Scrag Mountain Concerts Embracing Natural Transitions | Performing Arts | 7 Days


  • Courtesy of Dario Acosta/EmberPhoto/Ariel Doneson
  • Mary Bonhage

Mud season isn’t pretty, but it does mark the end of Vermont’s long winter. The sense of hope it brings is the inspiration for Scrag Mountain Music’s upcoming concerts in Montpelier and Warren, titled “Winter Winds, Melting Ice: Seasons of Transition.”

“We leave behind the cold, the energy we breathe in, and we start being exposed to the air. This is something Vermonters experience every year,” said Mary Bonhag, co-founder of Scrag and the mastermind behind the project. The soprano from Marshfield will perform with two long-time collaborators, flutist Katherine Gregory and pianist David Kaplan. Among the works the latter two will perform is a duet called “Inside the Breath,” composed by Bonhag’s husband, Evan Premo, who co-founded Scrag and serves as co-artistic director with Bonhag.

Bonhag’s carefully selected programming is the essence of Scrag: its promise to bring audiences a mixture of new music and classics in a warm, unpretentious way. (Scragg appeared on ” Aimagthe magazine of Early American Music, for its policy of “Come as you come. Do what you can.”

Bonhag, who trained with Grammy Award-winner Dawn Upshaw and counts her residency at Tanglewood in western Massachusetts as part of her bona fides, Singing the early works of modernist artist Elliott Carter, The warble of lilac time (1943).A 10-minute scene from Walt Whitman blades of grass It’s a “joyful” memory of March’s melting snow and the green-yellow willow shoots, Bonhage said. She last performed the piece while studying for her master’s degree at Bard College Conservatory of Music in New York.

“It’s been in my body for 15 years,” she said. “I’ve been waiting to share this special song with Vermonters because I think people really enjoy it.”

Kaplan will also accompany Bonhage with three selections from the Franz Schubert song suite winter travelor winter trip (1828). The songs, written while the composer was dying of syphilis, tell of a man’s heartbreak in winter; they are, Bonhag said, “deep, dark, gorgeous—but heavy.” She joins a recent wave of female singers performing this work for tenor.

Kaplan’s solo was Claude Debussy’s Prelude “Des pas sur la neige,” or “Footprints in the Snow”—a logical choice of theme. He and his wife, Gregory, will also perform David Lang’s “Vent” (1990), a minimalist composition from their first album, released last September.

Click to enlarge Clockwise from top: Evan Premo, Catherine Gregory and David Kaplan - Courtesy of DARIO ACOSTA/EMBER PHOTO/ARIEL DONESON

  • By Dario Acosta/Ember Photo/Ariel Doneson
  • Clockwise from above: Evan Premo, Catherine Gregory and David Kaplan

Kaplan lives in Los Angeles, serves as co-artistic director of Lyrica Chamber Music in New Jersey, and has performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall in New York to the Barbican Center in London. “Vent,” he said by phone, is “a foundational piece of that era of American minimalism. You can see David exploring how to reduce music to its core or essence. He also worked on combining the sounds of two instruments It rises up and turns into a beam of laser sound waves.

Lang is co-founder of the New York City experimental collective Bang on a Can and a core inspiration for next-generation new music advocate and New Amsterdam Records co-founder Judd Greenstein. Bonhag will perform Greenstein’s “Hillula,” set in the Zohar of the mid-2000s.

The soprano specializes in various types of sacred music, but for her final piece she chose one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s few secular cantatas, No. 209. The work features Gregory playing a flute line – which is equally balanced with the soprano’s voice – accompanying Kaplan.

Inside the Breath, which Premo created specifically for Kaplan and Gregory, will premiere on Kaplan’s Lyrica series in 2022. Jan Sandman’s oil and cold wax paintings of the same name are “direct works.” The techniques he uses include phrases of sustained deep meditation. He added that the piece is “full of swirling energy and a musical representation of sacred geometry.”

Premo, whose work includes commissions for the Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Orchestra (the former ensemble of the Pittsburgh Symphony) and Vermont’s own Capital Concerts, has a special interest in spirituality. Scrag’s current season includes the double bassist’s ongoing series of “Spiritual Soundings”—live, improvised ambient music composed through loops designed to move audiences to meditation or movement. Premo said Breathing Inside is about the composer’s own inner spiritual movement, “the inner spirit necessary to move from winter to spring.”

More than any particular work, Kaplan looks forward to “the way we present it. [the program],” he said, “from the informal spirit of the concert to the way you interact with the audience. It’s not that, as a performer, you’re in a frame or on a pedestal; Performer. There’s a fluidity between audience and performer that Scrag does better than most.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *