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UCSB Offers Lecture, Workshop and Recital by Renowned Cellist

Rohan de Saram will demonstrate an array of talents.

Cellist Rohan de Saram will explain and play new music at UCSB.
Cellist Rohan de Saram will explain and play new music at UCSB.

“How do we get people to listen?” a young musician asks Bob Dylan, in D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary, Don’t Look Back. And Dylan shakes his head and replies: “Man, it’s beyond me. It’s all I can do to write these songs and go out there on stage and perform them. I have no idea how to get them to listen.”

Once established, UCSB’s Corwin Chair in Music Composition created its own magnetic field in the Music Department, as it was meant to. New music usually needs considerable assistance to get performed in public, let alone get published or recorded. To actually make sympathetic connections with an audience, new music also needs champions. That’s where the Corwin Chair Series of lecture/recitals comes in — to provide a venue for new music’s advocates and to give them a shot at building an audience.

In the latest installment of the Corwin Chair Series, UCSB’s Department of Music will present the British-born Sri Lankan cellist, Rohan De Saram, who in November 2005 gave up a well-paid gig in the Arditti Quartet “in order to pursue my own artistic vision.” On Wednesday, De Saram will offer two free events in Karl Geiringer Hall (Music 1250): at 2 p.m., a Lecture-Workshop and, at 7 p.m., a recital.

As far as the program for the evening recital, I am sure of the composers represented, less sure of the works to be performed. Thus, while De Saram will be playing a composition of the Polish-born American Rolf Gehlhaar (b. 1943), it could be either the six-minute Cello Solo from 1966, or the 14-minute Solipse for cello and delay from 1974. Of the avant-garde Italian Salvatore Sciarrino (b. 1947) he is likely to play Ai Limiti Della Notte (At the Limits of the Night). The Greek composer Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) wrote only Kottos (1977) for unaccompanied cello, so that will likely be on the program. The cellist has two solo works in his active repertory by the Italian Luciano Berio (1925-2003): Les Mots Sont Alles and Sequenza XIV. He could play either or both, but since the latter was written for him, he will probably include it. The oldest piece on the schedule — by several centuries — is De Saram’s transcription of Il Laberinto Armonico, the last of 12 violin concertos in L’ arte del violino, Opus 3 (1933), by the Italian virtuoso Pietro Locatelli (1695-1764). Finally, De Saram will play the Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello, Opus 8 (1918), by the great Hungarian, Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967).

De Saram has worked with Shostakovich, Poulenc and Walton, as well as with Kodaly, and all the composers — except Locatelli, of course — on his program. He knows a lot more about them than I do, so I am just going to recommend that you go and listen to his explanation. Click here for more information about Music Department events or call 805.893.7001.

Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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