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American Classical Orchestra Announces 2020-21 Season

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Season opens with Chaconne, a virtual concert event featuring 10 chamber works and enhanced content filmed at the Harlem Parish.

American Classical Orchestra Announces 2020-21 Season

American Classical Orchestra, New York City's foremost period instrument orchestra, has announced its 2020-21 season, with concerts throughout Manhattan from November 17, 2020 to May 15, 2021 including a recital marathon of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. Under the leadership of Artistic Director and Founder Thomas Crawford, the Orchestra's 36th season will open on November 17 with Chaconne, a virtual concert event to be offered in two parts including chamber music performances and interviews showcasing the musical genre of the chaconne in 17th and 18th century music. Filmed at the exquisite Neo-Gothic Harlem Parish, known for its remarkable fan vaulting and celebrated acoustics for this music, the program features award-winning Mexican mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Peraza, violinists Karen Dekker and Chloe Fedor, gambist Arnie Tanimoto, theorbo player Charles Weaver, and Thomas Crawford on harpsichord. The digital event will be available online that day at, starting at 7:30 PM EST.

Other season highlights include a recital marathon of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas performed on fortepiano by a roster of early music keyboardists from around the globe (May 11-15, 2021) in venues including The Metropolitan Museum of Arts' André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments; a concert featuring Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola performed by violinist Aisslinn Nosky and violist Maureen Murchie at the New York Society for Ethical Culture; and a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and Piano Concerto No. 4, and Schubert's Symphony No. 5. In addition, Mr. Crawford will host a short documentary about Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to stream on December 1, ahead of the composer's 250th birthday on December 16. The film pairs him with award-winning cinematographer Claudia Raschke (RBG and God Is the Bigger Elvis) and illuminates the compositional techniques that make Beethoven's 9th Symphony timeless.

All 2020-2021 season concerts will be streamed online, available starting on the date of each event. To sign up for reminders for the events, click here.

"This is a season of masterworks that I hope will provide solace to our audiences at a time when revisiting the classics can offer a deeply meaningful experience," said Thomas Crawford. "I have selected this season's music for its timeless appeal and its ability to unite in an apprehensive world."

The Sfzp Project

The season will also feature the continuation of American Classical Orchestra's Sfzp Project, a three-year cycle of programs and events designed to advance fortepiano performance in New York City and beyond. The Project is led by Thomas Crawford, with Artistic Advisor Malcolm Bilson, the Frederick J. Whiton Professor of Music Emeritus at Cornell University and a recipient of the Smithsonian Institution's James Smithson Bicentennial Medal for his extraordinary lifetime achievements as a pioneer in the performance of period instruments. The Szfp Project's three cycles follow the historical trajectory of the fortepiano, bringing together renowned pianists, chamber instrumentalists, vocalists, teachers, and students in masterclasses, scholarly forums, and recitals. The project's Sfzp title is derived from the term sforzpiano, a dynamic marking - used by Beethoven - that calls for a "sforzando," a strong, sudden accent in a score, immediately followed by "piano," a soft sound.

Due to the pandemic, the second edition of The Sfzp Project was postponed to 2021. Cycle II of the Project will focus on Beethoven in his 250th year with concerti, chamber, and solo literature from each period of the composer's life. The unique charisma of the instrument will be exhibited by the young Hungarian artist Petra Somlai in Beethoven's 5th, a concert featuring a performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 (May 11, 2021). Over the course of three days starting on May 12, a roster of internationally-acclaimed artists will play all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas on fortepiano. In collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ACO will present virtual performances, along with behind-the-scenes tours and content, in the André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments.

The Sfzp Project will continue its International Fortepiano Competition as well, open to professional-level fortepianists of all nationalities between the ages of 20 and 36. The first Prize winner will perform a concerto on fortepiano with the American Classical Orchestra, and receive a $5,000 cash prize. Among the guest artists and scholars participating in the ACO's three-year Sfzp Project are David Belkovski (last year's competition winner), Kristian Bezuidenhout, Sylvia Berry, Malcolm Bilson, Shuann Chai, Vladimir Feltsman, Steven Lubin, Alexei Lubimov, Jiayan Sun, and Eric Zivian. The winners of this season's Cycle II Fortepiano Competition will be announced at a chamber music concert on May 15, 2021. For more information, click here.

Concerts, Access, and Attendance

American Classical Orchestra is taking all precautions to safeguard the health and safety of our musicians and audience, while continuing to provide work to our musicians and to produce high caliber performances. ACO is abiding by or exceeding local and state requirements for rehearsals and performances. All 2020-2021 concerts will be presented in a virtual format, either pre-recorded or livestreamed as indicated in this release. The January 27, May 11, and May 15, 2021 performances will be livestreamed, potentially with live audience attendance, pending compliance with social distancing protocols, government guidelines, and requirements for public health and safety. Artists are subject to change due to COVID travel restrictions.


