Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble season in full swing 

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Set to American composer Paul Shoenfield’s piece for violin, cello, clarinet and piano, the powerful narrative accompaniment of “Sparks of Glory” pulls audiences into the midst of Holocaust Europe.

It’s this piece that anchors Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble’s fourth concert of its 2014-2015 season.

The concert, Music of War and Remembrance, closes with Shoenfield’s piece, which includes excerpts of Polish-Israeli wartime journalist Moshe Prager’s writings, including a scene Prager presumably witnessed. Nazi guards gathered the prisoners and then made them dance for their amusement.

Leading up to it are Igor Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du soldat,” also known as “The Soldier’s Tale,” and Edward Elgar’s “Piano Quintet in A minor for Piano and String Quartet, Op. 84.”

“On a certain level, it’s just great music, and what we want to do is introduce great music,” Burrow said. “In terms of relevance, it’s clear in our world that tragedies are still being perpetrated.”

Shoenfield’s “Sparks of Glory” recounts scenes of the Nazi Holocaust. Not for the fainthearted, the piece laments the deterioration of prisoners’ wills but also seeks to celebrate the power of captives over captors.

“By the very nature of it — dealing with the Holocaust and Eastern European klezmer music — it worked naturally with some feeling of war.” 

“The Soldier’s Tale” explores classicism through a 20th-century lens. It recounts a Russian folk tale wherein a soldier sells his violin to the devil in exchange for a book that shows him the future. It combines stark and visceral melody and rhythm with simple elements of ragtime, tango and waltz.

“Piano Quintet in A minor” was first recorded in 1925. The work is grueling, Burrow said. Program musicians include Gregory Lee and Hal Grossman on violin, Mark Neumann on viola, Jonathan Ruck on cello, Chad Burrow on clarinet and Amy I-Lin Cheng on piano. Special guest Pamela Richman, a member of the University of Central Oklahoma faculty, will accompany as narrator.

Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble’s final show of the season, The Piano Quartet, runs April 20-21 and focuses on compositions by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joaquín Turina and Johannes Brahms. Brightmusic’s Spring Festival: America, The Beautiful runs June 11-16 and features modern American composers including George Gershwin, John Corigliano, Aaron Copland and Samuel Barber.

Print headline: Never forget, Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble puts words to musicin its examination of war and how it impacts our society.

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