Artists in Action: And now, for a little summer music, please ...
by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star
Jun 01, 2012 | 3974 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
To welcome the year’s warmest season, come to hear a blend of cool tones that suggest relaxation and a carefree state of mind by the Afternoon Chamber Quintet on Sunday, June 10 at 3 p.m. at Jacksonville State University’s Performance Center in Mason Hall. Chamber music is “friendly music” as the definition states, music made by friends for friends and family. This concert is not only that, it suggests adventure and travel for the mind to different countries and cultures. The composers represent Russia, Austria, Germany, France and Argentina in different time periods from 18th century living through the 1900s.

“The performance will be presented by community musicians, several of whom obtained music degrees from JSU,” said Dr. Wendy Faughn, associate professor of music at JSU. “These are good musicians giving the community an afternoon of lovely, classical literature.”

The program is not a recital for a music degree for the individuals, explained Susan Di Biase, cellist in this group and one of the founding members of the JSU University/Community Orchestra. “Instead, we are friends who enjoy the challenge of learning and sharing new music.”

Chamber music was written to be played in chambers or living rooms in history. Before that, it was heard in palaces where royalty employed musicians for festivities. But whether the venue was a princely court then, or in today’s church sanctuary or university concert hall, listeners find the intimate setting satisfying.

“It’s a tradition worth keeping alive,” said Di Biase.

According to audience response in the past, this form is popular with people, according to Di Biase, “but there are not many opportunities to hear it played locally. We want everyone to be exposed to chamber music.”

The program includes Quartet for Flute and Strings, K.298 by Mozart, played by flutist Patrick Clines.

“Everyone loves Mozart,” Clines is fond of saying. “But I chose the piece because it brings out the best qualities of the instrument.” This asset is a characteristic of chamber music, Di Biase pointed out. The spotlight is on each instrument on stage, depending on the piece. In other pieces, the quintet plays as an ensemble.

Other selections on the program are Waltz No. 2 from Suite for Variety Orchestra by Dmitri Shostakovich, an important figure in Soviet music who was probably one of the most well-known composers of the 20th century, music instructors say. Bela Bartok, a modern Hungarian nationalist, folklorist, composer and pianist, wrote folk songs and dances in a direct and down-to-earth style. The two violinists, Carmine Di Biase, Susan’s husband, and Rachel Sherrod, will present these in duets. “The harmonies are especially exciting in these,” Susan commented.

Fantasy Pieces op.73 for Cello and Piano was written by Robert Schumman, an important German early Romanticist of piano music. He became known during his short lifetime (1810-1856) for his blended chords and poetic thought — and for making music immediately appealing, according to texts. Susan and Anna Kennedy will bring his melodies to the audience.

Cecile Chaminade’s Serenade of the Stars, op.142 for Flute and Piano, is next on the program by musicians Clines and Kennedy. Chaminade, who lived in France, was one of the few women composers of her time (1857-1944). She wrote songs focusing on particular moods or moments for events, whether social or political. Erik Satie of France wrote reflective avant-garde, sometimes humorous works. His Gnossienne No.1 was especially arranged for the quintet. “Many people have heard this as a dreamy piano piece. They will be pleasantly surprised with our interpretation,” Susan said.

In recent concerts by ensembles, Astor Piazzolla’s tango music has been an audience favorite, Susan said. For this concert, Libertango is the selection by the Argentine composer and bandoneon player, incorporating elements of jazz and classical music. A bandoneon is a small accordion especially popular in Latin America.

The pieces are all engaging on their first hearing, according to Susan, but some are more familiar than others. “The Bartok duets will probably be new to almost everyone, for example, but they have roots in European folk music,” she said. “They sound pleasantly at home in Alabama.”

The concert is open and free to the public.
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