Portland Chamber Music Festival Presents : Hear on Earth
with works by Elliot Shwartz, David Ludwig, Maurice Ravel
What are we doing here? What makes us who we are? Hear on Earth features two contemporary string quartets that explore our place in the world, anchored by a masterpiece of 20th century chamber music literature, all connected by a universal sense of wonder. Gabriela Diaz and Jennifer Elowitch, violins, Russell Wilson, viola Jennifer Lucht, cello David Ludwig Pale Blue Dot (2014) Elliott Schwartz Bellagio Variations (1980) Maurice Ravel String Quartet in F major (1903) Sponsored by A Fine Thing: Edward T. Pollack Fine Arts with additional support from the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust In 1990, astronomer Carl Sagan looked at the famous photograph of Earth taken by the Voyager probe and eloquently described our planetary home as “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” Inspired by both the photograph and by Voyager’s cosmic “message in a bottle,” composer David Ludwig (dean of composition at the renowned Curtis Institute of Music) wrote Pale Blue Dot as an ode to both the dust and the sunbeam, and our all-too-human impulse to connect with each other and the unknown. Maine’s own Elliott Schwartz has gained renown for his playful eclecticsm, sometimes using a collage approach to assemble abstract concepts into a musical whole. His Bellagio Variations was inspired by a residency in Italy and has at its source a theme by the composer’s teacher, along with fragments of earlier works, snippets of Mahler, Beethoven, even a Bowdoin College football fight song. Maurice Ravel, on the other hand, said: “Music, I feel, must be emotional first and intellectual second.” His evocative String Quartet from 1903 has a lovely reverence for the past, full of wistfulness and melancholic intimacy, executed with consummate craftsmanship and performed with dazzling virtuosity by artists of Portland’s own Chamber Music Festival. Hear on Earth is presented in collaboration with SPACE Gallery, and in partnership with the Portland Conservatory of Music’s Back Cove Contemporary Music Festival (April 10-12).