Claire Chase, the renowned virtuosic contemporary music-fueled flutist, is no stranger to the 805, having memorably graced the Ojai Music Festival two years in a row recently. She just drifted into our topographical path again for a residency via the Music Academy of the West, in a welcome blast of fresh, forward-thinking musical energy. On Thursday, July 25, at Hahn Hall, Chase — both innovative and audience-friendly by nature —presented one of the more adventurous evenings yet in the Music Academy of the West’s annual “Mosher Guest Recital” series.
Her first radical gesture, left of classical recital tradition, was to invite along the 17 student “fellows” she had been working with here. The musicians were assigned various tactics to suit the material: They sat on the stage lip to sing drone tones and create a warming vocal swarm on the late new music legend Pauline Oliveros’ “Tuning Meditation”; they separated into modules, around the stage and in aisles, to navigate both the score and improvisational possibilities of “Artificial Life” by George Lewis (also a starring figure in Ojai, in 2017).
Chase herself was more center-stage and in mobile, malleable form on the world premiere of Marcos Balter’s 45-minute “Pan.” As Chase also demonstrated in Ojai, she’s a fan of “ink still wet,” fresher-the-better new works, and she proudly explained that “Pan” was only 72 hours old. She bounced around the stage and the theater, as well as between flutes (including the contrabass flute’s massive plumbing, larger than she), and between personae in the work’s loosely narrative eight movements. Meanwhile, her young allies provided occasional percussion and theatrical counterpoint.
With her latest 805 visit, Chase validated her role as a model 21st century musician, bringing her venturesome wits and fearless technical powers to the fore.