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By Courtesy photo
BY SUSAN SCAFFIDI Contributing writer
Cal State Bakersfield music faculty will honor the centennial of English composer Benjamin Britten in a small, intimate and musically inviting way Friday evening at the Dore Theatre.
The year has been a big one for classical music concerts: 2013 marks the bicentennial of composers Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner, and Britten's centennial. Much of the programming has focused on the big stuff -- all three composer's operas, orchestral works and large choral works (Bakersfield Symphony will perform Verdi's "Requiem" with the Bakersfield Master Chorale in March).
CSUB Music Faculty Concert: Benjamin Britten Centennial
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Dore Theatre,
Admission: $10; $5 seniors and students; CSUB students free with ID. Free parking in lots B and C.
Like Verdi and Wagner, Britten is best known for his larger-scale works -- operas such as "Peter Grimes," "Billy Budd" and "The Turn of the Screw," choral works such as "Rejoice in the Lamb," "Hymn to St. Cecilia," and "A Ceremony of Carols," and orchestral works such as "Four Sea Interludes" and "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," and, most of all, his famous "War Requiem." This Friday evening, however, the Cal State music department will show us another side of Britten the composer in a program of chamber music.
The program includes "Nocturnal after John Dowland," a piece for guitar written as a tribute to the English Renaissance composer; "Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury," for three trumpets; "Insect Music," for oboe and piano; "Concert Piece for Jimmy," for timpani and piano; and the Suite for Violin and Piano.
"There are some very heavy and serious pieces (in Britten's repertoire)," said CSUB music professor Dr. Soo-Yeon Chang. "I just tried to make it a little lighter program."
The selections certainly are in keeping with Britten's own stated goal of writing music that is "accessible." "Insect Music," for example, consists of two short, very charming "character pieces," one describing a wasp, the other a grasshopper. "Concert Piece for Jimmy" is Britten's tribute to James Blades, one of England's most respected and beloved percussionists, who performed the premieres of much of Britten's music. Blades was also honored for his work with disabled children; this piece was intended for children's concerts. The multi-movement Suite for Violin and Piano is a challenging duet for both instrumentalists as they play through a daunting "moto perpetuo" ("perpetual motion"), a wistful lullaby and a slightly off-kilter march and waltz.
"I tried to show his various compositional styles," Chang said. "Every piece is very different but it's all by one composer; so many celebrate this composer among all composers -- his spirit."
The concert features Chang at the piano, Roger Allen Cope on guitar, trumpeters Joel Haney, Leo Sakomoto and Kris Tiner, oboist Brett Clausen, percussionist Ernest Cervantes, saxophonist Paul Perez and violinist Julia Haney.