Music

Time and space through music

Taos Chamber Music Group closes 24th season with a novel multimedia program

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Taos Chamber Music Group closes its 24th season with “Transcending Time,” a multimedia program that incorporates the work of light and media artist Ethan Jackson and two young musicians, Eliana Razzino Yang, age 17, on cello and Michelle Cann, 28, on piano. Also performing are flutists Gretchen Pusch and TCMG Director Nancy Laupheimer.

“Transcending Time” will be performed Saturday (May 13) and Sunday (May 14) at 5:30 p.m. both days. The venue is the Arthur Bell Auditorium at the Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux St.

The program for “Transcending Time” includes J.S. Bach’s “Trio Sonata, BWV 1029” and Yuko Uebayashi’s “Au-delà du temps” (”Transcending Time”) for two flutes and piano. Cann will perform solo on Claude Debussy’s “Images” and with Yang for Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Cello Sonata No. 4.” Yang also performs George Crumb’s “Sonata for Solo Cello.”

Written in 2002, Uebayashi’s piece is an exploration of light in four movements: “La lumière lointaine de nuit” (”Night’s Distant Light”), “La lumière dansante” (”Dancing Light”), “La lumière blanche” (”White Light”) and “La lumière tournante dans le rêve” (”Light Turning in a Dream”).

“This descriptive, ethereal music lends itself so well to visual imagery,” Laupheimer said. “When one of our supporters wanted to sponsor a collaboration with artist Ethan Jackson, I thought this would be a great piece for that.”

For the performances, Jackson’s projected video of landscapes will interact with the music as it is played in real time. “The monumental images of familiar topography with sweeping weather and changing light will alter and shift in live response to the musical performance. Playing with time and light, the speed of the changing visual conditions will adapt to each unique musical performance,” Jackson said.

A visual artist working in architectural optics, photographics, interactive media and installation, Jackson said he crafts light, vision, image and imagination as the basis for his projects. His recent projects and exhibitions include a series of what he calls generative anamorphic photographs at Gallery Sugata in Kyoto, Japan; an optical installation at Duke University’s Divinity School; and a work at Denver Public Library that integrates views of the sky into the library’s Storytime Tower. Locally, Jackson has exhibited at The PASEO outdoor arts exposition and the Harwood Museum of Art.

Pusch is a New York-based flutist who will make her third appearance with TCMG for “Transcending Time.” She and Laupheimer have been friends since they attended Boston University’s School of Music as students. Pusch has performed with the American Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony, Philharmonia Virtuosi and on Broadway. She is a member of the Dorian Wind Quintet.

Cann is a pianist who lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the summer of 2010, she attended the Taos School of Music in Taos Ski Valley. She studied with Robert McDonald, the school’s artistic director, and continued to work with him as a student of Curtis Institute of Music, which she began in the fall of 2010.

“I asked Michelle to play Debussy’s ‘Images’ because it is such an exquisite solo piano work,” Laupheimer said, “but also because of its visual references that I thought fit well into our program.”

Reflecting on the Debussy piece she will be playing, Cann had this to say about the composer: “Debussy is one of my favorite composers because his music comes alive through your own imagination. Unlike music of the Romantic era, Debussy’s music was written during the Impressionist era, where the focus in each piece wasn’t necessarily on the melody alone and how beautifully you could shape your melodies. This music often evoked some type of image or feeling, and the purpose of each work was to transport you to that place through the use of many different musical and technical devices that were unique to each instrument. Traditional harmonic progressions that were used in earlier eras of writing were transformed in this music to create new sound worlds. I’ve never performed a piece by Debussy the same way twice. I let each performance take me on my own imaginative journey.”

Cann earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and an Artist Diploma (a program for specialized training) from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She is a faculty member at the Luzerne Music Center as the coordinator-instructor of piano performance and chamber music.

Yang began studying piano and violin at age 2, then switched to cello at age 5. Her parents are both professional musicians, so it was natural for Yang to gravitate toward music. Yang said she has played in at least one professional orchestra every year since the age of 5. She also loves chamber music. “Playing with other people in an intimate setting is one of my very favorite things to do,” Yang said.

The Beethoven sonata Yang will perform for the “Transcending Time” concerts is one of her favorites. “It’s so simple in character and quite innocent, but has moments of anger or melancholy. I envision an elderly man sitting in nature reflecting back, mostly content, on his life.”

Speaking on the Crumb “Sonata for Solo Cello” that she will also perform, Yang comments, “My favorite aspect of this sonata, in contrast with the Beethoven, is probably its unpredictability. One of the main ideas I am working on bringing to life in this piece is playing it like it’s improvised, like I’m making up, in the moment, what comes next.”

Tickets are $25, $12 for students. They are available by calling the Harwood Museum of Art at (575) 758-9826. Online purchases may be made at taoschambermusicgroup.org, where TCMG’s schedule and additional information can also be found.

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