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Tuesday June 16

7:30 pm • First Congregational Church, 4515 SW West Hills Rd, Corvallis

Admission free

Note: this recital was not part of the Festival itself. No ticket was required.

Mr Matthes, a Corvallis-bred musician early in a promising performing career, has this to say about his program:

I’m very excited to be presenting my first full recital ever in Corvallis. My program includes:

  • György Ligeti’s Sonata for solo viola
  • Iannis Xenakis’ Embellie for solo viola
  • J.S. Bach’s Solo Sonata no. 2 in D minor
  • Robert Schumann’s Märchenbilder, for which I will be joined by pianist Rachelle McCabe.

Adam MatthesI have a few thoughts to share with you, hoping to entice your interest.

In my experience, getting grown-ups to listen to contemporary music is like getting children to eat vegetables. There’s lots of whining, before, during, and after, and if you manage to be successful, it’s only after smothering the nutritious food in one kind of sauce or another. Elaborating on the food comparison, I find it troublesome that programmers of classical music sometimes use a restaurant approach, catering to adolescent taste, programming only pieces they know will not displease anyone. What if you went to a restaurant, were given the credentials of the chef, and the ingredients they use, but had no idea what was going to end up on your plate? Would that bother you? … I think it would be exciting to dine in that manner, and, consequently, that’s how I like to hear music. The fundamental element to a New Music concert is that you don’t know what you’re going to hear. You might like it; you might not. I know I’ve heard many pieces that I didn’t care for, but I always had specific reasons, such as it being too long, lack of relationship among musical materials, or if it was obvious that the composer catered too much to aesthetic. Similarly, you could react to food in the same way, applauding the use of one ingredient, or you could have a light stomach for spicy food, or you could note that the use of garlic overpowers some of the other ingredients.

Bottom line: my hope in programming the works by Ligeti and Xenakis is that the participating audience will listen intelligently (whether or not they like it!) and not default to “that was icky,” as if they were an eight year old who’s forced to swallow spinach.

In addition to the aspect of uncertainty, I think contemporary music serves another purpose. There is a legion of musicians who are passionate about contemporary music, but who are also arrogant toward all music prior to the 20th century, as if it’s inferior to what they play. I’m not one of those musicians. In fact, I think new music serves an important pedagogical tool to teach us to listen to Beethoven better. After all, any composer who’s anybody has thoroughly studied the scores of Bach, Bartok, Mozart, Monteverdi, and many others. Of course, composers develop their biases, which ultimately shape their style. The second half of my program features works by composers most likely familiar to you, and hopefully, after your experience in the first half, you will hear Bach and Schumann in a new light.

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