On May 10th we will perform at the Merit School of Music’s Anne and Howard Gottlieb Hall.  I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a little about the program.

We will open the concert with the festive John Mackey Breakdown Tango.  This short, exciting piece was written in 2000 for the Parsons Dance Company.  Called “an appealing and at times wonderfully trashy piece” by Clarinet Magazine, we think this will kick off the concert with great fun. 

Our dedication to the music of our time will continue with the Nine Episodes for Four Players by one of the deans of American composition, Ned Rorem.  Written in 1999, after losing his longtime partner James Holmes to AIDS, the commission from the Contrasts Quartet and the SOLI Chamber Ensemble acted to reawaken his compositional powers, which had been greatly diminished during James’ illness.  Winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy, born in Indiana and trained here in Chicago at Northwestern University before receiving a scholarship to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Rorem displays his lyrical and colorful compositional technique in this fascinating piece.

We will dedicate the second half of our program to the great Gran Partita of Mozart, in an unusual performance.  Many of you will know that the original Gran Partita is one of the crowning achievements of wind writing of all time.  However, it was not unusual to find arrangements made of Mozart’s works, either by the composer himself, of by others.  We will utilize the arrangement of Christian Friedrich Gottlieb Schwencke, published in 1805, just 14 years after Mozart’s death.  This remarkably satisfying arrangement is for clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano.

One of goals in the Civitas Ensemble is to pursue collaboration.  We wish to attempt to intermingle art forms in ways that adds to a composition, create something new, enlighten us, and our audience.  To that end, each of the 7 movements of the Gran Partita will introduced by the reading of a letter from Mozart himself.  I hope that like me, you will find these letters truly fantastic in framing the context of this great piece, and making it human and timely.

We are extremely pleased that this concert is partially underwritten by the generosity of Judy and Scott McCue.



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