Our calendars are already overloaded. But it looks like a winning season once again for the performing arts in Durango.
Last Saturday, music lovers filled the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College and got a gift basket of delights in the San Juan Symphony season-opener. An hour before downbeat, Music Director Thomas Heuser added a new preconcert talk to a jolly crowd that had wandered about campus in search of a location. Finally, Heuser herded about 40 stalwarts into the Plaza for a survey of classical music from 1780 to 1918. He breezily primed us for a stunning concert.
A week before, the FLC Music Department rolled out its showcase of faculty talent to mixed results. Full-timers Katherine Jetter and John O’Neal joined three new hires, Joe Nibley, Wesley Dunnagan and Chris Huls, to fill out and bring some sparkle to a patchwork program. A slew of adjuncts completed the roster. Jazzman Jeff Solon unfurled two mesmerizing new works, but overall, performances ranged from professional polish to not-performance ready – surprising.
Now that the fall season has fully begun, the first week in October brims with even more choices in music and drama.
Propelling the 13th season of the Unitarian Recital Series this evening, mezzo soprano Drea Pressley and singer-instrumentalist Andreas Tischhauser will be joined by pianist and series organizer Marilyn Garst. The program will include works by Copland, Bizet, Brahms, Ravel and seven songs from Schumann’s song cycle “Dichterliebe” (Poet’s Love).
Garst has pursued the married pair since they moved to Durango in 2016. Both have day jobs as professionals in institutional development and finance, and both have extensive resumés in the performing arts. Last summer, Pressley and Tischhauser were featured in the final Music in the Mountains concert highlighting opera.
“La Flute,” by Ravel, was chosen, Tischhauser said, “so I could perform with Drea.”
Scored for voice, flute and piano, the piece was extracted from Sheherazade, a song cycle originally for voice and orchestra.
“I have always liked the work but never have performed it with an artist that took the simple little chamber setting seriously,” he said. “Knowing Drea’s excellent musicianship and beautiful voice, I recommended this to Marilyn immediately and thought I will have an opportunity to work with someone more talented and conscientious than me.”
All UU recitals start at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary at 419 San Juan Drive. Series tickets (four recitals) cost $70 for adults, $30 for students. Single tickets are available at the door for $20 and $8.
Today, at Durango Arts Center, Merely Players will open its two-weekend run of a deceptively simple realistic play, “The Humans.” It’s a gutsy choice as the 2016 Tony Award-winning work by Stephen Karam offers a view of the Blake family as they gather for a nontraditional Thanksgiving.
Director Mona Wood-Patterson secured the rights to present the regional premiere. Wood-Patterson said the play illuminates “what happens to a family when life unravels in unexpected ways.”
“The Humans” will run at 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday, Oct. 10, 11 and 12. There will be one matinee at 2 p.m. Oct. 13. Tickets are $26 for adults, and are available by calling 749-8585 or at the door if not sold out.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.