Review: Cleveland Orchestra bids adieu to season with enchanting ‘An American in Paris’

Brett Mitchell conducts The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

Brett Mitchell conducts The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

CLEVELAND — The Plain Dealer has published a review of Brett Mitchell’s performances this weekend with The Cleveland Orchestra:

It’s got Gershwin. It’s got dancing. It’s got Mitchell. On a Cleveland Orchestra season finale, one couldn’t ask for anything more.

No weighty symphonies or concertos on this occasion. Instead, Thursday night at Severance Hall, the orchestra wrapped the year with a film: the award-winning 1951 classic “An American in Paris”….

Make no mistake: this was no walk in the park for the Cleveland Orchestra. For the audience, “An American in Paris” may have been a pleasant way to end a season, but for the orchestra and conductor, Colorado Symphony director (and former Cleveland associate conductor) Brett Mitchell, Thursday’s project entailed two solid hours of vigilant hard work lining up brisk music with the lips of singers and the feet of dancers in lavish tap and ballet numbers….

Nice. Wonderful. Marvelous. These players and their colleagues exemplified every one of the Gershwin brothers’ favorite adjectives. They again made it great to be a music-lover in Cleveland.

To read the complete review, please click here.

Video: 'An American in Paris' with The Cleveland Orchestra

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Orchestra has published several behind-the-scenes videos previewing their upcoming performances of the classic 1951 film ‘An American in Paris’ led by guest conductor Brett Mitchell.

In the first video, Mr. Mitchell explores the methods and challenges of syncing a live orchestra in 2019 with singing and dancing in a film made almost 70 years ago:

Opening on the iconic MGM lion roar, the Academy-Award winning score to "An American in Paris" kicks off at a blazing pace! Watch conductor Brett Mitchell lead The Cleveland Orchestra in the opening moments of this classic movie musical.

Preview: Brett Mitchell returns to The Cleveland Orchestra

Brett Mitchell will return to The Cleveland Orchestra to lead their 2018-19 season finale. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

Brett Mitchell will return to The Cleveland Orchestra to lead their 2018-19 season finale. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Scene has published a preview of Brett Mitchell’s upcoming return to The Cleveland Orchestra to lead their 2018-19 Severance Hall season finale:

The Cleveland Orchestra has two programs left in its regular season… Former associate conductor Brett Mitchell returns to lead the Orchestra in Gershwin’s score to An American in Paris on Thursday, May 30 at 7:30 pm, Friday, May 31 at 8:00 pm, and Saturday, June 1 at 8:00 pm. Meanwhile, the 1951 film inspired by Gershwin’s 1928 orchestral piece will be shown on the big screen, starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, and others.

To read the complete preview, please click here.

Preview: Colorado Symphony season finale

DENVER — Westword has included this weekend’s Colorado Symphony performances on this week’s list of “The 21 Best Events in Denver”:

Medieval poetry and modern composition clash with glorious bombast in Carmina Burana, a scenic cantata that sounds every bit as grand in the concert hall as it does on the soundtrack to cinematic epics like Excalibur. Adapted from a collection of satirical verses mostly written by Goliard monks in the twelfth century, Carl Orff's masterpiece retains its source materials' timeless warnings against lust, gluttony and the caprices of fortune while evoking the horrors of the German composer's experience as a survivor of both world wars. Join the Colorado Symphony's Brett Mitchell and Duain Wolfe along with Colorado Children's Chorale artistic director Deborah DeSantis for three rousing performances of Carmina Burana, plus Adam Schoenberg's American Symphony, at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

To read the complete preview, please click here.

Debut: San Francisco Symphony

Brett Mitchell will make his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in July 2019 on a program featuring violinist Blake Pouliot.

Brett Mitchell will make his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in July 2019 on a program featuring violinist Blake Pouliot.

SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Symphony has announced that Brett Mitchell will make his debut with the orchestra at their home of Davies Symphony Hall on Thursday, July 18. The program will be:

BERLIOZ - Hungarian March from The Damnation of Faust
MENDELSSOHN - Violin Concerto
Blake Pouliot, violin
BERLIOZ - Symphonie fantastique

For more information, please click here.

