Second November weekend concert highlights to include RDT Link Series’ Sandbox, Bachauer recital with Sergey Belyavsky, NOVA Chamber Music Series’ Songs of Life

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Among the events blossoming on the Salt Lake City performing arts calendar for the second weekend of November are a dance concert of new works by local artists, a recital by the 2018 Bachauer international artist competition’s bronze medalist and a chamber music concert of six pieces featuring 18 musicians from Utah and New Mexico.

REPERTORY DANCE THEATRE (RDT) LINK SERIES: SANDBOX, AN EVENING OF DANCE BY DAN HIGGINS & AND ARTISTS

Yet another example of dance’s impressive artistic entrepreneurship in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area is set to be presented this week in Sandbox, a concert featuring new works by choreographers Dan Higgins and Rebecca Aneloski, along with members of the And Artists company. The concert, part of Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT)’s Link Series, will take place Nov. 11-13 daily at 7:30 p.m. in the Leona Wagner Black Box Theatre of the Rose Wagner Center for Performing Arts.

Two new works comprise the one-hour concert. Higgins will present Gourmet, a work in four sections that flow from one to another without a definitive break. Michael Wall, a local composer who frequently writes new music for choreographic projects and runs the soundFORmovement.com website, produced a score for Higgins’ new composition. Without a specific narrative attached to the work, as noted in a recent rehearsal observed by The Utah Review, Gourmet lives up to its title, as a tasting menu of movement’s expressive power by highlighting the technical expertise and the aesthetic passions of its performers. The cast will be Bashaun Williams, Kayla Hansen, Cameron Mertz, Joey Anderson and Lexi Hauck.

Gourmet by Dan Higgins. Photo Credit: Logan Sorenson.

The second work is Fourteen Failures by Aneloski, which will be performed with no music. The work offers a montage of short movements collected as responses to the tensions, stresses, isolations and contemplations of relationships and personal experiences arising from various circumstances, some directly or indirectly associated with the pandemic and others emerging from broader themes. The cast will include Rachel Andes, Laura Baumeister, Haleigh Larmer, Kellie St. Pierre and Melissa Younker. The six artists built the work over the last two months. In a rehearsal observed by The Utah Review, each movement’s vignette is discernible in the amplified gestures, movement and eye contact the dancers engage to communicate the emotional impact without the benefit of music. Thus, the audience member’s viewing also is targeted on listening intently to the other sounds of dance including breathing, the force of steps and the snap of movements in the limbs. Lighting design will be provided by Pilar Davis.

In addition to choreographing his own work, Higgins, a University of Wyoming graduate, is in his eighth season as a dance artist with RDT. In June, he presented Fragments Of … with dance artist and choreographer Laura Brick, which also was part of the RDT Link Series. 

Fourteen Failures, directed by Rebecca Aneloski. Photo Credit: Logan Sorenson.

Aneloski works as a freelance choreographer in Salt Lake City and has extensive training in ballet. A graduate of The University of Utah’s master of fine arts program, she saw her thesis project titled How Dare We (Ever Be) All selected as one of the four works for the gala concert at the American College Dance Association’s Northwest Regional Conference in 2017. Her artistic statement clarifies her focus on her creative expression: “My observations of dancers’ attempts and errors, sift and distill what can be made in process. I chase after moments that appear ‘less-than-ideal”’ and capitalize on errors made within choreographic disruptions and error. I attempt to make works which tell a greater story than myself.” She founded And Artists in 2018, a movement research space to explore and collaborate with freelance dance artists. The original collective ended in March 2020, with the outbreak of COVID-19. And Artists is now the name used to credit all choreography and projects that Aneloski directs.

For tickets, see the RDT LInk Series page. 

GINA BACHAUER INTERNATIONAL PIANO FOUNDATION: SERGEY BELYAVSKY

Just two weeks after Changyong Shin, the 2018 gold medalist of the Bachauer international artists competition, performed at Carnegie Hall, Sergey Belyavsky, the bronze medalist from that same year, comes to Salt Lake City to perform a recital of works by Schubert and Liszt, selected to convey the theme of The Wanderer

The Moscow-born pianist, 28, who debuted at the age of 10 and has performed in nearly 30 countries, will perform Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jeanné Wagner Theatre of the Rose Wagner Center for Performing Arts in downtown Salt Lake City. Along with a Nov. 10 concert at Utah Valley University, these two programs will be Belyavsky’s first post-pandemic concert appearances outside of Europe.

Belyavsky is a rising star from the Russian school of outstanding pianists. A graduate of the Moscow State “Tchaikovsky” Conservatory, he recently graduated from the Kalaidos Music School in Switzerland, and is proceeding toward earning the highly esteemed Diplôme Supérieur de Concertiste at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot. 

Sergey Belyavsky.

