Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Orchestra Newsletter article part 4 - Old and New

This semester the Cornell music department welcomes to its family two new ensembles that take the stage in early November. Interestingly, each of these groups stretches the department’s horizons in a different direction. First, a small chamber opera orchestra assembled for the endeavor will perform Carlisle Floyd’s one-act music-drama Slow Dusk in the Schwartz Center’s Black Box Theatre. Conductors Chris Kim, John Rowehl and Dorian Bandy will lead the ensemble, with a stage cast drawn from members of Judith Kellock’s voice studio. Although various attempts have been made over the years to stage operas at Cornell, several practical problems have persisted, one of which is finding performance space that accommodates an orchestra while still leaving room for the actors. The production staff of Slow Dusk have avoided this logistical problem by reducing the opera’s score from a full orchestra to an 8 piece chamber ensemble consisting of Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, 2 Violins, 2 Violas, Cello and Piano, all of which will remain on stage for the duration of the performance. Because instrumental rehearsals for Slow Dusk don’t begin until 15 October, my own involvement in the project has been limited to orchestration, but with the caliber ensemble that we’ve drawn from the Cornell Orchestras, and the level of singers that are participating, I have no doubt that this production will be an excellent step in terms of collaborations between the Music and Theater Departments.
Les Petits Violons de Cornell, on the other hand (unlike the Slow Dusk project) has had multiple incarnations over the last decade. The student baroque orchestra, consisting of 3 or 4 violins (and in search of more), 2 violas, 2 cellos, a violone and a harpsichord, and playing on baroque and classical instruments, is named with a playful nod to Louis XIV’s own orchestra, plain old Les Petits Violons. Convened and coached by Neal Zaslaw, the group consists of a mix of faculty, grad students and undergrads, each with varying levels of exposure to baroque repertoire and period instruments. Les Violons are currently preparing Händel’s excellent D major concerto grosso, op. 6 no. 5 and a Telemann Burlesque Dance Suite, ultimately intended for performance on November 18th in Bailey, as part of a collaboration with the NYS Baroque Orchestra and the NY Baroque Dance Troupe. The event—entitled “Harlequin’s Capers”—will feature dance and music from the 18th century comic theater, including a staged version of Mouret’s Pygmalion. With improvised commedia dell’ arte scenes, plenty of buffoonery, and great music, this concert is not one to be missed! Stay tuned…
- Dorian Bandy, Music,’10

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