-----------------------------------"Calculated Risk" by Michael Westmoreland. Photo courtesy of the artist
Short Take Review by Rodney Punt
Churches today showcase secular spirituality in the arts. Chamber Music at All Saints’ in Beverly Hills is part of this movement, its organist-choir director Craig Phillips a composer-in-residence. Two West Coast premieres, Scenes from a Gallery (2008, organ, violin and flute) and Sojourn for Organ & Winds (2009, with oboe, Bb clarinet, F horn, bassoon) featured his traditional, lyrically gifted style.
Scenes, inspired by Mussorgsky, comments on six contemporary artworks: the swirls of “First Chakra Light”, thrusting wings of “Calculated Risk”, isolation of “Lone Tree”, birdcalls of a winged “Muse”, geometric chord progressions of “Mathematical Equation for Grace”, and abstractions of “Breaking Loose.” Sojourn’s single movement in four episodes has cinematic Handelian motifs, bucolic horn calls, swelling mountain vistas, and a village dance for organ – all atmospherics of Alet-Les-Bains, France.
Inserted mid-way, Francis Poulenc’s Sextet (for winds) brought the sassy joie-de-vivre racket of naughty French Pigalle to a stone-sober English church.
Concert: Scenes from a Gallery
Performers: Craig Phillips, organ; Pip Clarke, violin; Heather Clark, flute; Cathy Del Russo, oboe; Donald T. Foster, clarinet; James Thatcher, horn; Mark Robson, piano; William Wood, bassoon
Date: January 23, 2011
Venue: All Saints’ Episcopal, Beverly Hills
Rodney Punt may be reached at Rodney@artspacifica.net