By Ellie McKinnon
“I would love,” Robert Franz says in the intro to Stella, his video-based children’s book series, “to ride in a hot air balloon.” A nice dream, but instead of going up, up and away himself, he sent Stella, the book’s main character on whimsical, musical balloon trips. When Boise Baroque board member Stephanie Kennedy, once a balloon pilot herself, heard of his dream an idea was born. She wanted Robert to be up in the clouds before he headed to Canada, and she knew how to make that happen.
And there were reasons to celebrate, like Robert’s decision to reverse commute and maintain his position as Artistic Director at Boise Baroque Orchestra even while living in Canada and working with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra (WSO). As he sees it, the commuting arrangement benefits everyone. While living and working in Canada, he can acquire inspiration, information, and ideas that he will bring back to Boise to enliven his work and performances here. Currently, he is acquiring valuable skills as the WSO inaugurates a 12-concert digital series. And he is used to commuting after spending much of his time in the air for the past ten years. But of course, he flies on a commercial jet while commuting, never in the basket of a hot air balloon. So, with reasons to celebrate and Robert’s move approaching, a hot air balloon ride for Robert and his husband, Brandon, seemed a perfect send-off.
Kennedy knows the pleasure of floating in the quiet above the treetops, the adventure of not knowing exactly where you are headed, and pure joy that lets the imagination take flight. Because of Franz’s total engagement and obvious delight while conducting, she knew that Franz understands joy, likes adventure and possesses a soaring imagination. For Kennedy, hot air ballooning and rich musical engagement are parallel experiences. And she knew just which balloon would be ideal for Robert’s ride—The Oz Ballon, a gorgeous piece of artistry gifted by the Disney Corporation to Laurie Spencer, owner of the Boise ballon company, Lighter than Air America. Laurie agreed that the Oz balloon which she piloted in promotional pieces for the release of Disney’s film, Oz, the Great and Powerful, perfectly suited the occasion, and she offered to serve as pilot for Robert’s ride. Spencer says she loves meeting people from all over the world while sharing the basket of her hot air balloon and giving her passengers, in her words, “memories that will last a lifetime.”
Fire In The Hole
The Idaho sky on the morning the balloon ride was drop-dead gorgeous blue as Robert and Brandon stepped into the balloon basket. The crew (which included BBO Executive Director, Dave Everett) waited for the pilot’s command, “Long Burn.” Laurie shouted the command to release the tethering ropes and the balloon lifted a couple inches off the ground. Stephanie remembers Robert’s eyes, wide with wonder and filled with gratitude. He felt, he told me, that her rare and wonderful gift of experience meant everything.
He remembers the startling sensation of motion stopping. There was no perception of wind, little, if any, perception of rising. No jolting take off. And sound: It carries so far into the air! He recalls that it felt like a magical adventure, a return to the incredible land of Oz. Brandon, a scientist, was intrigued by the physics of the flight and with Laurie’s expertise. And the landing? Brandon said it was as soft as coming down upon a bed of 5,000 feathers.
In Franz’s storybook, Stella peers over the edge of the balloon basket as it hovers over a river. When Robert and Brandon’s balloon danced on the wind over the Boise River, Spencer says Robert burst into singing. Because he was totally wrapped up in the experience itself, Franz says he doesn’t remember that moment, and wonders if maybe it was Brandon’s voice that she heard. But on subsequent trips, Laurie says that while riding wind currents over water, she remembers that moment, and feels it was a gift. While many of her flights have been memorable, she counts the flight with Robert and Brandon among the most magical.
Grateful, Robert gave Laurie two additional gifts—one, a video of a performance where she could watch orchestral music being created. The other, the promise of a seat at at Boise Baroque Orchestra performance when the orchestra is able to again perform before a live audience. She will be there along with the musicians, and with Stephanie Kennedy, and with the BBO patrons, all of us riding on sweeping currents of sound.
By Yvonne McCoy
We’ve all heard the aphorism “it takes a village,” more familiarly as to whether it takes one to raise a child. It can also be applied to all that it takes to make beautiful, meaningful music, whether it’s during “the best of times or … the worst of times.” The COVID-19 pandemic is surely the latter and has presented us with some unprecedented and unique challenges that require complicated logistics, expertise, and flexibility by the Boise Baroque Orchestra (“BBO”) in order to survive and continue bringing beautiful and meaningful music to our community.
