As you might expect, the pace of public events at the Music Academy of the West picks up as the Summer Festival continues, with something big happening every evening this week (Monday through Thursday).
The always-stimulating, often-thrilling Academy Percussion Ensemble, starring Academy Percussion Fellows Matthew Decker, Michael Jarrett, Spencer Jones, Chun-Yu Tsai Littman and Joshua Vonderheide, under the direction of faculty artists Edward Atkatz and Michael Werner, will perform a concert at 8 p.m. Monday in Hahn Hall.
The program will consist of Music for a Summer Evening (Makrokosmos Vol. 3) by George Crumb (born in 1929); Plato’s Cave by Casey Cangelosi (born in 1982); the Mallet Quartet of Steve Reich (born in 1936); Away Without Leave by Bob Becker (born in 1947); and Hit the Deck by David Noon (born in 1946). The Crumb piece will also feature Piano Fellows Lo-An Lin and Alan Woo.
Tickets for the concert are $29.
The week’s faculty chamber music concert (“Tuesdays @ 8”) will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Hahn Hall. The program and players are as follows: Wolfgang Mozart’s String Duo No. 1 in G-Major for Violin and Viola, K. 423 (1783) (Brian Lewis on violin and Roger Myers on viola); Johannes Brahms’ Sonata No. 1 in E-Minor for Cello and Piano, Opus 38 (1865) (Alan Stepansky on cello and Jonathan Feldman on piano); Benjamin Britten’s Phantasy Quartet for Oboe and Strings, Opus 2 (1932) (David Weiss on oboe, Brian Lewis on violin, Roger Myers on viola and Joshua Roman on cello); and Carl Maria von Weber’s Quintet in Bb-Major for Clarinet and Strings, Opus 34 (1815) (Richie Hawley on clarinet and a quartet of string fellows to be announced.
Tickets for this concert are $40.
The precociously masterful cellist, Roman, the first-ever Academy Alumnus in Residence, will offer a solo recital at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the intimate (i.e., be on time) 240 Studio, on Calle Cesar Chavez in Santa Barbara. Roman’s program will include the cellist’s own Riding Light, the Prelude, Sarabande, Gigue from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite No. 6 in D-Major for Unaccompanied Cello, BWV 1012, Crumb’s Sonata for Solo Cello, Mark O’Connor’s Appalachia Waltz and Matthias Pintscher’s Figura V-Assonanza. Tickets are $35.
At 8 p.m. Thursday in Hahn Hall, that exotic bloom of summer, the Vocal Chamber Music concert, will flow from the throats and fingertips of the Voice, Vocal Piano and Instrumental Fellows, under the watchful eyes and ears of the Voice and Vocal Piano Faculty. The program includes selections from Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Ten Blake Songs for Voice and Oboe (1958); André Previn’s Four Songs for Soprano, Cello & Piano, after poems by Toni Morrison (1994); Gaetano Donizetti’s “Dirti Addio (Say Goodbye)” for Soprano, Horn, and Piano; Amilcare Ponchielli’s “Eternamente” and “Piangea”; Crumb’s Madrigals for Mezzo-Soprano, Flute, Harp, Percussion, and Double Bass, Book IV; Britten’s Canticle III, “Still falls the rain: The raids 1940. Night and dawn,” Opus 55 (1954); and Ernest Chausson’s Chanson Perpetuelle, Opus 37 (1898).
Tickets to this performance are $27.
The great American poet and statesman Archibald MacLeish, once published a poem titled “Men of My Century Loved Mozart,” which inspires meditation on an interesting phenomenon. Some artists — mainly composers and poets — speak mainly to their own time, and later generations tend to remain ignorant of their existence. Others achieve a kind of perpetual relevance, usually called “immortality,” even gaining importance as the years go by. Still other artists are ignored or underrated in their own time and place, only to explode like time bombs in the lives of a particularly receptive later generation.
Composer Georg Friedrich Telemann and the poet James Thomson (“The Seasons”) are examples of the first type; Bach and Beethoven, Shakespeare and Tolstoy, perfect examples of the second. The third category is somewhat more subjective, but surely William Blake, Gustav Mahler and Federico García Lorca belong in it.
Lorca, murdered by Franco’s thugs in 1936, was always a significant poet in the Spanish-speaking world, but when his plays and poems began to appear in English translations during the 1950s, he became a kind of patron saint of the Beats and other anti-establishment artistic movements.
Crumb based all of his Madrigals on poems by Lorca. He produced the four books two at a time: Books I and II were written in 1965, for mezzo-soprano Jan DeGaetani, on commission from the Koussevitzky Foundation; Books III and IV came in 1969, composed for the mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Suderburg). It is Crumb’s genius to capture the spirit of Lorca in an extremely abstract idiom. I haven’t heard Britten’s setting of Edith Sitwell’s poem, but I own a recording of John Gielgud reading the poem — which seems like it ought to belong to the first category (above), but has transcended its dark specificity to speak directly to those — wherever; whenever — who find themselves stuck under an aerial bombardment and feel doubtful about the future of humanity: “Still falls the Rain—-/ Dark as the world of man, black as our loss —/ Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails/ Upon the Cross.” Britten sailed to America in 1939, and didn’t make it back to England until 1942, missing the worst part of the Blitz.
If there are seats left by showtime, tickets can be purchased at the door. Reserved seats to all of these events can be purchased by phone at 805.969.8787 or online by clicking here.
— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.