Preview: 'The week's five best Twin Cities classical concerts'

Brett Mitchell will lead the Minnesota Orchestra in works of Kevin Puts, Shostakovich, and Beethoven at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, Nov. 15-17. (Photo by Courtney Perry)

Brett Mitchell will lead the Minnesota Orchestra in works of Kevin Puts, Shostakovich, and Beethoven at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, Nov. 15-17. (Photo by Courtney Perry)

The Minnesota Orchestra will celebrate cellist Anthony Ross’s 30-year anniversary.

The Minnesota Orchestra will celebrate cellist Anthony Ross’s 30-year anniversary.

MINNEAPOLIS - Brett Mitchell’s upcoming concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra are the top pick on the Star Tribune’s list of “The week's five best Twin Cities classical concerts”:

It's been 30 years since principal cello Anthony Ross joined the Minnesota Orchestra. The group marks the occasion by adding Shostakovich's Second Cello Concerto to its repertoire. Conductor Brett Mitchell leads a program that also includes Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. [The program will open with Kevin Puts’s Inspiring Beethoven.]

To read the complete preview, please click here.

Review: 'The Dallas Symphony and its chorus excite audiences with Carl Orff's popular Carmina Burana'

Brett Mitchell leads the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Chorus, Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas, and a roster of soloists at Meyerson Symphony Center. (Photo by Paul Feakes)

Brett Mitchell leads the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Chorus, Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas, and a roster of soloists at Meyerson Symphony Center. (Photo by Paul Feakes)

DALLAS — TheaterJones has published a review of Brett Mitchell’s recent performances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra:

Carl Orff’s scenic cantata [Carmina Burana] is a true crowd-pleaser…and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, in collaboration with the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas, proved last night to be up to the task.

For opening night of the production, the Meyerson Symphony Center was nearly full. Conductor Brett Mitchell offers them a solid interpretation, filled with forward energy and thoughtful sensitivity….

Kudos for the evening definitely go to the choruses. The DSO choir carries a heavy burden with this piece, but they deliver expertly balanced passages with full lines and near-perfect diction. Director Joshua Habermann has nicely prepared the large group for Mitchell’s expressive and nuanced interpretations….

As appetizers to the main event, the DSO also performed Christopher Theofanidis’ Rainbow Body and Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture, Op. 40. Together, the two pieces filled roughly 30 minutes with a unique mixture of sound and story-telling. Theofanidis, a Dallas native, starts his piece with a Gregorian-like chant inspired by poetry written around the same time as Carmina Burana. The piece goes smoothly through movements that are bright and pastoral to dark and mysterious. Elgar’s Op. 40 is adventurous and provincial, with a lovely accompaniment from Bradley Hunter Welch on organ that gives the piece a full and resounding finish.

These were great teasers to the main course, but what most in attendance came out to see was certainly the Orff, and understandably so. The DSO delivers this well-known favorite with artful precision. It’s difficult not to enjoy such an energetic cantata, especially when everyone around you is so thoroughly engaged. 

To read the complete review, please click here.

Brett Mitchell discusses upcoming Dallas Symphony concerts on Facebook Live

DALLAS — Brett Mitchell spoke with Classical 101.1 WRR’s Amy Bishop on Facebook Live from Meyerson Symphony Center this morning about his upcoming performances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, featuring Dallas native Christopher Theofanidis’s Rainbow Body, Elgar’s Cockaigne, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. Watch the conversation above, or click here to view it on Facebook.

Preview: Smetana, Grieg, and Dvořák with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

SURREY, B.C. — Peace Arch News has published a preview of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s “Surrey Nights” series, which includes a performance led by Brett Mitchell in February 2019:

“The Moldau & Grieg’s Piano Concerto” is the title of the VSO’s Feb. 7 concert at the Bell, with conductor Brett Mitchell and pianist Andrew von Oeyen. One of the most poetic and lyrical pianists of his generation, Andrew Von Oeyen tackles Grieg’s much-loved Piano Concerto in a concert that also features one of Dvorák’s greatest works [Symphony No. 8] and the famous melodies of “The Moldau” – all under the direction of conductor Brett Mitchell, making his VSO debut.

