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Gerald Carpenter: Faculty, Brass Open Concert Week at Music Academy of the West

Blend of compositions to fill Hahn Hall in performances Tuesday and Wednesday

The Music Academy of the West’s “Tuesdays at Eight” concert this week — 8 p.m. Tuesday at Hahn Hall, 1070 Fairway Road — features quite a blend of compositions, with (I need hardly add) a uniformly exalted standard of performance.

Maestro Jerome Lowenthal will open the evening with Claude Debussy’s “Brouillards (Mists)” from Book II of his Preludes, after which he will be joined onstage by the brilliant pianist and composer Ursula Oppens, and another piano, to perform the “Sonata for Two Pianos in One Movement” by William Bolcolm.

The rest of the program will consist of Robert Schumann’s “Andante and Variations for Two Pianos, Two Cellos and Horn, Opus 46” (Natasha Kislenko and Margaret MacDonald, pianos; Eli Epstein, horn; Alan Stepansky and an academy fellow, cellos); the First Movement of Charles Ives’ “Third Sonata for Violin and Piano” (Jeffrey Thayer, violin; John Churchwell, piano); and Frédéric Chopin’s “Sonata in g-minor for Cello and Piano, Opus 65” (Stepansky, cello; Jonathan Feldman, piano).

Oppens is not listed in the brochure, either as faculty or visiting artist, so perhaps her unique materialization on the Hahn Hall stage will be in the capacity of “friend” — of both Lowenthal and Bolcom. It is just one of the surprise treats the academy springs on us every year.

Bolcom, a pianist and composer, was born in Seattle in 1938. When he was 11, he entered the University of Washington to study composition privately with George Frederick McKay and John Verrall and piano with Berthe Jacobson. He also studied with Darius Milhaud, Leland Smith and Olivier Messiaen. His “12 New Etudes for Piano” won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1988. Since 1994, he has been Ross Lee Finney Distinguished University Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan (Ross Lee Finney, 1906-1997, was one of the greatest American composers of the 20th century, and I hope he is rediscovered soon). In 2006, Bolcom received the National Medal of Arts, the highest award the federal government bestows on artists and arts patrons. The sonata was written in 1993 and reflects Bolcom’s wildly eclectic tastes, from blues, to Debussy and Schoenberg, to ragtime.

In the “Worth Looking Into” department, the Academy Brass and Percussion fellows will be presenting a free Brass Ensemble Concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Hahn Hall. Over the years, the brass repertory has given me some of my most exciting discoveries at the academy, and has led to a considerable elevation of my opinion of the genre.

Admission to “Tuesdays at Eight” is $35. Click here for more information on the Music Academy of the West, or to purchase tickets call 805.969.8787.

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

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