Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cleveland Chamber Symphony: Music That Dares to Explore

Wilson: Mvt II (Desolate Plains) from The American Traveler Suite
Evans: Pastorale
Xenia Beckstrom: Leth
Jesse Limbacher: Wanderings
Corey Rubin: Broken Pearls
Jung Yoon Wie: Flying in Winter
The Cleveland Chamber Symphony* at The Music Settlement
Steven Smith, conductor

Some people who know me will tell you that I don't like "new" music ("new" in the sense of classical, not all of the other genres of music, but I digress) -- and to an extent it's true, for a large portion of the field it's difficult for me to become as engaged with or to understand some of the vocabulary or composers' intentions. I don't like being surprised by it, but when it's expected -- like with a Cleveland Chamber Symphony program -- it can be a nice diversion from the usual.

Tonight's program featuring six pieces by six young composers -- all students of Ohio institutions -- in the span of about an hour was a nice sampler and look at the talent being cultivated in our area.

Opening the program, Desolate Plains, the second movement from University of Akron student Kevin Alexander Wilson's The American Traveler Suite. Though desolate is in the title the music was anything but conveying the sense of adventure of crossing the plains for the first time [missing the scattered urban areas] without being overly dramatic.

Next by College of Wooster student Frederick Evans, Pastorale was the more disjointed sound that I usually associate with new music but had a flow underlying the somewhat ephemeral and atmospheric sounds and carried the piece forward.

A quartet, the third piece on the program, Leth, came to us from Ohio State student Xenia Beckstrom was introduced as the movement in a piece following convoluted earlier movements and as something light and refreshing. Great to listen to it started bright and happy but turned dark and I got a sense of mourning or loss, yet it certainly wasn't depressing.

Jessie Limbacher, a third year student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, brought us Wanderings, the first movement of a piece that is as yet unfinished and arguably the most abstract of the evening, but also I think featuring the strongest playing.

Corey Rubin, a Cleveland State University student, brings us Broken Pearls a reference both in title -- and according to the composer musically -- to Baroque music who's name is derived from that of a misshapen pearl, a term applied by early detractors referring to misshapen pearls. I have to admit that I didn't really get the baroque impression from this piece, perhaps because that vernacular was not fresh in my mind.

Finishing out the program, Jung Yoon Wie, originally from Seoul, Korea and currently a sophomore at the College of Wooster, brings us Flying in Winter which moved speedily and had a decidedly wintry sound.

And the variety of music tonight was a reminder that the spectrum of new music is as broad as the artists composing and performing it.

(*- Susan Britton, Jiah Chung, Amber Dimoff, Cara Tweed, violins; Lisa Whitfield, James Rhodes, viola; Nick Diodore, Julie King, cello; Diana Richardson, bass; Sean Gabriel, flute; David McGuire, oboe; Lisa Antoniou, clarinet; Mark DeMio, basoon; Bill Hoyt, horn; Al Couch, trumpet; Andy Pongracz, percussion; Nancy Paterson, harp)

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