Rarefied Airs, (In)Mortality, music of Steve Reich, and more

BSR Classical Interludes, April 6-14, 2024

3 minute read
A dozen or so players at instruments packed on stage, highlight cast mostly on the conductor. Ambient light fills the rest
Alarm Will Sound visits the Annenberg Center this month. (Photo by Michal Ramus.)

As spring rounds the corner—rain and sun and all—the first half of April brings more intriguing concerts. There’s a cappella vocal music that spans the ages, two instrumental concerts of music from the 17th century, piano trios from Higdon and Brahms, luscious songs from Ravel, and music of Steve Reich to bring us into the 21st century. Quite a lot to choose from!

Convoco: (In)Mortality
Saturday, April 6, 7:30pm
St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, 2013 Appletree Street, Philadelphia

This relatively new vocal octet of young singers (founded in 2021) has been concertizing this year throughout the region, but on Saturday they will present their first Philadelphia outing this season. The free concert (donations accepted) will feature a full program of a cappella vocal works by Coleridge-Taylor, Byrd, Williams, Gombert, Potteiger, Berger, Gjeilo, Paulus, Lawson, Salmonson, and others.

Main Line Early Music: Sylvan Viol Consort: A Secret Fire
Sunday, April 7, 3pm
Church of the Good Shepherd Rosemont, 1116 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr

The next concert in this excellent early music series will look at fire as a metaphor for love. The players of the Sylvan Viol Consort—Sarah Cunningham, Donna Fournier, Gretchen Gettes, Margaret Humphreys, Rebecca Humphreys, and Elena Smith—will be joined by soprano Laura Heimes and Mark Rimple (lute) in works from 17th century England and France by Byrd, Dowland, Lawes, Le Jeune, Lambert, and Purcell.

Music at the Mansion: Rarefied Airs
Thursday, April 11 and Friday, April 12, 7pm
The Woodlands, 4000 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia

This intimate West Philadelphia series is presented in the Woodlands’ historic Hamilton Mansion. Artistic director and violist Amy Leonard will be joined by Steven Zohn (flute) and Heather Miller Lardin (bass) in works by Franz Anton Hofmeister, Johannes Sperger, Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, and Michael Haydn. While this may seem like an unusual configuration of instruments, it was not so in the 17th century when each of these composers was writing.

Market Street Music: Pyxis Piano Trio with Grant Youngblood
Saturday, April 13, 3pm
First & Central Presbyterian Church, 1101 North Market Street, Wilmington

This trio—Luigi Mazzocchi (violin), Jie Jin (cello), and pianist Hiroko Yamazaki—is one of the resident ensembles of Market Street Music and is here joined by baritone Grant Youngblood. The program features Jennifer Higdon’s Piano Trio, Schubert’s Sonatensatz in B-flat Major, Brahms’ Piano Trio in C minor, and Youngblood singing Ravel’s Chansons madécasses. The concert will also be recorded for digital viewing.

Penn Live Arts: Alarm Will Sound plays music of Steve Reich
Sunday, April 14, 7pm
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

This eclectic performance series has wonderful offerings, and one of their most compelling this season features the music of Steve Reich played by Alarm Will Sound. The program includes the composer’s Clapping Music, which uses hands as the sole instrument, Vermont Counterpoint, and Radio Rewrite, a work inspired by music of Radiohead that this group premiered in 2016. But the centerpiece of the program is Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, an enormously influential minimalist work that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

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