East Meets West in Da Camera’s ‘Songs Of The Earth’

January 19, 2009

Da Camera is celebrating over 100 years of cross-fertilization between the Asian and Western classical traditions with the concert “Songs of the Earth” on Saturday, Jan.31, at 8 p.m. in the Cullen Theater of the Wortham Theater Center. 


Da Camera welcomes Chinese-American composer Zhou Long in his Houston debut.


A world-class chamber orchestra with members of the Houston Symphony and other leading Houston musicians led by conductor Gregory Vajda will collaborate with mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer and virtuosi from the New York-based ensemble “Music From China: Min Xiao-Fen, pipa and Wang Guowei, erhu.”


The program begins with the chamber version of Claude Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.”


Debussy was strongly influenced by the music of what was known in his time as “the Orient.” The final piece is the chamber version of Gustav Mahler’s song “The Farewell from Songs of the Earth.”


 Zhou Long’s “The Farewell” for pipa, erhu and chamber orchestra is inspired by the same Chinese texts that Mahler sets in his song and is an attempt, he writes, to “combine ancient Chinese and Western musical traditions into a coherent personal statement.”


The Washington Post called Zhou’s piece “a masterly work– atmospheric, finely wrought music that captured the delicate melancholy of the poems” and said he has “one of the most striking sonic imaginations of any composer around.”


Zhou is a Chinese-born American composer of orchestral, chamber and vocal works that have been performed throughout the world.  Zhou studied piano as a child but the Cultural Revolution interrupted his musical progress in 1966.


Mentzer has become one of today’s foremost mezzo-sopranos. She enjoys a significant concert and recital career, with a particular interest in chamber music and is known as an interpreter of the vocal works of Mahler and a proponent of women’s music.


She is also professor of voice at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.


There will be a pre-concert conversation with Zhou and Artistic Director Sarah Rothenberg at 7 p.m. on the 6th floor of the Wortham Theater Center.


Tickets for “Songs of the Earth” are $25, $35 and $45. They are available by contacting Da Camera of Houston, 1427 Branard, at 713-524-5050 or online at www.dacamera.com


Tickets for students and senior citizens are always half-price. There are discounts for groups of 10 or more.


InstantNewsWestu Staff

View more articles Subscribe