Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mélomanie Opens with Two World Premieres & One Breathtaking "Stage"

By Guest Blogger, Christine Facciolo
Christine holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music and continues to apply her voice to all genres of music. An arts lover since childhood, she currently works as a freelance writer.

Mélomanie opened its 2015-2016 season at The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts on Sunday, September 13, with a celebration of the artistry of flutist Kimberly Reighley. The concert was held in the DCCA's Carol Bieber and Marc Ham Gallery, where the musicians performed directly underneath artist Amie Potsic's beautifully flowing piece, Endangered Seasons.

Reighley  co-artistic director (along with Tracy Richardson) of the ensemble known for its provocative pairings of baroque and contemporary music  was this year’s recipient of the coveted Masters Award for Solo Recital from the Delaware Division of the Arts. The award required her to perform a solo concert.

I once asked a flutist friend if the instrument was tough to play. She responded by saying it was easy to learn but hard to master. Anyone who hears Reighley’s incredibly beautiful playing will soon realize that she is a complete master of the flute.

The program featured various flutes — the piccolo, baroque, modern and alto —demonstrating the range of expression the instrument possesses and the skill Reighley brings to each.

The program was a mostly contemporary one, including the World Premieres of two works composed especially for the occasion: Two Moods by Chuck Holdeman and The Four Gifts of God by the Brazilian composer Sergio Roberto de Oliveira.

Holdeman is one of an increasing number of composers writing for solo piccolo. As its name suggests, Two Moods explores the acoustic possibilities of the instrument. The first employs the “whistle” tones demonstrating how an almost inaudible instrument can still make music. The second returns the instrument to its familiar sprightly self.

Reighley handled this often unpredictable little instrument with precision and grace. Especially impressive were her high notes, which can be difficult for the average flutist to sustain given the need for greater wind speed.

The Four Gifts of God paired Reighley on baroque flute with Richardson on harpsichord. Composer de Oliveira got the idea to identify four elements: common to all religions. He came up with the gifts of Breath, Light, Creation and Action. Reighley mined the instrument’s capacity for otherworldly tones in the primal character of the first section, quickly switching gears for the brighter musical ideas of Light and Action. Of special interest was the Creation movement, where the composer paid tribute to seven of his favorite composers, including Richardson’s husband, composer Mark Hagerty.

Speaking of Hagerty, his contribution to the program was a work titled Sea Level. Written especially for Reighley, the piece offers a soundscape of the burgeoning plant and animal life in and around the canals of the Dutch countryside during an unusually warm April. This work showcased Reighley’s mastery of the alto flute whose mysterious, picturesque tones ably conveyed the score’s changing colors and textures.

Reighley took up the standard concert flute accompanied by Richardson on harpsichord for Jennifer Margaret Barker’s Dumgoyne and Ingrid Arauco’s Florescence. Both demand the soloist to delineate the sharply contrasting musical ideas. Dumgoyne describes Barker’s childhood memories of the sights and sounds of her native Scotland’s most famous hill. Reighley’s playing effectively conveyed the experience of a climb culminating with the calm and peace of a lyrical Scottish song.

Arauco’s work is more abstract than Dumgoyne but nevertheless requires the flutist to engage some pretty aggressive rhythmic patterns as in the second movement which the composer describes as flowing in “an energetic stream of steady sixteenths punctuated by occasionally by assertive, rhythmically jagged figures.”

It wouldn’t be a 
Mélomanie concert without a Baroque offering, and Reighley and Richardson paired to offer Joseph Bodin de Boismortier’s Sonata II in G Minor.

The concert concluded with an encore performance by Richardson and Reighley of Hagerty’s Contexts, a short piece that looks at what can happen to a simple repeating motif when the harmony and other musical elements change around it.

The full ensemble returns to the DCCA for their next performance on October 18, where they will premiere a piece by guitarist and composer, Kevin J. Cope.

See www.melomanie.org.

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