Complementary Colors

On Saturday, May 6, 2023, we’ll present Complementary Colors, our spring concert program exploring the use of color in many different artistic disciplines from music to painting to poetry and beyond. It’s a dynamic program of chamber music, spoken word, and visual art that combines divergent voices to create new colors and inspire broader perspectives.

The evening begins in the commons area at Grace Episcopal Church where Lauren Everett Finn, our Spring 2023 Collaborating Artist, will curate and host a special solo exhibit of her colorful floral and abstract mixed media paintings. Several of her larger works will be brought into the performance space to facilitate creative and visual inspiration during the concert. Lauren will be on site to answer any questions you might have about her pieces, you can learn more by visiting her website.

Our entire program is interwoven with poetry and excerpts of prose thoughtfully selected by our reader and narrator, Jan Ross. These readings expand upon the themes of the music and artwork. We’ll open the musical program with Landscapes, an epic three-movement work by Daniel Baldwin for clarinet, horn, bassoon, and piano.

Baldwin employs this uncommon quartet to provide a soundtrack for three paintings by legendary American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900). The music — more than a tone poem depicting scenery from these paintings — evokes both the imagery and its symbolism, translating it into the unique timbres of the quartet. The three-movement work is a lyrical saga exploring the early, middle, and late career of Church, covering a vast array of emotions and featuring all four voices of the quartet in heroic lines.

Next, we’ll head just beneath the surface of still waters to observe things from the perspective of seaweed dancing gently in the currents. Algues — a work for flute & harp by French composer and harpist Bernard Andrès — is a calming, ethereal piece. Each movement explores contrasting tempos, tonal colors, and textures, all evoking underwater scenes from the perspective of seaweed (French: algues). The flutist provides haunting lines while the harpist is called upon to apply special techniques to mimic the sounds of a xylophone, guitar, and even distant bells!

Then, we’ll invite to the stage our special guest, Matthew Cochran, Instructor of Guitar at Interlochen Arts Academy, who will share one of his recent compositions for solo guitar: 3 Non-Algorithmic Human Interactions.

Matthew says he wrote this triptych during the early lock-down phase of the pandemic. “My interactions with people outside of my immediate family were only possible through the intervention of software,” he says. “I suppose I’m vaguely thankful that video calls and social media are a thing, but even well-intentioned algorithms are a poor substitute for the warmth of human interaction.”

We’ll change colors again with Glory, Still, and Gentle by Janet Lanier, a moving piece employing the rare trio of english horn, horn, and piano.

In 2019, we received a donation in memory of Charles “Doug” Luther. The donor told us that — because music had always been such a big part of Doug’s life — she felt compelled to honor her friend in a way that would further the cause of music. We were very touched to learn about Doug, and as a tribute we used the donation to purchase this trio.

We’ll end our program by combining colors with Matthew to present his Cicadas at the Equinox, an evocative sextet for winds and guitar. Matthew’s unlikely sextet draws six contrasting voices into a dialogue where contrasts and commonalities are blurred like watercolors.

With Matthew’s evocative title and sensitive scoring, the mind can create its own mini documentary as the piece unfolds. You’ll follow the journey of the cicadas as they emerge emerge and take flight. A frenzied celebration soon descends as the meadow is filled with the sounds of their delight. Later, as the sun dips below the trees, they gradually disappear into the evening as one by one they go quiet.

We hope you’ll join us Saturday, May 6, 7:30pm at Grace Episcopal Church in Traverse City, MI, for this colorful and inspiring program. Admission is free. Your goodwill donations will benefit Manitou Winds and our ongoing mission to spread music and creativity throughout our region.

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