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Sphinx Virtuosi’s Carnegie Corridor gala pairs inspiring composers with prime virtuosi – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United States Sphinx Virtuosi Gala: Amaryn Olmeda, Hannah White (violins), Tommy Mesa (cello), Xavier Foley (bass), Sphinx Virtuosi / Alex Gonzalez (concertmaster/conductor). Carnegie Corridor, New York, 13.10.2022. (DS)

Cellist Tommy Mesa and Sphinx Virtuosi © Brian Hatton

Villa-Lobos – ‘Bachianas brasileiras’ No.9
Valerie Coleman – ‘Tracing Visions’ (New York premiere)
Carlos Simon – ‘Between Worlds’
Jessie Montgomery – ‘Divided’ (New York premiere)
Xavier Foley – ‘An Ode to Our Instances’ (world premiere)
Beethoven (arr. by Ruben Rengel for string orchestra) – Finale from Sonata for Violin and Piano No.9 in A serious Op.47

On the twenty-fifth-anniversary Sphinx gala live performance this previous week in Carnegie Corridor, we discovered what a company like Sphinx Virtuosi can do to diversify the face of classical music. The Detroit-based ensemble is comprised of 18 musicians and consists of Latinx and Black musicians from throughout the Americas. Not solely was the live performance corridor packed – a rarity nowadays for a lot of massive New York Metropolis live performance halls delivering classical fare – but it surely offered the chance to listen to a number of the finest works by inspiring composers carried out by partaking soloists.

The night started with an ebullient and lyrically candy efficiency of ‘Bachianas brasileiras’ No.9 by Villa-Lobos. The ensemble set the tone for the live performance with their assured, sturdy sound, one that will maintain itself all through the night. Led vigorously by the tireless Alex Gonzalez, they established the enthusiastic and technically sensible flare with which they’d strategy all of the works.

The guts of the live performance lay in 4 new compositions, all of which touched upon the themes of resilience, neighborhood, historical past and progress. Valerie Coleman’s ‘Tracing Visions’ is a heart-wrenching piece devoted to the taking pictures at Uvalde. To her credit score, it is a daring work of remembrance and grief, in addition to a testomony to the significance and dignity of youngsters.

The densely packed, three-minute ‘Between Worlds’ by Carlos Simon was carried out by Amaryn Olmeda on violin. Olmeda’s extraordinary energy and energy shouldered a hearty expressiveness, her method superbly capturing the complete vary of violin tones with a soothing, courageous sound. Her fashion brilliantly matched Simon’s work which portrays Invoice Taylor, who was born enslaved and died after World Warfare II. The work ends with a convincing one-note pizzicato, just like the punctuation closing a memorable sonnet.

Solo cellist Tommy Mesa carried out Jessie Montgomery’s ‘Divided’ with the ensemble. The 2 have been so linked that the solo voice of the cello and the choral-like responses of the ensemble matched fluidly, like an improvised dialog. The subject that Montgomery tackles – as we speak’s social and political unrest – requires fervor of composition and fearlessness in taking part in, and each have been served by composer and performers. The cello solo additionally revealed hints of Shostakovich, whereas Mesa’s fashion offered an emotionally empathetic sound with muscular fortitude.

Lastly, Xavier Foley got here on stage together with his bass, dressed all in black with a white bow tie. ‘An Ode to Our Instances’ – his work for violin and bass – had an enrapturing, percolating temper. Joined by Hannah White on violin, Foley brings these two devices of reverse register as shut collectively, sonorously, as attainable: White performed typically on the decrease violin strings and Foley attacked the upper bass registers with nimble fingers. The 2 gamers handed catchy motifs backwards and forwards with a jazz-like flare with out abandoning a classical fashion. In these turbulent occasions, maybe music can reveal how polar opposites can discover their nearest assembly factors and create one thing electrifying.

The gala ended with transient speeches, together with a poem by founder Aaron Dworkin. The Sphinx Ensemble left the viewers (whose supportive applause by no means waned) with the Finale motion of Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No.9, organized for string orchestra by Ruben Rengel. This was no odd selection however quite a revisiting of the work’s authentic 1803 dedication to the virtuoso violinist of African descent, George Polgreen Bridgetower. It’s true that we all know it because the Kreutzer Sonata: Beethoven quarreled with Bridgetower and altered the dedication. However because of Sphinx Virtuosi, his title emerges once more. And as we speak’s virtuosi of Black and Latinx heritage shouldn’t have the identical erased historical past as did Mr. Bridgetower.

Daniele Sahr

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