As it is yet unclear when welcoming live audiences will be advisable, ACO will offer Flex Passes valid for live concerts from January 2021 through June 2022 instead of traditional subscriptions and single tickets. The Passes will provide enhanced flexibility during these uncertain times, giving audience members the ability to select and secure tickets to a specified number of concerts. Restrictions apply. Passes are sold in packs of four and two, priced at $275 and $145 for a four-concert pass (25% off regular single ticket prices); and $148 and $79 for a two-concert pass (a 20% discount). Flex Passes will be available beginning October 27, at and also provide free access to all 2020-21 digital performances. Flex Pass purchases prior to December 15 will include an additional free pass. The Passes will not only protect the ticket buyers' purchases but will also support ACO's programming.



Part One: Tuesday, November 17, 2020, 7:30 PM (Pre-recorded)

Part Two: Friday, November 20, 2020, 7:30 PM (Pre-recorded)

Filmed at the Harlem Parish

Karen Dekker and Chloe Fedor, Baroque violin

Maureen Murchie, viola

Arnie Tanimoto, viola da gamba and cello

Charles Weaver, theorbo and Baroque guitar

Guadalupe Peraza, mezzo soprano

Thomas Crawford, harpsichord

Juan Arañés: Chacona a la vida bona

Nicola Francesco Haym: Ciaccona in E Major

Barbara Strozzi: L'Eraclito amoroso

Marin Marais: Chaconne in A Major, from Pièces de Viole, Book 4

Santiago de Murcia: Marionas

Arcangelo Corelli: Trio Sonata, Opus 2, No. 12

Johann Sebastian Bach: Chaconne from Partita for Solo Violin, BWV 1004

François Couperin: La Favorite

Claudio Monteverdi: Lamento della Ninfa

Henry Purcell: Chaconne from King Arthur

American Classical Orchestra presents Chaconne, a virtual concert event. Thomas Crawford leads a lively program of Baroque repertoire focusing on the chaconne, a musical genre characterized by its repeating bass line. The program was filmed in the beautiful setting of the Neo-Gothic Harlem Parish. From bawdy Spanish 16th-century dances to Bach's masterful Chaconne for Solo Violin, this vibrant concert will showcase ten examples of the chaconne and includes strings, plucked instruments, and harpsichord with voice and percussion. Acclaimed Mexican mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Peraza is featured.

Suggested donation for virtual event: $25. For additional information, click here.

Masked Mozart

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 7:30 PM (Livestreamed)

New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th St.

Aisslinn Nosky, violin

Maureen Murchie, viola

Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, in E-flat Major, K. 364/320d

i??Mozart: Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 201

The intimacy of the concert hall at New York Society for Ethical Culture is an ideal venue to showcase Mozart's substantial masterpiece, the Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola featuring accomplished soloists Aisslinn Nosky and Maureen Murchie. The composer's popular Symphony No. 29 will be performed by 15 musicians led by Mr. Crawford, and involves masks, social distancing, and plexiglass. Hence the concert title, Masked Mozart.

Tickets: Access to the livestreamed performance starting at $10, available for 7 days from the concert date. Access included for Flex Pass ticketholders. For additional information, click here.

Beethoven Trios

Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 1:15 PM (Livestreamed)

The Chapel at St. Bartholomew's Church, 50th St. and Park Ave.

Members of American Classical Orchestra:

Ed Matthew, clarinet

Myron Lutzke, cello

Dongsok Shin, fortepiano

Beethoven: Clarinet Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 11

American Classical Orchestra makes its debut appearance on Gotham Early Music Scene's (GEMS) perennially popular Midtown Concerts Series. As a preview to ACO's Sfzp Project (May 11-15, 2021), ACO brings three of the City's most celebrated and accomplished musicians to perform Beethoven's Clarinet Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 11. All Midtown Concerts are free, no tickets or reservations are necessary. This concert will be livestreamed on the GEMS website, Facebook page, and the Series YouTube channel. If welcoming a live audience is possible, the concert will take place at The Chapel at St. Bartholomew's Church. Click here for additional details closer to the date.

