by Gerald Carpenter

AMERICA, AMERICA: First, to create some
closure, the following two student recitals fall within the purview
of this week’s column. This might be the last of them, or perhaps
not: Mitsuru Kubo, viola, in a bachelor of music
senior recital on Thursday, May 25, at 8 p.m. in Karl Geiringer
Hall. Kubo will play works by Felix Mendelssohn,
Paul Hindemith, William Walton,
and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Ramon Fermin, guitar, in a bachelor of music
junior recital on Friday, May 26, at 8 p.m. in Karl Geiringer Hall.
Fermin will perform pieces by F. Moreno Torroba,
Domenico Scarlatti, Dionysio
, Lennox Berkeley, Mario
, and Steve Reich.

Like all such student performances, these two are free of charge
and open to the public. Geiringer Hall is in the UCSB Music

Apparently, the end of the season is the time for American
music. Last weekend, we had Quire of Voyces giving us the American
treatment, and now — this Saturday and Sunday, May 27-28 — it’s the
Santa Barbara Master Chorale’s turn under the direction of
Phillip McLendon. The group will perform a concert
titled Americana and features American composers and songs,
including Randall Thompson’s Frostiana — settings
of poems by Robert Frost — as well as selections
from William Billings, Irving
, Robert Applebaum, and
John David Earnest. The program will be performed
at 8 p.m. on Saturday and at 3 p.m. on Sunday in the Unitarian
Society Sanctuary. For tickets and other information, call
967-8287, or visit Randall Thompson
(1899-1984) graduated from Harvard in the class of 1920. While an
undergraduate, he tried out for the famous Glee Club, but was
turned down. Since Thompson was destined to become one of the
greatest choral composers this country has produced, this early
rejection seems almost perverse. Thompson himself used to joke that
his subsequent career as a vocal composer was undertaken in the
spirit of revenge for this rebuff. “My life,” he said, “has been an
attempt to strike back.”

Thompson also wrote three symphonies (his second one is very
fine), two string quartets, and several other instrumental pieces,
but his preoccupation with the human voice dominated his creative

He was, moreover, a dedicated and influential teacher. He began
in 1927, at Wellesley College teaching harmony and counterpoint and
leading the choir. He later moved on to Berkeley, the Curtis
Institute of Music, the University of Virginia, and Princeton
before returning to Harvard in 1948, where he chaired the music
department from 1952 to 1957, and became the first Walter Bigelow
Rosen professor of music.

In 1958, Thompson was commissioned to write a work commemorating
the 200th anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Amherst,
Massachusetts. The result was Frostiana: Seven Country Songs, a
setting of poems by his friend, Robert Frost. The poems include
some of Frost’s most famous and best-loved lyrics: “The Road Not
Taken,” “The Pasture,” “Come In,” “The Telephone,” “A Girl’s
Garden,” “Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening,” and “Choose
Something Like a Star.” Thompson himself conducted the premiere
(October 18, 1959). Frost was in the audience, and at the
conclusion of the performance he lunged to his feet and yelled,
“Sing that again!”

The Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, conducted by Andrew
, will present its Spring Concert at 7 p.m. this
Sunday, May 28, in the Lobero Theatre. The program will feature
works by Jean-Baptiste Accolay — presumably his
one-movement student Concerto in A Minor — Wolfgang Mozart,
Camille Saint-Saëns, and the great American
impressionist, Charles Tomlinson Griffes (perhaps
his celebrated Poem for Flute and Orchestra?). The main orchestral
work of the evening will be Antonín Dvorák’s tone
poem, The Golden Spinning Wheel. For tickets, call 963-0761.


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