21st Century Consort in rehearsal at St. Mark's Episcopal

Greeting to everybody; we are looking forward so much to seeing you at our October 9 concert!

These days, composers sometimes produce “Midi” versions of pieces they’ve composed. To some, these electronic representations have become increasingly off-putting as they become better at replicating the actual sound of the music. Gene O’Brien says he dislikes midi about as much as I do, but produced one for us anyway. I’m glad he did: it manages to convey some of the challenge and stark power of his “Elegy to the Spanish Republic,” which we’ll be premiering on our upcoming concert and recording right after.

No wonder the “Elegy” is this way, considering the inspiration: If you’re not familiar with the paintings, the great abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell made a series of huge, powerful canvases of the same name. I had one of these (a reproduction, unfortunately!) hanging in my office for my years in academic administration, in order to, I don’t know, remind me that things could be worse. Plus I love the painting! Here’s #34, the one in my office:

Robert Motherwell 34

And of course, speaking of the Spanish Civil War, there is also Picasso’s Guernica. Still, we don’t seem to learn much about that terrible prelude to WWII, even though a number of significant composers, as it happens, fought on the side of the doomed Republic. Maybe part of the reason its history is sort of ghostly, as I was reminded in a visit to Spain just before the pandemic, is that the Spanish themselves have made a national project of suppressing memories of the conflagration and the fascist rule that followed right up to THE YEAR THE CONSORT WAS FOUNDED (if you can believe it: 1975). There is always the Wikipedia article about the Republic (not yet the Consort):

Spanish Civil War

But Gene has reminded us, in his “Elegy,” of the war and especially the art it engendered; it’s not an easy reminder to come to terms with. Deeply worthwhile, however, I know you’ll agree. And it provides a centerpiece for a program of music, not all of it as severe as Gene’s, that is elegiac in a broad sense, in recognition of the losses of this period from which we so hope to emerge. The program also features the return of the wonderful soprano Catherine Gardner in performances of the late James Primosch’s “Waltzing the Spheres” and Stephen Albert’s “To Wake the Dead.” We’ll also do James Willey’s “Three Pieces in Memory of Stephen Albert (Pensivity; Bonkers; Dawn)”, Arthur Cunningham’s “This by dying” and Eric Santos “Consolation.”

We hope that we’ll see you at the concert on October 9! And that you’ll note the dates for all the concerts this season:

  • October 9, 2021
  • December 4, 2021
  • February 5, 2022
  • April 9, 2022

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