Her opening remarks were followed by the roll call and reading of the October minutes by Secretary Dortha Townsend. The financial report prepared by Treasurer Terry Barger was read by Olin in his absence.
Jeanne Sawyer, program director for the December meeting, announced her search for vocalists to participate in her “Ensemble” program. She asked interested members to contact her as soon as possible. She reminded everybody Nancy Paul expects to collect meeting suggestions at the December meeting for music members would like to hear at her May program.
Olin, who is active in the Cleveland Storytelling Guild, called attention to “Tellabration 2010,” a worldwide celebration of storytelling with events to be held on Nov. 13, at 7 p.m., at Cleveland State Community College, and on Nov. 14, at 2 p.m. at the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library. She handed out directions to the home of R.G. and Jan Wolf who will be hosts of the December Music Club meeting.
Easter Frady, who directed a very educational program titled “Piano Poetry,” explained how poetry can be expressed through music without using words. As an example, she played her piano selection of Frédéric Chopin’s “Black Magic Nocturne in C-sharp minor Op. 27 No 1,” which tells the story of two men enjoying a peaceful boat ride on a lake in the moonlight. An argument between them develops that gradually turns into violence and is climaxing when one kills the other and dumps his body into the lake. The survivor returns alone like nothing ever happened. The story is told just through the changing intensity of the music.
Calling Chopin one of her favorite piano poets, Frady recited his statement that “life consists of an episode without a beginning and with a sad ending.” Chopin was born near Warsaw, Poland, in 1810. He died at the age of 39 in Paris. The composer grew up in Warsaw where he completed his musical education. By the age of 7, he had already composed two Polonaises in G minor and B-flat major, and he gave public concerts. At age 11, he performed before Tsar Alexander I at the opening of the Polish parliament. After the Russian suppression of the Polish 1830 Uprising, he settled in Paris.
Chopin’s biography reveals the great majority of his compositions were written for the piano as a solo instrument. They are technically demanding, but emphasize nuance and expressive depth. Chopin invented such musical forms as the “instrumental ballade.” As a composer, virtuoso pianist and music teacher, he was one of the great masters of Romantic music.
Pat Henley introduced another piano poet by playing a composition called “Poem” by Zdenék Fibich, a Czech composer (1850-1900), who wrote a large cycle of almost 400 piano works called “Moods, Impressions, and Reminiscences.” Henley assumes that the piece she selected is part of that cycle. She explained that Fibich is far less known than either of the Czech composers Dvorák or Smetana. The reason might be that Fibich lived during the rise of Czech nationalism within the Habsburg Empire while his two landsmen joined the national cause and consciously wrote Czech music with which the emerging nation identified.
Inspired by J.S. Bach’s piano poetry, Tim Daugherty played two of the composer’s minuets.
Showing the diversity of poetry involving the piano, Frady introduced her brother-in-law, Max Pelley, who presented the recitation of “The Old Tattered Flag,” with Frady playing background on the piano. The poem was written by Johnny Cash as a memorial to every American soldier who made sacrifices throughout the American history.
Presenting piano poetry for pure entertainment, soprano Jeannie Sawyer, accompanied by Margaret Ann Randolph, presented a folk-music inspired song by Bowles & Saar titled “Little Grey Dove.”
Helen Stout chose Claude Debussy (1862-1918) as her piano poet by playing his composition “Reflections on Water,” inspired by his love of nature also shown in other works.
In her introduction of the French composer Stout described him as one of the most prominent figures in the field of impressionist music. He is often referred to as the “Father of Impressionism.” Although Debussy was very talented, he was disliked by many because he was argumentative and experimental, and he challenged the rigid teaching of the academy. His harmonies were considered radical in his day, but they influenced almost every major composer of the 20th century. He was a revolutionary by applying less standard scales, such as the whole-tone scale, which he described as “floating chords.” The whole tone scale dominated much of Debussy’s late music.
Margaret Ann Randolph closed the musical program in masterly style with Chopin’s technically challenging “Polonaise in A-flat major,” earning her well-deserved rousing applause.
Olin thanked all performers and the Lamberts for a memorable evening. She included in her thanks the club’s hospitality committee consisting of Marge Wheeler, chairman, and members, Mary Ann Borst and Dolores Lambert, who had prepared refreshments enjoyed by everybody after the meeting.