New York Times: "How to Celebrate the Moon Landing, From Coast to Coast"

The Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. (Photo by Robert Rausch/The New York Times)

The Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. (Photo by Robert Rausch/The New York Times)

The New York Times has featured Brett Mitchell’s July 20 program with the Colorado Symphony in its list of “eight standouts” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing:

For an artistic take on the space race, head to Denver, Colo., for the Colorado Symphony’s Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary Celebration. The program, organized by the music director and self-described “space kid” Brett Mitchell, will feature renditions of John Williams’s scores from “E.T.,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Star Wars.” Two contemporary pieces from the composers Mason Bates and James Beckel will also be played. Expect sung and spoken-word accompaniments, references to John F. Kennedy’s 1961 moon shot speech, archival footage and a special surprise encore. Get tickets and details here.

To read the complete article, please click here.

Video: Iconic musical themes from Star Wars explained

DENVER — To celebrate Star Wars Day, Colorado Public Radio Classical has published an article with two accompanying videos featuring Brett Mitchell exploring the soundtracks of the first two “Star Wars” movies: “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Composer John Williams created some of the most memorable musical themes in 1977 with the soundtrack to "Star Wars: A New Hope."

When filmmaker George Lucas met with Williams to first talk about the score, he told Williams that "Star Wars" was essentially an "old-fashioned" film and that he wanted a big, symphonic score reminiscent of the scores from the Golden Age of Hollywood by Erich Korngold, Max Steiner and others.

What he got was some of the most memorable, culturally iconic music ever created. 

"Aside from George Lucas, nobody deserves more credit for the success of ‘Star Wars’ than John Williams," actor Mark Hamill has said.

 You can still hear themes from the original movie in the most recent "Star Wars" films -- a testimony to how enduring they are.  

Colorado Symphony Music Director Brett Mitchell walks CPR Classical's David Rutherford through the score to  the first film, "A New Hope," in the video above and "The Empire Strikes Back" in the video below.

Reviews: Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias

Brett Mitchell leads Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias on Thursday, May 2.

Brett Mitchell leads Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias on Thursday, May 2.

OVIEDO — Several media outlets have published reviews of Brett Mitchell’s Spanish debut with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias:

  • El Comercio called the May 2 performance in Gijón “a concert full of energy and emotional abundance.”

  • Cuca Alonso in La Nueva España lauded the May 2 performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony in Gijón as “the highlight of the evening.”

  • Andrea Torres in La Nueva España praised the May 3 performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony in Oviedo as “full of nuances and a majestic sonority.”

  • Jonathan Mallada in La Nueva España hailed the May 3 performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony in Oviedo: “Mitchell knew how to maximize the sonic power of the orchestra, and showed good handling of tempi and dynamics with great taste for a phrasing always in favor of the musical discourse.”

Preview: Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias

Brett Mitchell will make his Spanish debut with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias in Gijón on May 2 and Oviedo on May 3.

Brett Mitchell will make his Spanish debut with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias in Gijón on May 2 and Oviedo on May 3.

OVIEDO — The Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias has published a preview of Brett Mitchell’s upcoming Spanish debut:

The Symphony Orchestra of the Principality of Asturias will continue its subscription season this week with the program Lenguajes propios II, which will be directed by maestro Brett Mitchell, who makes his debut on the OSPA podium at the Jovellanos Theater and in the Príncipe Felipe Auditorium. The program features violinist Akiko Suwanai and twelve students from the Superior Conservatory of Music 'Eduardo Martínez Torner'. The program includes the following works:

  • Bedřich Smetana, The Bartered Bride: Overture

  • Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 35

  • Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64

Mr. Mitchell also sat down between rehearsals for a brief conversation about this program with violinist Fernando Zorita, which can be viewed below.