To read the complete article, please click here.

Video: 'Why Bernstein Still Matters: A Conversation With The Colorado Symphony's Brett Mitchell'

Brett Mitchell visits the Colorado Public Radio studios to discuss the life and music of Leonard Bernstein. (Photo by Nick Dobreff)

Brett Mitchell visits the Colorado Public Radio studios to discuss the life and music of Leonard Bernstein. (Photo by Nick Dobreff)

DENVER — In advance of Leonard Bernstein's centennial celebrations on Saturday, Brett Mitchell sat down with David Ginder in the Colorado Public Radio Performance Studio to explore some of the highlights of Bernstein's career, and why his music will endure.

"He gave us permission to be American and to love the music that we loved, and to not have to apologize for it. I think that's his great legacy," Mitchell said.

Watch the conversation in the video below, or read the article from Colorado Public Radio: "Why Bernstein Still Matters: A Conversation With The Colorado Symphony's Brett Mitchell."

Preview: Brett Mitchell conducts Mahler 5

Brett Mitchell will close the Strings Music Festival's 2018 season with a performance of Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony at the Strings Pavilion in Steamboat Springs, CO.

Brett Mitchell will close the Strings Music Festival's 2018 season with a performance of Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony at the Strings Pavilion in Steamboat Springs, CO.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO — Steamboat Pilot & Today has published a brief preview of Brett Mitchell's upcoming performance of Mahler's Fifth Symphony with the Strings Music Festival:

Under the leadership of Music Director Michael Sachs, the classical season will reach its finale this weekend with the last classical show of the 2018 season.

For the orchestra's finale, Colorado Symphony Music Director Brett Mitchell is on the podium to conduct a unique arrangement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 by the Natalia Ensemble, one of Europe's leading chamber ensembles.

Whether a classical music fan or new to classical music, the show is bound to impress.

To read the complete preview, please click here.

Brett Mitchell appears with Yo-Yo Ma at Red Rocks

Brett Mitchell, Isaac Slade (lead singer of The Fray), Yo-Yo Ma, and El Sistema Colorado pose for a group photo after a rehearsal at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO. (Photo by Amanda Tipton)

Brett Mitchell, Isaac Slade (lead singer of The Fray), Yo-Yo Ma, and El Sistema Colorado pose for a group photo after a rehearsal at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO. (Photo by Amanda Tipton)

MORRISON, CO — After Yo-Yo Ma's performance of Bach's Cello Suites at Red Rocks Amphitheater on Wednesday, August 1, Brett Mitchell, Isaac Slade (lead singer of The Fray) and the young musicians of El Sistema Colorado joined Mr. Ma onstage for a surprise encore of Bach's Air on a G String.

From Colorado Public Radio:

"And then the encore. In my life outside of radio, I lead the board of a small nonprofit called El Sistema Colorado that provides access to music for kids in underserved communities. Three weeks ago Yo-Yo Ma's office called to invite them to play onstage with him. They played with poise and heart! Brett Mitchell, Colorado Symphony Music Director conducted Bach's Air on a G String. A night to remember indeed."

To read more, please click here

Brett Mitchell greets Yo-Yo Ma at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO. (Photo by Amanda Tipton)

Brett Mitchell greets Yo-Yo Ma at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO. (Photo by Amanda Tipton)

Brett Mitchell leads Yo-Yo Ma and El Sistema Colorado in a rehearsal of Bach's  Air on a G String  at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO. (Photo by Amanda Tipton)

Brett Mitchell leads Yo-Yo Ma and El Sistema Colorado in a rehearsal of Bach's Air on a G String at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO. (Photo by Amanda Tipton)

Brett Mitchell leads Yo-Yo Ma and El Sistema Colorado in of Bach's  Air on a G String  at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO. (Photo by Jose Mena)

Brett Mitchell leads Yo-Yo Ma and El Sistema Colorado in of Bach's Air on a G String at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO. (Photo by Jose Mena)

Preview: Colorado Symphony reboots 'Beethoven and Brews'

DENVER — Westword has published a preview of Brett Mitchell's upcoming performance with the Colorado Symphony on Wednesday, October 10, at the Blue Moon brewery in Denver:

The Colorado Symphony has been taking classical music out of the concert halls for years, including at its 'Classically Cannabis' pot-friendly concert back in 2014, its Red Rocks performances and at 'Remix: Young Professionals of the Colorado Symphony' events.

