Washington University Chamber Orchestra to present ‘Follow the Fugue’ Jan. 24

Concert to showcase music of Bach, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Toch

The Washington University Chamber Orchestra will present “Follow the Fugue,” a concert of fugues in a variety of forms and arrangements, at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24, in Graham Chapel.

Elizabeth Macdonald, director of the Washington University Chamber Orchestra

The program will feature several examples by Johann Sebastian Bach, arguably the form’s pre-eminent practitioner, including the fugue from his First Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin. Performing the piece will be Rowena McBeath, an accomplished violinist who also serves as chief resident in the university’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery.

Elizabeth Macdonald, director of the Chamber Orchestra in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, notes that, “While Bach is regarded as the master of fugal and contrapuntal composition, as in the 48 fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier, most composers from the 18th through the 20th centuries felt the challenge to study and write fugues.

“The music is some of the most complex but also the most democratic,” Macdonald says. “Every voice has its chance to introduce the theme or counter-theme.”

Also on the program will be a group of fugues that occur within the context of larger works for string quartet. These will include fugues from the String Quartets, Op. 20, of Franz Joseph Haydn; the Four Pieces for String Quartet, Op. 81, of Felix Mendelssohn; and the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Rasumovsky” quartets, Op. 59 No. 3.

Rounding out the program will be an unusual piece from the 1920s, a fugue for a speaking chorus, titled Geographical Fugue, by Ernst Toch. The text consists of a litany of place names, including cities, countries and other geographical landmarks, many of which can be difficult for the performers to pronounce.

“Undaunted,” Macdonald quips, “the Chamber Orchestra will put down their bows for this piece.”

“Follow the Fugue” is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Department of Music.

Graham Chapel is located north of the Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. For more information, call (314) 935-5566 or e-mail kschultz@artsci.wustl.edu.

Calendar Summary

WHO: Washington University Chamber Orchestra

WHAT: Concert “Follow the Fugue”

PROGRAM: Music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Joseph Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Ernst Toch.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24

WHERE: Graham Chapel, north of Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

COST: Free

SPONSOR: Department of Music in Arts & Sciences

INFORMATION: (314) 935-5566 or kschultz@artsci.wustl.edu.

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