Today, the very last day of April, the snow is melting and sloughing off the eaves. Beware! If an icicle does not fall and cleave your head in two, heavy, wet sloughing snow will thump you on the head and drip down the collar of your coat. Although I’m chomping at the bit to garden, the moisture is welcome, and the drought is officially over.
Music always lightens life, and hearing the Colorado Chamber Players on stage at The Jones today did just that. Led by Barbara Hamilton on the Viola, the trio to include Paul Nagem on the flute and Emily Levin on the harp brought the full house to a standing ovation.
Dan Epperson, master of ceremonies, introduced the musicians after reminding the audience that in this, In Concert‘s 14th season, ticket prices were still only a modest 15 dollars. Continuing, Epperson added that it would be nice to feature a pianist in the future, but ticket sales do not cover bringing in pianists’ preferred instrument, a Steinway grand. If you missed the concert and Epperson’s suggestion, you might think about a donation. Check your bank balance. Two thousand dollars will bring a Steinway up the Hardscrabble.
As for the concert, I sat in the second row, maybe only 18-feet from the beautiful harp which was in itself a work of art. And I admit that during the first few selections, the music played second fiddle to the harpist’s arms and hands which were as expressive as those of a person signing for the deaf. It was easy to imagine her siren arms seducing sailors to jump overboard to their death by drowning. Levin, Principal Harpist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, was amazing. Watching her fingers fly across the strings, I could see her standing at a conveyor belt – plucking feathers in a commercial chicken processing plant. I imagined an old-time, black and white movie – a comedy in which the conveyor belt kept going faster and faster. And then I flashed on something more poetic – her hands were like Hummingbird wings. The bird metaphor is good because the thumb of her right hand was masterfully trilling.
Not that there is anything wrong with old people, but it is so refreshing to see young artists. With her asymetrical light brown bob, and black lace dress over a nude colored slip, the harpist was definitely hip. Of all the music on-offer in The Valley during the summer, I think that Jazz Camp is my favorite. Watching fun-loving, focused and talented youth in performance, coming together as one, gives me hope for the future.
I love when musicians give some background – put the music in the context of the composer or the times. Such was the case when introducing the piece by Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996). War loomed in 1939. Leaving Warsaw, Weinberg first found himself in a Displaced Person’s Camp. From there he went to Moscow where he was befriended and inspired by Shostakovich. Meanwhile his family was sent to one of the Nazi death camps. Mieczyslaw Weinberg was the sole survivor.
Listening to Weinberg’s music, in this case “Trio for Flute, Viola and Harp, Op 127,” you can hear the impending doom. I heard a movie score of sustained suspense. Maybe it was a pending thunder-storm; maybe it was a man with a knife; maybe it was a slithering poisonous snake. Probably it was the war and the Holocaust.
As a trio, the three musicians played as one. I’ve often said, “In a small town, if no one falls off the stage, the cast gets a standing ovation.” More often than not, in Custer County CO, every standing ovation is well deserved. Thank you to In-Concert, and if you love live classical music, consider donating to the piano fund.