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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Ensembles to Clear the Books with Back-to-Back Concerts

Three performances are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday nights

You can always tell when a UCSB term is coming to an end — all the music groups start performing the works they have been rehearsing all quarter. This makes for a brief, rather hectic, period of back-to-back concerts that ends abruptly on the last day of classes, so the students can prepare for finals.

Composer Dominick Argento heard undertones in Wordsworth other readers missed.
Composer Dominick Argento heard undertones in Wordsworth other readers missed.

This week is such a period, when three concerts of exceptional interest will be performed on two successive nights — Tuesday and Wednesday — without actually stepping on each other’s toes. Alas, while each is worthy of an extended essay, the constraints of time mandate the merest outline of the treasures each contains.

First off, for the Modernists among us, we will have ECM, the university’s Ensemble for Contemporary Music (under the meticulous and genial direction of Jeremy Haladyna), with Robert Dick, composer-in-residence, in a performance they have dubbed “Palmarès” at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall (UCSB campus).

ECM describes this concert in the following way: “UCSB composers and performers will earn their place on this ECM program through competition — whether in ECM’s annual call for new scores, or a grueling test to find a very fit flutist. The survivor plays music of modern flute guru Robert Dick in his presence. Also, ensemble music by Sebastian Currier and Vagn Holmboe, plus Dominick Argento’s all-Wordsworth cycle, To be sung upon the water, with vocalist Annie Thompson.”

Admission to the ECM concert is $15 for the general public and $7 for students, with tickets sold at the door.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, UCSB’s top drawer collaborative pianist, faculty artist Natasha Kislenko, will join guest artist and violinist Chavdar Parashkevov for a rousing program of sonatas and show-stoppers — not all of them Russian — in Karl Geiringer Hall (Music Room 1250).

Kislenko and Parashkevov are, in fact, now an item, in the professional sense. They have begun performing as a duo and will be touring California, Bulgaria and Germany this month. This show is a kind of dress rehearsal, with a program full of compositions by Ludwig van Beethoven, Henryk Wieniawski, Claude Debussy, Pancho Vladigerov and Sergei Rachmaninoff. The duo’s recently released CD, Russian Sonatas, will be available for sale after the performance.

Admission to this recital is $15 for the general public and $7 for students, with tickets sold at the door.

Finally, the University Symphony’s new conductor, Christopher Rountree, will lead the band in a concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall.

The program will include Rountree’s own arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, the heady iconoclasm of Workers Union by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen (born in 1939), and the Symphony No. 6 in F-Major, Opus 68, “Pastoral”.

I can’t tell you what to expect from the Andriessen, but it may be of some help to know that the composer describes it as “a melodically indeterminate piece for any loud sounding group of instruments.”

As for the Beethoven, well, I would be inviting a deluge of rival candidates if I were to state flat out that it is the most beautiful symphony ever written — “sex is the great leveler,” as Pauline Kael wrote, “taste the great divider” — so I will just say that no more beautiful symphony has ever been written, and I daresay never will be.

Admission to the University Symphony concert is $15 for the general public and $7 for students, with tickets sold at the door.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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