Enthusiastic audience for in-person Members’ Night

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, Members’ Night returned in-person, this time in the sanctuary at Maple Leaf Lutheran Church. I was thrilled to see old friends that I hadn’t seen other than on Zoom since pre-pandemic, and I was delighted to meet some new people, too!

Dings of the delicate cymbal-like tingsha led into a perfectly tuned renaissance bass duet Primus Tonos (1556) by Anonymous, played by Laura Townsend and Mike Woolf. This old, yet timeless, music was followed by the modern Cantigas I (2021), composed by Rhia Parker (born in 1987). Rhythmically unison sections alternated with dramatic dissonance to open our auspicious evening.

Laura then welcomed the performers and audience to the third joint Members’ Night with Moss Bass Recorder Society—and the first time in-person together, this time including both in-person audience as well as a live Zoom audience. The evening ahead would offer snippets and snatches of old and new, young and old, and recorders (and other instruments) large and small.

The Woodland Consort of Ellis Hillinger, Susie Keithly, and Cathy Lacefield performed the medieval-sounding Alas, alas, alas is my chief song by Walter Frye (d.1474?) edited by Sylvia Kenney and Laura Kuhlman, with Cathy on bass, Ellis on renaissance tenor and Susie on renaissance alto. Then, all on baroque recorders, they played Das Lang from Trium Vocum Cantiones with soaring runs up to the high places, by Ludwig Senfl (c.1486- 1542/43) edited by Phil Neuman. (Portland Recorder Society’s Laura and Phil have been workshop instructors for many of us).

In a pretty white dress and hair bow, Maple Sun (age 10) couldn’t decide which minuet she preferred, so she played two favorite and familiar Minuets in G by J.S. Bach (1685-1750) on soprano, accompanied by her teacher Vicki Boeckman on bass. With focus and concentration, she played clear and happy-sounding notes, ending on a well-practiced trill.

In the category of new and also young, David Brown (b.2010) played and composed his trio, Flying Through the Stormy Night: Adagio, Moderato, Allegro, Andante, Adagio (2022), inspired by Mozart. David played alto with Laura Townsend on soprano and Mike Woolf on bass. We listeners could hear the clouds rolling in, the raindrops, harmonies and dissonance, unexpected end notes …we were excited to be a part of this 2022 world premier!

Although they had a hard act to follow, Two Tones Dave Gloger (alto) and Karen Soma (soprano) shined as they shared a piece from another living/modern composer, Glen Shannon (b.1966), called Carefree Afternoon (2014). Syncopated sections and unison phrases made the audience imagine frolicking and chasing each other, pulling us in and inspiring us to join their fancy shoes in toe-tapping joy.

Vicki Boeckman, Mike Woolf, and Laura Townsend played Adesso V: Lacrimae (2011) as a tribute to its composer Markus Zahnhausen who passed away last month (1965-2022). Vicki had worked with him in Copenhagen, and he is greatly missed, especially by the European recorder community. Titled Now in English, this hauntingly gorgeous piece, with lots of long notes, was originally written as a beautiful homage to an Icelandic friend of his, and it was honoring Markus himself now.

Re-ensembled assembled after subsets of its members spent the pandemic times playing in various ways: on Zoom, outside in Laura’s yard, in small indoor groups, …and never all together until tonight. Under the skillful directing of Laura Townsend, altos 1 & 2 Nancy Bent, Mary Ann Clymer, Kathy Graunke, Monica McLaughlin, Karen Soma and Mike Woolf, and basses Dave Gloger and Evy Dudey played the Largo, Spirituoso, Allegro and Largo movements from Sonata Secunda from 12 Sonatas, Op. 16 (1693) by Isabella Leonarda (1620-1704). Laura interestingly shared that this sublime music was the first known published instrumental work by a female composer.

The Ravenna Consort of Hanan Bell, Jack O’Neill, Doug Sprugel and Katie Sprugel performed Regina Caeli Laetare (Queen of Heaven) (Motetti A no. 13) by the French composer Antoine Brumel (c.1460-1512). Just behind Josquin des Prez and also of the Franco-Flemish school, Brumel was one of the greatest composers of the Renaissance. Brummel’s music was included in the first book of music set with movable type (1501). I imagined I was in a huge, historic cathedral as I enjoyed this consort’s lovely Easter music.

The talented John Mettler played Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1 (BWV 1007) by J.S. Bach (1685-1750)…on his bass clarinet! Bach’s Cello Suites all fit perfectly on bass clarinets, John had discovered. The louder and lower sounds of the bass clarinet resonated boldly in the sanctuary, as I imagined Yo-Yo Ma playing the bass clarinet.

Jack O’Neill (b. 1949) said when he hums, his friend says, “That’s not how it goes” …so he created and played his own arrangement of Medley/Caravan after Juan Tizol (1900-1984). Then Jack shared his own composition of Crumbs in My Windway. Including high “knee” notes for extra effect, this piece received my imaginary award for the evening for best title!

With the best group name for the evening, Sound Travels consisted of David Bowen (violin), Molly Warner (bass/tenor) and Chris Zaleski (alto/bass), who use the ferry to get together with each other for practice time. G.F. Handel (1685-1759) would have enjoyed hearing their exquisite performance of his Allegro, ma non troppo from Trio Sonata Op. 2 No. 1 (HWV 386), as did we. They chose their second piece for being lively…and fitting into the allotted time slot: Marche from The Love for Three Oranges by Sergei Prokofiev (1891- 1956). The chromatic runs and the bouncing notes made for a delightful delivery in this concise rendition.