Vesper Concert Series Focused on 1926

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February 4th, 2014

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Omaha, NE — While the Vesper Concerts Series is known for sometimes going off the beaten track, it’s next performance was inspired by something extremely unlikely: a podcast. It’s called “A Year in Classical Music” and hosted by Omaha musician Brian Linnell. Instead of focusing on certain composers and their most popular works, he researches a year at a time, giving background on historical events and biographical notes on the composers. Linnell says this approach not only puts popular selections into context, but also uncovers musical gems rarely heard.

“It’s a project that allows us to focus on music that normally gets marginalized or neglected.” Linnell said.

The focus of this concert is the year 1926 and opens with music from Ralph Vaughan Williams titled “Six Studies on English Folk Song.” As the name suggests, the music was inspired by Vaughan Williams’ passion for folk music.

“He went around England very much like how Bartok went around Hungary, Romania,” said Linnell. “He would ask old folks, who knew old folk song traditions to sing tunes for him, and he’d write them down.”

Performing the “Six Studies” is violist Thomas Kluge and pianist Christie Zuniga. They will also perform a viola sonata by little-known Russian composer Nicolai Roslavets. Kluge says that, while he was very forward-thinking in his writing, Roslavets’ music is very approachable and easy to listen to.

Thomas Kluge

Thomas Kluge

“I like to refer to it as Debussy meets Prokofiev,” said Kluge “It’s got some impressionistic elements to it, but it also has some elements of an industrial, ‘machine age’ approach to the arts.”

While Roslavets was looking forward, the last composer on the program was looking back. His name was Robert Fuchs, a contemporary of Johannes Brahms. He taught for many years, counting among his pupils Mahler, Sibelius, and Korngold. The Omaha Symphony’s Concertmaster, Susanna Perry Gilmore, joins the duo to perform Fuchs’ late Piano Trio. Kluge points out that Fuchs was unapologetic about his very conservative approach to composing.

“I love who I am, I know who I am as a composer, I am a Romantic composer, it’s how I express myself, it’s how I see the world.” Fluge said.

“A Year in Classical Music” and Vesper Concerts’ performance of music from 1926 is this Sunday, February 9 at 3 pm. The concert will be at the Presbyterian Church of the Cross in Omaha, and for more information, you can visit vesperconcerts.org or ayicm.com.

 

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