Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Music11 Composers I

Tuesday night was our first performance featuring the new works written for this festival, along with one preexisting work by David Lang. The concert was an enormous success; both the performances and the pieces themselves were some of the best I can remember in the four years of my involvement with this festival. We were especially impressed by the strong, unique voice of each composer's work.

The concert opened with my own Percussion Quartet. I do not feel comfortable reviewing my own piece, so if you were there and have something to say, please leave a comment! I can say that I was extremely happy with the performance. The musicians - Keith Hendricks, Clara Warnaar, Matthew Duvall, and Katy LaFavre - gave a solid, vivid rendition of what I wrote, and made substantial contributions of their own.

Francisco Cortés-Álvarez's Horas Hechizadas was haunting, refracted, and ethereal. Ashley Addington (flute), Michael Maccaferri (clarinet), and Bryan Kelly (piano) inhabited the mysteries of this work while lavishing careful attention on each detail.

Tumblebird Digdown by Gabriella Smith took a completely different emotional turn. Inspired by Jack Kerouac, the piece definitely captured an ecstatic, yet laid back, West-Coast quality. Or, as percussionist Derek Tywoniuk described it, a klezmer band on crystal meth(!) Michael Maccaferri (clarinet), Andrea Hemmenway (viola), Thomas Kotcheff (piano), and Joey Van Hassel (percussion) played with wonderful energy.

Evan Meier's piece To Think That All This Work Began in Columns was an excerpt of his upcoming chamber opera, Swine. Soprano Lindsay Kesselman was lividly passionate in the role of Ulrike Meinhof - a German left-wing militant. Nicholas Photinos (cello), Charles Magnone (piano), and Derek Tywoniuk (percussion) backed her up with sensitivity, and also came to the forefront when appropriate. The piece has a truly dramatic quality which seems destined for the opera stage.

After a brief intermission, the concert continued with a reprise of David Lang's lend/lease. Deidre Huckabay and Katy LaFavre had continued working on the piece after Lang's presentation the other night. It was fascinating to hear the piece again after the discussion of how it should be played. They seemed to have found a balance between the competing edgy and smooth aesthetics we discussed, but leaned in the direction of being smooth and flexible.

David Trum's Costumes, Disguises was another theatrical vocal work. Set to a fantastically awkward poem by Trum's friend Megan Scharff, the piece acts out the meeting of former lovers at a costume party. Megan Ihnen (mezzo-soprano) inhabited the drama very effectively, sensitively balancing sung and spoken passages. Ashley Addington (flute), Kerrith Livengood (flute), and Nicholas Photinos (cello) provided fluid surroundings and tango-like episodes.

Pegasus by Kerrith Livengood, concluded the concert. This was an exquisitely imaginative fusion of sounds. Subtle, emerging lines were contrasted by strings of tiny bells. Ashley Addington (flute), Laura Lentz (flute), Michael Maccaferri (clarinet), Sarah Saviet (violin) and Ben Wallace (percussion) played with the utmost delicateness.

Thank you everyone for a marvelous concert!!!

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