St. Luke's to Present World Premiere by Gabriela Lena Frank
Throughout its 40th anniversary season, St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble performs world premieres of works commissioned from three composers, who have been given one important parameter-each new piece must, in some way, be in dialogue with the other works performed on that program. On the next Chamber Music Series program in February, titled Short Stories, the commissioned composer is Gabriela Lena Frank; her piece, Rapsodia Andina No. 2, will be heard along with short musical gems by Britten, Ginastera, and Mozart. Short Stories will be performed three times, at Brooklyn Museum and The Morgan Library & Museum.
Frank was particularly drawn to the Mozart flute and oboe quartets on this program. "I find the pieces to be so lovely, rhythmically brilliant, and tunefully lush. Seemingly composed with abandon and infused with Mozart's personal stamp, I've drawn on his quartets as inspiration for Rapsodia Andina No. 2, likewise brimming with melody and rhythmic vibrancy, albeit from a Peruvian-Andean perspective," says the composer, whose music often explores her multicultural heritage. Longtime St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble principal flutist Elizabeth Mann, an admirer of Frank's work, will be featured in the new piece. "Gabriela Frank's music is exotic and colorful, and lends itself so beautifully to the flute," she notes.
Gabriela Lena Frank will give a talk on Rapsodia Andina No. 2 and its connections to the other works on the program at 6:45 PM on Wednesday, February 11, preceding the first performance at The Morgan Library & Museum.
Frank also names Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera as one of her major musical influences. Ginastera's music, like Frank's compositions, offers vivid instrumental colors and a strong sense of rhythm, and is reminiscent of folk melodies. One of his earliest pieces that he released for publication, Impresiones de la Puna for Flute and String Quartet suggests feelings evoked by a visit to a high plateau in the Andes Mountains. The flute line is strikingly beautiful and soulful, and sparkles with virtuosity.
Flutist Elizabeth Mann again takes the spotlight in the Mozart Quartet for Flute in D Major, an exceptionally elegant work and the first of Mozart's three flute quartets. While the flute plays the leading role, Mozart also writes brilliantly for the strings-they add interest and charm in a variety of ways, from echo, to counterpoint, to delicate pizzicato that seems to imitate a guitar.
St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble oboist Stephen Taylor will be featured in the Mozart Oboe Quartet in F Major. This expressive piece is like a miniature concerto for oboe, requiring grace, agility, and stamina throughout its sustained lyric phrases, rich ornamentation, and wide-ranging leaps. "As challenging as the piece is for oboists to perform, (having been written for one of the most gifted players in all of Europe), we are driven to do so by its sheer beauty and cleverness," says Taylor. "In the course of its brief incarnation, Mozart invites us to wear several different hats-trapeze artist, farmer, philosopher, imp ... and one always leaves the stage feeling as though one has experienced something that, in its creation from Mozart's quill, is perfect."
Britten's Phantasy for Oboe, Violin, Viola, and Cello-an early piece that helped the composer make a name for himself when it was performed at the 1934 festival of the International Society of Contemporary Music-is skillfully crafted, both in structure and texture. "Britten really understood the capabilities and unique colors of the instruments he wrote for," explains St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble's co-principal violist David Cerutti, who counts this rarely performed work among his favorites. "I enjoy this piece as a real showcase for the strings," adds oboist Stephen Taylor. "My joyful task is to add as much color, fluidity, and sculpting as I can muster, and just be carried off by my friends and gently put down again at the conclusion."
Concert-goers ages 45 and younger can take advantage of the concert and afterparty package offered for February 13 through OSL's young member program, 45below. Each event package includes all-day admission to The Morgan Library & Museum, a concert ticket to Short Stories, and a private afterparty with two free drinks at nearby Toledo Restaurant. In partnership with Gotham Writers' Workshop, a portion of the afterparty will feature readings of short stories by some of New York City's most talented young writers. Attendees pay their age ($21-$45) for event packages, which can be purchased at OSLmusic.org.