Here’s the notice I just sent out about this weekend’s event. If you would like to be on my email list, please do join it in the right sidebar – I will never send spam but I will keep you well informed about my upcoming performances, with occasional emails like this. Of course I do always mention them in this blog too, but sometimes people prefer info to be RIGHT IN THEIR INBOXES…
What’s going on?
This Friday night, November 18 at 8 I will perform with the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra at DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. The piece is a great favorite of mine, Eric Ewazen’s Down a River of Time. If you haven’t seen this orchestra you are in for a treat, and if you haven’t heard the Ewazen then LOOK OUT!
I am truly looking forward to this performance and hope to see you there! Ticket information can be found HERE. Please feel free to forward this notice widely!
What is this gorgeous concerto about?
The title of this piece comes from an essay by Richard Feagler from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In it, the author reminisces about a boyhood Christmas and about all of the people – relatives and friends – who have since passed on. I did not particularly like this essay – it was too sentimental and folksy for my taste. But the image, of a river of time rolling unstoppably forward – of all people being swept along on that river – is a lovely one.
Linda Strommen commissioned this concerto in 1999 in memory of her father who had recently passed on. During the writing of the piece, Ewazen’s father also passed away, so the work has every excuse to be extremely sad – but it’s not. It is more of an exploration of the way that the passage of time affects us all than an elegy for the departed – a celebration of that river of time and of all the highs and lows that life has to offer.
The first movement, “…past hopes and dreams…”, gives us soaring oboe lines over a pulsing, rippling accompaniment. It starts in 8/8, which could be interpreted as plain old 4/4 time like every other piece ever – but instead Ewazen subdivides it as 3 + 3 + 2 which feels very watery to me – always moving forward but with eddies and swirls holding it up. It has a nostalgic quality, which speaks of the fleeting nature of hopes and dreams.
The second movement, “…and sorrows…”, is really the heart of the piece. Even this movement is not truly sorrowful, but about sorrow. It is a soliloquy, or monologue, for the oboe – the accompaniment has very little melodic material – and although the opening material does return at the end, most of this movement is through-composed, which means that we do not hear one or two themes developed over and over but rather a new idea every few bars. The effect is of a stream of consciousness. We also change moods frequently, and I am reminded of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s famous stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They don’t appear in that order, or that clearly – I can’t point to one moment and go, “Ooh! Bargaining!” – but I think this movement tries to reflect on the complexity of human emotion.
Acceptance comes most fully in the third movement, “…and memories of tomorrow”. Here the music is optimistic, joyful, and buoyant; if the first movement was nostalgic for the past and the second considers those we have lost, this third movement looks forward to the next generation and at what may come in the future along our river of time. If I may read into it, I would suggest that Eric Ewazen is looking forward to it as much as I am.
What else is going on?
I am preparing a spring recital program which will debut in January. Because that’s how optimistic I am about the weather in the Midwest. The theme is Travel, and a catchy title will be announced soon. The fabulous Paul Hamilton and I will feature music by Ibert, Tomasi, and Pasculli, among others. Preliminary dates include:
Friday, January 6 at 12:00, at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago
Sunday, January 22 at 3:00, in Duesenberg Recital Hall at Valparaiso University
I am still working on an East Coast Tour of last spring’s CHROMA program, anchored by a performance on:
Sunday, April 29th at 3:00, at Delaware County Community College outside Philadelphia