Martial Arts

by Gerald Carpenter

prokofiev.jpgSUMMER FARE: Too
quickly, we arrive at the final three days of the Music Academy’s
2006 Summer Festival. As the last grains slip silently through the
hourglass opening, there is still time for one more free Community
Concert by the Academy Young Artists at the Santa Barbara Museum of
Art (Thursday, August 10, 2 p.m.); still time for a master
class from violist Donald McInnes in Lehmann Hall (Thursday,
August 10, 2 p.m.)
and one from trumpetmeister Paul Merkelo in
Singher Studio (Friday, August 11, 1 p.m.), but the
pedagogy wing of the Academy is definitely winding down.

Now, we come to one of those events that, while clearly
connected to and produced by the Music Academy, does not seem to be
quite of the same stuff as the rest of the summer’s offerings. I
refer to Cabaret! A Sea of Shining Stars, which will take place on
Friday, August 11, 5 p.m., at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort,
under the capable direction of Don Pippin. The Academy Young Vocal
Artists perform the academy’s annual gala benefit under the stars,
in the rotunda. The musical fare is considerably lighter — Irving
Berlin, this year — while the tariff is considerably heavier
($300) than the average, or even above average, festival
event. Tony Award-winner Pippin will put his young singers through
the likes of “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “Blue Skies,” Cheek to Cheek,”
“Always,” and more. There will be cocktails before, with dinner
served al fresco in the Plaza del Sol. Patron and sponsor tables
are available (call 565-5921 for reservations).

Later that same evening, there will be a quintessential Summer
Festival event, however: the Chamberfest, at 8 p.m. in the Lobero
Theatre. The performers will be a rare and balanced blend of
Academy Artist-Faculty and Academy Young Artists, in a “chamber
music, season-ending celebration” featuring vocal, string, and
percussion music of Igor Stravinsky, Antonín Dvorˇák, Heitor
Villa-Lobos, and Ludwig Beethoven.

THE END IS NIGH: All good things come to an
end, and the better the thing, the harder the end. Yet, here we
are, at the final concert of this truly spectacular 2006 Summer
Festival at the Music Academy. Bolshoi Ballet conductor Pavel
Klinichev will lead the glorious Festival Orchestra in an
all-Russian program at the Lobero Theatre (Saturday, August 12,
8 p.m.)
. There will be three works performed: Pyotr
Tchaikovsky’s Festival Coronation March, his Capriccio Italien,
Opus 45, and Serge Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Opus

Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony, his masterpiece in the form, was
written in 1944 — that is, at about the same time as Shostakovich’s
equally masterful Piano Trio No. 2. The Soviets were now beating
the Nazis pretty handily, though conditions in Western Russia were
still horrendous (Eli Klimov’s harrowing “Come and See” paints
a convincing picture of the Russian countryside during the invasion
and occupation)

It was the first symphony Prokofiev composed since voluntarily
returning to the Soviet Union 11 years before. Prior to composing
the Fifth he was not thought of as a symphonist; he did not
consider himself that way. He was a composer of ballets and
concerti, and a virtuoso pianist. After the Fifth, he was in the
major leagues, and the Sixth and Seventh, as well as his drastic
revision of the Fourth, first composed in 1930, are all
masterpieces of a very high order. What I think happened is that
Prokofiev had figured out how to reshape the gorgeous music of his
ballets (he had just finished Cinderella and was actively
fiddling with Romeo and Juliet when he wrote the Fifth)
that it would fit into the Russian symphony form as perfected by
Tchaikovsky, and used so powerfully by Rachmaninov and
Shostakovich. Tickets for this and all Lobero events can be
obtained from the Lobero box office at 963-0761. Tickets for all
Music Academy events are available at 969‑8787.


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