The Mother Lode Friends of Music, the regional organization of classical music performances, presents its first concert of the year on Sunday, Jan. 26, starting at 2 p.m. in the Church of the Nazarene, 14050 Ridge Road in Sutter Creek.
Supported by its membership base, the organization offers the concert to music-lovers everywhere free of charge.
The program features works for soprano, flute and piano. Flutist Sandra Betti of Sonora opens the program with “La Flûte de Pan” of the late Romantic French composer Jules Mouquet. The work, in three-movement sonata form with piano accompaniment, evocatively presents both the frolicsome and pensive facets of the mythical Greek god of shepherds and flocks, and displays to full advantage both the virtuoso and lyrical qualities of the flute.
Soprano Alexis Magarò continues the program with the magistral “Four Last Songs” of Richard Strauss. Written when the German composer was 84 with texts from German poets, the four songs represent a final, glorious summation of the composer’s life-long love affair with the human voice. Friends of Music President Ron Brickman provides the piano accompaniment.
The three artists join forces to conclude the program’s first half with the delightful, coloratura showpiece, “Le Rossignol” (“The Nightingale”), of French composer Léo Delibes. Soprano and flute vie for attention, first in a dramatic prologue then in a charming waltz.
The high point of the concert comes with a performance of “Good Night” by contemporary Polish composer Henryk Górecki. This profound work is a perfect representation of the strain of modern music known as minimalism, where composers use the sparest of means and frequent repetition to mesmerizing musical effect.
“Good Night,” scored for soprano, alto flute, piano and tamtams (Chinese gongs), was written as a requiem for the composer’s friend, Michael Vyner, conductor of the London Sinfonietta and long-time proponent of the composer’s works. The soprano enters only in the last movement, which concludes with a musical anagram spelling out the name of the work’s dedicatee, then terminates with solemn, toll-like peals of the gongs.
The concert returns to the mainstream of classical music to conclude with the delightful “Une Flûte Invisible” for soprano, flute and piano of French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.
Soprano Alexis Magarò, now a resident of Chicago, returns to the Mother Lode after several appearances here in the 2008-10 period. A dramatic soprano who is also comfortable with the coloratura repertory, Magarò was for several years the leading soprano soloist at the Opera of Halle in Germany and has performed in leading opera houses and recital halls throughout Europe.
Flutist Betti studied with Paul Renze, former principal flute with the San Francisco Symphony, and Leone Buyse, assistant principal flute with the Boston Symphony.
She has performed with the Berkeley Symphony and the Artesian Pops Orchestra in Los Angeles and toured Europe with classical guitarist Sergio Funes. She moved to Sonora four years ago and has become an active participant in local musical circles.
On March 23, she will perform with fellow flutist June Diggle in the St. James Concert Series in Sonora.
Performing the three tamtams in the Górecki selection is percussionist Kristin Campbell of Sacramento. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Campbell performs regularly with ensembles in the greater Sacramento region and has for many years served as timpanist of the Mother Lode Friends of Music Orchestra.
For more information go to the Friends of Music’s Website at mlfm.org or call 209-293-4227.