Seven Decades of World Music focus at Colgate

Published Mar 26, 2015 at 4:00pm

HAMILTON — Seven Decades of World Music from Bartok (1938) to Zhou Tian (2015) is the focus of the Society for New Music’s concert at Colgate at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the Colgate Memorial Chapel. It’s a free, public concert.

The five works include three classics from the 20th century and two candidates for classics of the 21st century. The works reflect Hungarian & Romanian dance melodies, East Asian exoticism, the cultures along the Silk Road, and a mystical meditation. 

Opening the program is Bartok’s “Contrasts”, a trio for clarinet, violin and piano, dating from 1938 and one of the composer’s most performed works. It was commissioned by Benny Goodman and premiered by him, along with Joseph Szigeti and Bartok in New York City. Douglas Cuomo’s “Slowly She Turns” was written for Shem Guibbory, a violinist with the Met Orchestra, and brother of Society for New Music pianist Sar Strong. Cuomo has made a career as a jazz artist as well as composer, moving easily between styles in his works for the concert hall, TV and film. 

Olivier Messiaen, like Bartok, is one of the 20th century’s greatest composers. His mystical meditation “Louange a l’Éternité de Jesus” (Jesus as Word) is from the Quartet for the End of Time, 1940. The quartet was written while Messiaen, who fought in World War II, was a prisoner at Gorlitz. He wrote the quartet for the musicians interned there with him. “Varied Trio” is a quintessential work by the American pioneer Lou Harrison, in which the mix of western and eastern elements carries over into the instrumentation. He uses gongs, rice bowls played with chopsticks, Chinese drums and bakers pans to evoke the exotic East.

The final work on the program is Colgate Professor Zhou Tian’s “Morning after the Deluge”, a work commissioned by the Society for New Music and premiered in November 2014. Zhou writes that his inspiration came from William Turner’s similarly-named painting from 1843, Light and Colour (Goethe’s Theory) – the Morning after the Deluge – Moses Writing the Book of Genesis, which depicts dawn emerging from the ruin of the great flood when God’s covenant with man was established.

The regional performers are clarinetist John Friedrichs, violinists Ann McIntyre and Blagomira Lipari, violist Kit Dodd, cellist Gregory Wood, pianist Sar Strong, and percussionist Rob Bridge. They perform with Symphoria, Buffalo, Rochester, and Springfield, MA Orchestras, teach at Syracuse University, Hamilton College, and Onondaga Community College. All have performed and recorded with the Society for New Music for many years. 

The award-winning Society for New Music, now in its 43rd season, was co-founded by Neva Pilgrim, artist-in-residence in voice at Colgate University. 

For more information, or a 2014/2015 Concert Calendar, call Lorraine Joseph, Concert Coordinator, Department of Music, Colgate University at 228-7642.