The Violin in Stefan’s Life
Date and Time: Monday, May 11 @ 8 pm
Location: Cary Hall, DiMenna Center, 450 W. 37th, NYC
Tickets: $20 General Admission/$10 for Students and Seniors. Pay by cash/check at the door or make reservations by calling (212) 873-3258. For more info contact www.wolpe.org.
Wolpe: Second Piece for Violin Alone, Tagore Songs from “Gitanjali,” Sonata for Violin and Piano
Martin Brody: (G) Corona, for piano
Morton Feldman: The Viola in My Life 3
Andy Laster: String Trio
Raoul Pleskow: Zwei Albumblätter for saxophone
Performing artists: Rachel Calloway, mezzo-soprano; Movses Pogossian, Jennifer Choi, violin; Stephanie Griffin, viola; Meaghan Burke, cello; Andy Laster, saxophone; Anne Chamberlain, Susan Grace, Joel Sachs, Cheryl Seltzer, piano
Commentary by Wolpe scholar Austin Clarkson
On Monday, May 11 the Stefan Wolpe Society presents the final concert of its 2014-15 series Stefan Wolpe – Four Portraits of a Visionary. The concert takes place at 8 PM, Cary Hall of the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, 450 W.37th St.
The series features major works performed by distinguished musicians, some of whom actually had the privilege of performing Wolpe’s music and rehearsing with him before his death in 1972. Works have been selected from all stages of his life, reflecting his unique life saga and his engagement with diverse creative innovators and multiple social and cultural currents.
The title of the May 11 evening borrows from Wolpe’s student Morton Feldman’s The Viola in my Life series, of which the third piece will be heard in this concert. For Wolpe the solo violin was what he turned to for landmark works throughout his life. Violinist Movses Pogossian joins us from California to perform the Sonata for Violin and Piano (1949) and Second Piece for Violin Alone (1966), celebrating his recent CD of Wolpe’s violin music issued by Bridge Records. The Sonata is a pinnacle of Wolpe’s first decade in the U.S. and his experimental years working toward a more abstract musical space and language, a counterpart of the work of abstract expressionist painters he befriended. “I very much like to maintain the flexibility of sound structures (as one would try to draw into water). That leads me to the promotion of a very mobile polyphony in which the partials of the sound behave like river currents” (Wolpe, on the Sonata).
A very unusual work by Wolpe, Settings from “Gitanjali” of Rabindranath Tagore (1926) for low voice and piano will be given its U.S. Premiere, with part of the work being a world Premiere! The young composer in his turbulent twenties had already written such a masterful song cycle as the Hölderlinlieder, and was here drawn to the highly emotional, spiritual poems of the international figure idolized in his day, the Bengali polymath and nationalist and first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize. Musically, the work shows the impact of Berg’s Wozzeck, the premiere of which Wolpe had heard shortly before. Five of Wolpe’s hugely demanding nine settings of the German translation will be performed. The only existing manuscript suffered damage in a fire in Wolpe’s New York apartment shortly before his death and has recently been reconstructed.
As with the previous Portraits in this series, Wolpe’s influence as mentor and teacher will be reflected in selected students and colleagues. In addition to his student Morton Feldman’s The Viola in My Life 3 (1970), Wolpe’s disciple and former colleague at C.W. Post College, ACA member Raoul Pleskow will be represented by Zwei Albumblätter (2008) for alto saxophone. Martin Brody, President of The Wolpe Society and author of essays on Wolpe, who as a student composer had a life-changing consultation with Wolpe shortly before his death, will be heard in a piano piece, (G) Corona (1998). And as a second-generation legacy, doctoral student of Wolpe’s last student Matthew Greenbaum, Andy Laster has been greatly inspired by Wolpe, and will have his String Trio performed.
Reservations can be left at (212) 873-3258. Tickets are $20 general admission, $10 seniors and students; cash/check at the door. For more information about Wolpe and the series, visit www.wolpe.org