Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble: Short Stories

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble photo IMG_20140323_190025_zpsea3841da.jpgSunday evening I attended a salon-like concert by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble in the small downstairs recital hall at the SF Conservatory of Music. Artistic Director Anna Pressler observed that all the composers on the program were present, except Debussy. Flutist Stacey Pelinka began with Debussy's Syrinx, which she played with a pleasant, unforced tone that was nicely colored. Maureen Ochi Sides, a junior at Oakland School for the Arts, explained that her short piece for flute, oboe, cello & piano takes its cheerful marching theme from a popular YouTube video. The audience was clearly amused by the finale in which the pianist industriously plays 2 voices simultaneously.

Composer Charles Zoll told us how his work for oboe, violin, cello & piano was expanded from a 6 minute competition entry to a 17 minute dance suite with a Lindy Hop as its central movement. It features a lot of rhythmic accents, which the musicians attacked avidly. 2 slower movements had a dark, questioning mood. Pianist Eric Zivian's playing was both aggressive & loose. At one point he used mallets to strike the piano strings directly. Violinist Phyllis Kamrin took such a long time tuning at the beginning that she joked to the audience,"That's not the first movement!"

In her introductory remarks, composer Laurie San Martin simply thanked all the participants & refrained from speaking about her piece, which provided music for a reading of Reply to a Dead Man, a benign & fanciful short story by Walter Mosley. Actor David E. Moore stood to the side of the stage & read the story in the voices of its characters. His voice was miked, & his lightly lilting delivery was soothing. A quintet of flute, oboe, bass, guitar & viola played a supporting role, weaving in & out under the reading, playing brief, pretty motives & adding dabs of color. There was no music when the narrator read the story's pivotal letter, but at that point guitarist Michael Goldberg switched from an acoustic to an electric guitar, signalling the letter's transformative revelations. The piece ran about 45 minutes & seemed like something that might be on NPR on a Saturday night.

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble photo IMG_20140323_185455_zps66b15cda.jpgAll the compositions received assidous attention from both the perfomers & the audience. The audience was especially attentive during the short story & laughed at its humorous moments. Complimentary wine & bite-sized chocolates were offered during  intermission.

§ Short Stories
Left Coast Chamber Ensemble

Claude Debussy • Syrinx, L. 129
    Stacey Pelinka, flute

Maureen Ochi Sides • I Am Glad, For I Am Finally Returning Home
Oakland School for the Arts student composer
    Stacey Pelinka, flute
    Andrea Plesnarski, oboe
    Leighton Fong, cello
    Eric Zivian, piano

Charles ZollBailes encima del escritorio de nuestra juventúd for Oboe, Violin, Cello, and Piano (2013)
Rapido! Competition National Winner
West Coast Premiere
    Andrea Plesnarski, oboe
    Phyllis Kamrin, violin
    Leighton Fong, cello
    Eric Zivian, piano

Laurie San MartinReply to a Dead Man for Chamber Ensemble and Speaker (2014)
World Premiere
    Stacey Pelinka, flute
    Andrea Plesnarski, oboe
    Phyllis Kamrin, viola
    Michel Taddei, bass
    Michael Goldberg, guitar
    David E. Moore, actor

San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Sol Joseph Recital Hall
Sunday 3/23/2014 at 7:00pm

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