Brett Mitchell returns to the San Antonio Symphony

Brett Mitchell will return to the San Antonio Symphony in March 2020 to lead a program of works by Missy Mazzoli, Mozart, Prokofiev, and Ravel at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

Brett Mitchell will return to the San Antonio Symphony in March 2020 to lead a program of works by Missy Mazzoli, Mozart, Prokofiev, and Ravel at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

SAN ANTONIO — After a highly successful debut in November 2017, the San Antonio Symphony has announced that Brett Mitchell will return to its 2019-20 subscription series on March 13 and 14, 2020. The program will be:

MISSY MAZZOLI - Holy Roller
MOZART - Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201
PROKOFIEV - Violin Concerto No. 2
Angelo Xiang Yu, violin
RAVEL - Suite No. 2 from Daphnis et Chloé
San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers (John Silantien, director)

For complete information, please click here.

To read more about this season announcement in the Rivard Report, please click here.

Preview: 'Star Wars Symphony arrives in Colorado this first weekend of spring'

Brett Mitchell will lead the Colorado Symphony in John Williams’s score for  The Empire Strikes Back  on March 23 and 24.

Brett Mitchell will lead the Colorado Symphony in John Williams’s score for The Empire Strikes Back on March 23 and 24.

DENVER — NBC’s Denver affiliate, 9NEWS, has included the Colorado Symphony’s upcoming performances of John Williams’s iconic score for The Empire Strikes Back, led by Music Director Brett Mitchell, in their weekly arts roundup:

The Colorado Symphony is headed to Broomfield this weekend for an epic presentation of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert. Colorado Symphony's Music Director Brett Mitchell will lead the two performances which include a screening of the complete film with Oscar-winning composer's John Williams' score performed live. Star Wars in Concert takes place Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the 1stBank Center. Tickets are sold at AltitudeTickets.com.

To read the complete preview, please click here.

Video: Brett Mitchell discusses John Williams's score for 'The Empire Strikes Back'

Brett Mitchell at the piano in the Colorado Public Radio studios. (Photo by Hart Van Denburg/CPR)

Brett Mitchell at the piano in the Colorado Public Radio studios. (Photo by Hart Van Denburg/CPR)

DENVER — Before leading the Colorado Symphony in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back next weekend (more info here), Brett Mitchell sat down with host David Rutherford in the Colorado Public Radio Performance Studio to explore some of the highlights of John Williams's iconic soundtrack.

After reviewing themes from Star Wars: A New Hope (watch the breakdown here), Mr. Mitchell explores the new themes Mr. Williams created for characters in The Empire Strikes Back, including Darth Vader, Yoda, and Han and Leia.

Watch the full video below.

This special was also featured on the most recent episode of Star Wars podcast Rebel Force Radio. To hear this segment, please begin at 1:57:07 in the video below.

Colorado Symphony announces its 2019-20 season, Brett Mitchell's third as Music Director

DENVER — The Colorado Symphony has announced its 2019-20 season, which marks Brett Mitchell's third as Music Director. Over the course of the season, Mr. Mitchell will lead the orchestra in nine subscription weeks and half a dozen other special projects.

Demonstrating his deep commitment to contemporary music, Mr. Mitchell will conduct works by eleven living composers over the course of the Colorado Symphony's 2019-20 season, including Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra, Missy Mazzoli’s Holy Roller, Anna Clyne’s Masquerade, and Libby Larsen’s Deep Summer Music. Mr. Mitchell will also lead contemporary works by Kevin Puts, Mason Bates, Christopher Theofanidis, Adam Schoenberg, James Clarke, John Williams, and James Beckel, as well as a number of works by previous generations of American composers, including Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, and Leonard Bernstein.

Highlights of Mr. Mitchell's third season as Music Director of the Colorado Symphony include Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben, Verdi’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”), Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, and Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3 (“Organ”).

Mr. Mitchell will collaborate with the following soloists during the Colorado Symphony's 2018-19 season:

Mr. Mitchell will lead several other special programs throughout the season, including:

Review: 'Mitchell, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra rove widely, from Mozart to Kilar'

Brett Mitchell leads the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston at St. John the Divine on Saturday, February 23.

Brett Mitchell leads the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston at St. John the Divine on Saturday, February 23.

HOUSTON — The Texas Classical Review has published a review of Brett Mitchell’s performance on Saturday, February 23 with the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra:

The program ranged from Wojciech Kilar’s Orawa, a string-ensemble piece, to Ethel Smyth’s Overture to The Wreckers, which is typically full-orchestra fare. Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 and others works came in between.