Now, conductor Brett Mitchell, who was brought in to keep the orchestra's slate of programming relevant to up-and-coming generations, is rebooting its beer-and-classical pairings with Beethoven and Brews.

On October 10, the symphony will perform two overtures by Ludwig van Beethoven, cellist Judith McIntyre will solo on Edward Elgar’s "Sospiri," and the evening will conclude with works by Manuel de Falla and Zoltán Kodály.

This will be the fourteenth iteration in the series, which began back in 2015.

“The orchestra and I are so excited to bring Beethoven and Brews back to Blue Moon for another night of incredible music and beer," says music director Brett Mitchell in a statement. “One of the coolest things about playing at Blue Moon is that the atmosphere is really intimate, which helps us break down the wall between us and our audience. We can’t wait to share this fantastic music (and beer) with everyone on October 10!”

To celebrate the performance, Blue Moon will offer a Beethoven-themed beer, and ticket holders will be given two pints from the brewery's tap list to enjoy, along with hors d'oeuvres.

To read the complete preview, please click here.

Podcast: 'Please Don't Call Me Maestro'

Photo by Jeff Nelson

Photo by Jeff Nelson

DENVER — Brett Mitchell is the featured guest on the most recent episode of Podium Time: The Podcast for Conductors and Students:

Today we get into the weeds on assistant conductor auditions and more. Brett Mitchell is starting his second season as the Music Director of the Colorado Symphony, and he has had a whirlwind of activity since conducting CSO for the first time less than two years ago. We get into how he accidentally auditioned, the details of their recent assistant search, and the organic changes that come with a new leader.

This week we discuss:

  • First encounters conducting the Colorado Symphony

  • Details of the assistant conductor search

  • The biggest mistake you can make when applying for anything

  • Changes with a new Music Director

Listen via the audio player above, or hear the episode on Podium Time's website.

Review: 'NZSO makes a play for populism'

With the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Brett Mitchell presented an Italian program featuring violinist Angelo Xiang Yu and a  Bernstein at 100  celebration featuring vocalist Morgan James.

With the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Brett Mitchell presented an Italian program featuring violinist Angelo Xiang Yu and a Bernstein at 100 celebration featuring vocalist Morgan James.

AUCKLAND — The New Zealand Herald has posted a review of Brett Mitchell's two recent programs with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra:

In two Auckland concerts this month, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra made a palpable play for populism.

Bernstein at 100...[featured] Lenny on the light side, with most of the music coming from his Broadway shows. Denver-based maestro Brett Mitchell proved to be a lively host in his spoken introductions and drove the mighty music machine that is the NZSO with elan.

It was a shame the musical voyage to sunny Italy didn't encourage sufficient punters out into Auckland's squally weather, meaning that they missed what the programme booklet promised to be a magnificent account of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. In fact, it was delightful, re-affirming the perennial pleasures of this piece with its dazzling succession of fires, storms, pastoral contentment and domestic bliss, all rendered in music. All this was nicely caught by a smaller band of players together with soloist Angelo Xiang Yu.

After interval, the big guns came out. Mitchell took the orchestra for a thrilling ride through Berlioz's Roman Carnival, its bold, idiosyncratic harmonies and scoring emphasising why this composer remains a key figure in 19th century music.

The evening ended by Mitchell presenting Respighi's Pines of Rome as an unashamed musical spectacular. All we needed to do was relax and be dazzled, without worrying too much about what lay behind it. The ultimate reward was one of the grandest sunrises ever, splendidly assisted by a contingent from the Wellington Brass Band.

