A national competition, honoring George Crumb, Relâche recreates, and more

BSR Classical Music Interludes, May 2023, part 2

3 minute read
An illustration with a human figure with a top hat next to a figure in a black suit, holding a sign that reads Relâche
The Relâche ensemble is named after the multimedia Dada theater piece ‘Relâche’ created by Erik Satie, René Clair, Jean Börlin, and Francis Picabia. (Image courtesy of Relâche.)

There are still concerts galore this spring, and here are four offerings with a slant toward the 20th and 21st centuries. There’s an eclectic mix, some great American songs, a look at a composer’s scores as both music and visual art, and an opportunity to catch some next-generation virtuosos.

Astral Artists: National Competition
Monday, May 22, 10am-12pm; 12:45-4:30pm
Wednesday, May 24, 9:30am-12:30pm; 1:30-5pm
Boyer College of Music & Dance, Temple University, 1715 North Broad Street, Philadelphia

Now in its 31st year, Astral Artists is a mentoring program that specializes in early-career development for extraordinary classical musicians. Each year, they audition musicians and chamber ensembles for spots on their 25-member roster, and the 2023 competitors have just been announced. National Competition winners receive individualized support and performance and networking opportunities. Portions of this year’s National Competition are free and open to the public, but you must make your reservations by Thursday, May 18.

Artcinia: Music for Clarinet and Strings
Friday, May 19, 7pm
Church of St. Luke & The Epiphany, 330 South 13th Street, Philadelphia

Sunday, June 4, 3pm
Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, 1723 Race Street, Philadelphia

Bringing musicians to different neighborhoods, Artcinia continues its wonderful Music in Your Neighborhood series of performances that are “accessible, affordable, and close to home.” This one (two dates and locations) features Luigi Mazzocchi (violin) and Antonello DiMatteo (clarinet) with Natasha Colkett (violin), Hanah Rose Nicholas (viola), and Glenn Fischbach (cello) in arrangements of Bartok’s Romanian Dances and Brahms’s iconic Clarinet Quintet.

Relâche: Re|Create
Sunday, May 21, 4pm
Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia

This eclectic group has been exploring musical boundaries and commissioning works since its founding in 1977 as a composer’s collective. Their season-closer concert features Relâche musicians Sean Bailey (reeds), Chris Coyle (bass), and Ron Stabinsky (piano) exploring everything from old world-influenced “Art-Klezmer” to new creations, including works by Wildflower composers Em Singleton and Flannery Cunningham, who explore the sonic variations of instruments and enhanced electronics.

Lyric Fest: Bewitched: The Bothered, Bewildered Songs of Rodgers & Hart
Tuesday, May 23, 7pm
Moorestown Community Center, 16 East Main Street, Moorestown

Wednesday, May 24, 7pm
Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia

To close out their ambitious 20th anniversary season, Lyric Fest opens the Great American Songbook. Mezzo-soprano Suzanne DuPlantis and baritone Brian Major will be joined by pianist-composer-arranger John Conahan and saxophonist Ron Kerber for standards from the over 500 songs and 28 Broadway shows by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, songs like Blue Moon, Small Hotel, My Funny Valentine, Where or When, and (of course) Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.

Orchestra 2001: George Crumb: Scores at an Exhibition
Wednesday, May 24, 7:30pm
Slought Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania, 4017 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

Here’s a unique look at the work of well-known Philadelphia composer George Crumb (1929-2022). Crumb’s influence was widely felt in this region, and on Wednesday, May 24, his unusual (and unusually stunning) scores will be displayed as works of art at this UPenn gallery. There’s also a pay-what-you-can concert that features three Crumb pieces: Dream Sequence (Images II), scored for piano, violin, cello, percussion, and glass harmonica; and two solo piano works, including Metamorphoses, 10 Fantasies for Amplified Piano, Book 2 performed by Marcantonio Barone (for whom Crumb composed it in 2020) accompanied by images of the artworks that influenced this modern take on Pictures at an Exhibition.

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