Led by conductor Brett Mitchell, music director of the Colorado Symphony, the orchestra moved adroitly among styles and sounds, capturing The Wreckers’ heft as readily as the Haffner’s airiness and zip.

For The Wreckers…right from the dynamic opening theme, the orchestra brought the overture heft and boldness. Besides spurring the orchestra to play so vigorously, Mitchell guided it confidently through the overture’s mood changes. When a waltz suddenly interrupted the agitation, Mitchell and the orchestra gave it a lustiness that may have harkened back to the opera’s setting in a British village; when the music took a clangorous, aggressive turn, the orchestra dug into it fiercely…

The orchestra played [Orawa] with incisiveness and momentum as Mitchell steered it through Kilar’s meter changes and sudden changes of tone, including a pounding theme that breaks out at one point. The players unleashed bursts of virtuosity in the whirlwind filigree that propelled the music to its climax.

The orchestra had dubbed the program “Ticket to Ride,” casting it as a musical tour of nations. The linchpin was a new work inspired by trains: Jim Stephenson’s ROCOmotive, whose title plays off the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra’s initials… Mitchell and the orchestra revealed the music’s color and charm. The musicians raced through the first and fourth movements with breeziness and clarity. But they also brought a cozy intimacy to the second movement and a jaunty cheerfulness to the third, which included nimble solos for oboe and flute…

Mitchell also directed the orchestra to relish Mozart’s energy and exuberance in the Haffner without allowing the church’s reverberation to muddy the textures. The strings’ nimbleness and precision played a key role, and Mitchell had the winds ringing out brightly without overdoing it.

To read the complete review, please click here.

Preview: River Oaks Chamber Orchestra travels across Europe with ‘Ticket to Ride’

Brett Mitchell will lead the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra at St. John the Divine in Houston on Saturday, February 23.

Brett Mitchell will lead the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra at St. John the Divine in Houston on Saturday, February 23.

HOUSTON — The Houston Chronicle has published an extensive preview of Brett Mitchell’s upcoming debut with the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra.

“I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could,” says Brett Mitchell, quoting a favorite bumper sticker of his. “That’s kind of like me. Any excuse to come back to Texas is great.”

Originally from Seattle, the music director of the Colorado Symphony received his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Texas at Austin and later worked as the assistant conductor of the Houston Symphony from 2007 to 2011.

On Saturday, Mitchell will return to Houston to make his debut with another local ensemble, leading the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in “Ticket to Ride” at the Church of St. John the Divine.

The concert will take its audience on a train trip across Europe in a program featuring Ethel Smyth’s “The Wreckers,” Wojciech Kilar’s “Orawa,” Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1, Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 (also called the “Haffner” Symphony) and a new commission by composer Jim Stephenson titled “ROCOmotive…”

In a way, the programming was devised through a back-and-forth “dance” between Mitchell and artistic director Alecia Lawyer, whose father collects miniature trains — a fitting theme that ties into ROCO’s overall season, “Games People Play.”

One of Lawyer’s suggestions was the overture of Smyth’s three-act opera, which was re-scored by composer Mark Buller to fit the smaller orchestra. Highlighting works by women has long been a part of the ensemble’s mission, and it’s an initiative that Mitchell fully supports, saying, “It’s about damn time that we start having more female composers on our series.” …

Although Smyth’s opera debuted over a century ago, it presents a challenge for Mitchell, much like Stephenson’s new commission. Fortunately, he enjoys the challenge and finds inspiration in working on world premieres. In fact, it’s why he became a conductor in the first place, he says, rather than following the paths of a pianist or a composer.

“I came to realize that I didn’t really feel like I personally had anything compelling that I needed to say through my own music,” he says. “What I really love doing is finding other composers that I feel like do have something to say and giving those works a voice, breathing life into them for the first time.” …

“Instead of being a creative artist, I consider what we do in orchestras being a re-creative artist,” he continues. “Priority number one for me always, the person that I am working the hardest for, it’s not the orchestra. It’s not the audience. It’s not even me. It’s the composer. Without the composer, none of us have jobs. I take my obligation to that incredibly seriously, and it’s so incredibly rewarding when you get to bring something to life like this.”

