Music

Inspired by the natural world

Taos Chamber Music Group opens our eyes with 'Shadow and Light' concerts

By Ariana Kramer
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 11/7/18

The program will be performed in the Arthur Bell Auditorium at the Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux Street.

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Music

Inspired by the natural world

Taos Chamber Music Group opens our eyes with 'Shadow and Light' concerts

Posted

'Shadow and Light" and music inspired by the natural world is the theme of the upcoming concerts by the Taos Chamber Music Group.

The performances, planned Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 10-11) at 5:30 p.m. each day, will feature horn player Jeffrey Rogers who is performing with TCMG for the first time. Rogers will be joined by Elizabeth Baker on violin, TCMG Director Nancy Laupheimer on flute and Kim Bakkum on piano.

The program will be performed in the Arthur Bell Auditorium at the Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux Street.

It includes Tina Davidson's "Blue Curve of the Earth," Einojuhani Rautavaara's "Notturno and Danza," Katherine Hoover's "Summer Night," Melissa Hui's "Trace," Johannes Brahms's "Horn Trio" and Bohuslav Martinu's "Promenades."

"The inspiration for this program was the incredible visual -- almost numinous -- qualities of shadow and light that we experience all around us in Taos. That became a jumping off point for music that contains shadow and light in sound as well as music that expresses the shadow and light of the emotional landscape," Laupheimer said.

Over the course of its 26-year history, TCMG has often programmed music that is inspired by the natural landscape. A statement on the group's website reads, "There is something different about making music in New Mexico -- its endless vistas and open landscapes infuse creativity with a sense of spaciousness and possibility."

The opening piece for "Shadow and Light" is "Summer Night" for flute, horn and piano. Rogers, who recently moved to Taos, will perform this piece and Brahm's "Horn Trio" on French horn.

"TCMG is very excited to have a horn player of Jeff's caliber living nearby," Laupheimer said. "His sensitive musicianship and silky sound are a great addition to the group … Jeff has a vast repertoire from playing in contemporary groups in Mexico that I'm sure we will explore."

Rogers spent his career performing with symphony orchestras and chamber music groups in Mexico and Chile. He played principal horn in the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra, Mineria Symphony Orchestra, the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Chilean National Symphony Orchestra in Santiago. Rogers also has played with many chamber music groups, including the Mexico City Woodwind Quintet, Mexico City Brass Quintet, Camarata Mazatlan and the contemporary music ensemble Cepromusic. He has served on the faculty of the Ollin Yolitzli Music Conservatory as well as the Fomento National Music School, both based in Mexico City.

Violinist Elizabeth Baker, former member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will be featured with Taos pianist Kim Bakkum in works by two nature-inspired composers, Tina Davidson and Einojuhani Rautavaara. Baker, incidentally, also was recently named director of the Taos School of Music.

Community Digital News reviewed Tina Davidson's "Blue Curve of the Earth," noting it "grows from a tiny pizzicato figure into a lyrical world that literally seems capable of embracing the horizon. It is a shamelessly lovely piece."

"Now, more than ever," Laupheimer said, "music that evokes the beauty and fragility of our precious planet needs to be heard."

Finnish composer Rautavaara's "Notturna" follows from the shadowy theme, and Laupheimer calls Rautavaara's "Danza" a "glittering, ascending, light-filled romp."

Melissa Hui's "Trace" for flute and piano is inspired by both African pygmy music and Japanese gagaku court music.

Laupheimer said Hui's piece "alternates between two very different types of motives, one very suspended and ethereal, and the other fierce and violent." She added that rehearsing the piece "has been a way for me to funnel the pain and anger that I've been feeling about our country into music, as well as to try to return to center in the silence."

On the lighter side, is the whimsical "Promenades," composed in 1939 in a neo-Baroque style.

Finishing the program is Johannes Brahms "Horn Trio," which was originally composed for the Waldhorn or natural horn as distinguished from the valve horn.

Rogers explained in an email, "The French horn as we know it today has its roots quite literally in the ancient usage of animal horns, which were mainly used as devices to call or signal communications whether it be on horseback or on foot. The natural horn of the late Baroque era evolved from two sorts of earlier signaling horns used for hunting. This quickly developed into the classical natural horn that Mozart and Haydn, among others, used in their symphonies and concerts. This classical horn used crooks in different keys that the horn player could insert to play in different key signatures. Different notes were produced by manipulating the hand position."

According to Rogers, Heinrich Stoelzel (1777-1844) invented a valve for the horn in 1814, creating the first modern French horn.

"This horn has been developed into an instrument of many valves, therefore eliminating the need to use the hand to change notes," Rogers said.

Brahms composed his "Horn Trio" in 1865, as a commemoration for his mother who had died earlier that year.

The 1998 doctoral thesis of Juilliard School of Music graduate student, Joshua Garrett, titled "Brahms' Horn Trio: Background and Analysis for Performers," provides some interesting insight into this piece. The thesis is posted on hornmatters.com, an online resource on the French horn.

Garrett writes, "Early one morning in the summer of 1865, Johannes Brahms went for a walk in the woods of the Black Forest and conceived the opening theme of his 'Horn Trio in E flat, Op. 40.' He later showed his friend Albert Dietrich the spot 'on the wooded heights among the fir trees' where the theme first came to him. As he told Dietrich, 'I was walking along one morning and as I came to this spot the sun shone out and the subject immediately suggested itself.' "

Tickets for the concerts are $25, $12 for students.

For tickets and more information, visit the Taos Chamber Music Group website at taoschambermusicgroup.org. Tickets are also on sale at the Harwood Museum, where there is a discount for museum members. Ticket holders also receive dinner discounts at Lambert's, Doc Martin's, Martyrs and the Gorge Bar and Grill restaurants following the performances.

For additional details, call the museum at (575) 758-9826 or visit harwoodmuseum.org.

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