Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Final Concert

[This post was written by Douglas Pew, one of the composers at the festival.]

To wrap up our experience at Music10, we had a wonderful final concert this evening. With a sense of family spirit after these two weeks together, we gathered to be treated one final time by Eighth Blackbird and several student performers.

Eighth Blackbird opened the concert with a charming work by Missy Mazzoli entitled Still Life with Avalanche. The piece has a very fresh mix of lyricism and rhythmic punctuation and I found it very youthful and enthusiastic. Particularly delightful were the thwacks of the kick drum and the hiccupping rhythms throughout the ensemble.

Second on the program was Martin Bresnick’s ***, otherwise known as the three star trio for clarinet (Rebecca Danard), viola (Alisa Seavey), and piano (Liz Remizowski). It was delightful to hear this work for a second time today. We learned in great detail about Professor Bresnick’s method and meaning in this piece during his presentation on his own music. There is a very subtle yet beautifully convincing connection in this piece, and several other pieces of his, with the music of Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. The performers gave a very expressive and heart felt performance.

Paul Kerekes’ exciting piece Hail was then performed for what was the second time during the festival. Paul’s piece, along with Amy Kirsten’s L’ange pale, were voted a second performance by all of the participants of the Music10 festival as our two favorite pieces. Kelli Kathman (flute), Nicholas Photinos (cello), and Johanna Ballou (piano) performed Paul’s exciting work with great energy and exciting flair. The first half of the piece is a hard driving, fast flying bunch of hocketing riffs and whipping crescendos. This Shostakovich-ish scherzando movement suddenly halts into a calming atmosphere of wafting colors and relaxing harmonies that depicts the calming storm that relaxes all of the previous tension and flurry. Great job Paul!! (He’s my roommate ☺.)

The next piece was the winner of the Music10 composition competition, Ted Goldman’s Cellular Automata, performed by Eighth Blackbird. Ted shows a very sharp technical ability and a command of his musical ideas. Eighth Blackbird performed his energetic, rhythmical score with great energy and finesse. Congratulations Ted!

Following Ted’s piece was the before mentioned L’ange pale by Amy Kirsten. Lindsay Kesselman (soprano), Tim Munro (flutes), Jeremy Malvin (percussion), and Christian Smith (percussion) performed at a high level this wonderful and very convincing score. Amy has a special ear for color and created a highly vivid atmosphere of a smoke wafting ritual in her demanding score. All of the instrumentalists joined Lindsay in intoning pitches which gave the work a special color and added another layer to the ritual atmosphere. Lindsay gave a spell-binding performance and demonstrated her broad range of vocal techniques and strikingly beautiful tone. What a delight!

To finish the concert, the day, and the festival, we were treated to Steve Reich’s Double Sextet in the live version with twelve performers. Intermingled with the players of Eighth Blackbird were six of our Music10 instrumentalists who together filled the stage of the Bartok Hall to near capacity: Kelli Kathman (flute), Ben Irwin (clarinet), Brenda van der Merwe (violin), Agnieszka Kolodziej (cello), Stan Muncy (percussion), and Johanna Ballou (piano). There could hardly be a more exciting and perfect piece to end our festival than the Double Sextet, which was commissioned by the festival together with five other organizations, and it was played with increasing animation and contagious energy. By the end of the journey as the harmonies climb higher and higher and the unified tone becomes brighter and brighter, there surely was not a toe left un-tapping. Propelled forward by the hammering pianos and grooving vibes, the final attack released to bursting applause and a well-deserved standing ovation. Du-ga-da du-ga du-ga-da du-ga du-ga . . . . this will be in my head for weeks!!

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