The next free concert from the Santa Barbara Music Club, at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Faulkner Gallery of the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St., will feature a new work by a Santa Barbara-based composer as well as works by Ernest Bloch, Ludwig van Beethoven and Alexander Scriabin.
We will hear flautist Mary Jo Hartle and pianist Allen Bishop perform the sinuously gorgeous Suite Modale for flute and piano, 1956 by Bloch (1880-1959), followed by the world premiere of Three Songs ("Hope," "Magic Work," "Dirks of Melody" 2013) by William Ramsay, sung by tenor Gabriel Silva and baritone Andre Shillo with pianist Christopher Davis, and pianist Marian Drandell Gilbert playing Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 9 in E-Major, Opus 14, No. 1 and Aleksandr Scriabin's Etude in D#-Minor, Opus 8, No. 12.
There is always a certain amount of pot luck involved in going to hear a new work, but regular attendees of these concerts have heard other works by Ramsay and know that his music is well worth the attention.
The Music Club says of him that his "musical compositions include works for orchestra, piano, voice, strings and woodwind ensemble, and are characterized by harmonic boldness and fluent attention to detail."
For the first half of his life, Bloch was a restless spirit. Born in Geneva, he studied in Brussels with Eugène Ysaÿe, then in Frankfurt at the Hoch Conservatory, then in Paris, then back to Switzerland before emigrating to the United States in 1916. He can hardly be said to have "settled" here, since his teaching and administrative appointments took him all over the country.
His students included George Antheil, Frederick Jacobi, Quincy Porter, Bernard Rogers and Roger Sessions. He was the first teacher of composition at Mannes College The New School for Music, the first musical director of the Cleveland Institute of Music and director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In 1924, he had become a citizen of the United States, and in 1941, he bought a house in Agate Beach, Ore., where he spent the remainder of his life.
Bloch wrote many fine works for solo and concerted instruments, and most contemporary recitalists have one or more of his works in their repertory. His music is romantic and modern at the same time — mostly tonal without being at all timid; mostly lyrical with being saccharin.