From the Fort Worth Opera to the Dallas Video Festival, Wayne Lee Gay breaks down the performances, programs, singers, and organizations that shined in 2012.

The Best in North Texas Classical Music in 2012

Classical music organizations are the first to experience the effects of economic downturn, and the last to recover financially, a fact brought home by ongoing belt-tightening and budgetary pitfalls. Still the area’s principal ensembles, presenters, and performers managed to keep local music-lovers busy in 2012 with a full menu of worthy events, including several unforgettable moments.

Pianist Olga Kern demonstrated the elements that made classical music a fundamental part of our culture in her solo recital at Winspear Opera House on November 1. Kern presented great music of Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and Schumann with expert insight, unassailable technique—and just a touch of showmanship—to create one of the most memorable evenings of the year. We predict that Kern will thrill audiences and play a major role in invigorating the classical tradition for many years to come.

Jaap van Zweden conducted the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in an election-week performance of Britten’s War Requiem at Meyerson Symphony Center that addressed and transcended the great issues of our time by evoking the wisdom of the ages, set to one of the greatest scores of the twentieth century. This is why we have symphony orchestras: to remind us that there are greater, higher ideals and issues.

Soprano Latonia Moore, the Houston native who has triumphed at the Met and Covent Garden, returned to Dallas Opera in the title role of Verdi’s Aida in performances of October 26-November 11. Like all great opera singers, she combines a beautiful inborn quality with intellectual understanding of her art and an ability to draw an emotional response.

Jack Waldenmaier’s newly composed score for Dziga Vertov’s silent cinematic masterpiece of 1929, Man With a Camera, successfully bridged the visual and the aural and underlined the inextricable links of the two in a presentation on September 28 at Dallas Museum of Art. Musicians from Voices of Change, the ensemble that has done more than any other organization to keep Dallas in the mainstream of serious contemporary music for decades, performed in this event, which was part of the Dallas Video Festival.

Fort Worth Opera once again proved that tradition and innovation can coexist and thrive,  in a four-production festival season at Bass Performance Hall and Scott Theatre in Fort Worth from May 12 to June 3. Tosca and The Marriage of Figaro perfectly complemented works by Jake Heggie and Mark Adamo in a season by a company that works musical magic and makes big waves in the operatic world on relatively small budget.

Photo: Latonia Moore (Credit: Karen Almond)