Santa Barbara Music Club 50th Season of Free Concerts
On Saturday, February 22 at 3 p.m. the Santa Barbara Music Club will present another program in its popular series of concerts of beautiful Classical music. The first portion of this afternoon’s program features an ensemble cast of performers: flutist Sherylle Englander, clarinetist Per Elmfors, horn player Johann Trujillo, and harpist Laurie Rasmussen. They will perform the well-known Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by Claude Debussy, Livewire! by American composer Christopher Lowry, and French composer and horn player Georges Barboteu’s Esquisse. The second portion of the program will be the Richard Strauss Sonata for Violin and Piano in Eb Major, Op. 18, performed by violinist Nicole McKenzie and pianist Betty Oberacker. This concert, co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara Public Library, will be held at the Faulkner Gallery of the library, 40 East Anapamu, Santa Barbara. Admission is free.
Commonly known as Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, the Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by Claude Debussy (1862–1918) is one of his most well-known works and has become a textbook example of Impressionism/Symbolism in Music Appreciation courses. The work, itself a tone poem, is a musical evocation of Stéphane Mallarmé's poem “Afternoon of a Faun,” and then became the music for Vaslav Nijinsky’s ballet Afternoon of a Faun. The opening passage – one of the most famous in orchestral literature – immediately conveys the ethereal quality and harmonic ambiguity that would come to characterize much of Debussy’s music, to say nothing of his sense of tonal color. Although originally scored for three flutes, two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets in A and Bb, two bassoons, four horns, two harps, two crotales and strings, Sherylle Englander, Per Elmfors, Johann Trujillo, and Laurie Rasmussen present an arrangement for single flute, clarinet, horn, and harp, respectively.
Englander, Elmfors, Trujillo and Rasmussen continue with two additional works, Livewire! by Nashville born composer Christopher Lowry (b. 1989) and Esquisse by French composer Georges Barboteu (1924–2006). The first piece, in the composer’s words, is a “short, energetic showpiece for flute, clarinet, and horn, which I composed over the summer of 2010 while spending time in Vienna, Austria, and Aix-en-Provence, France. The initial idea of the piece was inspired by “electrical issues” [I] experienced while overseas, beginning with my excursion to London earlier in the year. Basically, I have “shorted-out” or otherwise destroyed several appliances (including a hairdryer, a power strip, and several power adapters and voltage converters) due to both faulty equipment and ignorance. Regardless of the adapters I use or the voltage I set things to, I always seem to end up destroying something. Though this is extremely irritating, it “sparked” inspiration (pun completely intended) for this piece.”
By contrast, Barboteu’s Esquisse for flute, horn, and harp aligns more closely with the soundscape of Debussy’s music, as it strikes one as subtle and emerging. Although the flute and harp play integral roles in this work, the composer’s life as a horn player shines through the musical fabric, as he developed new performance techniques for the instrument. If you listen carefully enough, perhaps you’ll hear slight twinges and passing suggestions of American jazz, as Barboteu had a working relationship with Duke Ellington.
Before making his lasting mark on the musical world with operas as Salome and Elektra or tone-poems like Also sprach Zarathustra and Don Quixote, pre-eminent early modernist of German music Richard Strauss (1864–1949) began his musical life as a disciple of Johannes Brahms. He therefore championed genres of the so-called “Absolute Music” school, as evidenced by the Sonata for Violin and Piano in Eb Major, Op. 18. Composed between 1887 and 1888, Strauss fits this large work into traditional formal structures championed by Brahms and reaching back to the Classical Viennese composers of the late eighteenth century. Although traditional in form, this early work shows the melodic inventiveness so characteristic of Strauss’s later, operatic works. Violinist Nicole McKenzie and pianist Betty Oberacker conclude this afternoon’s program with this sweeping chamber work.
Santa Barbara Music Club concerts are free to the public, and display a wonderful diversity of historical musical periods and compositional styles, including beloved masterworks and exciting new and seldom-heard repertoire. Of the series, the Santa Barbara Independent exclaimed: "A beautiful day, a beautiful room, beautiful music ... who could ask for more?" and Gerald Carpenter in Noozhawk.com declared, "Every Santa Barbara Music Club concert that I have ever attended has been a sensory joy as well as a consciousness expansion."
A valued cultural resource in the community since 1969, the Music Club's mission is threefold:
(1) Presentation of an annual series of concerts, free to the public.
(2) Aiding and encouraging musical education by the disbursement of scholarships to talented local music students.
(3) Presentation of community outreach activities, including bringing great music to residents of area retirement homes.
Funding support was provided by the City of Santa Barbara's Organizational Development Grant Program and by the Towbes Fund for the Performing Arts, a field of interest fund of the Santa Barbara Foundation.
For information on this or other Santa Barbara Music Club programs and performing artists, visit SBMusicClub.org.