July 24 – 30, 2015Vol. 17, No. 8

One More Week of Free Classical Concerts at Colby

Fromental Halévy

by Gregor Smith

If you enjoyed the cinematic "rediscoveries" at the Maine International Film Festival, you may also enjoy a musical rediscovery at the Atlantic Music Festival's concert on Saturday, July 25. Conducted by Jonathan Schiffman, the AMF Orchestra will present the modern première of Prométhée Enchainé ("Prometheus Bound") by French composer Fromental Halévy (1799-1862). This concert begins the final week of AMF performances at Colby College, all of which are free and open to the public.

In Greek mythology, Prometheus, a Titan, stole fire from Mt. Olympus to give to man. Zeus, the king of the gods, punished Prometheus by having him chained to a rock for all time. Using a libretto adapted from Aeschylus' play based on the legend, Halévy premièred his cantata in Paris in 1849. The work was ahead of its time in that one of its movements used microtones, intervals of less than a half step.

Despite plaudits from Halévy's better known contemporary Hector Berlioz, Prométhée Enchainé has not been performed since its première and has remained out of print. The orchestra will perform the entire cantata, with chorus and soloists. The concert will also feature two works by festival's founder and artistic director, Solbong Kim. They are his "Ash Tree Song" (2002) and "When Spring Comes" from his War Requiem (2007). Finally, the orchestra will present Mozart's ever popular Symphony No. 40.

Sheridan Seyfried

Sunday will bring two very different performances: a chamber music matinée at 2:00 p.m. in the lobby of the art museum and an informal "salon" concert at 7:00 in Lorimer Chapel. The program for neither concert had been set at press time, but the latter will feature soloists, duets, and other small groups of AMF musician performing anything from baroque to folk to jazz, including works that they themselves have composed or are composing.

No performance has been scheduled for Monday night, but on Tuesday artists from the AMF's Piano Institute will play solo keyboard masterworks. Details of this program have yet to be announced.

Wednesday night will see a double bill. At 7:00, one can hear chamber works in the chapel by two French impressionists, Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, as well as by two living American composers, Eric Ewazen and Stephen Cabell. At 9:00, "future music" will fill the Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building. In this performance, fellows in AMF's Future Music Lab will use interactive computer technology to augment and play back in real time sounds produced by traditional instruments.

On the final Thursday of each festival, members of AMF's Opera Workshop take over Strider Theater to present semi-staged scenes from famous operas, using costumes, props, and a few set pieces. This year, they will sing and act excerpts from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte ("The Magic Flute.").

Friday will see the AMF's final chamber music concert, with works by Beethoven, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and Seyfried. That last composer, Sheridan Seyfried, is a returning AMF faculty member and the work performed will be his Sextet for Clarinet, Strings, and Piano (2010), which is performed every year at the festival.

Robert Paterson and Solbong Kim

At 2:00 on Saturday, August 1, the AMF Contemporary Ensemble will perform new music by AMF's resident composers; and at 7:00 that evening, Maestro David Amado and AMF's conductors-in-training will lead the AMF Orchestra in Robert Paterson's "Dark Mountains" (2011) and Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony 7. That latter concert will also include a piano concerto starring the winner of the AMF Piano Concerto Competition. The concerto and the winner are yet to be determined.

Admission to all AMF performances is free, but donations are encouraged. Except where otherwise noted, concerts take place in Lorimer Chapel and begin at 7:00. Program details are current as of press time, but are subject to change. For the latest information, visit the festival's website.