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Snapshot of a Century of Music

Moshe Shulman (photo by Irene Haupt)

A Musical Feast serves up a smorgasbord of music

The Peter & Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium of the Burchfield Penny Art Center on the Elmwood Avenue campus of Buffalo State College will be the site for the winter concert of the independently produced, innovative classical music series known as A Musical Feast on Sunday, March 10 at 2pm.

The composers represented range from Belgian composer Eugène Ysaÿe, whose 1895 romantically elegant Poème élégiaque will be performed by Eastman School of Music virtuoso violinist Charles Castleman and Buffalo’s favorite pianist Claudia Hoca, to SUNY at Buffalo distinguished professor David Felder, whose work Garland (for Bruce) received its premiere just this past September. Also on the program are works by Debussy, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Piazzolla, and J. T. Rinker.

Charles Castleman and Claudia Hoca will also perform “Minstrels,” a violin and piano version of the 12th and last of the Book I Preludes by Claude Debussy. Characterized by popular song harmonies and biting rhythms, the sardonically sharp dissonances of the piece foreshadow elements in the music of Stravinsky and Poulenc.

The music of Igor Stravinsky is receiving special attention this year, due in part to the centenary of the 1913 premiere of his ballet, The Rite of Spring, one of the most important compositions of the 20th century. Pianist Hoca will be joined by UB professor of cello Jonathan Golove in a performance of selections from Stravinsky’s Suite italienne, derived from the music for the neo-classical score of his 1920 ballet Pulcinella.

Before he fled the Nazi regime in Germany, ultimately emigrating to the America, where he spent time in 1943 teaching at the then University of Buffalo, Paul Hindemith gained a Europe-wide reputation, based in no small part on his numerous ground-breaking works for chamber ensemble. Wildy Zumwalt, professor of saxophone at the Fredonia School of Music, will be joined by Diane Hunger, a native of Kiel, Germany who is currently pursuing her doctorate at the Eastman School of Music, in a rare concert performance of Hindemith’s 1933 Konzertstück für Zwei Altsaxophone.

The late Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla can be justly credited with bringing the attention of the classical music world to the tango, the quintessential dance form of his native land. Saxophonist Wildy Zumwalt, pianist Hoca, cellist Golove will be joined by Moshe Shulman playing the bandoneón, or Argentine concertina, and instrument essential to a tango ensemble, in Three Dances by Piazzolla, including the irresistible “Oblivion.”

Moving up to the present, UB professor of percussion Tom Kolor will perform Frigate by J. T. Rinker, the managing director of the Center for 21st Century Music. The 2008 piece is written for crotales, a percussion instrument made up of small, tuned brass disks, and electronic sounds, and the delicate filigree of sound produced is pleasantly surprising.

Felder, coordinator of composition in the UB department of music wrote A Garland (for Bruce) in 2012 as, he says, “a small tribute work for cello and electronic sound with photo images shot by Bruce Jackson. It is dedicated to Bruce Jackson in friendship and with admiration!” Cellist Jonathan Golove will perform the piece honoring Jackson, whose works are currently on view in the Being There: Bruce Jackson, Photographs 1962-2012 exhibit at the Burchfield Penny Art Center. (See a review of the show on page 14.)

Tickets are $20 general admission, $10 for Burchfield Penny members and students.

Buffalo Tango Orkestra

Any contemporary lover of the tango, the sensual dance form most traditionally associated with the music of Argentina, has to be forever in debt to Astor Piazzolla, the Argentine tango composer and bandoneón player who created nuevo tango. Born in Argentina as the only child of Italian immigrant parents, Piazzolla later spent a decade in Greenwich Village with his parents, where he was exposed to the influences of both classical music and jazz, before returning to Buenos Aires in 1936. Working as a bandoneón player in professional tango orchestras, he continued his classical music studies with the noted Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera, before studying in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, the most influential pedagogue of 20th-century music, who encouraged him to pursue his career in tango, as she felt that this was where his true talent lay. Back home in Argentina, after a politically and culturally controversial period, Piazzolla emerged internationally as the front-man for the world-wide revival of interest in the tango.

Moshe Shulman, the amiably versatile and casually cool Israeli native and bandoneón player, is in the vanguard of the local resurgence of the tango as a living musical dance form. Shulman has been hosting a very popular series of tango evenings at the Ukrainian-American Civic Center (205 Military Road) in Buffalo. The next session will take place on Saturday, March 16, with a beginners tango lesson at 8pm, followed by a tango social dance beginning at 9pm and continuing to 1am.

Tickets are $15, $10 for students. For more information, call 877-7200.

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