August 2015 Convention
Washington, D.C.

Spotlight Concert: Mimi Stillman and Charles Abramovic

Elegantly dressed in a floor-length green gown, Mimi Stillman glided onto the stage with pianist Charles Abramovic, immediately connecting with the audience as she introduced her program built around “song” elements.

Mimi Stillman

photo by Brian Covington

Jolivet’s “Chant de Linos,” based on a Greek funeral lament interspersed with cries and dancing, came to life as Stillman sang through the mournful lyrical phrases alternating with clearly articulated rhythmic dances and heartfelt outbursts of passion.

Next up on the program was an NFA premiere work commissioned by Stillman: Benjamin Boyle’s Sonata-Cantilena, a four-movement composition reflecting the music of Barber and Poulenc. The performance demonstrated great interplay between flute and piano, with soaring expressive lines in the first two movements, playful articulated rhythms in the third movement, and showy legato runs shared by both instruments in the final movement.

The next work, also an NFA premiere, was David Ludwig’s Sonata for Flute and Piano No. 2. Inspired by Monteverdi madrigals and the ancient poetry of Petrarch, the composition highlighted Stillman’s dramatic breath control and color nuance as she deftly navigated the long, sustained phrases of the first movement followed by repetitive rhythmic motifs in the second movement. Cascading piano scales underscored much of the third movement, while the final movement alternated between perpetual motion effects and very slow modal scales, creating a beautiful madrigal sound.

Charles Abramovic and Mimi Stillman

photo by Brian Covington

The final piece included two selections from Debussy’s Nuits d’Etoiles. Arranged by Stillman, these pieces exquisitely demonstrated how the flute can emulate the human voice very closely.

Responding to a rousing applause, the performers treated the crowd to a delightful encore—Stillman’s improvisatory arrangement of Altamiro Carrilho’s Aeroporto do Galeão, a work based on four notes the composer heard coming over the loudspeaker at Rio de Janeiro airport.

—Rosene Rohrer