We, the BBO family, found ourselves having to postpone and perhaps even cancel the final concert of the season. We can be grateful to so many people, businesses, and organizations that recognized all that it would take to put on that concert successfully during the pandemic. They all stepped up to contribute to make that possible—to keep the music playing … safely … for us all.
Making music requires rehearsals with musicians working together (in addition to their many hours of private practicing); a venue for rehearsals and performances; special equipment to ensure the safety of musicians and staff; and agreement among our listeners about how and when they would like to receive the music. The Boise Baroque Orchestra is grateful to have received from our community the support it needs to carry on … support given so generously and gladly.
Helen Carter, Board of Directors President, Adjusting Air Filter
Producing the season finale concert presented many challenges:
Rehearsal: Dave Everett, Executive Director, Explaining Protocol
Financial stability has taken on even greater importance during this health crisis. We are lucky to have a large group of financial supporters that includes our loyal season subscribers, some of whom donated the cost of their tickets for the final scheduled concert at the outbreak of the pandemic.
Donors and sponsors continue to make generous contributions. Three donors who moved to Boise from major Eastern cities about three to four years ago were used to all the performing arts that one gets in large cities. Here they found the BBO and showed how much they enjoyed this family of musicians by supporting it in a variety of ways.
Linda Droker and Paul Dacher recently decided to sponsor Anna-Marie Vargas (Violin). They also recently asked—unsolicited—if they could increase their donation. “We know it’s a tough time for the arts, and we recognize that they need to be supported, especially here in a smaller city like Boise. If we want to maintain the arts, we have to feed the arts.” Linda and Paul recognize how much they enjoy the quality of the musicianship of BBO players. “We’ve lived here for four years and have heard some excellent soloists. Maybe it’s the intimacy of the venue and the small size of the orchestra. We can talk with the musicians and other audience members that makes every concert and event special to us.”
Upon viewing the video of the “Haydn in Paris” concert, BBO supporter Kathryn Goria said, “What a bolt of joy you have brought into our lives. Thank you for a beautiful repertoire, masterfully executed. And how intimate to sit with Robert in that beautiful space and learn about the history of each piece! The concert filled my heart.” (Look for a future article detailing a way Kathryn supported the BBO that we might not have thought of before, i.e., by hiring one of the BBO small ensembles for an intimate, socially-distanced neighborhood street party.)
The Eagle Arts Commission supported the “Haydn in Paris” concert by awarding the BBO a grant to sponsor the annual Summer Dinner Party and Concert in Eagle. However, due to the pandemic, it was not possible to hold the dinner. Instead, they generously allowed us to repurpose the grant for the production of this on-line concert. Jane Kramer (Chairman of the EAC) said, “the Commission has budgeted for many different programs this year, including grants for the arts. Unfortunately, some of our grantees have had to delay events because of the COVID pandemic. We don’t want to jeopardize their health, well-being, and comfort levels. We’ve tried to be as flexible as possible when events are having to be delayed and to have the events go off with as much impact as they would have had they not been delayed.”
Because our patrons, sponsors, and grant organizations have stood by us and have been so very generous to us, the BBO is finishing our fiscal year in the black.
Our musicians founded the Boise Baroque Orchestra because they love making music, and they want to continue making music even during this difficult time … perhaps even more so because it is a difficult time. We want to keep the orchestra and these musicians viable, so the BBO agreed to pay our musicians whether or not we performed this last concert of the season. To help in that regard, Esther Simplot has allowed us to re-purpose a portion of the J.R. Simplot Foundation grant to pay the musicians for the rescheduled March season finale.
Ready To Rehearse
This concert was a tremendous amount of work by many people, and it might have been easier to simply cancel it. So many performing arts organizations in the Treasure Valley have done just that. But ours is a story of perseverance, love, and dedication. To paraphrase the words of Charles Dickens, this might have been the “season of darkness,” but we’re turning it into the “season of light.” It might have been the “winter of despair,” but we’re making it the “spring of hope.” We—all of us—ensure that the Boise Baroque Orchestra, instead of nothing, has “everything before us.”
