Voces Populi

by Gerald Carpenter

POP ART & EXILES: The Community Arts Music Association (CAMA) is bringing the beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and the noted bass Samuel Ramey to the Arlington for a recital at 8 p.m. this Saturday, April 1. Pianist Martin Katz will accompany. The program will consist of songs by Pauline Viardot, Jacques Ibert, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Stephen Sondheim, and Irving Berlin. Your guess is as good as mine as to how this concert took this shape, so pointedly leaning toward Tin Pan Alley. Nevertheless, with such stellar performers and so many delicious tunes, the evening is bound to please and charm. For tickets and information about CAMA, call 966-4324; for tickets only, call 963-4408.

A more serious, if decidedly not solemn, event will be the Santa Barbara Master Chorale singing one of the most enduringly popular — in several ways — works in its repertoire, the oratorio Canto General, with a libretto based on poems by the Chilean Nobel Laureate, Pablo Neruda, and music by the extraordinary contemporary Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis. Soloists, chorus, and an unusual instrumental ensemble (guitars, percussion, etc.) will all be conducted by music director Phillip McLendon. The performance begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, and shows again at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 1, at First Presbyterian Church (State and Constance). For tickets, call 967-8287 for advance purchase information.

Theodorakis’s music is not just inseparable from his life (what composer’s isn’t?), it is inseparable from the history of his country in the 20th century, and of that century on earth. He studied music in the most formal way you can imagine, in Paris under Olivier Messiaen. He has written symphonies, concertos, oratorios, and every combination of chamber ensembles. Yet he also fought in the resistance in World War II, and was twice captured and tortured by the Nazis. During the Greek Civil War he was exiled to a remote island, where he was regularly beaten. When a junta of army officers murdered the Liberal Deputy Lambrakis in 1963, Theodorakis founded the Lambrakis Democratic Youth and became a liberal member of the Greek Parliament. In 1967, the colonels overthrew the democratic government of Greece, and Theodorakis had to go underground. He was captured and imprisoned, then booted out of Greece; he wandered in exile from tyranny. In Chile, he met Pablo Neruda. They hit it off. Eventually, we got Canto General.

It was Theodorakis’s luck — and curse — to excel in the two most significant musical forms of his age, the song and the motion picture score. His song-writing ability is amply represented in Canto General. The films he scored include Phaedre, Zorba the Greek, Z, State of Siege, and Serpico.

It seems like forever, but at last we get another concert from the Current Sounds New Music Consortium — at 8 p.m. on Monday, April 3, in First United Methodist Church (305 E. Anapamu). I have only heard one of the works on the program, but I trust this crew.

This concert introduces to me the Ojai String Quartet (Yue Deng and Amy Hagen, violins; Kirsten Monke, viola; and Virginia Kron, cello) — though I have long known and admired them as individuals — to Mario Lavista’s Reflejos de la Noche (1984), William Grant Still’s Danzas de Panama (1953), and selections from Osvaldo Golijov’s Yiddishbbuk: Inscriptions for String Quartet (1992). Soprano Agatha Carubia and pianist Seungah Seo return with Elaine Fine’s 2002 work, Cante Jondo, Six Poems by Federico Garcia Lorca. Pianist Robert Else and violinist Yue Deng play Claus Ogermann’s Sarabande-Fantasie and Nightwings. The concert ends with pianist Leslie Hogan and cellist Virginia Kron playing works of Chen Yi and Hogan. Tickets will be available only at the door. For more information, call 964-0308.

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