2015-2016 Chameleon Arts Ensemble – For Immediate Release, 4/21/16 Page 1 of 3
Transforming experiences in chamber music.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 21, 2016
contact: Gabriel Langfur, Managing Director
Chameleon Arts Ensemble presents “songs of earth and sky” on May 21 and 22
April 21, 2016 – Boston, MA – The Chameleon Arts Ensemble concludes its 2015-2016 chamber
music series with songs of earth and sky on Saturday, May 21, 8 PM at First Church in Boston
and Sunday, May 22, 4 PM, at the Goethe-Institut. The program includes Olivier Messiaen’s
monumental song cycle Chants de terre et de ciel for soprano and piano; Ernest Bloch’s Baal
Shem, Three Pictures of Chassidic Life for violin and piano; Elena Firsova’s Meditation in a
Japanese Garden for flute, viola and piano; David Ludwig’s Haiku Catharsis for flute, clarinet,
violin, cello, piano, and percussion; and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Piano Trio No. 2 in e minor, Op. 92.
The soloist for the Messiaen is Mary Mackenzie, described by The New York Times as “a soprano
of extraordinary agility and concentration,” and hailed as “sensational” by The Boston Globe.
Photos available at http://www.chameleonarts.org/press/photos.html
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Olivier Messiaen’s Chants de terre et de ciel (Songs of Earth and Sky) for soprano and piano
serves as the program’s centerpiece. Written in 1938, Chants is an intensely personal work imbued
with his parallel devotion to his wife and infant son, as well as his omnipresent Catholic faith.
Across the six songs, Messiaen’s own poetry creates links between celestial and earth-bound love.
With his mastery of colors and irregular rhythms, he br
eaks away from the intimate nature of a typical song cycle to create something that is truly grand
in feel and monumental in scope. This is a rare opportunity to hear a complete performance this
virtuosic and radiant work.
The other works on the program also embody ecstatic, devotional qualities. Ernest Bloch’s Baal
Shem, Three Pictures of Chassidic Life for violin and piano dates was written in 1923 during
Bloch’s tenure as founding director of the Cleveland Institute of Music. It is one of the last works
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in his self-described “Jewish cycle.” Each of the three vignettes, Contrition, Improvisation, and
Rejoicing, expresses a kind of rhapsodic reverence and fervor of Chassidic song.
Elena Firsova was born in Leningrad in 1950, and by the 1980s had become one of the leading
composers of the Soviet Union’s burgeoning underground classical scene. In 1991, she immigrated
to the UK along with her husband and two children, and Meditation in a Japanese Garden for
flute, viola, and piano was composed during her first months in Dartington. As with much of
Firsova’s music, the work straddles the line between light and darkness, lyrical and jagged.
David Ludwig’s music has been called “arresting and dramatically hued” by The New York Times.
He is a member of the composition faculty of the Curtis Institute, and NPR Music recently selected
him as one of the “Top 100 Composers Under Forty.” Haiku Catharsis for flute, clarinet, violin,
cello, piano, and percussion was written in the summer of 2004 for the noted contemporary
music group, Eighth Blackbird. Each of the four miniatures is inspired by a poem on the passing
seasons, and the music takes its cue from the syllabic structure of traditional haiku.
An underperformed masterpiece, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Piano Trio No. 2 in e minor, Op. 92 was
premiered in December of 1892. Its expansive, five movement arc form beautifully demonstrates
Saint-Saëns’ ability to write on a grand scale while still adhering to the principles of composition
he saw as essential to French Classical art: elegance, clarity of thought, and precision of
expression. He wrote to a friend, jokingly that “I am working quietly away at a trio which I hope
will drive to despair all those unlucky enough to hear it. I shall need the whole summer to
perpetrate this atrocity, one must have a little fun somehow.”
ABOUT CHAMELEON ARTS ENSEMBLE OF BOSTON
Founded in 1998, Chameleon Arts Ensemble has distinguished itself as one of Boston’s finest,
most versatile chamber ensembles. Chameleon and Artistic Director Deborah Boldin have earned
unqualified praise for integrating old and new repertoire into unexpected chamber music programs
that are themselves works of art. They were recognized nationally with 2009 and 2007 Awards for
Adventurous Programming from Chamber Music America and the American Society of
Composers, Authors and Publishers. The Boston Globe hailed “planning a good chamber music
program is an art unto itself, and few in town have mastered it as persuasively.” The artists of the
Ensemble are highly respected and sought-after performers, with growing national and
international reputations. The Boston Globe called them an “all-star lineup of chamber musicians.”
Their superb artistry and finely honed collaborative skills ensure luminous performances and
dynamic musical dialogues.
A passionate performer of contemporary music, soprano Mary Mackenzie has worked with
Pierre Boulez, John Harbison, Richard Danielpour, and James Primosch. She has appeared with
the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, Ekmeles, the Da Capo Chamber Players, Fulcrum
Point New Music Project, the Continuum Ensemble, Red Light New Music, the Talea Ensemble,
and many others. Ms. Mackenzie is also active as a recitalist and has been a vocal fellow at
SongFest and the Ravinia Steans Music Institute.
Deborah Boldin, flute
Vivian Chang-Freiheit, piano
Alexi Kenney, violin
Mary Mackenzie, soprano
William Manley, percussion
Kelli O’Connor, clarinet
Rafael Popper-Keizer, cello
Elizabeth Schumann, piano
Scott Woolweaver, viola
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Chameleon Arts Ensemble 2015-2016 Chamber Music Season
Concert 6: songs of earth and sky
Program: Ernest Bloch, Baal Shem, Three Pictures of Chassidic Life for violin & piano
Elena Firsova, Meditation in a Japanese Garden for flute, viola & piano
Olivier Messiaen, Chants de terre et de ciel for soprano & piano
David Ludwig, Haiku Catharsis for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano & percussion
Camille Saint-Saens, Piano Trio No. 2 in e minor, Op. 92
Date/Time & Saturday, May 21, 2016, 8 PM, First Church, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston
Location: Sunday, May 22, 2016, 4 PM, Goethe-Institut, 170 Beacon Street, Boston
The closest subway stops are Arlington Street on the Green Line and Back Bay Station on the Orange
Line. First Church in Boston is wheelchair accessible.
Individual tickets are $47, $36, and $25, with $5 discounts for students and seniors.