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Gerald Carpenter: Camerata Pacifica to Perform Quintet Set

Camerata Pacifica will present its May program locally at 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Road in Santa Barbara.

Composer Arnold Bax
Composer Arnold Bax

This program will consist of Arnold Bax’s Quintet for Oboe and String Quartet (1923), Antonin Dvo?ák’s Gypsy Songs, Opus 55, the U.S. premiere of Ian Wilson’s Dreamgarden, for Voice and Ensemble and Dvo?ák’s Quintet No. 2 in A-Major for Piano and Strings, Opus 81. (Those attending the 1 p.m. concert will hear only the two quintets.)

The all-star lineup of Cameratans dividing this program among them includes Adrian Spence on flute, Nicholas Daniel on oboe, Catherine Leonard on violin, Ara Gregorian on violin, Richard Yongjae O’Neill on viola, Ani Aznavoorian on cello, Warren Jones on piano and mezzo-soprano Kate Allen.

Five years after composing his nimble, deliciously tuneful Oboe Quintet, Bax admitted what was obvious to anyone who had heard any of his music, that he was “a brazen romantic — by which I mean that my music is the expression of emotional states. I have no interest whatever in sound for its own sake or in any modernist isms or fashions.” Bax was neither born in Ireland nor of Irish descent, but by force of his artistic will, he turned himself into an Irishman.

Inspired by the “Celtic Twilight” crowd (W.B. Yeats, etc.), he wrote poetry and prose, some of it pretty darned good, under the name of Dermot O’Byrne. And the greater part of his music is steeped in Irish melody, Irish folklore and Irish literature. He was a close friend of many of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rebellion, and when they were executed it hit Bax like the expulsion from Eden. (“They told me how Connolly was shot in a chair/ His wounds from the battle all bleeding and bare/ His fine body twisted and broken and lame/ They soon made him part of the Patriot Game.” — Dominic Behan). Bax died in Cork, in 1953. (UP THE REPUBLIC!)

Dvo?ák’s Gypsy Songs aren’t nearly as well-known as they deserve to be, perfect gems of folk-infused lushness, as well as exquisitely-crafted art-songs. His Piano Quintet is deservedly famous and stands solidly at the pinnacle of the form. He wrote is as a result of trying to revise an earlier one in the same key — one that he was never happy with and destroyed his own score. Many years later, he decided to see if any of it was salvageable, and took a look at the score which a friend had kept. After trying to improve the earlier score, he saw it was no-go, and wrote this masterpiece instead.

For tickets and other concert information, click here or call the Camerata Pacifica at 805.884.8410.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are his own.

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