South Florida’s classical music community is surely one of the nation’s most vibrant, with at least seven regularly appearing orchestras playing from Key West to Fort Pierce, two opera companies, three chamber music series, a nationally known concert choir, and a season that in the winter months sees many of the touring stars of the Northeast come down to shake off the cold.
This season, of course, it would be hard to draw a greater contrast. Though there has been a steady diet of virtual programs, this has been a time to tighten budgets as the vast freelance activity that sustains so many musicians in this area dried up overnight.
And yet some programming is on schedule for the season ahead, with hopes of a turnaround in the health crisis. Palm Beach’s Society of the Four Arts announced a normal-looking season, but has lost several concerts since then, including appearances by Branford Marsalis and Jeremy Denk, to cancellations.
The Kravis Center, too, had a robust season release, but now is down to about a dozen classical concerts, with all of the usual touring orchestras, such as the Chicago Symphony, deciding not to come.
Seraphic Fire, the exceptional Miami-based concert choir, has scheduled an all-virtual season of six concerts called “Season S”; two concerts, one of Renaissance music on Nov. 8 and of Christmas music on Dec. 20, have been announced. The Master Chorale of South Florida is offering several virtual performances as well, with the now-familiar sight of people with headphones on an immense Zoom call skillfully done, and the performances, such as Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil, lovingly sung and presented. The group is presenting a world premiere Nov. 20 on YouTube and Facebook Live of As Long as We Are Here, a work written for the group by the young American composer Jake Runestad.
Performing organizations not mentioned here had not released program information as of late October. Cancellations are still being announced regularly for those who have, so check with the host venue to see whether the concert is still on.
November: The Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach will present a program Nov. 21 at the Eau Palm Beach resort featuring five stellar players: Violinists Arnaud Sussman and Jennifer Frautschi, violist Paul Neubauer, cellist Nicholas Canellakis and pianist Inon Barnatan.
December: The Symphonia Boca Raton opens its programs on the afternoon of Dec. 6 with a reduced all-string concert in the Grand Oasis Ballroom of the Boca Marriott featuring holiday music led by conductor Alastair Willis. The program includes two Baroque staples, the Christmas Concerto of Arcangelo Corelli, the Winter concerto from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, as well as Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and the Lyric for Strings of the American composer George Walker.
The sensational Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov opens the Four Arts season with a sold-out recital at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13. On Dec. 14, the Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach presents another concert at Eau Palm Beach, this time with pianist and composer Michael Brown joining Sussmann (artistic director of the CMSPB), Neubauer and Canellakis.
January: The Omer Quartet kicks off the Classical Café series at the Duncan Theatre’s Stage West on Jan. 6, while conductor Alexander Platt and guitarist Jason Vieaux return to the Symphonia Boca Raton stage Jan. 10 for Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez and the Bizet Symphony in C at the Roberts Theater on the campus of St. Andrew’s School in west Boca. Pianist Wynona Wang makes her South Florida debut Jan. 12 with a recital at the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse, and on Jan. 13, violinist Philippe Quint is joined by pianist Vanessa Perez at the Four Arts for a multimedia tribute to film legend Charlie Chaplin, featuring music he wrote for his films along with pieces by Debussy, Stravinsky and Brahms. Violinist Paul Huang and cellist Edward Arron are up next for a performance Jan. 14 at The Breakers for the CMSPB.
The Lysander Trio is heard on the Classical Café series Jan. 27, and the month ends with the excellent Russian pianist Olga Kern joined by the Dali Quartet for a concert at the Four Arts on Jan. 31.
February: Kern sticks around until Feb. 3 for a performance with the Palm Beach Symphony at the Four Arts, with Gerard Schwarz leading the forces in the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 and Dvořák’s popular Serenade for Strings. The Montrose Piano Trio (Jon Kimura Parker, Martin Beaver and Clive Greensmith) stop by Holy Trinity Episcopal on Feb. 4 for the CMPSB, and over at the Four Arts, Dvořák remains in the spotlight for another weeklong residency by cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, who are planning three concerts in hand with guest musicians called “Around Dvořák,” which will include major chamber works by the composer but also pieces by Brahms, Josef Suk, and Dvořák’s American pupil Harry Burleigh, a Black composer whose arrangements of spirituals remain classics (Feb. 7, 10 and 14, all sold out).
Also on Feb. 7, the Cuban-born violinist Andrés Cárdenes leads the Boca Symphonia at the Roberts Theater in music for strings by Rossini, Vivaldi and Schubert (his Death and the Maiden quartet as arranged by Gustav Mahler). Soprano Susanna Phillips is joined by violist Neubauer and Canadian pianist Anne-Marie McDermott at The Breakers on Feb. 16, and the British vocal ensemble Voces8 is back at the Four Arts on Feb. 18, followed by the great Danish String Quartet in music of Mozart and Shostakovich on Feb. 21.
The Allwood-Chriss piano-and-organ duo of Rashann Allwood and Alcee Chriss appear in the Kravis’s Young Artist Classical Series on Feb. 22, while the Verona Quartet, the foursome in residence at Oberlin, comes to the Duncan on Feb. 24. At Holy Trinity Episcopal on Feb. 25 Sussmann joins the St. Lawrence String Quartet for a concert, and the Four Arts ends the month with a return appearance by the eminent American pianist Garrick Ohlsson in music by Beethoven, Prokofiev and, of course, Chopin.
March: The month opens on March 1 with a familiar sight, that of violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Rohan De Silva, who have been returning to the Kravis each season for decades. The excellent Calidore String Quartet is at the Duncan on March 3, and the terrific Dutch cellist Johannes Moser joins London’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields on March 7 at the Kravis for pieces by Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and the Finnish modernist Aulis Sallinen.
The exciting young American pianist Drew Petersen arrives at the Four Arts on March 14 for a finger-twisting recital featuring Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit and the complete 24 Preludes of Chopin, while the brilliant young cellist Zlatomir Fung returns to the CMSPB on March 16 in a concert at Eau Palm Beach. Touring string students from Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music are at the Four Arts on March 21 for music by Schubert and a new string quartet by West Palm Beach’s own Richard Danielpour.
On March 24, the Rolston String Quartet, a youthful Canadian foursome, appears at the Duncan, and later that night at the Four Arts, guitarist Sharon Isbin and Indian sarod master Amjad Ali Khan, joined by his two sons, perform a crossover program called “Strings for Peace.” The young American violinist Randall Goosby, 24, signed last month to a recording contract with Decca Classics, is scheduled to give a recital March 29 at the Rinker Playhouse; here’s a chance to catch a real rising star. The wonderful two-piano team of Anderson and Roe, who have become local favorites, close out the month at the Four Arts on March 31.
April: The CMSPB’s Sussman and Canellakis are joined by four other string players — violinist Chad Hoopes, violists Hsin-Yun Huang and Matt Lipman, and cellist Colin Carr — for a sextet concert April 1 at The Breakers, and on April 4 at the Four Arts, George Hinchcliffe’s Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain is back for a return appearance.