I Am Sitting In A Room

Commentary and thoughts on (mostly) classical music.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Houston Concert Life: 1/14 - 1/18

Coming up this weekend:

1/14 - Musiqa's second concert, with the Chiara String Quartet. Musiqa is composer-run series dedicated to new music. They're performing works by Rice faculty members Tony Brandt & Shih-Hui Chen, along with Dutilleux's* ...ainsi la nuit... and possibly more. Each Musiqa concert also features a new work from another discipline. This time it's a one-act play by Douglas Mitchell.

1/15, 16, 17 - Houston Symphony has Brahms 3 and Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle. Bluebeard won't be staged, but it will be lighted (no, not lit). The Art Guys, a pair of screwball performance artists, are providing dramatic lighting via LED lights that will be under the musicians' chairs. As near as I can tell, the color and intensity of the lights will be controlled by computer-inputted algorithms with minimal cueing (i.e., when Judith opens each of Bluebeard's seven doors). The lighting idea is a good way to tackle Bluebeard, which would seem like an ideal opera to do in a concert version since it isn't very long and has only two singers. But the action of opening the doors is central to the drama and ought to be represented somehow.
     It's a good project for the Houston Symphony, too. The creative collaboration and new and unusual use of technology on stage makes this feel like an event. Hopefully that will attract enough of an audience to meet or exceed their expectations so they won't shy away from "the new" in the future. It's the only way to survive. I think orchestras have been missing out by not creating and harnassing the frisson of anticipation that comes from a new experience (and doesn't come from the umpteenth performance of a Brahms Symphony). It's also good that this is an interdisciplinary collaboration, and one that reaches out into the community - the Art Guys are a beloved local institution, like Art Cars (direct to pictures). Not to mention that it has been a fairly inexpensive commission - about $50,000, which is probably recouped in intangible publicity.
     Anyway, I'm excited...and also amused at the thought of a Brahms Symphony as a "lighter" work to fill out the program. I'll be there Saturday and might catch the Monday repeat, too.

1/16 - The Foundation for Modern Music has "A Musical Evening with the Poetry of Garcia Lorca." Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children is the centerpiece, complemented by settings of children's songs by Silvestre Rivueltas and a premiere by Mexican composer Max Lifchitz. I'll be getting prepared with my LP of Ancient Voices that I got Crumb to sign in November. :)

1/18 - The more mainstream oriented Houston Friends of Music brings in the Daedalus Quartet. They're playing Schubert's Quartettsatz and the Ravel Quartet, so me and the girlfriend each have something in it we're fond of. After intermission is the second Brahms String Quintet.

This'll keep me busy well into next week. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

* Ha! Spelled it right on the first try! ...screwed up ainsi, though.


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