By Ellie McKinnon For the Idaho Press
There’s a moment of electric silence between the tuning of an orchestra’s instruments and the conductor’s signal to begin playing. Then with a flick of the baton, music spills into the air, notes shimmering and falling, filling the space and transporting the audience into a new realm of sound and imagination.
Have you felt that excitement and experienced the timeless magic in music that weaves performers and audience members into a tapestry of sound? The Boise Baroque Orchestra turns that tapestry into a magic carpet soaring through time and connecting contemporary audiences with the compositions of masters like Handel, Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart and Haydn whose music has ignited passion, sparked imagination, and touched the hearts of listeners since the 17th and 18th centuries. The Boise Baroque Orchestra, a finely tuned ensemble of professional Treasure Valley musicians, however came into existence far more recently in 2003.
The orchestra’s new artistic advisor, Robert Franz, is no stranger to Boise’s music scene. Formerly the music director of the Boise Philharmonic, Maestro Franz is an awarded educator, musician and sought-after conductor. In addition to his appointment as artistic advisor, he is also conducting Canada’s Windsor Symphony and is the associate conductor of the Houston Symphony. There are reasons for his success: in addition to his musicianship, this is a man with vision, energy and the capacity to draw the very best from the musicians with whom he works.
Ever optimistic, he employs a highly positive, energizing approach when conducting that seems to draw the best from the musicians with whom he works. At a recent rehearsal, he paused the music and told the orchestra they were, “... just one hair shy of super exciting!” And, with renewed enthusiasm, the orchestra members moved forward working with him, shaping the tempo, shading the mood and articulating the notes. As they worked, he cheered their efforts frequently with exclamations of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” and “Bravo!”
Franz feels that each musician has something to say with his/her own musical voice and as conductor his task is to ”help refine and amplify and ultimately combine that voice with the other musicians in the ensemble.” Watching him conduct the orchestra’s combined voice seems to delight the audience — he seems part conductor and part dancer as he responds to the rhythms and feeling of the music.
His vision for the Boise Baroque includes presenting historically informed performances of the music of the baroque and early classical periods. Stringed instrument players are able to more genuinely replicate the interwoven melodies and musical ornamentation of these periods due to the use of an orchestral set of baroque bows. The bows, a gift from generous patrons, weigh less and are shorter than modern bows, have a convex shape and strings made of gut. Their use provides a light, soft sound that allows musicians to offer a glimpse of how orchestral performance of the 17th and 18th centuries might have sounded. Orchestra members have mastered techniques needed to effectively use the bows, but concertmaster Dawn Douthit hopes to learn much more. Supported by an Alexa Rose Foundation Grant, she will be studying Baroque techniques in depth with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Canada next year.
Eager to share rich musical experiences, the Boise Baroque Orchestra partnered with the Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale for the season-opening concert. In November, the orchestra and Opera Idaho will collaborate to present George Frideric Handel’s opera, Acis and Galatea.
Franz is reaching out to high school students as well. This year, talented student musicians from Boise High School will work with Franz and select students will be allowed to use a second set of baroque bows. On occasion, the students will perform with the orchestra. Students from other high schools will have similar opportunities in the future.
Other highlights coming in the 2019-2020 season: on Feb. 28, 2020, audience members will hear internationally acclaimed Baroque violinist Monica Huggett performing with the orchestra. And Franz has announced that the orchestra will be making its first commercial recording featuring the orchestra in concert with renowned oboist, Bhavani Kotha.
For performance locations and detailed information for the orchestra's current season, go to the website: boisebaroque.org.
You can also send questions via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Dana Oland from the Idaho Statesman
Robert Franz the new artistic advisor for Boise Baroque. Kyle Green KGREEN@IDAHOSTATESMAN.COMBoise’s chamber orchestra, under the leadership of Artistic Advisor Robert Franz, the former Boise Phil music director, opened its season on Sept. 15. This season the group is moving toward the roots of a traditional, self-directed chamber group, where artistic leadership is shared among the musicians. The music may also sound a bit different, too, because the musicians will be using baroque-style bows.
