My goodness! When I said I’d been bumping into composers in my penultimate post, I didn’t expect it to become a physical reality!
On Tuesday evening, I attended a chamber music concert sponsored by DaCamera of Houston. I subscribe to the classical portion of the series, and this year the theme was Something Borrowed, Something New. According to their website, DaCamera has gained a “national profile as a leader in innovative concert programs,” and I love their choices. The concerts are held in small venues and you wind up feeling as if you’ve made a personal connection with many of the performers. Tuesday’s concert was at the Menil Collection, one of my favorite art museums.
About half of the programs are held there in the main lobby.
The atmosphere at these concerts is delicious.
The building, designed by Renzo Piano, has dark broad plank wood floors, skylights, and lots of natural light. Large art works are always displayed on the walls of the lobby, and on Tuesday, those had been changed to minimalist mostly black works in different shapes and textures.
At concerts, I like to position myself in the left hand “wing,” the hall that leads off to the easternmost galleries, so I can get a good view of any keyboardist’s hands. Also, from there, looking past the performers, I can see the sun fading through the trees outside the window at the end of the long hall.
(I took the pictures off the net, as the Menil is a well known landmark, I’m not sure if photos are allowed inside, and I’m a terrible photographer and wouldn’t do it justice.)
The program was a combination of works by Debussy, Varèse, Dusapin, Takemitsu, and Saariaho. Debussy’s 150th birthday is being celebrated, and the concept behind it was to present a work by Debussy and then music by contemporary composers influenced by Debussy.
During the introduction, we were told that Ms. Saariaho, who is sometimes called a “spectral” composer, was in attendance, and that the world premiere of a new work by her, specially commissioned by DaCamera, would be part of next season’s schedule.
At any rate, the concert proceeded. All of the works were beautifully performed by female artists from New York and Paris, although I freely admit that some of the contemporary music was what may be called “difficult.” (After a couple of visits, my own adult daughters have refused to attend.) As an apology, I’m offering this quote by Donald Barthelme: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, rather because it wishes to be art.”
At intermission, I proceeded to the ladies’ room, and a tall attractive woman, with red hair and a beautiful bright floral print scarf, lined up behind me. You know where this is going, don’t you?
At the end of the evening, when the composer was called up to the stage, guess who it was? Ironically, the very next morning, I read a post on the blog For the Ears debating the nature of creativity, and although I disagreed with the main premise of the author, Mr. Hackett, I was amused to see this sentence:
“… I tirelessly hope that people will stop hero-worshipping and placing people on pedestals (such as hailing Bach and Shakespeare as unmatchable artistic deities for the rest of time), as we are all endowed with the same limited mammalian brains and are dependent on the same basic bodily functions.”
I am embedding a short trailer for one of Ms. Saariaho’s compositions: