& & by Marty Demarest & & & &
hen the time comes to celebrate, everyone has his or her own idea of how to mark the occasion. For artists, there are as many different ways to proclaim the moment as there are media in which to do it. Poets can commemorate special events in verse, and painters are able to capture the grand moments of history in images. So what do composers do? Well, they write fanfares.
Often composed for the blazing sounds of brass instruments, a fanfare's bold musical statement announces to listeners that something grand is going on. Whether it's for the entry of the Queen of Sheba, or for the triumph of the common man, the fanfare is music's favorite method of celebration. So it's no accident that Zephyr, the Inland Northwest's contemporary chamber music ensemble, has chosen fanfares as the musical focus of the opening concert of its 10th season. Zephyr certainly has reason to celebrate.
Anyone who knows the art world, with its fickle audiences and often-unsteady finances, has to admire Zephyr's 10-year track record. Kendall Feeney, Zephyr's artistic director, has not only managed to maintain a regularly innovative schedule of performances each year, but she has also helped to create an audience that is interested in and invigorated by the music itself.
"I basically think about how to present a program that will really engage the listener, but also that I believe in musically, and also that my musicians are excited to play," says Feeney. "But I almost always have in mind the audience. I can visualize them. Are they into what I'm doing? Is it something new that they'll take away and feel nourished in a certain way, or provoked by, or something?"
That philosophy lies behind each program in the ensemble's 10th season. One of the ideas regularly explored by Zephyr is the notion of what makes up a concert. Past performances have incorporated the visual arts and the written word into the musical setting, and Feeney aims to expand those ideas even more this year.
"I wanted this season to be a culmination of what Zephyr has been moving toward in these 10 years -- innovative music that people would not otherwise hear in the region. The big Dada program reflects our interest in combining visual, theatrical arts and reading with music. And this time we have a silent film, Ballet M & eacute;canique, so that's a very ambitious program. And we quiet down for The Child in All of Us. And then we bring the volume back up for Flux. There will be so much energy onstage that people will have to hold onto their hats."
Typical of the ensemble's dedication to the eclectic, this season's first concert will open with two fanfares from different continents. British composer Benjamin Britten's Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury will be paired with Hispanic composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez's Fanfare, written for four conch shells and four trumpets. Originally performed as part of a larger piece in a cathedral square in Mexico, the piece featured trumpets in the church tower and the conch shells below. True to Zephyr's history of providing innovative presentations, Friday night's performance will attempt to capture a similar effect in The Met.
Guest artist Richard Pressley, principle trumpet of the Seattle Symphony, will join Feeney and marimbaist Denali Williams for Five Pieces for the Dance. The performance marks the North American premiere of the work by British composer George Fenton, who is best known as composer of the film scores for Gandhi and Dangerous Liaisons.
A diversity of sound rings throughout the rest of the concert as well. Audiences will hear the complete range of brass instruments in several works for brass quintet. And composer Steve Rouse features three different trumpets paired with piano in his composition Avatar. Horn player Margaret Wilds will open the second half of the concert by taking the audience on a virtuosic tour around the horn's sound in the solo work Espana.
Perhaps it's the idea that the excitement for the music should be felt by both musicians and the audience, combined with a spirit of adventure, that has helped to drive Zephyr's nine successful years.
"I'm thrilled by the support of the community and the musicians," Feeney says. "When I call on a musician, hopefully they're a little bit excited, but sort of worried. They're never quite sure what I'm going to ask of them."
& & & lt;i & Zephyr performs on Friday, Nov. 10, at 8 pm at The Met, 901 W. Sprague. Tickets: $10-$17. Call: 325-SEAT. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &