Great Music at St. Bart's Presents Chamber Music in the Chapel
The first events of 2018 presented by the Great Music at St. Bart's series are two concerts of chamber music in the beautifully intimate St. Bart's Chapel: the vibrant contemporary music ensemble Hotel Elefant playing a program of world premieres of music by its member composers along with works of Kaija Saariaho, and the latest St. Bart's program by the Apple Hill String Quartet, which includes the New York premiere of a work by Geoff Hudson (more information below).
Great Music at St. Bart's continues the programmatic focus initiated by MMPAF Artistic Director William K. Trafka (Director of Music and Organist of St. Bart's): to embrace a wide range of music in programs that shine in St. Bart's spaces. The concert series, produced by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation (www.mmpaf.org), for the past seven years has presented music in St. Bartholomew's Church, a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of New York located in the heart of midtown Manhattan. The magnificent 1918 Romanesque-style church, a National Historic Landmark, features a portal designed by Stanford White and a grand Byzantine-style interior - and two of New York's unlikely but outstanding concert spaces. The 150-seat chapel is an intimate and acoustically brilliant space perfectly suited for contemporary chamber music, and the majestic 1,000-seat sanctuary - outfitted with comfortable chairs enabling flexible seating -boasts an Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ that is the largest in New York City and one of the finest examples of the American Classic Organ in the U.S.
Saturday, February 3, 2018, at 7:30 pm in the Chapel
The contemporary music ensemble Hotel Elefant, lauded by Time Out New York as "megatalented" and "one of New York's fastest rising new-music outfits," makes its Great Music at St. Bart's debut. Their program juxtaposes music by Kaija Saariaho (Nocturne for solo violin, Oi kuu for bass clarinet and cello, and Sept papillons for solo cello) with the world premieres of new works scored for flute, clarinet, violin, and cello by Hotel Elefant composers Hannis Brown, Patrick Castillo (Music for Four), Jascha Narveson (Automat), and Leaha Maria Villarreal (Oceania), and Desangramiento for viola and electronics by Kirsten Volness.
The Hotel Elefant musicians performing this program are Domenica Fossati, flute; Christa van Alstine, clarinet; Andie Tanning Springer, violin; Kallie Ciechomski, viola; and Caleb van der Swaagh, cello.
Jascha Narveson's Automat is, says the composer, is "obliquely inspired by the impersonal yet charming pick-and-choose eateries of Old New York." Leaha Villarreal says about her new work, Oceania, "Oceania is the smallest continental grouping in land area and the second smallest in population after Antarctica. It is home to the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and others whose landmasses are being slowly submerged by rising waters. This evolving relationship between land and sea is explored through changing points of reference in the work, as the advancing tide redefines the nature of the island and its purpose for those who inhabit it."
Patrick Castillo's new work, Music for Four, is prompted by this passage from Nabokov's Speak, Memory: "It occurs to me that the closest reproduction of the mind's birth obtainable is the stab of wonder that accompanies the precise moment when, gazing at a tangle of twigs and leaves, one suddenly realizes that what had seemed a natural component of that tangle is a marvelously disguised insect or bird."
Named for the scene of a chance meeting in Austria between Strauss, Mahler, Puccini, and Schoenberg in 1906, Hotel Elefant has achieved renown for celebrating the dynamism and diversity of the contemporary music landscape, aiming to bring an awareness of today?s music to the general public through commissions, performances, and moderated discussions between composers, performers, and audiences. Committed to modern sounds and sonic explorations, this "audacious and unafraid" (New Music Box) ensemble has a flexible roster of musicians and works with a broad spectrum of progressive artists including John Luther Adams, Richard Carrick, Michael Gordon, David T. Little, Angélica Negrón, and Chinary Ung. Past performances include those at Lincoln Center, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Bang on a Can Marathon; collaborations with Kronos Quartet and The Nouveau Classical Project; partnerships with BalletCollective, Experiments in Opera, and Ear Heart Music; and a debut Carnegie Hall performance praised by The New York Times as "deeply felt." The ensemble has enjoyed the attention of such outlets and publications as Alex Ross' blog The Rest is Noise, radio station Q2 Music, The New Yorker, and The New York Times.www.hotelelefant.org
Tickets: $25 general admission; $15 students and seniors
Sunday, March 4, 2018, at 2:30 pm in the Chapel
APPLE HILL STRING QUARTET
Since its founding in 2007, the Apple Hill String Quartet - Elise Kruder, Colleen Jennings, violin; Mike Kelley, viola; Rupert Thompson, cello - has earned praise around the world for its concerts presenting interpretive mastery of traditional repertoire as well as for new and commissioned works by outstanding composers. For this Great Music at St. Bart's program, the ensemble will perform Haydn's String Quartet Op. 20, No. 2 in C Major; the New York premiere of Book of Dances by Geoff Hudson, a composer whose Quartet Project, a six-volume collection of music for string quartets of all ages, has garnered support from teachers, schools, and ensembles nationwide; and Peruvian composer Celso Garridos-Lecca's String Quartet No. 2.
Central to the mission of Apple Hill is "Playing for Peace," an innovative outreach program that focuses on social change and conflict resolution through music. Founded in 1971 and situated on 100 acres of fields and woodlands in rural New Hampshire, Apple Hill is a center of chamber music performance and teaching. It is stewarded today by the organization's director, Leonard Matczynski, and ensemble-in-residence, the Apple Hill String Quartet, founded in 2007. www.applehill.org
Tickets: $25 general admission; $15 students and seniors
Upcoming 2018 events presented by Great Music at St. Bart's include the Dorian Wind Quintet performing an evening of jazz; music by George Gershwin, Gunther Schuller, and Lalo Schifrin (Tuesday, April 17, 2017), and the acclaimed pianist Marilyn Nonken and cellist Stephen Marotto performing Morton Feldman's 1981 Patterns in a Chromatic Field, one of the composer's most intricate chamber works (Sunday, May 13, 2018); both taking place in the St. Bart's Chapel.
And in the main sanctuary, the St. Bartholomew's Choir led by William Trafka performs a concert titled "Portals To the Divine: Radiance from the North," music by Northern European composers: Latvian ?riks Ešenvalds, Norwegian Ola Gjeilo, Norwegian Edvard Grieg, Icelandic Jón Leifs, and Swedish Jan Sandström (Tuesday, March 20, 2018).
Tickets are available through the Box Office at St. Bartholomew's Church, 325 Park Avenue, New York, NY, and are available by phone, 212-378-0248, and online at www.mmpaf.org.
Photo: Hotel Elefant