Monday, February 20 , 2017, 8:00 pm | Overcast 57º


Gerald Carpenter: UCSB’s Next ‘Spotlight’ Concert Tilts Toward Contemporary

The next Spotlight concert — "spotlighting" student/faculty musicians and composers — offered by the UCSB Music Department will take place at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall (UCSB Music Building).

Edison Denisov
Edison Denisov was a rebel with a cause in the Soviet Union, and lived to tell the tale.

Jeremy Haladyna continues in the role of host (and may now and then lend his considerable performing talents, when the occasion warrants). Admission is free, and the public is welcome.

The Spotlight program will consist of: two movements — "Scherzo" and "Rondo" from Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 15, Opus 28 “Pastoral”, played by pianist Christine Lee; Perry Goldstein's Wondrous Love Variations, performed by violist Shannon McCue; Edison Denisov's Duo for Flute and Viola, performed by Adriane Hill on flute and Jordan Warmath on viola; and the fifth movement "Presto" from Ned Rorem's Spring Music, brought to us by Johann Velasquez on violin and Ian Davis and Rosa Lo Giudice on cello.

Goldstein (born in 1952) is an American composer of 50-plus works for a variety of ensembles or, as in this case, solo instruments. On the faculty of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, he is the graduate program director in the Department of Music.

The Wondrous Love Variations was written in 1991 for violist John Graham, who premiered it Oct. 12, 1991, in Los Angeles. The source of the theme is the gorgeous American folk hymn "What Wondrous Love is This?" Goldstein does it justice.

Denisov (1929-96) was a Russian composer of the Soviet era. His father, a physicist, named his son after one of his heroes, inventor Thomas Alva Edison. As with most composers, Denisov's father wanted him to be something else — in this case, a mathematician — but with the moral support of Dmitri Shostakovich, he jumped into music at the deep end.

He was a rebel all his life, rejecting the party line on music, as most everything else. In his apprentice years, he studied intensely the scores of Gustav Mahler, Claude Debussy, Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen; his mature compositions show the influence of all four, but especially the last two. He survived the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, in his last years, achieved a position of considerable prominence in Russian music.

Rorem (born in 1923) is an American composer whose song settings are the most highly valued of his extensive output. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976.

Rorem's compositions are widely known and admired, though he is best-known to the literate public as the author of The Paris Diary of Ned Rorem (1966), in which he presents himself as the lover of Leonard Bernstein, Noël Coward, Samuel Barber and Virgil Thomson, as well as others who had been in the closet and had hoped to remain there.

His music, oddly enough, rather reminds me of Denisov's, though his touch is lighter. His Piano Concerto No. 3 in Six Movements (1969) was written for, and premiered by, Jerome Lowenthal of the Juilliard School and the Music Academy of the West.

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

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