Four area composers offer sample of their talents

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The talents of four area composers will be on view—and in the air—during a concert featuring violin and piano at the Southampton Cultural Center on Saturday.

Audience members can expect to steep themselves in a musical interpretation of a Gothic tale by H.P. Lovecraft and feel the strength and ingenuity of three legendary women from the Old Testament in two of the pieces on the program.

A series of seven short pieces explores a range of human emotions and experiences. Lighthearted jokes, brushes with melancholy and the joy of a spring flower will all leap to life courtesy of the ivory keys. Sonatas written for violin and piano take the beloved classical form and tumble into lush meadows to capture something new.

How successfully the music actually conveys these experiences will be determined by the ears of listeners. But these are the intentions of the East End Composers concert scheduled on the stage of the Levitas Center for the Arts on May 17. The concert will bring to life original compositions by Stephen Dickman and Katherine Hoover of Southampton, Roger Tréfousse of Sag Harbor and Victoria Bond of East Hampton.

Mr. Tréfousse’s piece, Sonata for Violin and Piano (“Spring”) was written specifically for this concert. He drew inspiration from spring’s slow arrival on the East End and broadened the meaning to include awakening, rebirth and dawning knowledge.

Ms. Bond’s composition, “Sacred Sisters,” was adapted for violin and piano from the original, which was written for harp and premiered in April 2005 at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.

The composition is based on music chanted by cantors when telling the stories of Esther, Ruth and Judith. The original composition was also performed at Bayard Cutting Arboretum in East Islip in 2006. It will be performed again on Monday, May 19, at St. Stephen’s Church in Manhattan.

Ms. Hoover selected pieces that have already proven to be crowd-pleasers. Her composition, “Preludes,” was performed in Merkin Hall in 2005. It was subsequently performed by a doctoral candidate at CUNY (City University of New York).

Mr. Dickman selected two pieces from his recent compositions. “HP” is based on Mr. Dickman’s baritone composition, “The Music of Eric Zann,” which in turn is based on the H.P. Lovecraft story of the same name. “HP” was adapted for violin and piano and aspires to capture the breathless quality of the violinist who played nightly on the top floor in Lovecraft’s unusual tale.

Mr. Dickman’s second composition, “XY&Z for Violin and Piano,” consists of three short pieces (about four minutes each) which the composer hopes will engage the audience. Mr. Dickman plans to explain “XY&Z” before it is performed to help the audience appreciate the works.

“I think it helps to say a few words before the pieces,” Mr. Dickman said. “It’s my opinion that it’s good to prepare an audience for what they’re about to hear. Especially the first time something is played. It’s easy to get put off until you hear music played a few times.”

All four composers have made their mark on the musical world, composing operas, ballets, film scores and orchestra and ensemble pieces. Their compositions have been performed live at prestigious venues, recorded and published. Locally, pieces have been performed at the Chamber Music Festival of the Hamptons over the last few years.

Saturday’s concert will feature a variety of music that’s easy on the ears. All of the compositions feature violin and piano. Doing the honors are violinist Marc Levine and pianist Michael Mizrahi.

Mr. Levine was seen recently during the Sunday Afternoon Chamber Music series at Stony Brook Southampton. He has performed with Early Music New York, the Stony Brook String Quartet at Carnegie Hall and with Ensemble 212, where he is concertmaster. He is the founder of the ensemble Flying Forms and is a faculty member in Stony Brook’s Pre-College Division.

Mr. Mizrahi has been a soloist with the Houston Symphony, the National Symphony, Prince George Philharmonic and others. He has performed at the Kimmel Center, the Kennedy Center and Jones Hall in Houston, Texas. He is a founding member of the Moet Trio, which is at residence at the New England Conservatory this season.

In 2007, he was selected to join the Academy: A Program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School and the Weill Music Institute.

Each of the four composers also has a storied career with a history of commissions and triumphs worth noting.

Ms. Bond is a conductor and composer and has written many compositions for opera, orchestra, ballet and chamber music. Her commissions include the American Ballet Theater, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Shanghai Symphony, Symphony Space, Pianofest, the Audubon string quartets and the American Society for Jewish Music. Last week saw the premiere of a new choral piece performed by a children’s choir in Baltimore. (See www.victoriabond.com.)

Ms. Hoover is a flutist who also conducts. She counts among her credits more than 60 orchestra performances of her work, including the Eroica Trio and symphonies of Long Beach, Fort Worth, Sante Fe and Harrisburg. A recording of her Quintet de Pacem was selected as one of the five best recordings of 1996 by Classical Pulse magazine. (See www.papagenapress.com.)

Mr. Tréfousse has composed three operas which were performed in three New York City venues. His film scores include the PBS documentary “Jackson Pollock: Portrait,” the feature film “Gangland” and music for daytime soap operas “The Guiding Light” and “As The World Turns.” His chamber music piece, “Music for Grete,” premiered at the Chamber Music Festival of the Hamptons. Other works have premiered at the Juilliard School.

Mr. Tréfousse has written incidental music for live theater, including “1000 Avant Garde Plays” for Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center. (See www.Tréfousse.com.)

Mr. Dickman is an award-winning composer who has received multiple fellowships, including a Fulbright to study music in Rome. He has written operas, chamber operas and pieces inspired by time spent studying the sarangi, a bowed musical instrument, with Pandit Ram Narayna in Bombay. His music is recorded by Opus One Records and New World Records. Mr. Dickman manages Pianofest and has managed The Music Festival of the Hamptons.

Mr. Dickman put together the concert so that area residents could hear some of the talent of their neighbors on the East End. Composers are the toughest creative artists to spot because there is rarely a gathering that brings their art into the spotlight. He “discovered” all the composers for Saturday’s program by word of mouth or by tuning their pianos. Heading Pianofest and The Music Festival of the Hamptons also keeps him in touch with talent.

Saturday’s concert is one of several Mr. Dickman has produced. Other composer concerts that bring area talent into the open have been held at the Southampton Cultural Center and the Music Festival of the Hamptons. Mr. Dickman has organized another composer concert for piano and voice to be held in July at Wolffer Estate in Sagaponack. With every composer concert he facilitates, he hopes the audience will find something they like and feel more comfortable listening to contemporary compositions.

“Not everyone is going to like everything they hear,” Mr. Dickman said. “That wouldn’t be realistic. I hope that it’s a positive experience and people will want to investigate these composers further and hear their other music.”

The East End Composers concert will be held on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Levitas Center for the Arts at the Southampton Cultural Center, 25 Pond Lane. For information, call 287-4377 or visit www.southamptonculturalcenter.org.

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