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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chameleon Gloria Chien performs at Steinert Hall

On Tuesday, October 20, Chameleon Gloria Chien will be featured on the series “An Evening With Steinway” at Steinert Hall at M. Steinert & Sons in downtown Boston. She will be joined by violinist Kristopher Tong, second violinist of the Borromeo String Quartet, for a program of works by Mendelssohn, Ravel, Messiaen & Strauss.

The concert is open to the public, but seating is very limited and reservations are required. To reserve your space, email or call 617-426-1900 x222.

An Evening With Steinway
Gloria Chien, piano and Kristopher Tong, violin

Tuesday, October 20, 2009, 7:00 pm
wine & cheese reception to follow

Steinert Hall, M. Steinert & Sons
162 Boylston Street at the Boston Common

Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Review of Oct 3 concert in Boston Musical Intelligencer

Chameleon Presents Colorful, Inspired Juxtapositions in Season Opener
by Michael Rocha

The Chameleon Arts Ensemble began their 12th season on a high note; many of them, actually. The concert, “Music and All Silence Held,” took place at the Goethe Institut in Boston’s Back Bay on Saturday, October 3. This intriguing chamber group continued their tradition of creative, thought-provoking, and highly entertaining programming. The Chameleons are dedicated to the integration of the arts into everyday life. They Facebook. They blog. They tweet. They donate tickets to worthy organizations. They present one benefit concert each season. All part of a broad and vibrant outreach program. When it comes to concertizing, however, this unique group of top-drawer musicians prefers the intimate confines of the Goethe Institut. What they lose in concertgoers they gain in the utilization of the perfect space for chamber music. The high-ceilinged room was filled to capacity and featured an interesting visual juxtaposition: a decidedly modern art exhibition consisting of large, abstract panels surrounded by the ornate and exceedingly rococo ornamentation of the room

Read the full review here

Thursday, October 8, 2009

a little more levity, from The New Yorker

I love these fake program notes. Love them.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Messiaen on Birdsong

Messiaen’s fascination with birdsong went well beyond simple admiration and imitation. “It’s probable that in the artistic hierarchy,” he said, “birds are the greatest musicians existing on our planet.” He seemed to identify with them on a spiritual level, to see their songs as the highest sonic expression of God’s creation.

And his research went beyond simple transcription. He noted the differences between species that were seemingly born with an innate song and those that had to learn from their parents, and species that would recreate essentially the same song day to day as opposed to those that were constantly changing aspects of their songs.

Finally, Messiaen took the task of incorporating birdsong into his compositions deeply seriously:

Once the birdsong is written down, the real work begins; that is, it has to be worked into a piece, whether it be for piano, for orchestra, or whatever other instruments. To begin with, one has to have a great number of sketches in order to arrive at an ideal bird, for example, the song thrush – it’s one of the loveliest birds and songsters in all of Europe. It has a special style, which is distinguished in a somewhat magical way by tripartite repetitions: it sings its stanza three times in a row, and every time, the one differs from the others through a marked rhythm and a “timbre melody.” That means that the tone color of each note is different and the rhythms vary with each stanza. The stanza is repeated three times; on the next day there’ll be different stanzas, which will also be repeated three times, but then they’re gone once and for all, one’ll never hear them again. Therefore, one has to put together an ideal song thrush, after having heard several hundreds of them, and to know all the possibilities of stanza creation, in order to condense these to a normal solo occupying the correspondingly short space of time. Following the difficulty of rhythmic and melodic notation, which I try to execute as exactly as possible, comes a further difficulty: the reproduction of timbres. These tone colors are so extraordinary that no musical instrument can reproduce them. One needs combinations of instruments, and still more combinations or complexes of pitches. If I want to reproduce on the piano, let’s say, the song of a garden warbler or a song thrush or a nightingale, I need to find a complex of pitches for every melody note. Each note of the melody is furnished with a chord that is intended to reproduce the timbre of that note. If we have an orchestra, not only is each note provided with a chord, but every chord also has a particular function within the orchestral sound, and even the change from one instrument to another helps toward reproducing the required timbre – as you see, it’s very complicated work.

Through the magic of YouTube, here are two more videos of Monsieur Messiaen. The first shows him again in a classroom setting, explaining the derivations of aspects of some of his music. The second shows him out in the field, listening, transcribing and commenting on what he hears. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chameleon opens 2009-2010 season this weekend

We’re thrilled to be opening our 09-10 chamber music season at the Goethe-Institut this weekend.  The program entitled “music and all silence held” includes works by Mozart, Debussy, Takemitsu and Messiaen. Performances are on Saturday, October 3 at 8pm and Sunday, October 4 at 3pm at the Goethe-Institut, 170 Beacon Street in Boston. Tickets are still available.

Full program details are at

The concerts are also among the Classical Picks in today’s Boston Globe!

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