Rodrigo Almeida and Daniel Duarte perform a waltz of Ernesto Nazareth
“Yesterday was hot; today is cold. That’s bad for the guitars,” said Rodrigo Almeida, as he and Daniel Duarte struggled with keeping their instruments in tune. If there were tuning problems, no one in the audience could tell as the guitar duo performed a brief concert of pieces from the Baroque (Soler) to the contemporary (IU grad Jon Godfrey), from a delicate transcription (by Duarte) of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” to the rhythms and dances of Brazil in music by Nazareth, Pixinguinha, and Pereira. The concert continues a decade-old tradition of intimate, Friday lunchtime concerts sponsored by the Office of International Services, now in the Willkie Formal Lounge.
Almeida and Duarte established their Villa Guitar Duo in 2004. They have won competitions in Europe, the U.S., and Latin America and completed their first US tour in 2009. They have done many of their own transcriptions, and hearing their version of Debussy on guitar makes one wonder if perhaps the French composer had been composing for the wrong instrument. Their most recent CD renders Scarlatti, Bach, Albeniz, Villa-Lobos, and Boccherini with the same conviction, and offers challenging examples of Spanish and Latin American music written for guitar. Both currently reside in Bloomington and are associate instructors for the Jacobs School, working under Ernesto Bitetti.
Paloma Friedhoff Bello, soprano; Joesph Noelliste, piano; cousin Isaac Friedhoff, pageturner
Each year for the past 25 years, as many as 50 of Spain’s brightest young professionals come to Bloomington for a week-long briefing on American life and American universities. They are La Caixa Scholars, chosen for a prestigious graduate fellowship program sponsored by Spain’s largest bank. After their week in the Midwest, the scholars scatter to top universities around the U.S. One who came last August and stayed in Bloomington was Paloma Friedhoff Bello. She began work toward a masters in vocal performance in the IU Jacobs School of Music, studying under Sylvia McNair.
For Paloma, IU was not the new world that her La Caxia colleagues were discovering, but a place full of family stories. She will be the seventh member of her family to establish herself among IU’s alumni. The first was her father, John Paul Friedhoff, who studied cello at IU with Janos Starker in the early 1970s. Paul was principal cellist in orchestras in Costa Rica, Holland and Belgium before assuming that position with the Madrid Symphony Orchestra. Paloma’s uncle, Mark Friedhoff, also studied with Janos Starker and has been principal cellist with orchestras in Berlin and Zurich; he is now teacher and performer in Barcelona. Her aunt, Jolan Friedhoff studied violin at IU, was assistant concertmaster of the Saarbrucken Radio Symphony Orchestra and now teaches at University of California at Davis. Another aunt, Barbara Friedhoff studied viola at IU and is now principal viola of the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon. Brother Alexander Friedhoff also studied with Janos Starker. He completed his degree in 2002, became principal cellist with the Granada Symphony, and now plays with the Orchestra of the Palau de les Arts under Zubin Mehta and Lorin Maazel. Her cousin Isaac is currently studying piano at IU.
This week, Paloma gave her masters recital in Auer Hall. She began in the Baroque period with Bach and Handel, including a passionate rendition of an aria from Julius Caesar, in which Cleopatra laments almost certain defeat and death at the hands of her brother, whom she vows to haunt. Paloma then leapt to the 20th century with works by Hahn, Granados, and Stravinsky, and three songs of Kurt Weill, finishing with a flourish in the story of wayward Jenny who couldn’t make up her mind. Next month, she makes her IU Opera debut as Marguerite, daughter of the physician who cared for Van Gogh during his last months, in the world premier of Vincent, Bernard Rands’s musical rendering of the painter’s descent into madness and artistic brilliance.
Susan Moses, cello; Emile Naoumoff, piano; Erzsébet Gaàl Rinne, harp
One of the most traditional Hungarian dances is the Csárdás with it range of moods from slow, reflective and painfully sad to moments of frenetic frenzy. It is too simplistic to say that all Hungarian music follows this pattern, but Hungarian music seems irresistible in its ability to cut to the emotional quick. Certainly few could have left yesterday’s Concert of Hungarian Music at Auer Hall in the IU School of Music with their emotional equanimity intact. It was offered in memory of Denis Sinor, the IU professor, born in Hungary, who brought Central Asia to Southern Indiana in the 1960s and spent much of the rest of his life advocating for continuing interest in the cultures and languages that swirled through and around that vast region of the world.
The concert began and ended in reflection, first with an Elegy by Liszt in a setting for cello, organ, piano and harp, and ended with a Requiem by David Popper that blended three cellos with piano. The high point of the middle was Liszt’s dance of death in an arrangement for two pianos that in its fantasia on the Dies Irae took the audience to Hell and back. It must have required its performers, IU Professor Emile Naoumoff, and his student George Lykogiannis, to spend months in strength training at the gym. When they were done, the two concert grand pianos on stage were begging for mercy.
Along the way, Amy Waller, soprano, sang Liszt’s renderings of a prayer of repentance, a love song by Victor Hugo, and the 23rd Psalm. Dean Emeritus Charles Webb performed Liszt’s Prelude and Fugue on BACH. Michael Zyzak and Jacobsen Woollen, students of the IU String Academy and young winners at an international cello competition in Hungary, brought their own rendering of emotional heights and depths through pieces by David Popper.
After a concert of such emotional and wrenching virtuosity, one can almost imagine Professor Sinor in the lobby bringing everyone back down to earth with a quip accompanied perhaps by a gesture with a hint of a Csárdás flourish. Read more.
Michael Zyzak, cello; Charles Webb, piano
Amy Waller, soprano; Charles Webb, organ
Daniel Lelchuk, Kevin Künkel, Edward Prevost, cellos; Arthur Fagen, piano
Juan Orrego-Salas founded the IU Latin-American Music Center in 1961. At that time, there was no center like it in the United States. The center begins celebrating its golden anniversary with two events:
The first was a performance on January 29 and 30 by finalists in the center’s annual Competition in Performance of Music from Spain and Latin America. Winners of that competition were IU students Colin Sorgi, violin, and Jooeun Pak, piano. They played works by living composers Gabriela Lena Frank (Peru and US), Paul Dessene (Venezuela), and Miguel del Águila (Uruguay). The competition has been supported for the past 13 years with assistance from the Embassy of Spain. Read more.
- Colin Sorgi, violin and Jooeun Pak, piano
On Sunday, February 13, the Latin American Popular Music Ensemble will perform at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The concert is entitled “Bésame Mucho, the Greatest Latin Love Songs of All Time.” The ensemble will be joined by Jacobs faculty members Sylvia McNair, Carlos Montané, Luke Gillespie, and Jeremy Allen. The concert begins at 8pm. Read more.
Sylvia McNair joins colleages to perform Latin American love songs on February 13 with the Latin American Popular Music Ensemble.