University composers to be featured in Feb. 29 concert

Four distinguished St. Louis composers, all affiliated with the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, will be honored with a concert of their works at 8 p.m. Feb. 29 in Edison Theatre.

The Washington University Composers’ Chamber Music Concert will feature music of Harold Blumenfeld, John MacIvor Perkins and Robert Wykes — all professors emeriti — and Roland Jordan, associate professor of music and comparative literature in Arts & Sciences.

Performers will include six faculty members and applied music instructors, seven members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and two guest musicians.

The program will feature the world premieres of Jordan’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Summermusic for clarinet, viola, harp, xylophone, glockenspiel and marimba.

Blumenfeld will be represented by a pair of song cycles, Songs of Cassis (1995) and Sterne und Stein (2003). Rounding out the program will be Perkin’s Reflections on a Bach Fugue for flute and piano (1994) and Wykes’s Piano Quintet for piano and string quartet (1961).

The concert will offer a foretaste of the 2004 Chancellor’s Concert, scheduled for April 25, which will feature world premiere works by Blumenfeld, Perkins and Wykes performed by the Washington University Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Choir of Washington University.

Blumenfeld directed the Washington University/Civic Opera Theatre from 1962-1971. He was the first composer to devote extensive attention to the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, culminating with the two-act opera, Seasons in Hell (1996).

Other works include the comic operas Fourscore: An Opera of Opposites and a one-act bagatelle, Breakfast Waltzes, both with Charles Kondek as librettist. Last year, the New York City Opera debuted his Borgia Infami as part of its VOX 2003 showcase.

Jordan, who joined the faculty in 1970, frequently composes for smaller ensembles, though his evening-long Maps — for voice and a large instrumental ensemble — was written and presented in 1979 in celebration of the University’s 125th anniversary, with the sponsorship of the New Music Circle.

In the late 1990s, both Synchronia and the Saint Louis Symphony Chamber series presented his Years of the Plague, a work in 13 movements marking the first 13 years of the AIDS crisis.

Perkins is the composer of some 35 works, including two one-act operas; several songs for voice and piano; and various compositions for orchestra, chorus, chamber groups and solo piano. His numerous honors include the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship and the American Academy and National Institute of Arts and Letters Award.

Wykes has written for film, theater and modern dance in addition to his concert compositions. His major orchestral works have been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

His other credits include musical scores for the Academy Award-winning documentary Robert Kennedy Remembered (1968) and the Kennedy Library’s John F. Kennedy: 1916-1963.

Tickets — $15; $10 for seniors, students and University faculty and staff; $5 for University students — are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office (935-6543) and through all MetroTix outlets.

For more information, call 935-4841.

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