InConcert Sierra: A new season and “Bach to the future”

“IS CLASSICAL MUSIC DYING?” THE New York Times recently asked in a blunt tone, creating anxiety in the music world. (We excused the hyperbole, figuring they were simply tired of being asked “Are newspapers dying?”)

No, like newspapers, classical music isn’t dying—it’s just breaking away from its inherent conservatism and redefining itself: embracing casual classic programming, arts education and the reach of the Internet (from recordings to ticket sales).

And, just like newspapers, some performing arts groups are embracing change better than others. In the foothills, InConcert Sierra is thriving, thanks to innovative leadership, an engaged board of directors and loyal audiences.

InConcert Sierra, whose roots date back to 1946 as the Twin Cities Concert Association, just finished another year in the black despite the economic downturn, according to Executive Director Julie Hardin.

Its arts education program is creative: pre-concert forums give you a chance to learn about the artist and the music being performed. Post-concert “meet and greet” lets you meet the artist.

The performing arts group is readily embracing new technology, providing YouTube videos, online recordings and online ticket sales.

Under Artistic Director Ken Hardin, InConcert Sierra provides a diverse and exciting lineup. It features more casual classical music performances, as well as a mix of “rising stars” and accomplished performers. Most of them tour internationally.

Nowhere is Hardin’s ability to pinpoint and land the fast-rising stars more apparent than with the February program, featuring New York Polyphony.

In only a few years, the all-male quartet of Polyphony has risen to become one of the most respected vocal ensembles active today. They bring a modern touch to repertoire that includes austere medieval melodies.

Besides its “Third Sunday” season (on the third Sunday of the month) at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, InConcert Sierra schedules special programs, such as its house concert series, in beautiful local homes.

On March 16, Ang Li, internationally acclaimed pianist, will “share the bench” with Hardin for an afternoon of music on one piano yet with four hands. The next day, Li (see photo) performs at a Third Sunday concert.

April’s program will feature Zodiac Trio, among Europe’s top young artists. “One of the best chamber ensembles of its generation,” sums up one French publication.

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