Back to School

by Gerald Carpenter

MUSICAL SPRING HAS SPRUNG: This next week, music lovers will have to take themselves out to UCSB, for that is apparently where all the action is — starting tonight (Thursday, June 1), when the University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Paul Bambach, presents its Virtual World Tour concert at 8 Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall. The ensemble invariably performs works you wish you had heard before and want to hear again. Tonight’s program features the Mosher Woodwind Quintet in David R. Gillingham’s Concerto for Woodwind Quintet and Wind Ensemble, plus suites by Béla Bartók, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Darius Milhaud, and Aram Khachaturian. Tickets are $12 general admission, $7 for students, and may be purchased at the door.

Then there’s a concert for those whose approach to music is colored by the verse of the Upanishads: “The sharp edge of the razor is difficult to pass over; thus, the wise say the path of salvation is hard.” UCSB’s Ensemble for Contemporary Music, under the direction of Jeremy Haladyna, has just about the sharpest cutting edge in town and it will be offering its last event of the 2005-06 school year at 8 p.m. next Tuesday, June 6, in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall. Haladyna will lead the ECM finale, with a program that includes composer-in-residence Ursula Mamlok’s Polarities and From My Garden (with violist Leah Lucas), plus works by some of UCSB’s many talented young Turks, such as Pursuit of Truth by Tim Beutler and Scott Perry’s Eviscerations.

Haladyna himself is, of course, a composer of considerable significance, and the concert will feature a performance of his Descent of Kukulcan, written for faculty bassoonist Andrew Radford. Haladyna carries forward the standard originally passed on to him by William Kraft, but he has been more than a custodian or placeholder. As a composer, he is an original and intriguing voice in contemporary American music. As a performer, he puts an insightful and open mind at the service of whatever music comes his way, be it his own, a student’s or colleague’s, or the work of some legendary radical. As a teacher, he is clearly un-dogmatic and generous. We are lucky to have him among us, and lucky that he is still young. Tickets to the ECM concert are $12 general admission, $7 for students, and will be available at the door on the night of the concert.

Those with free afternoons and a taste for music’s lighter moments should mosey on out to Lotte Lehmann at 2:30 p.m. next Wednesday, June 7, for the UCSB Opera Workshop’s presentation of student performances of comic scenes from operas by W. A. Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi, Benjamin Britten, and Gioacchino Rossini. Musical direction is by Dr. Steven Kronauer, stage direction by Michele Farr, and Erin Bronski, pianist. The program will be repeated at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 8, in the same venue. Admission is $12 general, $7 for students, with tickets at the door.

Finally, the University Symphony, conducted by Sean Newhouse, offers its annual Spring Concert, with the UCSB music department’s concerto competition winners, at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7, in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall. On the program are François Borne’s Fantasie brillante for Flute and Orchestra on themes of “Carmen,” with Alison Hazen, flute; Paul Creston’s Concertino for Marimba and Orchestra, with Haig Shirinian, marimba; and Ernest Bloch’s Suite for Viola and Orchestra, with Leah Lucas, viola; plus Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, “Unfinished,” by Franz Schubert and Overture to the Opera Der Freischütz (The Freeshooter), by Carl Maria von Weber. As above, the tariff is $12 general, $7 student, with tickets sold at the door.

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