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BMC Season Guest Concerts Continue with Chamber Works by Robert Merfeld
November 10, 2018 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
The Brattleboro Music Center hosts a concert of chamber works by pianist, teacher and composer Robert Merfeld in the center’s auditorium Saturday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m.
The program is generously supported by the Bay and Paul Foundation.
Following a career concertizing all over the world, Robert Merfeld is now concentrating his musical talents on teaching and composing. The Nov. 10 concert will be the first time that some of his compositions have been presented to the public.
Merfeld has assembled a cast of distinguished musicians, many of whom are familiar to local BMC audiences. They will present a varied and unique program. Performers include Bayla Keyes and Katie Lansdale, violin; Anya Shemetyeva, viola; Rhonda Rider and Paul Cohen, cello; Mary Cicconetti, oboe; Jayne West, soprano and narrator; and Merfeld, who will play piano on three of his pieces.
The concert will be preceded by a talk from 5 to 6 p.m. by the performers and the composer, who will discuss what they do as teachers and what students hope to glean from teaching.
The first piece on the program, String Quartet, was composed by Merfeld when he was nine years old, four years after beginning his piano studies. The inspiration for Merfeld to revive his composing career came in 2008 when he was working with the Word Song Project in Boston. Participants were each asked to set music to the William Blake poem “The Tyger.” Merfeld’s composition was written for soprano and piano, and he will perform this piece with Jayne West.
Also on the program, Cricket and Piglet- A Fable, is a story Merfeld wrote and then put to music for violin, viola and narrator. Another animal-oriented piece is Animal Miniatures, commissioned by Michelle LaCourse, head of the string department at Boston University, where Merfeld teaches. He will be playing this composition with his wife, Anya Shemetyeva.
The final piece of the evening will be Merfeld’s 2017 Intervals for String Quartet, which was commissioned by the Muir Quartet and premiered in June at Tanglewood. Each piece utilizes one interval progressing from unison to octave. Some have tension, some are open and some are more relaxed.
Commenting on his new career path as a composer, Merfeld says, “It is half daunting and half liberating identifying yourself as a composer.” He continues to teach at Boston University and the Longy School of Music as well as coaching chamber music.
His recent book, “Is It So If You Think It’s So?: Thoughts on Playing & Teaching Chamber Music – An Anti-Manual” describes his approach to chamber music and provides a fitting context for understanding his compositions. The book will be available for purchase at the concert.