British Buddies, with Anthony Dean Griffey

Sunday November 19, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Anthony Dean Griffey
Lynn McGrath  guitar
Kurt Galván piano
Melissa Matson  viola

Frank Bridge: Two Pieces for viola and piano
John Dowland: Lachrimae pavane and Captain Digorie Piper's Galliarde (solo guitar)
Benjamin Britten: Lachrymae
(viola and piano)
Benjamin Britten: Folk Songs, Volume No. 6
    (tenor and guitar)
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Suite for viola and piano (Group 1)
Frank Bridge: Three Songs for tenor, viola and piano

     The genesis of this concert was my desire to collaborate with tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, a recent addition to Eastman's voice faculty. Having been absolutely bowled over by his portrayal of Peter Grimes in the Metropolitan Opera's Live Broadcast of the Benjamin Britten opera, I was overjoyed when he agreed to join me on a First Muse concert! His suggestions of the Three Songs for tenor, viola, and piano by Frank Bridge led to this all-British program. Simply by virtue of the fact that our three featured composers were all strong viola players, there will be an inordinate amount of viola-piano repertoire!

    Frank Bridge (1879-1941) had an active and successful career as a violist, in particular as a member of several distinguished string quartets in Britain. His two romantic works for viola and piano, Pensiero (1905) and Allegro appassionato in B minor (1907), exemplify his ability to convey a "dramatic and wide-ranging narrative" in a short span of time. Kurt Galván, currently a DMA student in collaborative piano at Eastman, will join me for these lovely works.

    Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) was a 13-year-old violist when he began studying composition with Frank Bridge. After hearing the famous Scottish violist William Primrose in 1949, Britten was inspired to write for him the Lachrymae for viola and piano. Since this set of variations is based on music by the English Renaissance composer John Dowland, we've asked the new Eastman Community Music School guitar professor, Lynn McGrath, to perform the original solo lute versions which inspired Britten: "Lachrimae Pavane " and "Captain Digorie Piper's Galliarde."

    Over the years, Britten wrote several sets of arrangements of English folk songs - his Folksongs Volume 6 was written for voice and guitar, and was premiered in 1961 by none other than Peter Pears and Julian Bream.  Instead of adding a simple, predictable chord structure to the existing melodies, Britten created accompaniments filled with fascinating and colorful characteristic writing for the guitar.  With the partnership of Ms. McGrath, Mr. Griffey will bring these folk songs to life with his enviable vocabulary of character and meaning.

    The music of Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) embraces a departure from the influence of mainland Europe, turning instead to elements of English Renaissance and folk music. He was a violist from an early age, and in 1934 wrote three groups of pieces for viola and small orchestra which were premiered by the ground-breaking English violist Lionel Tertis. Mr. Galván and I will perform the first of these groups, consisting of a Bach-like Prelude, a simple folk song Carol, and a rousing rural celebration in Christmas Dance.

    Completing the evening will be the piece which ignited the programming: the gorgeous Three Songs for Tenor, Viola and Piano of Frank Bridge. The texts (by Heine, Shelley, and Matthew Arnold) offer reflections on death; Bridge's music blends the richness of the instruments in dialogue and consort.

     Continuing First Muse's dedication to furthering social justice, 25% of the evening's ticket revenue will be donated to First Unitarian Church's  Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN) task force. These volunteers host homeless families at the church several weeks during the year - and will provide our popular post-concert reception.
Our post-concert reception will be presented by the First Unitarian Church's RAIHN (Rochester Area Interfaith Housing Network) - recipients of 25% of this concert's ticket revenue.

$15 general / $5 student / $30 family maximum

First Unitarian Church - 220 Winton Road South - Rochester NY 14610

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