Beethoven's 5th

Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 8:00 PM (Livestreamed)

Petra Somlai, fortepiano

Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58

Schubert: Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, D. 485

American Classical Orchestra's 36th season comes to a close with two symphonies: Beethoven's eminent Symphony No. 5 with its famous four-note opening, and Schubert's sparkling Symphony No. 5, written for a smaller orchestra in classical Viennese style. The program will present Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 performed on fortepiano as well, featuring the acclaimed young Hungarian guest artist Petra Somlai, winner of First Prize and the Special Public Prize at the International Fortepiano Competition in Bruges, Belgium. She will also play several Beethoven sonatas as part of the ACO's Sfzp Project, and serve as a judge in the final round of the ACO's International Fortepiano Competition 2021. This concert is part of ACO's Sfzp Project Cycle II, which focuses on the works of Beethoven.

Tickets: Access to the livestreamed performance starting at $10, available for 7 days from the concert date. Access included for Flex Pass ticketholders. For additional information, click here.


All Sfzp Project concerts will be livestreamed online and additional details including access/ticketing, venues, and artists will be announced at a later date. To sign up for reminders, click here.

Beethoven Recital Marathon

Pianists include Sylvia Berry, Shuann Chai, Mike Cheng-Yu Lee, Bart van Oort, Maria Rose, Dongsok Shin, Petra Somlai, Jiayan Sun, and Eric Zivian. All recitals will be performed on fortepiano.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 at 11:30 AM (Livestreamed)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments, 1000 Fifth Ave.

Sonata No. 7 in D Major, Op. 10, No. 3

Sonata No. 19 in G minor, Op. 49, No. 1

Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2

Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2 'quasi una fantasia' ("The Moonlight Sonata")

2:15-2:45 PM Talk: 'The Woman in the Moonlight' with author Patricia Morrisroe (Livestreamed)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments, 1000 Fifth Ave.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 at 3:00 PM (Livestreamed)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments, 1000 Fifth Ave.

Sonata No. 24 in F-sharp Major, Op. 78 'Therese'

Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90

Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109

Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106 'Hammerklavier'

Thursday, May 13, 2021 (Livestreamed)

Sonata No. 3 in C Major, Op. 2, No. 3

Sonata No. 25 in G Major, Op. 79 'Cuckoo'

Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3 'Hunt'

Sonata No. 21, in C Major, Op. 53 'Waldstein'

Sonata No. 4 in E-flat Major, Op. 7 'Grand'

Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Op. 14, No. 2

Sonata No. 6 in F Major, Op. 10, No. 2

Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 2, No. 2

Sonata No. 16 in G Major, Op. 31, No. 1

Friday, May 14, 2021 (Livestreamed)

Sonata No. 13 in E-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 1 'Quasi una fantasia'

Sonata No. 12 in A-flat Major, Op. 26 'Funeral March'

Sonata No. 22 in F Major, Op. 54

Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110

Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10, No. 1

Sonata No. 20 in G Major, Op. 49, No. 2

Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28 'Pastoral'

Sonata No. 9 in E Major, Op. 14, No. 1

Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 'Pathetique'

Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 2, No. 1

Sonata No. 11 in B-flat minor, Op. 22

Sonata No. 26 in E-flat Major, Op. 81a 'Les Adieux'/'Das Lebewohl'

Sonata No. 28 in A Major, Op. 101

Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111

2021 Sfzp International Fortepiano Competition

Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 11:00 AM (Livestreamed)

Competition Finals

Four finalists compete for first and second prize, including monetary awards and performance opportunities. Judges for final round to include Sylvia Berry, Thomas Crawford, and Bart van Oort. Judges for preliminary round to include David Bakamjian, Thomas Crawford, Dongsok Shin, and Jiayan Sun.

Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 7:30 PM (Livestreamed)

Winners of The Sfzp Project's 2021 International Fortepiano Competition will be announced at this concert.

All-Beethoven Chamber Concert 'Appassionata'

Grosse Fugue, Op. 133 in B-flat Major

Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 'Appassionata'

Clarinet Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 11

Volkslieder Irish Songs:

O Harp of Erin

English Bulls, WoO 152, No. 12

On the Massacre of Glencoe, WoO 152, No. 5

'Tis Sunshine at Last, WoO 153, No. 13

Lawrence Jones, tenor

Shuann Chai and Eric Zivian, fortepiano

Krista Bennion Feeney and Theresa Salomon, violin

David Cerutti, viola

Myron Lutzke, cello

Masterclasses and Panel (Livestreamed)

Thursday, May 13, 2021


Led by Bart van Oort, Historical Performance Practice Lecturer at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.

Panel Discussion and Debate - 'Early music experts disagree passionately'

Led by ACO Artistic Director Thomas Crawford and Sfzp Artistic Advisor Malcolm Bilson, Frederick J. Whiton Professor of Music Emeritus at Cornell University


Led by pianist and Sfzp Artistic Advisor Malcolm Bilson, Frederick J. Whiton Professor of Music Emeritus at Cornell University

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