To read the complete review, please click here.

Review: 'Making a familiar piece sound fresh to jaded ears'

Brett Mitchell led an Italian-themed program with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at Auckland Town Hall on May 19.

Brett Mitchell led an Italian-themed program with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at Auckland Town Hall on May 19.

AUCKLAND — Scoop has published a review of Brett Mitchell's Italian-themed program with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, presented at Auckland Town Hall on Saturday, May 19:

Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, which I haven’t heard live in over a decade, was every bit as enjoyable. Conductor Brett Mitchell did what I think is essential on these occasions, which is to try to make a familiar piece sound fresh to jaded ears.

Mitchell’s approach was to strip the orchestra right back, and it paid dividends. Everything was sharp and crisp, and the dynamics shifted precisely from level to level in the period manner, rather than being finally gradated. The soloist, young Chinese virtuoso Angelo Xiang Yu, also eschewed the traditional approach, producing instead a thrilling range of tones and timbres, from the sweetly soft to the frankly jagged.

After the interval came Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, continuing the (very loose) Italian theme. Again, this was very well conducted, Mitchell’s unobtrusive style allowing the music to flow up out of the orchestra, as it were. It’s not a piece I knew at all, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and thought the central cor anglais melody was beautifully played.

To read the complete review, please click here.

Review: 'Bernstein at 100 by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra'

Brett Mitchell led the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's centennial celebration of Leonard Bernstein.

Brett Mitchell led the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's centennial celebration of Leonard Bernstein.

WELLINGTON — Stuff has published a review of Brett Mitchell's 'Bernstein At 100' concert with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, presented at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on Friday, May 11:

What a fabulous concert this was.

A wonderful subject, superb programming, scintillating playing, marvellous singing and absolutely first rate conducting by Brett Mitchell.

Leonard Bernstein was a larger than life personality of incredible talent, whose composing life was spread across serious concert music and the world of musical theatre. His musical style made more conservative music lovers uncomfortable, his conducting was incandescent, his personality both complex and immensely communicative.

All of Bernstein's intensely individual story was brought to life in this marvellously involving concert under the baton of one of America's up and coming conductors.

Yes, there was the predictable - a lengthy, and very welcome, selection from West Side Story - but there was also a rare, and equally welcome, performance of the symphonic suite from his only film music - On The Waterfront. And also, not heard too often, was music from On The Town and some titillating pieces from Candide.

The orchestral playing was marvellous; both free and dazzlingly precise at the same time. One could have been in New York. 

To read the complete review, please click here.

Review: 'Bernstein at 100' with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

WELLINGTON — Regional News has published a review of Brett Mitchell's 'Bernstein at 100' concert with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, presented at the Michael Fowler Center in Wellington on Friday, May 11:

Bernstein was known for being a truly ‘American’ composer, bringing together multiple styles and bridging the gap between classical and popular music. We were very ably guided through a great programme by American conductor Brett Mitchell who, like Bernstein, was trained in the United States. Maestro Mitchell enjoyed the experience as much as, if not more than, many in the audience and seemingly danced and almost jived his way through a variety of classics from Bernstein’s more popular work.

To read the complete review, please click here.

Review: 'NZSO: Bernstein at 100'

Brett Mitchell led the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 'Bernstein At 100' at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on Friday, May 11.

Brett Mitchell led the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 'Bernstein At 100' at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on Friday, May 11.

WELLINGTON — DMS Review Blog has published a review of Brett Mitchell's 'Bernstein At 100' concert with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, presented at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on Friday, May 11:

[Conductor Brett Mitchell's] florid, sinuous, enthusiastic style was quite dramatic and supremely confident.

The NZSO played marvellously and did Leonard Bernstein justice. His lyrical melodies were so beautifully played: ‘Dream With Me’ from Peter Pan, ‘Tonight’ and ‘Somewhere’ (the encore) from West Side Story were magic. His syncopated, jazzy numbers were full of energy and vitality –  exciting, angry, dramatic, thrilling. The percussionists, the brass section, the clarinet section, the double basses (especially with the Mambo!) had a ball!

