A month of musical memories
Beethoven’s 9th, with full orchestra and chorus, will pose the last seismic challenge to Hertz Hall before its temporary closure.
| 30 April 2003
May will mark an end, several beginnings, and an anniversary for Berkeley’s music department.
During the first two weeks of the month, the department will present two performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (with full orchestra and chorale ensemble); new works by faculty composers John Thow and Edwin Dugger; debut pieces from the Berkeley New Music Project; and the final program of the 50th-anniversary season of the free Noon Concert series.
All performances will be held in Hertz Hall, which will close in September for seismic retrofitting, reopening — at the earliest — in fall 2004.
Losing Hertz Hall, even temporarily, poses a logistical problem for Penny Boys, the music department’s concert manager. “It’s the only major performance venue we have,” says Boys, explaining that the department will seek alternative spaces for its major presentations during the months that Hertz is off-limits. “Our main concert series will move to the auditorium at International House,” she says, while the University Symphony’s concerts will be held at Zellerbach Hall on campus and the First Congregational Church in Berkeley. Other venues — such as the Elkus Room in Morrison Hall, which seats about 150 — will help pick up as much of the rest of the department’s program schedule as possble.
Hertz Hall, built in 1958, “really needs major upgrades to all its safety systems,” says Boys. That translates to seismic work — which includes changes to the roof structure and internal bracing of the concert hall — as well as improvements to the fire-safety, disability-access, electrical, and ventilation systems.
A musical May
Tickets for all events (except
Monday, May 5, 8 p.m.
Before the department bids a bientôt to Hertz, the venue will host four notable performances, three of which include premieres. On Monday, May 5, the Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players, under the direction of David Milnes, will perform new works by composers from the Berkeley New Music Project (BNMP), a program that organizes performances of works by graduate-student composers.
“The May 5 concert marks a milestone collaboration with the Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players,” says the group’s Phillip Blume, who adds that BNMP “feels privileged” to collaborate with a chamber group whose reputation is on a par with such ensembles as Earplay, Composers Inc., the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Empyrean Ensemble, and the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble.
The concert will comprise three duos and three ensemble pieces, including Brian Kane’s Clarinet Quintet for clarinet and string quartet, Peter Slavin’s Remancillos for violin and piano, Hubert Ho’s Tremble for flute and piano, Reynold Tharp’s Cold for vibraphone and piano, Jean Ahn’s Sextet for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion, and Blume’s in nuce for eight players.
The following weekend, on Sunday, May 11, Robert Calonico will direct the University Wind Ensemble in Edwin Dugger’s Divertimento for Wind Ensemble — the first performance of a piece composed especially for the group by Dugger, a professor emeritus in the music department whose retirement was honored in a special concert of his work in January. Calonico, who studied under Dugger in the early 1970s and kept in touch with his mentor over the years, says he traded on that old friendship by asking Dugger to create a work for the wind ensemble. “I finally just got up the nerve to ask him if he’d consider writing a piece for us — and he did,” says Calonico. “It’s a difficult piece, and we hope we do him proud.”
The May 11 concert will also include works by American composers Alfred Reed and Larry Daehn and British composer Philip Sparke.
Noon Concert’s season-ending special
A few days earlier, the 50th Anniversary Season of the popular Noon Concert series will wind down with a special Hertz Hall concert that includes a jazz duo; the first U.S. performance of some recently disocvered baroque keyboard music; and a version of Dubussy’s celebratory orchestral Fetes for four hands on one piano. The performers at that concert will include Karen Rosenak (piano), Michael Orland (piano), Christy Dana (trumpet), Brian Kane (guitar), and Davitt Moroney (keyboard).
The Noon Concert series was launched in the spring of 1953, appearing in various campus venues (including Wheeler Hall) prior to the completion of Hertz Hall in 1958.
The fourth, and biggest, event to hit Hertz during this busy week will be the May 9 and 10 performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (‘Choral’). The University Symphony and Chorus will be joined by some members of the UC Alumni Chorus, says Marika Kuzma, the Virginia Lew Associate Professor of Music and director of the campus’s choral ensembles. That means a turnout of 120 musicians in the symphony and another 130 or so in the chorus.
“It is going to a very lush, exciting performance,” said Kuzma, who lauded the symphony’s string section as “probably one of the biggest string sections of any orchestra in the world.”
Kuzma said the piece was chosen to create a bookend to an April 12 performance at which the chorus tackled Brahms’s A German Requiem.
“The Requiem’s theme is, ‘Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be consoled’,” says Kuzma. “I think we’re still a country in mourning following
9/11. So we wanted to end the year with something rather uplifting. I think it’s good for our souls to have a vision of something affirmative that comes out of grief.”
The May 9 concert will also feature Eros and Dust, a new work for soprano and orchestra by Berkeley music professor John Thow, who teaches courses in composition, counterpoint, orchestration, and the literature and esthetics of 20th-century music.
Kuzma says these programs will be a fitting way to salute Hertz Hall. “We thought it would be great to shut it down with a bang, not a whimper,” she said.