Decoda, the multifaceted collective of virtuosos from New York City, holds a special place in my musical life—I was a founding Artistic Director of Decoda prior to joining the St. Lawrence String Quartet—and I couldn’t be more delighted to introduce them to Stanford! The ensemble performing in the Bing Studio on November 30 features the oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and double bass, with special guest soprano Mary Bonhag: a beguiling combination for both expressive intimacy and an orchestral diversity of sounds.
Life Circus is a program that showcases virtuosity, showmanship, variety and wit—but also tenderness, loneliness, hope and resilience. Sergei Prokofiev’s Quintet is music for a ballet (now lost) entitled Trapeze, depicting both the sparkle and grit of an old-world circus. Composer and double bassist Evan Premo’s musical style is both economical and heartbreakingly direct; Benjamin Britten’s solo oboe pieces are virtuoso takes on the very human foibles of the Greek gods. Samuel Barber’s Excursions are miniature tours-de-force in American folk styles, and his song Nuvoletta depicts the beauty and tragedy of a small heroine from Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.
Capping it all off, Franz Schubert’s late song Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (The Shepherd on the Rock) tells of a shepherd’s loneliness and joy high atop a mountain, a perfect distillation of Stanford Live’s season theme of life, love and loss. My own arrangement of this brilliant showpiece, originally for soprano, clarinet, and piano, is receiving its world premiere.
Decoda in the Bing Studio
Nov 30, 7:00pm
Classical music in an intimate cabaret setting