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Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble brings its 10th anniversary season to a close

A mini-festival featuring music of Franz Schubert and friends will conclude Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble's 2012-13 concert season.
BY RICK ROGERS Modified: May 10, 2013 at 1:19 am •  Published: May 12, 2013

“The ‘Octet' is an epic piece that I'm really looking forward to playing again,” said Brightmusic violinist Gregory Lee. “It often sounds easy but it's hard to make it sound effortless and beautiful at the same time. It can easily sound mundane if it isn't performed well.”

A typical feature of any Brightmusic season is showcasing new music, whether newly composed or just unfamiliar to local audiences. The third of the festival's four concerts will feature the world premiere of “Quasi una Fantasia,” a work for two clarinets and string quartet by Christopher Theofanidis.

The work is a joint commission by Brightmusic and Chamber Music Northwest. Burrow will be joined by guest clarinetist David Shifrin, a faculty member at Yale University and one of Burrow's former teachers. Theofanidis is a member of Yale's composition faculty.

“David approached me about writing a chamber piece with clarinet and I proposed to him the idea of writing a piece for two clarinets and string quartet,” Theofanidis said. “I thought using two clarinets would allow for some musical dialogue and create a richer texture.

“David's playing is fundamentally lyrical so I had his sound in mind when I wrote the piece. I do think of this work as a sextet but it does have more of a soloistic feature with the two clarinets. The two clarinet lines are often interlaced, with the second being as important as the first in a lot of ways.”

Following the premiere of Theofanidis' “Quasi una Fantasia” in Oklahoma City, the new work will be performed as part of Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Ore., followed by a performance at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Burrow will participate in all three concerts.

“It will be interesting to hear how it all comes together,” Burrow said. “There are elements that keep recurring that might suggest minimalism but it seems to be a very lyrical piece. The Oklahoma premiere will be just the beginning for this piece.”