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Music to Solace and Sustain

Tue, 11/07/2023 - 08:58
Bruce Wolosoff, seen here at last week's performance of "Sound & Spirit(s)" in Manhattan, gives audiences insight into the music during Reflections in Music concerts.
Archie Rand

The "Sounds & Spirit(s)" concert is now sold out.

Fresh from its sold-out performance last week at the Greenwich House Music School in Manhattan, the Reflections in Music series will bring "Sound & Spirit(s)," a program of "sacred (and perhaps a touch of not-so-sacred)" music to The Church in Sag Harbor on Friday at 7 p.m.

"In these times, we could use a little solace," said Bruce Wolosoff, a composer and pianist who became the artistic director of Reflections in Music in 2020. "Music is a great place to turn to for that, so the program was selected with that concept in mind. It's music to nourish the spirit."

Mr. Wolosoff, who lives on Shelter Island; with Michelle Barzel Ross, a violinist, and Clarice Jensen, a cellist, will perform music by Eric Satie, Olivier Messiaen, and Arvo Part, as well as their own compositions and the world premiere of "A Piano and a Cello Walk Into a Bar," a new concert work by Carter Burwell, a film composer who lives in Amagansett.

Messiaen's piece, "Louange a l'Eternite de Jesus (Praise to the Eternity of Jesus)," was written while he was in a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. "He had such a strong faith, and it rings through in the music," said Mr. Wolosoff. "We close with a beautiful Arvo Part piece, which is tranquil, and everybody's in a good mood."

Mr. Burwell, who has scored numerous films for the Coen Brothers, Todd Haynes, Mike Nichols, Spike Jonze, and Sidney Lumet, and others, "finds classical music a little stuffy," said Mr. Wolosoff. "He gravitates on his own listening to music like blues or punk rock. As a film composer, he brings a different sensibility to concert music, one you're not used to hearing, but which is very refreshing to my ears."

Mr. Wolosoff's composition, also a premiere, is titled after a quotation from Euripides: "Galaxies have fallen in my hands, I have drunk the stars." It was prompted by a medical emergency. During last summer's heat wave, "Idiot that I am, I didn't drink enough water, and I blacked out." An ambulance rushed him to the hospital.

When he came out of it after a few days, "I wanted to write something for this concert, and I wanted to express my wonder at life. I feel like I was given another chance, and it did come out in the music."

Of the performers, Mr. Wolosoff said, "because they're such good musicians, I just know we have each other and we understand how the music's made. We rehearsed just enough to know how the music goes, and then we want to keep it fresh."

Ms. Ross, said Mr. Wolosoff, is a composer and improviser as well as a virtuoso violinist who was Itzhak Perlman's protege. "Her recordings of Bach are just incredible. She's actually done a project where she improvised off Bach, which we featured in one of our programs last year."

As a solo artist, Ms. Jensen has developed a distinctive compositional approach, improvising and layering her cello through shifting loops and a chain of electronic effects. "There's a beautiful drone-like, electronic texture to her cello that is mesmerizing," said Mr. Wolosoff. "I wish I could lie down on the floor at The Church during her performance -- I might even do that!" 

The Reflections in Music series aims to bring new audiences of all ages and backgrounds to classical music with original programming and conversation. "Part of the idea of these concerts is that I talk and I explain things and give people insights into the music that they can listen to. Audiences seem to respond well to that."

Tickets to the concert are $25.                       

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