Three Marshall music faculty members will be joined by two guest instrumentalists for a program at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, that the performers are calling “Music from the Age of Invention.” The concert will take place in Smith Recital Hall on Marshall’s Huntington campus.
The performers include Dr. Wendell Dobbs, flute, Dr. Stephen Lawson, horn, and Kay Lawson, bassoon, who all teach at Marshall. The guest performers are Curtis Foster, oboe, and Dr. Richard Spece, clarinet. The group has chosen to call themselves the Maelzel Metronome Woodwind Quintet, referring to the Age of Invention in the early 19th century, when inventions such as Maelzel’s time-keeping contraption and musical and technical innovations marked the artistic landscape in Europe.
Though woodwind quintet music has been well represented on Marshall’s Huntington campus in the past, Dobbs said, this particular program will be different since all involved will perform not only on modern instruments, but also on historical reproductions of instruments that existed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The instruments vary considerably from their modern counterparts. They naturally sound differently and they require a whole new technique when playing.
This repertoire of music for five wind instruments began life in late 18th- and early 19th-century Paris when numerous multi-movement works featuring the five winds of the classical era orchestra – flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn – were composed by Anton Reicha, Franz Danzi and others. (Though the horn is not a woodwind instrument, the convenient name “woodwind quintet” has described the combination for many generations.) The program on Sept. 18 will feature works by Reicha and Danzi, as well as a third by Giuseppe Maria Cambini.
Dobbs noted that “historically informed” performances on period instruments, as these historical reproductions are called, are gaining more attention on many college campuses and on the classical music scene in many major American cities. “In essence, we hear the same sounds as the composers and musicians from the era and this informs our decisions on numerous aspects of the music and indeed permits us and our audience to understand the music in ways that may be obscured by the louder, more homogenized sounds of modern instruments,” he said.
The two guest artists are very involved in performance on period instruments. Foster lives in Seattle, Wash., and has performed with many of the important historical music groups in the United States, including the Baroque orchestras of Seattle, St. Louis, Baltimore and Madison. He is a graduate of Indiana University’s Early Music Institute, where he studied with Washington McClain. Spece teaches at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus and performs regularly with a host of groups including Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Ama Deus Ensemble, California Bach Society, Magnificat, Classical Consort, Concert Spirituel and Opera Lafayette. He is also a founding member of Circa 1800 Chamber Winds.
A slightly abbreviated repeat performance will occur at First Presbyterian Church, part of the MUsic Alive! Series, at noon Friday, Sept. 20. The church is located at 1015 5th Ave.
Both programs are free and open to the public. Call the Marshall University School of Music and Theatre at 304-696-3117 for more information.
Photos: Guest artists Curtis Foster (above) and Dr. Richard Spece will appear with Marshall University music faculty members Wednesday, Sept. 18 and again on Friday, Sept. 20.