Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music co-sponsors "A Musical Feast" featuring works by Rands, Carter, Heidelberger, Bacon, and Mozart.

Here at the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music we are excited to be gearing up for the upcoming March 18th concert in the continuing concert series presented by “A Musical Feast.” Founded in 2006 by retired Concert Master of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Charles Haupt, “A Musical Feast” ventures to fuse contemporary and classical music with poetry and dance, and features internationally renowned musicians alongside Buffalo’s top performers and music-makers. For this upcoming concert at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, co-sponsored by the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music, we are particularly excited to be showcasing two world premieres from University at Buffalo composers Nathan Heidelberger and John Bacon, as well as works by Wolfgang Mozart, Elliot Carter, and long-time friend of the Center Bernard Rands.

Opening the concert will be UB composer and percussionist John Bacon premiering his new piece, ...wind, water, metal, skin…, for flute and percussion. John Bacon will be joined by UB faculty flutist Barry Crawford for this premiere, which will feature a prepared vibraphone – John logged many hours experimenting and working with different materials (alluded to in the title of the piece) to doctor up the vibraphone and create an exciting blend of textures and timbres to dialogue with the many colors Barry Crawford is able to achieve with his virtuosic flute playing. John describes his thoughts about the work, "the piece started from the idea of wind chime melodies and the way that the notes combine into different orderings and repetitions, along with that is the idea of each of the materials in the title and how to express some of their properties through music. One final idea that is used is how the two players coordinate, sometimes very specifically, and other times, more casually."

Nathan Heidelberger
photo by Megan Metté

The other UB composer on the program, Nathan Heidelberger, will premiere his new work for soprano voice and piano, Descriptions of the Moon, a nine-part song cycle which sets a divergent array of texts on the topic of the moon from authors including Dante Alighieri, Galileo Galilei, James Joyce, Pablo Neruda, e.e. cummings, D.H. Lawrence, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Nathan was recently interviewed by Buffalo’s radio station WBFO  on his many recent activities: composing for the upcoming visit of the Antares Quartet, his regular performances with Buffalo’s multimedia improvisation group, Wooden Cities, his upcoming summer residency at the Aspen Music Festival, and his work with mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley, who will be premiering Descriptions of the Moon with UB faculty member and recently appointed principal pianist of the New York Philharmonic Eric Huebner.

Nathan elucidates some of the key compositional issues at play in Descriptions of the Moon, “The piece begins with a first hand account (imagined, of course) of walking on the moon, and it ends with an image of the moon drifting away from the earth, leaving a lone narrator behind. The contrast between these two texts reveals a number of binaries that play out during the piece: proximity/distance, excitement/restraint, declamation/soliloquy, verb/adjective. These binaries are represented through a gradual diminishment (waning) of activity, a process that is enacted twice over the course of the piece, once from the first to the fourth song, and again from the fifth song to the end. Another important binary is the relationship between the voice and the piano, which is carefully controlled throughout the work. While one hopes that most song cycles represent an equal partnership between a singer and a pianist, the singer, as the possessor of the text and thus the sole communicator of semantic meaning, often seems to take on a dominant role. In Descriptions of the Moon I tried to level the playing field as much as possible. In some songs the vocal line propels the music forward, while in others the piano part does.  Sometimes the two performers seem to be on different planes entirely, with little overt connection or synchronization between them.”

Bernard Rands and Julia Bentley

Julia Bentley will also be singing Bernard Rands’ Memo 7, for solo female voice, part of a series of short works for solo instruments Bernard Rands began back in 1971 with Memo 1 for contrabass. We were fortunate to have been visited last fall by Bernard Rands for a screening and discussion of his recent opera in two acts, Vincent, about the life and work of painter Vincent van Gogh. During his visit, Julia Bentley and the Slee Sinfonietta performed Rands' "Now Again"... fragments from Sappho, a collection of songs for voice and ensemble setting the poetry of the Greek poet Sappho. Audio from the concert can be heard on the Center's website.

Eric Huebner will also be performing Elliott Carter’s work for solo piano Night Fantasies. Carter, who celebrated his 103 birthday this past December, describes the work as, "a piano piece of continuously changing moods, suggesting the fleeting thoughts and feelings that pass through the mind during a period of wakefulness at night... In this score, I wanted to capture the fanciful, changeable quality of our inner life at a time when it is not dominated by strong, directive intentions or desires." Carter’s Night Fantasies, which has been informally referred to as ‘an intense act of self-communion,’ will appear fittingly programmed alongside Mozart’s introverted and dark-hued K. 397 Fantasia in D minor, also to be interpreted by Eric Huebner.

Information about the "A Musical Feast" concert series can be found at   Details of the concert, location, and how to buy tickets here:
Sunday, March 18, 2012
2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Peter & Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium Burchfield Penney Art Center
Buffalo State College
1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo,
NY, 14222

Tickets by Telephone: (716) 878-6011 

Burchfield Penney members: $10
Students with ID: $10 
Non-members: $20 
Join today. Advance tickets strongly recommended. 

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