Featuring International Guests
Goucher College Music Department's Ars Viva Concert Series
Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
Goucher College presented a fascinating and entertaining program at the Baltimore Composers Forum Concert Wednesday night.
Korean Shabang Cho based her string trio, Heterophonic, on two Korean styles of Buddhist ritual chants and dances which use a set of five pitches. Some of the pitches were in an extremely high range, often with rapid, soft bowing. Each instrument had its own melodic line throughout, but to Jimbo's ear, the piece as a whole was a pleasing meld of Eastern sounds in the modern Western musical tradition. Phanos Dymiotis, violin, Catharine Frey, viola, and Gretchen Gettes, cello, played Heterophonic with professional polish.
Baltimore composer, George F. Spicka, performed his own piano work, What We All Once Knew. According to the program notes, the composition consisted of a "device, a 'harmonic sketch,' [which] provides a framework of chords, inversions, pedal tones, and voicings that serve as a guide for improvisation" combined with a "'stream of consciousness' type improvisation... [with] the goal to spontaneously create a performance that sounds coherent and musical, and reflect emotionally upon the title of the work."
Since this was my first listening, I could not discern the framework from the improvisation. Also, given the apparently instructional nature of the composition, I wonder if it would not have been more in the spirit of the piece for it to be performed by a pianist other than the composer. Imagine a lounge piano player improvising on lush, emotional chords for a good sense of how the piece sounded to me.
Kyoko Fujiwara played Alan Duckworth's piano composition, The People's Polonaise. Duckworth, a retired research chemist, amateur composer, and freelance thinker, instructed the listener to "read the following program notes for The People's Polonaise, since they enhance the music considerably." Jimbo dutifully read the brief recap of the history of the polonaise and the programmatic scenes Duckworth wished to depict. The notes in fact did enhance Jimbo's comedic enjoyment of the polonaise: this time imagine a Chopin composition (very loosely), played (broadly) like the accompaniment to a silent movie, about the successful revolt of Polish peasants against the nobility. It was humorous and fun!