‘Classical Concert in a Classical Setting,’ Monday, Nov. 13, Isabella Ballroom of the Davenport Hotel
Good food and chamber music make a tasty combination.
The faculty of Holy Names Music Center and guest artists served up an ear-pleasing concert at the Davenport Hotel Monday that complemented a gourmet buffet prepared by Chef Jerry Schafer of the Cannon Street Grill.
The occasion was a fund-raiser for the music center’s scholarship fund, a successful one judging from the satisfied smiles and remarks of those who attended the buffet I missed.
The concert, which I did hear, was an event of which the music center could be very proud.
The program’s featured work was Igor Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale,” narrated by Sen. John Moyer and performed by an eight-piece chamber ensemble conducted by Gonzaga University music professor Robert Spittal.
Moyer is not a professional actor like Tom Courtney or Michael Douglas or Jean-Pierre Aumont, to name just a few of those who have recorded the narration of this work. Moyer read like a grandfather fondly reading a fairy tale to children after dinner - no actorly hamming, just a straightforward recitation of the story.
But Moyer built the right sort of excitement as the soldier cleverly gets the Devil drunk and allows Old Nick to win at cards. His narration was a neat match to the tart, dry style of Stravinsky’s music.
Particularly impressive among the musicians were Tracy Gibson Dunlop, who beautifully played the violin, an important object both to the soldier and to the Devil in this story, and percussionist Paul Raymond, whose clatter gave this tale its punch.
Linda Siverts, a member of the music center’s faculty, and guest pianist Aida Ribeiro provided the evening with the romantic sweep of Franz Schubert’s Fantasie in F minor for piano duet. Completed only a few months before the composer’s death, the Fantasie combines Schubert’s gift of tuneful melody with eyebrow-raising harmonic surprises.
Schubert includes sections that sound like they are taken from Italian opera, from Viennese symphonies, and from gypsy dances. Siverts and Ribeiro followed Schubert’s every change of style and mood.
A pair of sopranos who bill themselves as the Dueling Divas - Susan Windham and Melissa Percy Drumm - served Monday’s musical dessert with two morsels from 19th-century French opera.
Drumm brought nostalgic intensity to Louise’s memories of Julien’s first kiss in “Depuis le jour,” from Charpentier’s “Louise.” She was joined by Windham in the tender Barcarolle duet from Delibes’ “Lakme.”
Judging from the quality of its faculty’s music making, I hope Monday’s combination of food and music stimulated the contributions the music center clearly deserves.