Williams Chamber Players Play 20th Century Chamber Music Influenced by Popular Sounds

(l-r) Keith Kibler, Erin Nafziger, Kerry Ryer-Parke, vocal faculty of Williams Chamber Players

(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – The Williams Chamber Players will perform works by Shostakovich, Poulenc, Cage, Strauss, and Lehár in a concert themed “The insidious popular vein in the early 20th century” on Saturday, September 8, 2012, at 8 p.m. in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall on the Williams College campus. This free event is open to the public. The concert will also include the world premiere of a piece by Williamstown composer Stephen Dankner, written in tribute to the late Williams College music professor Irwin Shainman.

Oboist Carl Jenkins, bassoonist Stephen Walt, and pianist Elizabeth Wright will take to the stage performing the Poulenc Trio. Francis Poulenc, who died in 1963, was original and modern, setting his melodies against traditional harmonic backgrounds. The trio showcases Poulenc’s vibrant style and light touch, brimming with the enthusiasm of the Parisian music halls of the time.

This year John Cage, an icon of American and avant-garde music, stands in the spotlight. On this centenary of his birth, and twenty years after his death, Cage’s work has enjoyed renewed attention. Seventy years after premiering just up the road at Bennington College, Credo in Us is performed again by Matthew Gold and Casey McLellan ‘14, percussion; Paul de Jong (ex- of The Books), radio/phonograph; and Elizabeth Wright, piano. Cage’s musical collage-making presents the influences of his musical world without ambiguity. What others only subtly suggest, Cage announces.

Pianist Doris Stevenson joins with members of the vocal faculty at Williams, Keith Kibler and Erin Nafzinger, performing songs from old Vienna. “Vilia” from Lehár’s Merry Widow and selections from Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss are among the selections.

Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57 by Dmitri Shostakovich is one of the composer’s most celebrated works and demonstrates his mastery of traditional form, married with an unmistakable individuality and modernist sensibility. Despite this modernism, or perhaps because of it, this quintet employs themes reminiscent of the popular Russian music of the day.

Of special interest to the community audience, composer Stephen Dankner premieres a work in collaboration with Artist Associate in Trumpet, Nathan Botts. The piece is written for Irwin Shainman, who passed away on July 8, 2012. A musician and teacher who enjoyed the status of a cultural icon in the Williams community, Shainman was a beloved faculty member (1948-1991), who taught generations of Williams students. He served as conductor of the budding Berkshire Symphony and private trumpet teacher and professor. A virtuoso trumpeter, he won the Premiere Prix in trumpet performance at the Paris Conservatory in 1950. Dankner’s piece is titled “Remembering Irwin… for solo trumpet.”

The Williams Chamber Players is a resident performance faculty chamber music ensemble at Williams. The ensemble offers performers and audiences the opportunity to explore chamber music over a range of periods and styles. Distinguished performance faculty share the joy of making music together to the delight of student and community audiences.

Williams College concert hotline: 413.597.3146

Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall is located at 54 Chapin Hall Drive in Bernhard Music Center on the Williams College campus. For building locations on the Williams campus, consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel.

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