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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 8:34 am | Fair 54º


Gerald Carpenter: Camerata Pacifica Program Finds the Future in the Present

The always stimulating chamber music association Camerata Pacifica plays this month's concerts at 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hahn Hall on the Music Academy of the West's Miraflores campus.

Kevin Puts’ “And Legions Will Rise” will be one of the featured works in the Camerata Pacifica concert.

Participating Cameratans include Ben Bartelt on viola, Agnes Gottschewski on violin, Bridget Kibbey on harp, Paul Huang on violin, Ji Hye Jung on percussion, Jose Franch-Ballester on clarinet, Timothy Eckert on bass, Adrian Spence on flute, Nicholas Daniel on oboe and Ani Aznavoorian on cello.

In various combinations, the above will play Elliott Carter's Trilogy for Oboe and Harp (1992); Huang Ruo's "In Other Words" Concerto for Vocalized Viola and Chamber Ensemble; Camille Saint-Saëns' Fantaisie for Violin and Harp in A-Major, Opus 124 (1907); Bright Sheng's "Hot Pepper" for Violin and Marimba (2010); and Kevin Puts' "And Legions Will Rise" for Violin, Clarinet and Marimba (2001). (Those attending the "Lunchtime" concert will hear the Saint-Saëns, the Sheng and the Puts pieces only.)

Composers seem to be finally getting what Evelyn Waugh called "the so-called Twentieth Century" out of their systems. If music will never return to the sweet melancholy melodies of the 19th century, at least composers no longer seem compelled to reproduce in sound the world at its sociopathic worst.

The works on this program by Sheng, Ruo and Puts will no doubt sound distinctly eccentric to some audience members, but I daresay they will not send anybody rushing from Hahn Hall with their hands over their ears. All three works, in fact, have extended passages of transcendent beauty, if we allow ourselves to hear them. Both the Sheng and the Ruo were composed on commissions from Camerata, and premiered by it.

To be sure, one will still have the Carter to get through, but in this case, the limited forces involved and the virtual incapacity of the oboe or harp to give lasting offense make this an occasion for learning rather than enduring. Music often gets labeled "abstract," but there is no such thing, really. And when we say "abstract" we usually mean "disjointed" — or else that we simply can't connect it to our emotional lives.

What this has to do with the music of Carter, a beloved figure in American music, is not a subject that can be pursued tactfully at the present time: de mortuis nihil nisi bonum.

The Carter is, at any rate, well balanced by the Saint-Saëns, who, despite the lofty indifference — not to say hostility — of scholars and critics continues to hold a place in the concert repertory nearly a century after his death.

Admission to these concerts is $45. For tickets and other information, call Camerata Pacifica at 805.884.8410 or email [email protected].

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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