City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Top 10 Classical Music Performances in 2009

ASO Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles

ASO Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles

By Pierre Ruhe

Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, Donald Runnicles conducting the Atlanta Symphony. The orchestra’s principal guest conductor, always interesting, has deepened into a profound interpreter, and the orchestra played for him with super-charged emotion. April.

Osvaldo Golijov’s “Azul,” a spectacularly cosmic and serene cello concerto performed by Yo-Yo Ma and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. A new masterpiece. May.

From Bach to Haydn, music that spanned the 18th century performed by New Trinity Baroque, Atlanta’s risk-taking early-music troupe. September.

Hindustani classical music performed by sitar player Kakali Bandyopadhyay, an associate artist at Emory University, and table player Anjaneya Sastry. Charismatic performers restoring ancient sounds from India. Bliss. September.

“Rapido! A 14-day Composition Contest,” was a nifty idea from the Atlanta Chamber Players: a contest to write music on deadline for a cash award and a future commission. And the best work won: Jon Grier’s “Rapid Variations on A-C-P.” October.

Soprano Christine Brewer and pianist Craig Rutenberg
opened Spivey Hall’s 19th season. Gargantuan yet subtle, Brewer’s sound is rich and silken in tone. She’s an ASO regular, but here in recital she was in the best voice I’ve ever heard her. October.

Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” starred the celebrated countertenor David Daniels, now an Atlanta resident, making his Atlanta Opera debut. Thanks to a strong cast — with Katherine Whyte as Euridice and Deanne Meek as Amore — it was the most satisfying effort in the Atlanta Opera’s 30-year history. November.

Brahms’ “A German Requiem”
is music central to the ASO and Chorus. Under conductor Runnicles they performed it in three full spiritual dimensions. (And for the chorus and conductor, the show was a warm-up for concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic in Germany.) November.

Sonic Generator’s “French-American Connection”
offered wild, imaginative and unexpectedly stirring contemporary music, all with a technology component. November.

“Dual Synthesis”
is New York composer Tristan Perich’s quirky, original work for harpsichord and primitive, 1-bit electronics. Performed at Eyedrum, it induced euphoria in the listener. December.

Pierre Ruhe blogs about the arts on

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January 5th, 2010
10:23 am

Yes, that Mahler 6th was the highlight of the year. And it’s worth mentioning that “Rapido was not just a composition contest; the first half was a superb concert of works by Beethoven, Gandolfi, and Higdon. The string quartet by Higdon is probably my favorite work of hers now, and I had never heard it before.

I would add the memorable concert by “Quinck” in early 2009. It was presented as part of the Musica Sacra series at First Presbyterian Church in Midtown. I get the impression Mr. Ruhe (an excellent critic) has never investigated the musical offerings there. Hint: a church doesn’t have to have “cathedral” in its name to have a first-rate music program.