Oboe Quartet at Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival

The Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland was the venue for the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival performance of my Oboe Quartet this week. Commissioned by Winsor Music, and its Artistic Director, oboist Peggy Pearson, the piece received its fourth performance, the first three having been given by Peggy and members of the Apple Hill Quartet this past spring.

This time it was not members of a particular string quartet that played, but rather an all-star group put together for the occasion: Robin Scott, the newly appointed first violin of the Ying Quartet; Steven Tenenbom, violist of the Orion Quartet; and Marcy Rosen, who was cellist of the Mendelssohn Quartet for 31 years. I was delighted by the group’s superb performance. For example, the fourth movement of the piece is lyrical, but with the principal line frequently passed from player to player. It was impressive to see in rehearsal how readily these players intuited when to come forward and when to pull back, creating a finely crafted web of song.

Here’s a picture of the Deco-ish interior of the Avalon Theater in Easton where one of our rehearsals took place:

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And here is a shot from the sound check before the performance, this at the Academy Museum of Art:

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The festival schedule is packed with elite players performing both standard and lesser-known repertoire. Heartfelt thanks for Marcy Rosen and J. Lawrie Bloom, Artistic Directors of the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival, for giving me a chance to share my music with such wonderful players, and with an appreciative audience.

Upcoming in Easton MD and Philadelphia PA

I’ll be traveling to Easton, Maryland tomorrow for rehearsals and a performance of my recent Oboe Quartet. There will be an open rehearsal of the Quartet at 11:30 tomorrow, and the performance is this Thursday, June 18, at 5:30. Both events are at the Academy Art Museum in Easton as part of the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival. The players will be Peggy Pearson, oboe; Robin Scott, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; and Marcy Rosen, cello; quite an all-star group. I am looking forward to hearing another interpretation of the piece after the fine performances by Peggy plus members of the Apple Hill Quartet earlier this year. It is such a treat to have multiple performances of a piece, an all-too rare occurrence.

But not entirely rare; after all, the other upcoming performance is also a reprise. The Crossing will revive my Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus, premiered last year at The Icebox in Philadelphia, and presented this coming Sunday at Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia at 4:00 pm. The premiere was astonishingly fine – check it out on the video page (link above). The only problem with the video is that folks find it hard to make out the beautiful Denise Levertov texts that I have interwoven with the traditional Latin Mass, due not to any fault with the diction of the choir, but to the unusually resonant performance space. It will be interesting to hear it in a less dramatically resonant space this time around.

Finish Line in Sight

Finish LineI have almost finished the oboe quartet I am doing for Peggy Pearson and members of the Apple Hill Quartet: Elisa Kuder, Michael Kelley, and Rupert Thompson. Go to the performances page for a listing of when they will be doing the piece this spring. An additional performance, this time with Catherine Cho, Steve Tenenbom, and Marcy Rosen joining Peggy, has recently been scheduled for this June 18 at the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival.

The piece is working out to be in five movements, tentatively headed as follows, with some comments on the music:
I. Moderato – lyrical, oboe takes the lead
II. Allegro con fuoco – terse, sometimes ferocious
III. Passacaglia: Adagio – harmonically the darkest movement of the set, the textures here are mostly spare and contrapuntal
IV. Moderato e fluente – lyrical again, but with the melodic burden shared more equally, and with a more polyphonic texture.
V. Moderato; Allegro giocoso – an introduction recalls the first movement, followed by a playful main section that hints at some jazz and rock idioms.

Back to work!