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Gerald Carpenter: Concerto Finals, Flute-Harp Concert Make Saturday a Musical Feast

There are two superb musical events this Saturday, and — wonder of wonders! — only one of them is at the Music Academy of the West.

First, at 9:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. in Hahn Hall, there are the final rounds of the annual Concerto Competition, in which solo piano and instrumental Fellows compete for the honor of performing with conductor Tito Muñoz and the Academy Festival Orchestra at the Granada Theatre on July 20.

Very little more need be said of this exciting concert/recital, except that admission to the morning session is $13 and to the afternoon session is $15. Tickets can be purchased at the door, before the session, or, if there is time, reserved seats can be purchased by phone at 805.969.8787 or online by clicking here.

Those with vehicles and an insatiable desire to hear beautiful and interesting music brilliantly performed will want to then head to Ojai, where the Happy Valley Cultural Center will host the maiden voyage of a new chamber music series, “Chamber on the Mountain,” starring world-renowned artists Carol Wincenc on flute, Heidi Lehwalder on harp — she is also the artistic director of the series — and our own Jill Felber on flute.

The first half of the program consists of Vincent Persichetti’s Serenade No. 10, Opus 79 for Flute and Harp (1957), Carlos Salzedo’s Three Dances (Solo Harp), Hector Berlioz’s “Trio of the Young Ishmaelites,” for two flutes and harp from the oratorio The Childhood of Christ, Claude Debussy’s “Syrinx” for Solo Flute and Béla Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, BB 68 (1915, piano; 1917, small ensemble), arranged here for flute and harp.

After the intermission, the concert continues with Bernard Andres’ early work, Narthex; the “Sarabande” and “Courante” from the Partita in A-Minor for Solo Flute, BWV 1013 of Johann Sebastian Bach and three brief French bibelots — the Tambourin of François Joseph Gossec, the Morceau de Concours by Gabriel Fauré and Jacques Ibert’s Entr’acte.

This is, inevitably, somewhat exotic fair — the flute-harp combination being fairly ubiquitous in the 18th century, rather rare in the 20th, regaining ground in the 21st — but heard in real time, the music is surprisingly familiar.

Notes on the Program

» Persichetti — A dashing delight from one of the most consistently underrated of our modern American composers.

» Salzedo — Uncomplicated and charming, so Iberian, so Mediterranean, so civilized!

» Berlioz — Rapturous delight. Berlioz liked to pass this work as an ancient work that he had discovered in manuscript, but it is undeniably all his.

» Debussy — One of the most famous pieces for solo flute, an unearthly meditation.

» Bartók — More folksy and less cranky than much of his work, fans will find plenty of eccentricities to delight them.

» Andres — On one listening I noted that he “steps lightly on the tonic on his way to the basement or into the attic” as if he were carefully prowling around an old, dilapidated house. Another commentator wrote: “French harpist Bernard Andrès embraces his heritage wholeheartedly and in Narthex for flute and harp, produces a piece which from its very opening hints at Ravel and Debussy. The inspiration is a series of Old Testament sculptures from Romanesque churches in Burgundy. I found the work gently evocative rather than vividly characterised. Andrès spices things up with a number of interesting special effects, getting the harpist to rap the sounding-board, rattle the tuning key in the sound hole and getting the flautist to slide a finger inside the flute head joint, resulting in curiously eerie glissandos.”

» Gossec — A giddy race, familiar from its use on C-SPAN.

» Fauré — Haunting and, as always, perfect.

» Ibert — Gallic grace and nimble elegance.

To get there from Santa Barbara or points north, take Highway 101 south to the exit that reads “Highway 33-Ojai.” Take Highway 33 to and through the town of Ojai (you’ll know the town of Ojai when you reach Signal Street). Continue through town, which has become Highway 150 or Ojai Avenue. Eventually you will come to a fork with an Italian restaurant — Boccalis — on your left. Bear right and the highway will now begin a steep climb — switchback style — up to the Upper Ojai Valley. When you reach Dennison Park (on your right) you are exactly one mile from our entrance. Look for Happy Valley School Road (on your left). There is a sign at the entrance to the road that reads “Besant Hill School and Beatrice Wood Studio.” (Directly across from our road entrance is the Black Mountain Ranch). Make a left onto Happy Valley School Road and a short way up the paved road you will make another left at the Beatrice Wood sign. Drive all the way up to the top of the driveway.

An alternate route from Santa Barbara (scenic route and winding road): Exit soon after Carpinteria on the exit for Highway 150 in Ojai. Make a left when it dead-ends and follow the above directions through the town of Ojai.

Tickets to the concert are $25 general admission, $15 for students. Due to limited space, the organizers recommend you make reservations. For more information and reservations, call 805.646.9951 or click here.

— 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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