To read the complete preview, please click here.

Debut: Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl

Brett Mitchell will make his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl on September 12, 2019.

Brett Mitchell will make his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl on September 12, 2019.

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Philharmonic has announced that Brett Mitchell will make his debut with the orchestra by leading their 2019 Hollywood Bowl season finale.

On Thursday, September 12, Mr. Mitchell and the orchestra will perform the iconic music of George Gershwin to accompany a screening of the 1951 classic film An American in Paris.

Single tickets go on sale on Sunday, May 5. For more information, please click here.

Preview: ‘Inside the Symphony’ with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Brett Mitchell will lead the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in a program of Dvořák and Smetana on Friday, February 8 at the Orpheum in downtown Vancouver.

Brett Mitchell will lead the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in a program of Dvořák and Smetana on Friday, February 8 at the Orpheum in downtown Vancouver.

VANCOUVER — Daily Hive has published a preview of one of Brett Mitchell’s upcoming three performances with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra:

Looking for a new way to spend your Friday night on the town?

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) wants to help.

This Friday, February 8, is the VSO’s second iteration of “Inside the Symphony,” a new, three-concert series that brings listeners closer to the music, while still allowing plenty of time to hit the town afterwards.

The evening begins with Happy Hour at the Orpheum at 5:30 pm… The concert then begins at 6:30 and lasts for an hour, with the conductor taking listeners inside the music with a casual analysis before the piece is played.

This week’s event features guest conductor Brett Mitchell and two highly-popular Czech pieces – Smetana’s The Moldau and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8.

To read the complete preview, please click here.

Colorado Symphony welcomes Itzhak Perlman

Music Director Brett Mitchell and the Colorado Symphony will welcome violinist Itzhak Perlman for a performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. (Photos by Roger Mastroianni and Lisa Marie Mazzucco)

Music Director Brett Mitchell and the Colorado Symphony will welcome violinist Itzhak Perlman for a performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. (Photos by Roger Mastroianni and Lisa Marie Mazzucco)

DENVER —  Violinist Itzhak Perlman will join the Colorado Symphony and Music Director Brett Mitchell for a performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto on Thursday, January 10 in Boettcher Concert Hall, marking the violinist’s first appearance in Denver since 2014. Mr. Mitchell and the orchestra will open the program with Jennifer Higdon’s Fanfare Ritmico and Alberto Ginastera’s Variaciones concertantates. For more information, please click here.

Brett Mitchell discusses Gershwin's Concerto in F

Brett Mitchell is featured in the latest issue of Notes from the Podium, a quarterly online periodical that publishes in-depth interviews with conductors from all over the world and all areas of the profession.

This all-American issue comprises in-depth interviews with three eminent conductors…

Following [Leonard Slatkin] is a conductor he mentored: the brilliant Brett Mitchell, Music Director of the Colorado Symphony. Mitchell suggested discussing Gershwin’s Concerto in F - a piece he knows very well and recently conducted with the soloist Joyce Yang. This is the first concerto that Notes from the Podium has covered, and Mitchell’s vast knowledge and infectious enthusiasm will whet your appetite for this work, one that is certainly underperformed over here in Europe.

To read the complete interview, please click here (subscription required).

Preview: 'Colorado Symphony Will Live-Score Amadeus'

Brett Mitchell will lead the Colorado Symphony in the score of Milos Forman's classic film  Amadeus .

Brett Mitchell will lead the Colorado Symphony in the score of Milos Forman's classic film Amadeus.

DENVER — Westword has published a preview of Brett Mitchell’s upcoming performances of Amadeus with the Colorado Symphony:

Few movies capture the myth of the mad genius better than Amadeus, Milos Forman's Academy Award-scooping epic. Next month, the Colorado Symphony, conducted by Brett Mitchell, will live-score the film.

This is the perfect mashup of the orchestra's embrace of pop culture through the Movie at the Symphony series and its obligation to perform canonical music for longtime subscribers.

The orchestra will bring out the Colorado Symphony Chorus, under the direction of Duain Wolfe, to fill out the sound on the operatic parts of the score (not to mention that sweeping meditation on mortality, Mozart's final requiem).

To read the complete preview, please click here.