The Academy of Music has launched a new series of performances called Chamber Nights, with each concert the culmination of what the Academy of Music describes as a “new chamber music program pairing fellows with Academy artists to intensive coaching, resulting in five unique evening concerts. Each event features Fellows in a curated program of comprehensive masterpieces in 21st century music.”
That is to say, if I read it correctly, the programs are “curated” by the faculty concerned, rather than by the fellow performers, as in the beloved picnic concerts. “As part of the experience, guests are invited to sample complimentary wine during the show. (Special thanks to Renegade Wines for generously providing wine for this show.)”
The first concert, titled Mendelssohn to Marsalis, will be on stage at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29 at Lehmann Hall (Main Building, Miraflores Campus). The program consists of three works:
“Gran Turismo for Violin Octet (2004)” by Andrew Norman (performed by Daniel Joseph, Kun Yan, Hyeon Grace Hong, Maia Ruiz-Law, Alexandra Gonzales Siu, Haoge Wang, Hanna Zhdan and Katia Tesarczyk, violins).
“String Quintet No. 2 in B-flat major, Opus 87 (1845)” by Felix Mendelssohn (by Yuna Jo and Rumeng Liao, violins; Nicholas Gallitano and Sophie Choate, violas; and Ha eun Song, cello).
The Suite from “A Fiddler’s Tale (1998)” by Wynton Marsalis (Sarah Beth Overcash, violin; Rachel Martin, double bass; Justin Best, clarinet; Xavion Patterson, bassoon; and Austin Jace Cruz, trumpet / Theodore Mark Swanson, trombone).
American composer Andrew Norman (b. 1979) joined the faculty of the Juilliard School in 2020. His compositions for strings – such as “Gran Tourismo” and his trio “The Companion Guide to Rome (2011)” – have attracted many positive attention.
His music, like all music, is indescribable except metaphorically. “Gran Tourismo” glistens and glides, like a fog bank illuminated by sunlight. His weirdness is organic rather than arbitrary, and generally appealing.
For most music lovers attending this concert, regardless of their dedication to new music, Mendelssohn’s “Quintet” is likely to be remembered as the highlight of the evening. Few composers have ever possessed his powers to please in such abundance, and indeed it is one of his most powerful and energetic works, more Beethoven than Schubert.
Wynton Marsalis (b. 1961), also resolutely American, is a force to be reckoned with in our music, classical and jazz. “A Fiddler’s Tale” responds to Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale” the same way John Lewis’ magnificent ballet “Original Sin” responds to Darius Milhaud’s ballet “The Creation of the World, Opus 81 (1923)”.
The two jazzmen reclaim material borrowed from this side of the Atlantic by Europeans, and show what it is possible to do with it. Marsalis is somewhat controversial in that he works within the sonic world of traditional jazz, rather than the confines of the art form, and writes/plays music that is beautiful by familiar rather than esoteric standards.
Regular priced tickets are $40, community access tickets, subject to availability, are $10; and children ages 7-17 are admitted free. Tickets are available at the Summer Festival box office (Casey), in person from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, Monday, June 6 through Friday, August 6; by phone at 805-969-8787; or visit www.musicacademy.org.
– Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk Contributing Writer. He can be reached at [email protected] The opinions expressed are his own.