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Gerald Carpenter: Academy’s ‘Tuesdays at Eight’ to Renew Franco-American Alliance

Music Academy of the West faculty will perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Hahn Hall

The next “Tuesdays at Eight” concert by the Music Academy of the West faculty will be at 8 p.m. this Tuesday in Hahn Hall.

A 1975 trip to Alaska put it at the heart of John Luther Adams’ creative world.
A 1975 trip to Alaska put it at the heart of John Luther Adams’ creative world.

The program will include John Luther Adams’ The Farthest Place, brought near by Jeff Thayer (violin), Nico Abondolo (bass), Natasha Kislenko (piano), Edward Atkatz (vibraphone) and Academy Fellow Caleb Ping (marimba); Maurice Ravel’s Sonata No. 2 in G-Major for Violin and Piano performed by Thayer and John Churchwell (piano); Franiçois Poulenc’s Sonata for Flute and Piano, FP 164 played by Timothy Day (flute) and Jonathan Feldman (piano); and the visions of various composers along the theme of “Echoes of Nightingales” — or, perhaps, “Les Échos des Rossignols” — sung by Christine Brewer (soprano) with Warren Jones (piano).

Adams (born in 1953 in Mississippi) came to what those who do not listen to it call “classical music” by way of rock, by way of experimental rocker Frank Zappa, by way of Edgard Varèse, John Cage and Morton Feldman.

Starting out as a drummer in a rock group, his colleagues turned him on to Zappa, who was his gateway into those composers who, if they were painters, we would call “abstract expressionists” (think Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock), and especially Feldman (1926-1987), whose spacious sonic meditations gave him permanent inspiration.

After graduating from CalArts, Adams plunged into environmental protection work, which brought him to Alaska in 1975. He fell in love with the wild, outsized landscape and moved there three years later. He has been there ever since; the 49th state is both his home and his most frequent musical subject.

Although he wrote two violin-piano sonatas and a cello-piano sonata, Poulenc’s 16 chamber works are dominated by the woodwind section, including five sonatas featuring wind instruments. The Sonata for Flute and Piano, FP 164 may well be the jewel in the crown; it is certainly one the best known and most often played of all his works. He wrote it in 1957, for Jean-Pierre Rampal, who gave the premiere, with the composer at the keyboard, at the Strasbourg Music Festival in June of the same year.

The sonata is dedicated to the memory of that great American patroness of music — especially chamber music — Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (Rebecca Clarke, Frank Bridge, Benjamin Britten, Randall Thompson, Roy Harris and Quincy Porter were among her beneficiaries). As with almost everything Poulenc wrote, the Flute Sonata needs no explanatory introduction whatever.

Tickets to the concert are $37 and can be purchased at the door, by calling 805.969.8787, or by clicking here to get them online.

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

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