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Sea-inspired art, music at Rockport Chamber Music Festival

Posted: 6/11/15

Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2015 4:00 am

ROCKPORT — The Rockport Chamber Music Festival presents an innovative concert Saturday night featuring a collaboration between Rockport Music and the Cape Ann Museum titled “Art and Music.”

This special collaboration features the Boston Trio performing the U.S. premieres of works by British composer Sally Beamish, paired with a projection of ocean-related images. 

During the performance of Beamish’s “The Seafarer,” there will be projections of work by British artist Jila Peacock. When the trio performs “La Mer,” by Debussy, the paintings by Gloucester native son Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865) will be projected. 

The Cape Ann Museum is home to the largest collection of works by this 19th century luminist painter, whose maritime canvases bring to life images from the Age of Sail. His works sell for millions of dollars at auction. The Cape Ann Museum collection includes 40 paintings, a rare watercolor and about 100 drawings.

Born in London, Beamish began her music career as a viola player, but moved to Scotland in 1990 to develop her career as a composer. Her music embraces many influences, particularly jazz and Scottish traditional music. 

The Boston Trio, founded in 1997, is comprised of violinist Irina Muresanu, cellist Astrid Schween and pianist Heng-Jin Park. The musicians are frequent guests on Classics in the Morning and Classical Performances on Boston’s WGBH Radio. They also serve on the faculties of the New England Conservatory, the Boston Conservatory, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

David Deveau, the chamber music festival artist director and senior lecturer in music at MIT, is eager to present this collaboration.

“Art and music together -- what could be better?” he said.

The idea for this collaboration was hatched at a post-concert dinner during the 2014 festival.

“The concept was to find musical works which depict or describe the sea, and to coordinate images of the amazing Cape Ann Museum collection of seascapes by Fitz Henry Lane with the music. I came across a most intriguing arrangement of Debussy’s La Mer (”The Sea” for full orchestra) for a piano trio. This had been arranged by composer Sally Beamish, who is very much alive and composing prolifically,” said Deveau.

Then Deveau said he learned Beamish also wrote “The Seafarer,” which includes projected images while a narrator recites the ancient poem of the same name, which was written in the days even before Chaucer.

“I found Beamish’s music remarkable and evocative, and it seemed a good complement to the Debussy,” he said. “We chose images from the museum collection to be coordinated with the music of “La Mer,” and so both of the major works on this concert have projections synchronized with the music.”

The Saturday evening program also includes Faure’s Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120.  There is a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m., led by Cape Ann Museum curator Martha Oaks and Elizabeth Seitz of the Boston Conservatory.  

The second week of the festival also features two other concerts, both featuring baritone Randall Scarlata.

An Evening of French Music  will be performed tonight at 8, with works by Ravel, Faure, Poulenc, Debussy and Caplet, with flutist Sooyun Kim, harpist Franziska Huhn, cellist Sophie Shao, pianist Pei-Shan Lee, and Scarlata.

Tomorrow features A Schubertiade Evening with award-winning Jennifer Koh, violin, and Shai Wosner, piano, along with Scarlata. They come together to present an all-Schubert program in an attempt to recreate the informal living room recitals held in Schubert’s day. Scarlata will sing several famous Schubert lieder.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or via email at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.

Rockport Chamber Music Festival week two

When: Saturday, June 13:  “Art and Music” with the Boston Trio 

Thursday, June 11: “An Evening of French Music” with works by Ravel, Faure, Poulenc, Debussy and Caplet

Friday, June 12: “A Schubertiade Evening” with Jennifer Koh, violin, Randall Scarlata, baritone, and Shai Wosner, piano

Where: Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport