August 2017 Convention
Minneapolis, MN

Minnesota Composers I

John Nuechterlein of the American Composers Forum hosted this concert featuring music by six composers who are either current or former Minnesota residents. Four of the composers were in attendance as well. It was a stylistically diverse program, opening with “Bric-a-brac” by Robert Brownlow for flute, clarinet, and piano, a piece in five movements, each with a descriptive title and a corresponding central musical idea.

Elizabeth McNutt

 

Next we heard “Land Meeting Sky” by Edie Hill, a work for flute and cello performed by the duo Cherchez la Femme. As always at the flute convention, it was nice to hear the contrasting sounds of string instruments. The piece explored various aspects of the sky, clouds, and light, from calm to stormy. The third movement was my favorite; called “Blazing Twilight,” it featured long drones from the cello.

The Calliope Duo (Elizabeth McNutt and pianist Shannon Wettstein) were the standout performers on the program. They played three works, two of them world premieres. “Meditation and Dance” by Melissa Krause seemed to combine or alternate between the meditation and dance characters, rather than having them as two distinct sections. Kristen Broberg’s “Veiled in Morning Mist,” a premiere, started by using an e-bow and plucked strings inside the piano, with the flute aimed into the piano to increase its resonance. A long section of flute trills/tremoli, with rising figures in the piano, gave a sense of something emerging out of the mist. Fast descending patterns and shimmering harmonics might have hinted at waterfalls. The piece ended with whistle tones and a sustained piano chord. The duo’s final work was Jon Christopher Nelson’s “Where Lines and Curves are Scattering,” also a premiere. The most abstract work on the program, it did give a sense of lines and shapes being broken up—and of the spaces opening between the fragments.

The program concluded with “Songs Before Winter” by David Evan Thomas, a melodic work in alternating slow and fast sections played by flutist Michele Antonello Frisch and pianist Mary Jo Gothmann.

—Wayla J. Chambo