Belyavsky’s program will take no prisoners, when it comes to displaying the most complex virtuosic possibilities with the keyboard. Among the works is Schubert’s Fantasy in C Major, D. 760, also known as The Wanderer. Schubert was 25 when he completed the work, which he deemed as being too complicated for himself to perform. Its four movements are connected through an epic theme of a traveler’s arduous journey. Continuing with the theme of a traveler, Belyavsky will perform Liszt transcriptions of selections from Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin, the epic song cycle completed a year after The Wanderer Fantasy. The three song transcriptions include Das Wandern, which features cycles of broken triads flowing along with bass octaves to emulate the movement of a stream; Wohin?, which builds on the harmonic movement of the first song, and Der Muller und der Bach, highlighted by its barcarolle character and its Neapolitan harmonic features. Belyavsky offers yet one more Schubert work as transcribed for solo piano by Liszt — Erlkönig, which Schubert wrote at the age of 18 and based on the Goethe poem of the same title. Liszt performed his transcription frequently, a piece that is electrifying in its interpretation of the original’s epic nature,

The concert includes other masterly feats of piano technique in two selections from Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes (impressively performed back to back). Other Liszt masterpieces include the Tarantella from Venezia e Napoli, Années de pèlerinage II and Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9 in E-flat Major (Carnival in Pest). 

Audience members will be asked to produce proof of vaccination for admission or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours to be admitted (a photo on a smartphone is acceptable). Children 12 and under will be admitted. All patrons will be required to wear a mask during the performance. For tickets and more information, see the Bachauer website.

NOVA CHAMBER MUSIC SERIES: SONGS OF LIFE

The NOVA Chamber Music Series returns to Libby Gardner Hall at The University of Utah on Nov. 14 at 3 p.m. with Songs of Life, a concert that Robert Waters, first violinist of the Fry Street Quartet (which serves as the series’ music directors described in an earlier interview with The Utah Review as “an unusual program for NOVA, cutting a pretty wide swath of different performers and instrumentation, that is fun and even sometimes rowdy with unfettered energy.” 

It will be a fast-paced program featuring six works — including two by Utah composers — performed variously by a total of 18 musicians representing members of the Utah Symphony, Fry Street Quartet, Red Desert ensemble and New Mexico Philharmonic.

Setting the pace will be Jet Whistles by Hector Villa-Lobos, scored for cello and piano, which Fry Street Quartet cellist Anne Francis Bayless says is “unmistakably fun to play.” As Jeff Counts explains in the concert’s program notes, “It refers to a technique employed in the third movement that reminded the composer of an airplane during takeoff.” Gabriela Lena Frank’s Milagros (2010) picks up the thematic baton of this concert in a work of eight short movements for string quartet based on snapshots of life relating to motherhood and infancy in Peru, both past and present. Counts writes that these touching “quietly miraculous  mini portraits include depictions of roadside shrines, panpipes, empty cities, brightly colored dolls, nighttime shadows, water drums, and indigenous folk singers.”

Gabriela Frank.

The two pieces from Utah include Neil Thornock’s Blur, a musical sparring between two percussionists composed in 2012, which Counts notes that “in addition to squaring off with a vibraphone and xylophone, each player is asked to contribute found objects of metal or glass.” The second piece is Git Along Little Dogies by Red Desert’s Devin Maxwell, a 2014 work that is akin to the vibe of the earlier Villa-Lobos piece but bustling instead with Wild West raucousness. In the program notes, Counts writes, “Maxwell recalls a particular YouTube rabbit hole related to the Roy Rogers song that he used to sing to his son at bedtime. Searching through other versions led him to Woody Guthrie, whose lingering vocal style and unique harmonic fingerprints urged Maxwell to explore the tune more deeply.” Clarinetist Katie Porter, Maxwell’s wife and co-principal of Red Desert, will play the work and will join the ensemble for the concert’s listed Schnittke work.

Rounding out the concert will be Alfred Schnittke’s absurdist Serenade and Maurice Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, scored for harp, flute, clarinet and string quartet but really the work is a bona fide concerto for harp. The Schnittke work, written in 1968, reflects a shift in the composer’s aesthetic philosophy, as Counts explains. Schnittke’s use of quoted material from composers of different eras as well as his own earlier music “marked a personal pivot point … from the serial techniques of his youth to a more aleatoric approach to melodic construction.” Matthew Tutsky, principal harpist of the New Mexico Philharmonic, will be guest soloist for the Ravel work, an 11-minute swooning display of the musical possibilities of the double action chromatic harp. It was a new instrument when introduced in 1905 that became the basis for a commission the manufacturer awarded to Ravel.

Tickets and more information are available at the NOVA website. Concert attendees will be required to show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test prior to admission. Likewise, audience members will be required to wear masks during the concert.

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