They aren’t calling them “Tuesdays at Eight” this year, but the extraordinary faculty chamber music concerts of the Music Academy of the West are still on Tuesdays, at the Lobero Theatre, and they still begin at 8 p.m. With the likes of Jerome Lowenthal, Kathleen Winkler, Timothy Day, Alan Stepansky and Richie Hawley on the stage, the continued high quality of the performances may be assumed.


Olivier Messiaen

The first of the Chamberfest recitals, as they are now called, will be Tuesday. The program is “modern” to a degree: Only the very last piece was composed before 1914 — nearly 200 years before.

The evening will begin with William Bolcom’s Graceful Ghost Rag (1970, 1979) with Jonathan Feldman on piano and Kathleen Winkler on violin, followed by two austere masterpieces for solo piano rendered exquisitely accessible by Jerome Lowenthal: Olivier Messiaen’s Le Loriot/The Oriole (Catalogue d’oiseaux, Book I, No. 2; 1956-58) and Elliott Carter’s Caténaires/Trolley Wires (2006).

Then, perhaps as a reward to the audience for sitting quietly during the previous two pieces, pianist Jonathan Feldman teams up with Kathleen Winkler and cellist Alan Stepansky to play Maurice Ravel’s ethereally lovely Piano Trio in a minor (1914).


Elliott Carter

After the break, the audience will hear Carter’s eight-minute Wind Quintet (1948), played by Timothy Day (flute), David Weiss (oboe), Richie Hawley (clarinet), Dennis Michel (bassoon) and David Jolley (horn); then, violinist Jeff Thayer and pianist Margaret McDonald will perform Messiaen’s 10-minute Theme & Variations (1932).

The evening will conclude in the harmonic serenity of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Trio Sonata in G Major, BWV 1038, with Timothy Day (flute), Jeff Thayer (violin), Nico Abondolo (double bass) and Natasha Kislenko (harpsichord).

I hope those worthy musicians — artists and pedagogues all — will resist the temptation, before playing the pieces by Carter and Messiaen, to offer verbal insights into the music. Especially to be avoided are explanations of the process and principles of composition, including secret mathematical formulas.

If music is to reach the audience’s ears alive, it must do so only in the medium of brilliant performances — of which each and all of these musicians are sublimely capable.

Tickets are $38. For more information, call the Lobero box office at 805.963.0761.

Be advised that the summer’s first Picnic Concert — in which academy students devise and play their own programs — will happen at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Hahn Hall on the academy campus. The only thing not surprising in these wonderful concerts is the skill and vitality of the performances.

Tickets are $22 and may be purchased at the door, one hour before the concert, or by calling 805.969.8787 or faxing an order to 805.969.4037.

Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.