Ladies First, Last, and Always

by Gerald Carpenter

WONDROUS WOMEN: This week I celebrate two extraordinary musicians, two extraordinary women. One is a composer and organist, the other a virtuoso pianist. I refer, of course, to Emma Lou Diemer and Egle Januleviciute.

Professor Emeritus Emma Lou Diemer is a composer of astonishing range and power, an organist of international repute, and a gifted pianist. The Santa Barbara Music Club will honor her (and Wolfgang Mozart) in a special benefit concert this Sunday, April 30, at 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara (1535 Santa Barbara St.). Unlike most Music Club concerts, this one is not free, but costs a reasonable $25, with all proceeds going to benefit Santa Barbara Music Club concerts and scholarships. Tickets are available from Santa Barbara Sheet Music (1036 Santa Barbara St.) and at the concert.

The concert will open with a piece by Diemer from 1996 called Fiesta, played on the organ by the composer. Next, this being the year it is, we will hear Mozart’s Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 333, played by the spectacular pianist Betty Oberacker. Then more Diemer, with her Psalms from 1998, with John Ernest, trumpet and Diemer, organ; followed by Encore (Diemer — 1981), played by Betty Oberacker, who played the solo part in the world premiere of Diemer’s Piano Concerto. Then more Mozart, the Trio in E-flat Major, K. 498 performed by Nancy Mathison, clarinet, Tom Turner, viola, and Donna Massello-Chiacos, piano. Finally, there will be Diemer’s Homage to Poulenc, Mozart, and MacDowell from 2004, played by the exquisite flautist Suzanne Duffy, the peerless master cellist Geoffrey Rutkowski, and Emma Lou herself on piano.

For more information, visit the Music Club’s Web site at or call 705-1158.

Egle Januleviciute was born in Lithuania to an intensely musical family. Her father maintains a strong presence as an opera soloist and her mother is a professor of piano at the Lithuanian Academy of Music. Her sister is a collaborative pianist and opera coach, and her brother, also a pianist, leans toward his other specialty, conducting.

Januleviciute earned a doctorate in piano performance at UCSB and she teaches piano both there and at Westmont College.

Januleviciute took up residence in Santa Barbara in 1998, and while I cannot reconstruct the first program I heard her play, I know that my jaw dropped during the first few bars and I sat there dumbfounded, not daring to stir, until it was over. Any performance she gives is an occasion for rejoicing, and a magnet for connoisseurs. Her trademark is passion — not the sloppy, all-over-the-map passion of the melodramatist, but the laser-sharp, directed passion of the true virtuoso. The music always comes first, not her brilliance, however remarkable that is.

Next Tuesday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. in First United Methodist Church (305 E. Anapamu), Januleviciute will be playing Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 2 in C Minor BWV 826, Sergei Rachmaninov’s Variations on a Theme by Corelli, Opus 42, and Frederick Chopin’s masterpiece, Sonata No. 2 in B Minor, Opus 58.

Januleviciute and her music will be introduced by Dr. Alejandro Planchart. Music lovers would not even think about being somewhere else that evening. Tickets run $15-$20, and are available at the door.

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