It’s not every weekend you find a world premiere performance in Louisville, but in fact this weekend there are two. The LA Piano Quartet will be in town to open the Chamber Music Society of Louisville‘s new season (Sunday at 3pm), and to premiere a work they’ve commissioned from Christopher Stark. Piano Quartet, is in three movements, each dedicated to a composer important to Stark’s life, from mentors and teachers Jonathan Harvey and Roberto Sierra, to his friend and fellow composer Sean Shepherd. The second movement, dedicated to Shepherd, is also a personal reflection on the death of Michael Brown and the aftermath that has gripped Ferguson, Missouri.
Daniel Gilliam talked with Christopher Stark and Xak Bjerken, pianist for the LA Piano Quartet, about this new work.
Here is the LA Piano Quartet performing another commissioned by Steven Stucky.
Louisvillian Richard Burchard’s In Memoriam premieres as part of the next concert by the Louisville Master Chorale, Sunday, October 19 at 2:30pm at the Cathedral of the Assumption. Burchard is a veteran a cappela choral composer in additional to his duties as Associate Professor of music and Executive Composer in Residence at Bellarmine University. In Memoriam is his first venture into music for voices and orchestra.
Alan Brandt sat down recently with Burchard to talk about the challenges and joys of composing for a large group of musicians.
On choosing the title “In Memoriam”
“I thought what could I do where I could go from movement to movement where they’d be related in some fashion but not thematically and harmonically but mostly about text. And the first thing I thought was that a Requiem makes sense for me because I’ve written a lot of a capella choral pieces for lent and things like that. And then I started thinking that I didn’t want to get stuck to a traditional Requiem and I don’t want to break the traditional Requiem setting. And I thought In Memoriam sounds kind of more in line and it freed me up to entertain other kinds of texts I could use.”
On tackling instrumental composing for the first time
“When this opportunity presented itself, I knew that the immediate answer was ‘yes’, but I also knew I was taking on something much larger than I’d done before.”
On collaborating with LMC Music Director Mark Walker
“I like the collaborative part of it. In fact, it was because we got together a lot that the piece started taking on shape. The original concept was for choir and strings, but as the concept of what the program overall – the concert series and then this program – was going to be, then Mark said, “Well, we’re doing another piece and there are going to be instruments (and) you want to use those, so we began to add colors.”
On his goals for “In Memoriam”
“I wanted to make sure it was accessible not only to a group that only had a few rehearsals but also accessible to other groups as well. I don’t want to write music that people can’t perform and at the same time I want to maintain my integrity and my commitment to my style of writing.”
Tune in for the concert broadcast of the Louisville Orchestra, Saturday at 6pm, with guests Storm Large, Hudson Shad and Kevin Cole. Teddy Abrams led a concert with Richard Rodgers’ overture to Oklahoma, Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins, Gershwin’s New York Rhapsody and Copland’s Rodeo.
Listen to Kevin Cole’s Lunchtime Classics performance here:
Alexander T. Simpson is a professor of music at Bellarmine University, and also the head of Black Classical Artists of Louisville (BCAL) and the Kentuckiana Branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians (KANM), two organizations that work to promote and perform music and musicians in the negro spiritual and classical music tradition. What has become a yearly tradition, both organizations, with the support of Bellarmine University, will present “What Just in February?” on Sunday, October 5th, 6pm, at Highland Baptist Church.
The concert will feature “Traditional Negro Spirituals,” performed by local musicians, including singers Phillip Morgan, Claire DiVizio and Keith Dean, organist Owen Sammons and dancer Theresa Bautista; with arrangements by Roland Hayes, Harry T. Burleigh, Moses Hogan, Roland Carter, Margaret Bonds and Louisville native, Patsy Turner.