Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Brazilian Composer Makes Visit to Delaware Very Personal

Brazilian composer Sergio Roberto de Oliveira travels to Delaware to join the classical/contemporary music ensemble Mélomanie this Saturday evening for the premiere of his work, Angico. Written in fall of 2009, this work is a collaborative commission with Aliénor (of Durham, North Carolina), whose ensemble will perform the piece later in the season. This piece is an intensely personal one, inspired by de Oliveira’s family vacation home in the Brazilian mountains, built as a fulfillment of his mother’s lifelong dream.

The composition pays tribute to the magical house he calls Angico, in honor of the Brazilian acacia tree, the Angico, which graces the property. Just after the house was built, the electrical company threatened to fell the tree. Ultimately, however, the tree sacrificed only one of its branches. It lives on as a witness to the family retreat, Angico, which the composer calls “a place full of peace and joy.”

In four movements, the music engages the audience in a fascinating story: the creation of the universe, the building of his family home, the triumph of the Angico tree over man’s threat, and, finally a celebration of the magical place called Angico.

de Oliveira and second guest composer Mark Hagerty (who will also premiere a piece entitled After Duchamp) will be on hand for Mélomanie's program this Saturday, January 30, at 8:00 pm at Grace Church in Wilmington. A post-concert meet-and-greet will be held at The Maraschino Room, on the 2nd floor of the Washington Street Ale House, just a few short blocks away. Tickets are $20; $15 for student and seniors. Youth under age 15 are free. To reserve, call 302.764.6338.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Copeland String Quartet at Church of the Holy City

The Mozart String Quartet in A Major, K 464 is a clean composition with variations and cerebral contrapuntal structure which cellist Mark Ward told the audience was a favorite of Beethoven. Beethoven wrote his Opus 18, Nr. 5 quartet as a reaction to this fascination.

No surprise that the complex nature of this work would intrigue the younger composer. The variations of the Andante movement were a great vehicle for hearing the individual voices as well as the cohesive playing of the group. The low hum of the variation led by Mark Ward’s cello was my favorite. The quartet not only kept the general tone fairly quiet, but their ability to match the classical style of sudden piano and forte made the rendition a palate-clearing starter preceding the Brahms dessert.

And a rich, romantic lush Brahms dessert it was. Eliezer Gutman and Tom Jackson, violins, kept their thirds together quietly and beautifully. Charly Salinger’s smooth clarinet tone resonated in the church and the strings matched his dynamics with ease. Salinger’s ability to change register with no strain makes it thrilling to hear the high tones scoop down to low tones. Nina Cottman played strong middle voices with a strong verve. All five players were able to arc phrases as one and managed to pull their volume down one more infinitesimal dynamic as they ended the last movement.

You can now buy Copeland’s new CD and hear them play the Beethoven Opus 18, Nr. 5 live on April 18.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Museum Day at the DCCA

The DCCA was up, running and full of small children and their families on the second annual open house day for the Brandywine Museums and Gardens Alliance. The children’s comments inspired me as I stood in the Hatch Gallery looking at a joint exhibit by two DCCA studio artists called Fields of Glory/Arenas of Conflict.

Ken Mabrey is a modern impressionist. His oil on linen Till the cows come home captures the light of strong sun – the brightest light that flows through the large farmhouse and makes the dust motes dance. That same sun hits the red roof – glinting just like the real thing. In the corner is the Delaware flag. He includes the state butterfly, the state bird, the state flower and even the state bug. A biplane flies overhead, showing that Delaware once had a big airfield. Mabrey tries to fit the world into his paintings, just as he feels the world invading Delaware.

Greg Barkley’s paintings contrast Mabrey’s. Mabrey uses muted pastel, Barkley wields harsh reds and black.. The painting that wouldn’t let me go was He couldn’t stand on two feet while he lectured about morality. He inserts so many symbols: roosters, Barbie doll girls, snarling dogs. Eerie.

But there was so much more to see! Andrew Wapinski, another DCCA studio artist, was given a solo show of his Wasteland - gold works covered with shiny epoxy – a big stylistic change from the weather-driven pastels in his last show there.

There are five more exhibits in the downstairs galleries. Particularly interesting is an exhibit of sculptured steel and stone: Journey through Time by Hong-Wen Lin. The exhibit’s presence is due to a coordinated effort with the Council for Cultural Affairs of Taiwan and the Taipei Cultural Center of New York.