Smile Politely

Great talents converge on Krannert Center in March

March at Urbana’s Krannert Center offers two extraordinary ensembles that could not be more different in the music they play. For those looking for variety in their music, March is your month at Krannert.

Great things commence at the very beginning of month as the Venice Baroque Orchestra performs in Krannert’s Foelliinger Auditorium on March 1. Despite its antique name, the Venice Baroque Orchestra was founded in 1997. Its founder, Baroque music scholar and harpsichordist Andrea Marcon, wanted to establish an ensemble of the highest quality that would promote a rediscovery of great 17th and 18th century works. Better yet, the intention was that these works would be played on period instruments for total authenticity.

The music for the evening of March 1 will feature countertenor Philippe Jarousky with the Venice Baroque Orchestra as they acquaint Champaign-Urbana’s music patrons with the music of the very well known George Frideric Handel and the lesser known Nicola Porpora. Porpora (1686-1768), an Italian from Naples, was famous in his day for his operas with demanding vocal ranges. Advance word on French countertenor Jarousky is that he is the modern incarnation of Farinelli, the great tenor for whom Porpora wrote so many demanding vocal parts. Fortunately modern vocal training has spared Mr. Jarousky the sacrifice Farinelli and others made for their extensive vocal ranges (as they were castrated as boys to preserve their high vocal ranges). Score one for modern vocal techniques and training.

On March 19, the flipside of classical music performs at Krannert’s Tryon Festival Theatre: Kronos String Quartet. Four string musicians, a forty year tradition, forty-five recordings, and a dedication to contemporary music have put them on the cutting edge of new commissions and interpreting the sounds of modern chamber music. This year’s concert will include a new work by Philip Glass, an arrangement of Wagner, and works by Lizee and Silvestrov. A concert program with a new work created for Kronos is nothing unusual, as over 750 new works have been commissioned for Kronos Quartet in their forty year history — that’s an average of just under twenty works a year.

Most of their recordings are still available, and a good introduction to their sound and style is Black Angels, which contains their own exciting take on established classics of 20th century music from Charles Ives to Dimitri Shostakovich. To this they add a work by a contemporary Hungarian, Istvan Marta, and adapt a work by Thomas Tallis  (1505-1585) to boot. No wonder so many of their groundbreaking recordings are still available, and no wonder they are returning to Urbana’s Krannert Center for the fifteenth time.

For further information on this and other music performances, you can visit or call the Krannert Center box office at 217-333-6280.

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