In the Moment: Reston Community Center Presents ‘If Music Be the Food of Love’ on 2/24 & Washington Chorus Presents ‘New Music for a New Age’ on 2/28 at National Presbyterian Church

Adventurous? Looking for something fresh, uplifting, and yes, even heavenly in contemporary classical music with ethereal, hypnotic voices? There are two upcoming musical events in close-by venues to whet your appetite to leave the confines of your cozy home and venture out into the winter’s night.

The first of the two is If Music Be the Food of Love. This music event features an inspired collaboration between ASCAP and American Music Center award-winning contemporary cellist Matt Haimovitz and the close harmony vocal trio VOICE composed of Emily Burn, Victoria Couper, and Clemmie Franks.

The combined performance of Haimovitz and VOICE should be an anecdote to the winter’s harshness as they present a unique melding of musical forces. With a wide-ranging repertoire; from the medieval to the contemporary, from haunting medieval chants to haunting selections from the Leonard Cohen songbook. It is at the 300-seat Reston’s CenterStage on Wednesday evening, February 24th at 8 PM.

It will be a rarely seen or heard amalgamation.

The performance will be “the combination of the amazing performance of master cellist Matt Haimovitz with the otherworldliness of the sounds of VOICE will make for an unforgettable evening.” said Paul Douglas Michnewicz, Arts & Events Director at Reston Community Center. Hamovitz is based in Montreal while VOICE is UK-based.

And before anyone rolls an eye at the concept of a contemporary hip cellist check this out; Haimovitz at the dearly departed NY City CBGB’s playing an adaptation of Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner.”

Haimovitz and VOICE developed If Music Be the Food of Love (from the Bard’s Twelfth Night) as a tribute to music about love not only by William Shakespeare, but far beyond. Then again, “this year is the 400th Anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. The occasion should not go unnoticed and it seems as though the sonnets set to the music of Hildegard of Bingen would be a lovely and unusual tribute to the greatest poet of the English language.” added Michnewicz.

According to Haimovitz, there has been “no repertoire for cello and a vocal trio.” The CenterStage concert will explore in an intimate setting a trio of female voices and the basso of a cello, as they become one, a quartet of “voices.” With similar timbres at times, his cello can becomes a human voice while the voices can become violins and viola. At other times, the differences between musical instrument and human voices are more readily apparent.

The CenterStage performance Is expected to include quite a diverse program of songs; solo and as a quartet, new and old, exploring love, beauty, heartache, as well as sly humor.

The program will include entrancing chants based upon the famous 12th century Abbess Hildegard von Bingen as well as works by Bach, the “structural” American composer Philip Glass, the jazz influenced David Sanford, along with new works based upon Shakespeare’s human-sized, Sonnet 60: Like as the Waves. Ned Rorem’s After Reading Shakespeare and several new works will be performed as well.

Matt Hamovitz and VOICE. Photo couutesy of Portland Ovations.
Matt Haimovitz and VOICE. Photo courtesy of Portland Ovations.

Haimovitz and VOICE will also collaborate on a new arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s Who by Fire, a number inspired by the atonement liturgy of the High Holy Days of the Jewish calendar. The arrangement is by award-winning composer Luna Pearl Woolf who is Haimovitz’s wife.

Now about the new works to be performed during If Music be the Food of Love. Since there has been no repertoire for cello and vocal trio, a world-wide competition was held to develop new music aimed at building a repertoire. It was the Oxingale Records’ Emerging Composers competition. With a world-wide competition, the winners included Božo Bangui (Serbia), Diana Rosenblum (USA), and Filipe Sousa (Portugal).

In an interview, Haimovitz indicated that he “loves performing with singers.” He wants the CenterStage audience to be enthralled with If Music be the Food of Love as it draws voices and cello together from a thousand years of music.”

Reston CenterStage present Cellist Matt Haimovitz & VOICE in If Music be the Food of Love on February 24, 2016 at 8 p.m. at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage – in Hunters Woods – 2310 Colts Neck Road, in Reston, VA. For tickets call (703) 476-4500, or purchase them online.



Now, for the second music event of note. It will take place a few days after the Reston CenterStage event. This time on late afternoon, Sunday, February 28.  At this performance, Haimovitz will be one those featured with The Washington Chorus (TWC) and its New Music for a New Age series at the National Presbyterian Church.

This TWC performance will present several transcendent works of contemporary composer Luna Pearl Woolf.

The TWC concert will highlight Woolf’s Après Moi, le Déluge. The work was written to commemorate the flooding and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that struck New Orleans a decade ago. The performance will feature Haimovitz on cello with Soprano Marnie Breckenridge, Tenor Jonathan Blalock, Tenor Peter Tantsits, and Bass James Shaffran.

Luna Pearl Woolf. Photo courtesy of Oxingale Music.
Luna Pearl Woolf. Photo courtesy of Oxingale Music.

Other selections from the Woolf’s repertoire are to be performed including The Pillar based on Diana B. Henriques’ bestselling book The Wizard of Lies; Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust. The Pillar focuses on Ruth Madoff, the wife of Bernie Madoff, who was a pillar of the community in her own right. (And may be of great interest for those who recall the dust-up when Theater J produced Imaging Madoff several years ago).

Woolf should also be recognized by local performing arts patrons for her opera compositionBetter Gods, which was performed at the Washington National Opera just this January. The American-themed opera depicted the efforts of Lili’uokalani, the last queen of Hawaii, to restore Hawaiian sovereignty in the nineteenth century. The piece was commissioned by the WNO’s American Opera Initiative program.

So there you have it. For those tired of the same classical music offerings or for those who want to dip a toe into contemporary classical music, here are two close-by opportunities to take in the innovative as music and voices tackle a myriad of themes from intensely romantic to awash in the blues; from love in the past, to love now; from European events of 1000 years ago to an American catastrophe from only a decade ago.

Both performances are expected to be the intimate musical equivalent to a foodie’s heaven seeking out the unique and unusual. In this instance, the wonderful capacity of music and voice to entice, to entrance, to captivate, and hypnotize us with powerful feelings. Let your soul and heart be feed.

The Washington Chorus presents New Music for a New Age featuring works of Luna Pearl Woolf in February 28, 2016 at 5 p.m. at National Presbyterian Church – 4101 Nebraska Avenue NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets call (202) 342-6221, or purchase them online.     


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