In the summer, even many classical concerts tend to be the musical equivalent of a beach novel. Light, undemanding fare that is forgotten almost as soon as it is consumed.
But all of these heady influences will be conveyed in music by popular Baroque composers Antonio Vivaldi, Alessandro Marcello and Johann Sebastian Bach.
Also on the program is the world premiere of a work commissioned from the head of the William Jewell College music department, Ian Coleman.
“Music, Word and Art” is the second in a three-concert summer series called “Between Silence and Light.”
Trilla Ray-Carter, cellist and the founder and executive director of the consortium, says the name of the series comes from “Between Silence and Light,” a book about architect Louis Kahn by John Lobell.
“It was a book I discovered almost 40 years ago,” Ray-Carter said. “Louis Kahn really strove to imbue architecture of the midcentury with a sense of spirit. He felt that architecture had separated itself from the past, and he tried to bring that back. When I started thinking about putting together a new summer series, this title came back to me, and I had to ask myself, what would an early music series with this title look like.”
“Music, Word and Art” explores the concepts of silence and light through the art and writings of Makoto Fujimura, who was strongly influenced by Endō’s “Silence.” Martin Scorsese recently made a film of the novel about the experience of Jesuit missionaries in 17th century Japan.
“The novel reflected Fujimura’s own struggles as an American of Japanese descent,” Ray-Carter said. “He returned to Japan as a young adult and studied the Japanese technique of nihonga, where they use coarsely crushed mineral pigments and apply them to paper or canvas. These minerals refract the light like prisms. There’s a remarkable luminescence in his artwork in which I find an intriguing connection to the music of Vivaldi, Marcello and Bach.”
To add a colorful Japanese touch to the concert, Dianne Daugherty will play a 17th century work for traditional 13-string Japanese koto.
Coleman’s piece, the other non-Baroque work on the program, is “Silence and Light,” a setting of the writings of Kahn. In addition to heading up William Jewell College’s excellent music program, Coleman is a distinguished composer, having written music for renowned ensembles like the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines and the King’s Singers. He is especially popular locally for his choral music, which has been performed by several area choirs.
“Ian is delightful to work with,” Ray-Carter said. “He is humble and extremely open to ideas and concepts. There’s a risk in handing your Baroque-loving audience over the hands of a 21st century composer, but we are in extremely good hands. His works are meaningful, refreshing and very enjoyable to play.”
Coleman incorporates counterpoint, which was so important in Baroque music, but he still uses a modern approach in his setting of words, Ray-Carter says. The text Coleman used describes Kahn’s concept of silence as the unmeasurable and light as the measurable.
“Kahn’s intent was to find a way of connecting those two and to articulate the space between silence and light,” Ray-Carter said. “And the space between these two concepts is what all of us as artists are trying to do, articulate our ideas to make them reality.”
The final concert in the “Between Silence and Light” series is “Music and Dance” on Aug. 11, also at St. Paul’s Church. It will explore similar themes, but through the rhythmic expression of dance.
You can reach Patrick Neas at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at facebook.com/kcartsbeat.
Kansas City Baroque Consortium concerts
▪ “Music, Word and Art”: 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 14. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 E. 40th St. $15-$30. www.kcbaroque.org.
▪ “Music and Dance”: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. $15-$30. kcbaroque.org.