Showing posts with label Andrea Clearfield. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Andrea Clearfield. Show all posts

Friday, January 15, 2010

Born in the 20th Century

On a very cold and dull January Sunday, musicians were busy preparing for a most unusual concert – a gathering of composers, some performing their own pieces, in a church. As our blog has reported before, Calvary Episcopal Church has invited musicians, actors and other artists to show their creativity to their congregation and to the community.

All of the composers on the program were born in the twentieth century, all but Miles Davis are still living. Three of the composers were present and two played in their own works.

Christopher Braddock’s piece, All the days he has seen, was inspired by Winterthur’s Hippocampus and Box Scroll Garden. The guitar, flute and violin trio is a baroque-inspired work but with modern harmony – a muse on what Hippocampus sees during the changing seasons in his reflecting pool.

Chuck Holdeman’s Avant, adage, apr├Ęs for bassoon and piano is a piece in three movements – the first and last movements having a very jazzy and syncopated style and the middle movement made up of sustained chords which the composer used to create an effect of dreamy contemplation.

Kirk O’Riordan’s Pressing forward, pushing back was perhaps a bit too amorphous for my taste – the wild beginning felt like ambulances off to an emergency – with Melinda Bowman, flute and Richard Gangwisch, piano giving it a great run for the money. But O’Riordan told me later that his piece was his expression of how people resist new ideas…and I guess I am guilty of resisting.

Andrea Clearfield (not present) wrote a trio called Spirit Island and two movements were offered, showing off Hiroko Yamazaki’s amazing energy and technique on the piano. Her playing provided a great basis for Jennifer Stomberg’s cello and Melinda Bowman’s flute lines. I found Rowing much more of a structured piece than Variations on a dream.

Hats off to Zachary Crystal for a startlingly surprising soft beginning of Michi by Keiko Abe for solo marimba. Crystal played with four mallets and started and ended so softly that he drew the audience’s attention with a pianissimo and said adieu the same way.

Next month’s community event is a photography contest. Entry forms and rules are on their web site.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Delaware Musicians in the UK

The jazzy vibes of French bassoonist Ludovic Tissus gave life to the world premier of Chuck Holdeman’s composition Quintetto for bassoon and string quartet at the International Double Reed Society in Birmingham, England on July 23.

Tissus, bassoonist for the Paris Opera, plays the French system bassoon, which Holdeman had in mind when he wrote the piece.

Quintetto starts with a largo which dissolves into a fast-moving leitmotiv. The second movement is a haunting, lyrical chanson. The third movement is a theme and variations with a wild fugal coda.

The exchange of voices in the coda is quite tricky, but Tissus and the very youthful Boult Quartet dove in with gusto.

Holdeman has a new commission which will premiere at the Gold Ballroom of the Hotel DuPont as part of the Delaware Symphony chamber music series on October 27.

Two other pieces by composers from our region played at the International Double Reed Society convention were Andrea Clearfield’s Three Songs for oboe and double bass after poems by Pablo Neruda and Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto for Oboe.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rainbow Chorale turns ten

“June after June giving up, giving in, giving out: trumpeting the exquisite, excruciating pleasure of growing here” is how poet Susan Windle blessed the Rainbow Chorale on its 10th anniversary concert.

Windle recited her work, Into the Blue: A Blessing from The Rainbow Chorale. As gifted a performer as she is poet, her reading sent chills down my spine as I realized how spellbinding a professional recital of a poem can be.

Pianist Hiroko Yamazaki gave a sparkling performance of Clearfield’s music, punctuated with soaring flute played by Mindy Bowman and ringing vibraphone played by Colin Bunnell.

Andrea Clearfield was pleased with the premiere. “It was exciting to be involved because in ten years, this was the first piece ever commissioned by the chorus.”

Chad Nelson, bass, was glad that two former directors had attended the concert. “It’s really exciting to have both Alison Skinner, who was our Artistic Director from 2007 to 2008, and Elliot Jones, who was our founding director, here tonight.”

Jones conducted the Chorale in a spectacular arrangement of Somewhere Over the Rainbow which he had instituted as a quasi theme song for the group. The a cappela harmonies in this song were impressive indeed.

Artistic Director Stephen Caldwell is carrying the banner of fine performance.

**Above artwork created by Lynn Hessler.