Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Canisius College Faculty Art Show
Next story: "These Are Our Playoffs!"

A Feast of Chamber Music

Julia Bentley

A Musical Feast and the Buffalo Chamber Players

This week, two of Western New York’s top chamber ensembles show why their concerts remain memorable, long after the music has stopped playing. On Sunday, March 18 at 2pm, A Musical Feast takes the stage in the Tower Auditorium of the Burchfield Penny Art Center, while on Wednesday, March 21 at 7pm, the Buffalo Chamber Players offer a program in their home at the Buffalo Seminary.

The Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music at UB is once again a co-sponsor, and appropriately a pair of new works will be premiered. Percussionist John Bacon performs his …wind, water, metal, skin…, along with flute player Barry Crawford. “The piece started from the idea of wind chime melodies and the way that the notes combine into different orderings and repetitions,” Bacon says. “Along with that is the idea of each of the materials in the title and how to express some of their properties through music.”

For Descriptions of the Moon, UB-based composer Nathan Heidelberger set moon-themed texts by an impressive range of authors, including Dante, Galileo, Joyce, Neruda, cummings, Lawrence, and Rilke, focusing on moonlight. The composer notes: “While one hopes that most song cycles represent an equal partnership between a singer and a pianist, the singer, as the possessor of the text and thus the sole communicator of semantic meaning, often seems to take on a dominant role. In Descriptions of the Moon I tried to level the playing field as much as possible. In some songs the vocal line propels the music forward, while in others the piano part does. Sometimes the two performers seem to be on different planes entirely, with little overt connection or synchronization between them.”

Pianist Eric Huebner will join special guest, noted mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley, in the Heidelberger work. Bentley will also be the soloist in Bernard Rand’s brief Memo 7, composed for solo female voice.

UB faculty member Eric Huebner, recently appointed principal staff pianist of the New York Philharmonic, just finished a highly successful three-week European tour with that flagship American orchestra. Besides accompanying Bentley in the Heidelberger piece, Huebner will perform Mozart’s Fantasy in D Minor, K. 397, a deceptively simple work, often performed by young pianists, but one that requires a developed personal sensibility to be fully effective. Elliott Carter turned 103 last December and he is still composing. Huebner concludes the concert with his interpretation of Carter’s 1980 tour de force, Night Fantasies, described by the composer as “a piano piece of continuously changing moods, suggesting the fleeting thoughts and feelings that pass through the mind during a period of wakefulness at night.”

For more information, call 878-6011 or visit

The Buffalo Chamber Players Celebrate Women

March being Women’s History Month, Janz Castelo, artistic director of the Buffalo Chamber Players, has planned a program of music by female composers. While the idea of building an entire program of classical music on works written by women composers might seem unnecessary to some in these enlightened times, we should not forget the titanic struggles faced by women composers in days gone by.

Soprano Colleen Marcello will perform a selection of songs by the late Renaissance Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi. One of the most prolific vocal composers of the 17th century, Strozzi both made a living as a professional composer and, a very rare thing for that period, also had her compositions published during her lifetime.

During the 19th century, the French composer Louise Farrenc was the only woman to serve as professor of piano at the Paris Conservatoire, and the premiere of her Nonet in E Flat, Op. 38, in which the violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim took part, helped propel Farrenc to near-celebrity status.

Referred to by the eccentric French composer Erik Satie as his “musical daughter,” Germaine Tailleferre was the only female member of Le Six, a group of prominent 20th-century French composers. BPO violinist Loren Silvertrust and pianist Susan Schuman will perform Tailleferre’s Berceuse, written in 1913.

The members of the Clara String Quartet, who are all members of the BPO—violinists Amy Glidden and Jacqueline Galluzzo, violist Kate Holzemer, and cellist Amelie Fradette—will perform the single movement String Quartet, Op. 89, based on Inuit themes, written by Amy Beach (1867-1944), the first female American composer to achieve fame and recognition.

Caroline Mallonée, who recently relocated to Buffalo, is among the most sought-after composers of her generation. Her music has been performed in the US, the Netherlands, the UK, Japan, Italy, and Mexico, and has been broadcast several times on Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion.” The Buffalo Chamber Players will perform Malloné’s 2010 work, Shadow Rings, for clarinet, violin, cello and piano.

For more information, visit

blog comments powered by Disqus