The Boise Baroque Chamber Orchestra has named Maestro Robert Franz, widely esteemed conductor, award winning educator, audience builder and former Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic (2008-16), for its Artistic Advisor in the 2019-20 season. Maestro Franz will assist the Boise Baroque in its transition from long-time Music Director, Daniel Stern.
“I am thrilled to be joining Boise Baroque,” says Franz. “This talented group of musicians fills a very important niche in the Treasure Valley, and I look forward to creating historically informed performances of the great music of the 17th and 18th Centuries with them. I am very grateful for the dedicated and thoughtful work of my predecessors, Maestros Roller and Stern, who shepherded this ensemble to where it is today.”
Boise Baroque Board President Russ Buschert noted, “Over the years Dan Stern’s contribution to the classical music community in the Treasure Valley has been enormous. Those of us associated with the Boise Baroque Chamber Orchestra are most grateful for his 14 years of leadership that has transformed the organization into a highly capable, very accomplished chamber orchestra.” He added, “We expect this reputation to continue and grow with the appointment of Maestro Robert Franz who has been collaborating with the musicians and staff to create a wonderful series of concerts for the upcoming season.”
Critics, composers and audiences of all ages acclaim Franz’s appeal as a first-rate conductor and enthusiastic award-winning educator. He currently serves as Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra, Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony and Founder and Music Director of the Idaho Orchestra Institute. In demand as a guest conductor, Franz has led some of the most prestigious orchestras in the U.S. and abroad, including The Cleveland Orchestra, the Baltimore, St. Louis and Phoenix Symphonies, and the Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina in Italy.
The Boise Baroque Orchestra was formed in 2003 with the goal of bringing the best of the baroque and classical repertoire to the Treasure Valley. The musicians are professionals in the area, many of whom perform in the Boise Philharmonic, the Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale and Opera Idaho.
Still to come this season:
• Guest Conductor Yaniv Attar and violinist Denise Dillenbeck with the music of Biber, Bach and Mozart on March 15 and 17 at the Cathedral of the Rockies
• Music Director and Conductor Daniel Stern’s final performance before his retirement. Haydn’s The Creation featuring the Boise Phil Master Chorale, with soloists Michele Detwiler, Thomas Glenn, Daniel Scofield and Emily Workman on April 21 at the Egyptian Theatre.
By IDAHO PRESS STAFF email@example.com
The Boise Baroque Chamber Orchestra will open its 2018 — 19 season the night of Oct. 19.
This season marks the final one to feature Daniel Stern as the orchestra’s director, and will also feature violinist Geoffrey Trabichoff, according to a news release from Hugh Shaber, spokesman for the orchestra. Trabichoff is the former concertmaster of the BBC Scottish Symphony, and former of the Paragon Ensemble of Scotland. He has also served as the concertmaster of Germany’s Mannheim Chamber and Hanover State Orchestras, according to the release.
The season’s first two concerts will take place 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19, and 2 p.m. Oct. 21, both at the Cathedral of the Rockies, 717 N. 11th St. in Boise. The orchestra will perform “Sinfonia for Double Orchestra” by Johann Christian Bach, Violin Concerto No. 2, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and “Water Music” by George Frederic Handel, according to the release.
Tickets are available at the door, as well as at boisebaroque.org
By IDAHO PRESS- TRIBUNE STAFF
Dr. Daniel Stern, music director, conductor and until recently general manager of the Boise Baroque Chamber Orchestra, has announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2018-19 season.
Stern has led the orchestra since the 2005-06 season, all but two years of its existence.
Boise Baroque is in its 15th season, having presented professional Baroque and classical music for the Treasure Valley since 2003. The orchestra performs 10 concerts a year at the Cathedral of the Rockies in Boise.
The next concert features Mozart’s Piano Concerto 22 with Boise pianist Del Parkinson as featured soloist on Feb.9 and 11.
Stern stated that by announcing his retirement now, a smooth transition will be assured, maintaining the orchestra’s growth into the future.
After several years of teaching, Stern came to Boise in 1974 as music director of the Boise Philharmonic, a post he held until 1987. He is credited with initiating steps that led to the Philharmonic’s becoming one of the foremost orchestras in the region.
