By Michael Johns
Sunday, March 12 at 5:00pm, USCB Chamber Music presents its final concert of the season with works inspired by art, folk music, and refined genius. Artistic Director/pianist Andrew Armstrong, violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti, and cellist Raphael Bell will dazzle with brilliant technique, entertain with penetrating musicianship, and reach across the footlights to share the joyful act of creation and performance.
The concert begins with Suite for Violin and Piano by William Grant Still. Acknowledged by his peers as “the Dean” of African-American composers, William Grant Still pursued a wide-ranging career that included jazz arranging, orchestrating for film and television, and composing more than 150 concert works and eight operas. Suite for Violin and Piano, from 1943, is a musical impression of three artworks created during the 1930’s by African American artists associated with the Harlem Renaissance. In Richmond Barthé’s sculpture, African Dancer, Still blends reflective, bluesy thoughts with forward-driving, assertive music, conveying a temporal dimension the sculpture is unable to express. The music for Sargent Johnson’s chalk drawing, Mother and Child, is a high-soaring, sentimental lullaby. In Augusta Savage’s Gamin, a whimsical bust of a young man, Still presents the figure’s nonchalance with syncopated rhythm and blues gestures.
Arno Babadjanian is considered to be one of the most important
twentieth-century Soviet Armenian composers. A virtuoso pianist and respected teacher, his classical and popular compositions are instantly appealing. Babadjanian’s style was influenced by Armenian folk music, classical music, and Soviet and American popular music; he composed frequently for film and television. Piano Trio in F-sharp minor (1952) is characterized by a dramatic theme which runs across all three movements and Armenian folk elements evoked with lyrical, ornamented melodies and irregular rhythms.
The concert concludes with a single work, Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Opus 49, by one of greatest musical talents to ever grace a stage, Felix Mendelssohn. Raised in a literate household, home schooled, exposed to the world of ideas and lessons of history, driven and filled with a zest for life, Mendelssohn became an accomplished painter, virtuoso pianist and organist, respected conductor, erudite man of letters, and visionary educator. As a composer he was able to combine classical-era sensibility—tuneful melodies, symmetry, and balance—with romantic-era self-indulgence—ardor, tension, and virtuosic exuberance. Balancing these polarities makes for a potent work that is satisfying for both head and heart.
Globe-trotting Artistic Director/pianist Andrew Armstrong will continue to share engaging insights into whatever crosses his mind and leave listeners breathless with his brilliant pianism. Andy has regularly delighted audiences across Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada, and the United States as a recitalist and concerto-soloist, in chamber music concerts with the Elias, Alexander, American, and Manhattan String Quartets, and as a member of the Caramoor Virtuosi, Boston Chamber Music Society, Seattle Chamber Music Society, and Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players.
Violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti has a musical career of broad versatility and accomplishment. Former concertmaster of the Florida Orchestra and Oregon Symphony, in 2007 she was named inaugural Director of Mercer University’s McDuffie Center for Strings, a position she continues to hold and has led with distinction, guiding students to heights they might not have otherwise imagined. A frequent collaborator with violinist James Ehnes, their duo and string quartet chamber music performances and recordings have received critical acclaim. Cellist Raphael Bell enjoys a varied career as a principal cellist, chamber musician, teacher, and festival director. He is currently principal cellist of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra (Belgium), founder and co-director of the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival (Virginia) and co-Artistic Director of La Loingtaine in Montigny-sur-Loing (France). A graduate of The Juilliard School, Mr. Bell has also performed internationally in major orchestras, festivals, chamber music ensembles, and with an impressive number of distinguished artists.
Experience in-the-moment creativity with artists who have crafted major careers and arrive in Beaufort with the performance-earned recognition that they will deliver a memorable concert. Enjoy respected and lauded artists playing music for you as they create an encounter that is intriguing, soothing, probing, and joyous. If being in the hall on the 12th is impossible, join us virtually by Live-Stream and On-Demand. All virtual concerts are professionally produced, creating great viewing opportunities. On-Demand is accessible four days after the concert and available to view at your leisure for three weeks. For concert/ticket information, go to www.uscbchambermusic.com or call 843-208-8246, Monday through Friday. The concert is Sunday, March 12, 5:00pm at the USCB Center for the Arts, 801 Carteret Street, Beaufort.