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Greg Funka | Staff PhotographerThe Music School Festival Orchestra, seen here playing its first Amphitheater concert of 2013 under the baton of music director Timothy Muffitt, closes the season at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.

A wild ride: MSFO journeys to hell and back in a final performance full of extremes

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini opens with the ringing of a gong, transporting the listener into the second circle of hell, where Francesca da Rimini and her lover, Paolo Malatesta, are swirling around in a violent storm as punishment for their adulterous deeds.

Francesca’s husband — who is also Paolo’s brother — has killed the pair after discovering them together in his bed.

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Instrumental students take opportunity to experiment in last recital of the season

Taylor Blanton would describe Francis Poulenc’s untitled trio as comedic. On Sunday, Blanton, a trombonist, will perform the trio along with Tess Coffey, trumpet, and Erika Miras, French horn. The three girls have dubbed their group “Beauty and the Brass.”

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SLIDESHOW: Community bands together for Old First Night

The Chautauqua Community Band, under the baton of Jason Weintraub, performs its annual lunchtime Old First Night concert Tuesday afternoon on Bestor Plaza. [SLIDESHOW]

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Harpist Rebecca Hung performs with the Music School Festival Orchestra during Monday evening’s performance of Dialogues of the Carmelites. (1)

REVIEW — A brave exploration of fear and death MSFO, Voice students beautifully stage Poulenc’s haunting ‘Dialogues’

The chilly evening air and half-empty wooden pews of the Amphitheater may have dampened the spirits of patrons Monday night during Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, performed by students from the School of Music’s Voice Program and the Music School Festival Orchestra. The performers, though, couldn’t have asked for a better environment for the hauntingly austere production.

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Voice students ready recital performance under Malas’ guidance

Grace Canfield spent her childhood summers in Chautauqua. As she got older, she noticed the variety and the quality of the art around her, especially the Voice Program in the School of Music. Canfield admired the singers and was inspired by their performances. This year, she returns not as a child vacationing, but as a student in the Voice Program.

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Cello, instrumental students combine divergent styles in ‘Bachianas Brasileiras’ performance

Johann Sebastian Bach, Brazilian folk and pop music — not the combination one would think of for a series of cello ensemble suites. However, in the 1930s and ’40s, composer Heitor Villa-Lobos fused the three distinct styles together to create nine suites, together known as the Bachianas Brasileiras.

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Brian Smith | Staff PhotographerTimothy Muffitt, music director of the Music School Festival Orchestra, leads the MSFO in Nikolia Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade Opus 35 on July 15.

Open dialogue: MSFO, Voice Program team up for Poulenc’s recitative ‘Carmelites’

Just days before the Reign of Terror ended in 1794, and after the French government had instilled the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, a group of nuns from the Carmelite Order of Compiègne refused to leave their monastery. For this act, they were sentenced to death. These events are the basis for Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites.

Students from the School of Music’s Voice Program, under the direction of faculty member John Giampietro, will take the Amphitheater stage at 8:15 p.m. tonight to perform Poulenc’s opera, with 16 students portraying the nuns. The Music School Festival Orchestra will provide accompaniment, conducted by Timothy Muffitt, MSFO music director.

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Roxana Pop | Staff PhotographerSchool of Music faculty Jacques Israelievitch and Kanae Matsumoto rehearse Thursday afternoon in a School of Music studio for their two Sunday marathon programs of Brahms sonatas.

Israelievitch, Matsumoto take on Brahms’ works in marathon recital

When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, George Mallory, the English mountaineer who was among the first to attempt the climb, replied, “Because it’s there.” Jacques Israelievitch, faculty member in the School of Music’s Instrumental Program, cited the same reasoning for deciding to perform a marathon concert of Johannes Brahms’ viola and violin works.

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