UMass FAC welcomes classical music ‘powerhouses’ March 28

Date: 3/27/2015

AMHERST – They’re one of the top orchestras in the world, based in London with many global tours under their belts. He’s one of the most celebrated concert pianists in the US, recently named a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow, and Musical America’s 2014 Instrumentalist of the Year.

Two classical music powerhouses, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and pianist Jeremy Denk, come together to perform a program of Bach, Dvorák and Suk at the UMass Fine Arts Center (FAC) Concert Hall March 28, 8 p.m. Ticket holders are also invited to a pre-performance talk with NEPR Classical Music host Walter Carroll at 7 p.m. at the University Museum of Contemporary Art (lower level of FAC).

The Academy’s FAC performance with Jeremy Denk will include highlights from three celebrated classical composers. Denk will conduct from the keyboard for Bach’s Second and Fourth concertos, continuing his acclaimed exploration of the renowned composer’s work. The Academy is in good hands; The Washington Post calls Denk’s Bach performances “a revealing journey into the soul.” Denk’s recording of Bach’s popular Goldberg Variations reached number one on Billboard’s Classical Chart, and was featured in “Best of 2013” lists by the New Yorker and the New York Times. Performing a range of work, Denk has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and London, and regularly gives recitals in New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and throughout the United States.

The performance will also include serenades by Antonín Dvorák, and that composer’s most celebrated pupil (and son-in-law), Josef Suk. These serenades bookend the evening, with an intermission break between Bach’s Second and Fourth concerto. When Denk performed solo at UMass’s Bowker Auditorium earlier this year, he spoke of his interest in the relationships between composers and how the work of one often influences the other; his study of Dvorák and Suk with the Academy continues this exploration.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is renowned for its polished and refined sound, rooted in outstanding musicianship. Formed by Sir Neville Marriner in 1958 from a group of leading London musicians, the Academy gave its first performance in its namesake church in November 1959.

Originally directed by Sir Neville from the leader’s chair, the collegiate spirit and flexibility of the original small, conductor-less ensemble remains an Academy hallmark which continues today, with virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell as its Music Director. Together they explore symphonic repertoire to perform "chamber music on a grand scale."

With over 500 recordings to date, the Academy is one of the most recorded chamber orchestras in the world. The orchestra received their first gold disc for their recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons in 1969, and the 2007 recording with Joshua Bell reached No.1 on the Billboard Classical Chart. Their soundtrack for the film Amadeus won 13 gold discs alone, while in 1996 The English Patient picked up an Academy Award for Best Music, with a soundtrack performed by the Academy.

Tickets for The Academy of St Martin in the Fields with Jeremy Denk are $55, $50 and $20; Five College, GCC, STCC students and youth 17 and under are $15, $12, $10. For tickets call the Box Office at 545-2511, toll-free at 800-999-UMAS, or purchase online at fineartscenter.com.

The Fine Arts Center’s season is sponsored by Baystate Health and Health New England, with additional event support coming from Applewood, NEPR, Daury Wealth Management and The Vidda Foundation.