Resinosa Ensemble Graces Bates with its Presence

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Yet again, Alan Carr presented to me and the Bates community a wonderful night of music. The Resinosa Ensemble, composed of Joëlle Morris (mezzo-soprano), Eliza Meyer (cello), and Bridget Convey (piano) delighted the Olin Concert Hall with their presence this past Friday, October 6 at 7:30 p.m. This group of Maine musicians presented two sets of pieces separated by an intermission. The first part of the performance, the group shared the music of living composers; for the second part, they presented the music of composers ranging from the 17th to the 20th century.

As the group was welcomed on stage, they settled into what would remain the tone of the show: excellence. The three women flawlessly presented Tom Flaherty’s piece “Music I Heard with You.” Though I did not find the eerie composition to fit appropriately with the wishful tone of the text, the ensemble skillfully drew the audience in to start the concert strong. I noticed the same disconnect between text and musical emotion during Justin Rubin’s “Day that I have Loved.” Though a poem about gentle loss, the aggressive melancholic motifs tore through the hall like arrows. However, the ensemble still managed to present the piece artfully, and I could not dislike it.

The third piece, a duet between Meyer and Convey, was both playful and balanced. The piece was created to imitate the sound of the ch’in and hsiao, two Chinese instruments, and since I have heard neither of these instruments, I am left assuming that this goal was met. Regardless, the jovial nature of the relationship between piano and cello was clearly communicated, and I appreciated the positive turn after two somber pieces.

The first act closed with a group of six songs commissioned to celebrate Bill Hueg’s 70th birthday. His wife, Hella Mears Hueg, approached composer Libby Larsen and the compositional process began with Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Liebeslied.” The work grew to include several other poems set to music, all celebrating love and nature. Within this group of songs is my favorite piece of the night, “White World.” In this piece, a text by Hilda Doolittle is brought to life by a springy piano reminiscent of the joy found in The Sound of Music. A clear reference to the title, the pianist only plays the white keys of the piano. The piece finishes with ephemeral echoes of spring and the piano’s foot pedal to make the sweet notes last longer.

After the brief intermission, the lullaby of Brahms’ Gestillte Sehnsucht and Geistliches Wiegenlied filled the hall. Sung in German, these pieces were the musical sensation of dipping tired toes into a pool of warm water. I was pleasantly lulled into a comfortable place of relaxation, just as Brahms originally intended. This music was not aggressively surprising, and was a welcome contrast to the first two pieces of the concert.

Astor Piazzolla’s cello and piano duet “Le Grand Tango” allowed the musicians time to draw all the audience’s attention. My habit of attending to the vocalist was swiftly challenged during this piece, because there was no voice singing. In this absence, I instead noted the complex emotional roller coaster Piazzolla created; his composition sounded like the sound score of a major motion picture. I felt the rises, falls, and tensions that seemed to fit perfectly into a movie set, and I was not alone. One audience member exhaled a “Woah” in the silence just before the hall exploded into thunderous applause.

For the last song of the concert, Morris was able to sing in her native language. Originally from Evian, France, Morris sang “Chanson d’Amour” in French.

As the audience gave the three women a standing ovation, I was struck by how few Bates students were in the crowd. Olin was lightly populated with retirees and families with young children, but fewer than 15 students. Then I remembered: it is a Friday night, and I just spent 100 minutes listening to music composed five to 500 years ago. I was in the minority on campus, yet I was blissfully happy with my evening activity.

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The stage is set for the Resinosa Ensemble to perform. TORY DOBBIN/THE BATES STUDENT.

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Joëlle Morris, Eliza Meyer, and Bridget Convey perform in Olin Concert Hall. TORY DOBBIN/THE BATES STUDENT

 

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