Stern has also served on the faculties of Boise State University and The College of Idaho, conducted numerous performances with Opera Idaho and Ballet Idaho and guest conducted orchestras in the Northwest, Central America and New York.
In 2014, Stern was awarded the Governor’s Award in the Arts for lifetime achievement for his many contributions during his 40 years in Idaho. In 2015, he was honored in Rochester on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his graduation from the Eastman School of Music.
Rachel Barton Pine is know as one of the top violinists in the world. In Boise, you also can hear her play her viola d'amore with the Boise Baroque Chamber Orchestra at Cathedral of the Rockies. BY DANA OLAND
Don’t miss this opportunity to see one of the best violinists in the world play in an intimate venue. Rachel Barton Pine will perform with the Boise Baroque Chamber Orchestra at three concerts this weekend. Pine is a true virtuoso, with a dazzling technique that allows her to soar on a classical concerto, and in turn shred on a piece by one of her favorite bands, Metallica. She plays with power and passion that will transport you. Pine will perform Locatelli’s Violin Concerto in D, and she also will bring her viola d’amore, a 14-stringed viol instrument that has a bright and rich sound, for Vivaldi’s Concerto for Viola D’amore.
By Dana Oland
Ballet Idaho’s Daniel Ojeda creates movement with dancer Adrienne Kerr for his new ballet “The Monster and the Gift,” a new work created with original music and visual art. KATHERINE JONES KJONES@IDAHOSTATESMAN.COM
Creativity can be difficult. In fact, it can be downright scary, especially when the material’s focus is the creative process itself. Just ask choreographer Daniel Ojeda, who is at work on a new ballet about the relationship between art and the artist.
“It’s the most personal thing I’ve made so far,” Ojeda says. “It’s about what I do. Putting personal things on stage is difficult. I relate to the artist character, her struggles — they are my own.”
Now, add the fact that Ojeda is working with original music by Idaho composers Jeremy Stewart and Daniel Kerr, and the stakes go even higher. It’s the first time in memory that Ballet Idaho has commissioned original music for a new ballet.
You can see and hear Ojeda’s “The Monster and the Gift” as part of Ballet Idaho’s Winter Repertory concert on Friday, Feb. 10, and Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Morrison Center.
Boise Baroque Chamber Orchestra will play Stewart and Kerr’s score for the performance as well as Bach’s Concerto in D minor for Two Violins for a staging of Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco.”
The evening fulfills a promise Ballet Idaho Artistic Director Peter Anastos made when he took over the company in 2008: to regularly pair live music with dance.
By Dana Oland
Boise arts benefactress Esther Simplot, right, spoke with National Endowment for the Arts Chairwoman Jane Chu during Chu’s Boise visit in 2015. Simplot recently endowed Ballet Idaho, Opera Idaho and the Boise Philharmonic with $3 million. Now, she adds to that with a $90,000 gift to the up-and-coming Boise Baroque Chamber Orchestra. KYLE GREEN IDAHO STATESMAN FILE
Esther Simplot and the J.R. Simplot Foundation announced a grant of $90,000 to the Boise Baroque Chamber Orchestra. The funds will be spread over three years and will be used to boost musicians pay and develop the group farther.
This is the first large gift Simplot has made to Boise Baroque. It comes after she established a $3 million endowment for continued support for Ballet Idaho, Opera Idaho and the Boise Philharmonic in May.
“The Boise Baroque Chamber Orchestra has been an important part of the Boise arts scene for over a decade and has experienced exceptional growth and development,” Esther Simplot said in a press release. “This seemed to be an important time to take the next major step forward.”
This gift is a huge vote of confidence for the group, its music director Daniel Stern said.
Simplot is the widow of Idaho agriculture magnate J.R. Simplot and a longtime supporter of Boise’s arts community from dance to art to music. She built the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy and Annex in 1996, which houses the ballet, philharmonic and opera rehearsal studios, offices, costume shop and performance space on Myrtle Street between 8th and 9th streets in Boise.
The Boise Baroque Orchestra was founded in 2003 under conductor Richard Roller. Stern took over in September 2005 and has led the group since. The group has grown over the years. Its members also play with the Philharmonic, 208 Ensemble and other Boise classical groups.
By Dana Oland