Program description: American music from the last century is a melting pot of many influences, ranging from European romanticism, to folk, jazz and 20th century modernism. Pioneers such as Copland, Barber, Bernstein, and Gershwin absorbed these musical idioms and created a distinctive modern-romantic American musical identity, that would inspire generations of subsequent composers. The works on this program feature their voice as seen through the intimate form of cello/piano duo.

This program is very personal for Michael and me, and not just because we are two New York-born musicians. I studied the Barber Cello Sonata extensively at the Curtis Institute with Orlando Cole, who was a close friend and classmate of Barber’s and who worked on the piece ‘page by page’ as it was being written (Lukas Foss, Leonard Bernstein, Ned Rorem also studied at Curtis). Michael studied composition at Juilliard with Samuel Adler, who in turn was a student of Aaron Copland, so it is very special for us to present this lineage by performing their works back to back. We then close with my own arrangements of the beloved Preludes by George Gershwin.

“Self-Portrait” is a multimedia work for cello, piano, and an original film. The musical score and film were created simultaneously with Brown writing the music and Canellakis directing and producing the accompanying film. The film features pianist Roman Rabinovich, who plays a painter haunted by his own creations, specifically his self-portraits. He becomes anxious and begins wandering the streets of New York City at night, frightened and perturbed by his surroundings. The score reflects the unsettled mood of the film and the two together create a haunting depiction of a restless and nocturnal New York.

Musicians: Nicholas Canellakis, Cello; Michael Brown, Piano