Oklahoma City University News
Knight, Christensen Team on Song Cycle's World Premiere
The world premiere of “Curve of Gold,” a song cycle by award-winning composer Edward Knight, will highlight the March 23 concert by Oklahoma City’s Brightmusic chamber ensemble. Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. concert at historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, 127 NW 7th Street, is free and open to the public.
Knight’s 17-minute piece for tenor, clarinet and piano, is one of six works Brightmusic has commissioned from American composers since 2003.
“Curve of Gold” is based on five pastoral poems by St. Louis-born Sara Teasdale (1884-1933). The premiere will be performed by William Nield Christensen, a member of the voice faculty at the Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University, and clarinetist Chad Burrow and pianist Amy I-Lin Cheng, co-artistic directors of the ensemble.
“This work is unusual in that it’s not for tenor with clarinet accompaniment,” said Knight, OCU’s director of composition and composer-in-residence. “The clarinet is a star in its own right, showcased in varied roles.
“In the first poem, the clarinet illustrates waves of perfume, wafting, floating, circling around the voice. In the second, the clarinet is birdlike, echoing the vocal line,” Knight said. “In the third, the music is most lyrical and the clarinet – representing nature – blossoms as the voice drifts away. The fourth has silliness following the seriousness, with the clarinet adding comic relief. In the final poem, the clarinet and voice intertwine, with the clarinet soaring and embellishing the vocal line.”
In addition to the Knight premiere, Brightmusic’s March 23 program includes Charles Martin Loeffler’s Two Rhapsodies for oboe, viola and piano; Giovanni Bottesini’s Gran Duetto for clarinet, double bass and piano; and Maurice Ravel’s Trio in A minor for piano, violin and cello.
Instrumentalists scheduled to perform are Burrow and Cheng; OCU faculty member Lisa Harvey-Reed, oboe; Gregory Lee, violin; Royce McLarry, viola; Jonathan Ruck, cello; and George Speed, double bass.
Burrow and Cheng are former OCU faculty members now living in Ann Arbor, Mich. Burrow, a native of Coweta, is former principal clarinetist of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and Cheng is former director of the piano program at OCU.
Knight, a former Oklahoma Musician of the Year, has won the Aaron Copland Award, the San Francisco Song Festival's American Art Song Competition, and ASCAP's Rudolf Nissim Award for Best New Orchestral Work. He is a frequent fellow at Yaddo, MacDowell, Djerassi, and Ucross artist colonies. He was appointed to the OCU faculty in 1997.
A reception will follow Tuesday’s performance. Brightmusic concerts are free of charge, although contributions are appreciated. For more information, visit www.brightmusic.org .