balcony seats.

Superstar violinist Joshua Bell will give a concert in the Foellinger Great Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 1. With pianist Sam Heywood, Bell will play Mozart's Violin Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 454, Richard Strauss' Violin Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18, and Franz Schubert's "Fantasie" in C Major, D. 934. Additional selections will be announced from the stage.

The first concert of the spring season by the Champaign-Urbana Symphony, Stephen Alltop conducting, will be at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 3 in the Foellinger Great Hall. Called "Baroque Brilliance," the concert will begin with George Frideric Handel's Concerto Grosso from his oratorio "Alexander's Feast." The first of Bach's Orchestral Suites, in C Major, BWV 1066, will follow. The orchestra will be joined by Baroque specialist, violinist Zachary Carrettin, in the four violin concertos, which make up Antonio Vivaldi's most famous composition, "The Four Seasons."

Marching, or dancing, to a slightly different drummer is the eight-member band "Dublin Irish Dance," which will appear at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 and 10 in the Colwell Playhouse. This group will perform jigs, reels, tap and soft-shoe numbers that celebrate the evolution of Irish traditional dance.

Ian Hobson and the Sinfonia da Camera at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 in Foellinger Great Hall will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein by playing his "Symphonic Dances from 'West Side Story.'" All the other pieces on the program represent anniversaries of their composers. They are Charles Gounod's "Petite Symphony for Winds," Gioachino Rossini's "The Thieving Magpie" Overture, and Claude Debussy's "Rhapsody for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra," with UI Professor Debra Richtmeyer performing the solo part.

Stay tuned as our preview of the spring season continues in following columns.

John Frayne hosts "Classics of the Phonograph" on Saturdays at WILL-FM and, in retirement, teaches at the UI. Reach him at