The next concert in the Music Academy’s Chamber Nights series, called Chansons & Meditations, happens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 6, in Lehmann Hall at Miraflores campus.
The program (and performers) of this concert are:
Nino Rota‘s “Sonata for Flute and Harp, 1973” (Jamie Kim, flute; Kaitlin Faith Miller, harp); Maurice Ravel‘s Chansons madécasses for Voice, Flute, Cello, and Piano, 1925-1926″ (Danielle Casós, mezzo-soprano; Sophia Jean, flute; Noah Seng-hui Koh, cello; Adria Ye, piano); Jake Heggie‘s “The Deepest Desire: Four Meditations on Love, 2002” (Tivoli Treloar, mezzo-soprano; Elvin Schlanger, flute; John Morefield, piano); and Wolfgang Mozart‘s “Quintet in Eb-Major for Piano & Winds, K-452, 1784” (Jini Baik, oboe; Katelyn Poetker, clarinet; Julian Gonzalez, bassoon; Siri Storheim, horn; Angie Zhang, piano).
Nino Rota (1911-79) is mainly remembered for his motion picture scores, of which he wrote upwards of 150 (including “La Dolce Vita,” “8-1/2.” “Amarcord,” “The Godfather Trilogy,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and many others), working with some of the greatest film artists of our time, like Luchino Visconti, Franco Zefferelli, Francis Ford Coppola, and of course, Federico Fellini, who said:
“The most precious collaborator I have ever had, I say it straightaway and don’t even have to hesitate, was Nino Rota — between us, immediately, a complete, total, harmony … He had a geometric imagination, a musical approach worthy of celestial spheres. He thus had no need to see images from my movies.
“When I asked him about the melodies he had in mind to comment one sequence or another, I clearly realized he was not concerned with images at all. His world was inner, inside himself, and reality had no way to enter it.”
Rota’s posthumous reputation as a composer for the concert hall or opera house has been steadily expanding. In years past, the Music Academy has presented a splendid production of his opera, “The Italian Straw Hat.” His chamber music, especially, has been winning space on programs around the world.
His music is mainly — even hyper — romantic, and a sweet, ethereal piece like the “Sonata” needs absolutely no arcane explication from me.
It is not at all surprising to find a mezzo-soprano singing Jake Heggie’s songs, since his longtime muse and champion has been the incomparable mezzo, Frederica von Stade, but these songs spring from another of his rich friendships with women, this one with Sister Helen Prejean.
Heggie’s opera “Dead Man Walking” was based on Sister Helen’s book of the same title, and Heggie commissioned the texts for this cycle from Sister Helen.
“I asked [Sister Helen] about her own sense of what ‘spirituality’ means. (It is a constant struggle for me, personally.) She answered that at one point in her life she’d had to throw away all the ‘stuff’ she’d been told she needs … She went to the deepest waters of her being, and it was there she found the core of her spirituality: the deepest desire of her heart.”
The cycle is in four sections, beginning with a flute solo, which Heggie dubbed “The Call.”
Then, there is Mozart …
At 7:30 p.m. the following evening, July 7, the second in the Showcase Series of Faculty Artists Concert will take the stage of Hahn (formerly Abravanel) Hall. The program will consist of three works:
Johannes Brahms‘ “Trio in a-minor for Piano, Clarinet, and Cello, Opus 114, 1891” (played by Richie Hawley, clarinet; Alan Stepansky, cello; Margaret McDonald, piano); Aaron Copland‘s “Sonata for Violin and Piano, 1943” (Jorja Fleezanis, violin; Conor Hanick, piano); and Edvard Grieg‘s “Sonata in a-minor for Cello and Piano, Opus 36, 1883” (Alan Stepansky, cello; Jonathan Feldman, piano).
The Brahms trio, written at the end of his life, manages to be cosmic and exquisite at the same time. I have long felt that the “real” Brahms is to be discovered in his wonderful chamber music, and this trio is a case in point.
The Copland sonata does not make use of American folk or popular tunes, but it dates from a time when he had left the austere modernism of his youth far behind him, and the sound world it inhabits is that of the nationalist composers Roy Harris and Samuel Barber. It is a very pleasant work, and well made.
It is likely the Grieg cello sonata will make the strongest impression of the evening’s three works. Always melodic and nimble, the work allows us to hear Scandinavia and Russia as a single sonic ecosystem. The surprise is the work’s self-confidence and virility.
Regular Price tickets for both concerts are $40, Community Access tickets, as available, are $10; and kids 7-17 are admitted free. Tickets are available from the Summer Festival (Casey) Ticket Office, in person 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, Monday, June 6 through Friday, August 6; by phone at 805-969-8787; or online at www.musicacademy.org.
— 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.