Double Your Pleasure In This Double Leap-Year

Sam Black

Our 2016 calendar has a 29th day for the month of February. If that is your birthday, celebrate it in grand style. Like Frederic, in The Pirates of Penzance, your age does not necessarily coincide with the number of your birthdays.

As a piece of tangential information, the Hebrew calendar year 5776 is also a leap year. The last month of this particular calendar is named Adar. This year Adar is preceded by an intervening 30 day month, known as Adar I. The true month of Adar is therefore called Adar II in these recurring leap years.

The point of leap years, of course, is to reconcile the lunar calendar - which is quite easy to mark time by - with the solar calendar, which requires a bit more detailed observation. Since our solar/business calendar and the ancient Hebrew calendar are both based on agricultural necessities in the northern hemisphere, it is beneficial to have spring come at a time when young animals are being born, and new growth is on the trees and the crops.

Since Adar II begins on March 11 this year, we are quickly approaching a double leap-year progression, an event that does not happen all that frequently. My hope, in sharing these thoughts, is that you will double your engagement with the arts in the Twin Ports during this very productive and creative time of the year.

New Music Is Here and Continues to Flow in

I picked up my new CD 14 compilation from Beaner’s last Friday, although I have yet to listen to it. That’s coming up pretty soon. Meanwhile, Madi Davis along with Andi and Alex Peot will share An Evening With the Voice at the CSS Mitchell Auditorium, starting at 4pm on Sunday, February 28. With similar energy, the UMD Symphony Orchestra will host the 15th Annual Student Competition Concert on Saturday evening at 7:30. The UMD Choral Concert will take place at 3:00 on Sunday afternoon as well.

Friday night this week at 7:30pm features a faculty chamber concert at UMD/Weber with intense music by Bela Kovacs, Alec Wilder, and Paul Hindemith. Clarinet, Bassoon, Violin, Cello, and Piano will fill the room. At the same time, over in CSS Mitchell Auditorium, the Twin Ports Choral Project will offer Spirit Moving Over Chaos, powerful choral music that helps people work through hardship, hope, and healing. This is a weekend for making difficult artistic choices.

From Belgium to Duluth is a Treat for us all

This past Sunday afternoon, UMD Band Director Mark Whitlock hosted composer Nigel Clarke and cornet virtuoso Harmen Vanhoorne along with the UMD Symphonic Wind Ensemble. In his 22 years on the UMD campus, Whitlock has brought at least 16 composers to share their music with the coming generations of band leaders and performers. I, too, am constantly fascinated by music written by composers younger than myself, so I celebrate Whitlock’s ongoing imagination.

During 2014, Clarke created a cornet concerto called Mysteries of the Horizon, based on four separate paintings by the Belgian artist Rene Magritte (1898-1967). I recommend that you go online and look at The Menaced Assassin, The Dominion of Light, The Flavour of Tears, and The Discovery of Fire.

The cornet of Vanhoorne begins (and ends) this concerto with a series of haunting, rippling melodies that seek to stretch our ability to hear and see. Ultimately, the concert band engulfs the cornet assassin at the end of the first movement, which seems appropriate. Next, the flickering light of the cornet imitates a street lamp, dominating a neighborhood even in the full light of daytime. In the third movement, the band and cornet provide a deeply moving chorale, as we envision a bird evolving back into a pile of leaves, with a caterpillar crawling up the bird’s breast. Finally, a flaming tuba suggests the blending of the possible with the impossible, and the solo cornet alternates with brass in the band, finally restating the power of the opening themes.

Double Up While You Can!

This is amazing music, coming to us live from the university campuses right here in the Twin Ports. With the Metropolitan Opera and the DSSO coming our way in the next ten days, take advantage of this overlapping pattern of leap years and enjoy all the arts you can fit in.