To read the complete review, please click here.

Review: 'Vivaldi triumphs in the NZSO’s Italian celebration'

Brett Mitchell led the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in an Italian-themed program at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on Saturday, May 12.

Brett Mitchell led the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in an Italian-themed program at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on Saturday, May 12.

WELLINGTON — Middle C has published a review of Brett Mitchell's Italian-themed program with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, presented at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on Saturday, May 12:

What a boringly predictable world it would be if everything in it turned out as one anticipated! I sat pondering this earth-shattering truism during the interval of Saturday evening’s NZSO concert in the wake of the most inspiring and life-enhancing performance of Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” I’ve heard since...the 1970s. Just as that performance blew away the cobwebs and reinvented the work for its time, so did Angelo Xiang Yu’s absolutely riveting playing of the solo violin part and the NZSO players’ galvanic response do much the same for me on this occasion.

I listened to the thistledown-like opening, and straightaway pricked up my ears at its wind-blown, spontaneous-sounding quality, replete with inflections of phrasing and dynamics that suggested the musicians seemed to really “care” about the music.

Both Angelo Xiang Yu and conductor Brett Mitchell readily encouraged the playing’s “pictorial” effects suggested by the music’s different episodes. The playing and its “engagement factor” simply went from strength to strength throughout each of the remaining concerti....

The spectacular opening of Respighi’s Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome), had plenty of impact, conductor Brett Mitchell keeping the music’s pulses steady, thus allowing the players space in which to generate plenty of weight of tone, and flood the ambiences with that barely-contained sense of excitement suggested by the opening Pines of the Villa Borghese. As the tempi quickened, everything came together in a great torrent of sound, as overwhelming in its insistence as tantalising in its sudden disappearance, leaving a vast, resonating space of darkness and mystery. Conductor and players here enabled those spaces to be filled with properly subterranean sounds of breath-taking quality, as if the earth itself was softly resonating with its own music...

For this performance the NZSO enjoyed the sterling services of a number of players from the Wellington Brass Band, whose body of tone with that of the full orchestra’s at the piece’s climax had an almost apocalyptic effect. As he’d done throughout, Brett Mitchell controlled both momentums and dynamics with great tactical and musical skill, holding the legions in check until they actually swung into view in the mind’s eye, and came among us, amid scenes of incredible splendour and awe. Respighi actually wanted the ground beneath his army’s feet to tremble with the excitement of it all, and conductor and players triumphantly achieved that impression over the piece’s last few tumultuous bars.

To read the complete review, please click here.

Review: 'Spectacular centenary concert for Leonard Bernstein from the NZSO'

Brett Mitchell led the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's centennial celebration of Leonard Bernstein.

Brett Mitchell led the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's centennial celebration of Leonard Bernstein.

WELLINGTON — Middle C has published a review of Brett Mitchell's 'Bernstein At 100' concert with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, presented at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on Friday, May 11:

American conductor Brett Mitchell who I’d heard in a lively, Broadway-style interview on Upbeat at midday, entered and immediately launched into a startling performance of Dance of the Great Lover, the first of the three dances from On the Town which rather astonished me for the super-raunchy, trumpet-attacks from nowhere, then throaty trombones, cutting clarinets. There was nothing symphonically genteel about it and Mitchell exclaimed at its end, “the NZSO can swing!” I have sometimes dismissed remarks from conductors tackling this genre of American music, that the orchestra has a great feeling for its brazen energy, the rhythms and attack, as if the entire band had served its musical apprenticeship on Broadway. Here such praise seemed totally justified.

The Symphonic Dances from West Side Story is a more standard concert work that captures the vitality, violence, anger and occasional calm lyricism (‘Somewhere’ and the Finale) of the score and the orchestra’s playing exhibited all those characteristics with tremendous energy and unflagging precision. Finger-clicking, a shrill whistle... Nowhere more vividly than in the riotous ‘Mambo’ where the only missing element was the dancers. 

To read the complete review, please click here.