Program Two
Modern Times: 
Dreams of the Absurd

4pm, Saturday March 18
Noe Valley Ministry
1021 Sanchez St. (at 23rd), San Francisco

In this program, experience ideas that fascinated Ligeti throughout his life: theatricality, absurdity, and the mechanical devices of modern society. Then discover the music of Luna Pearl Woolf, our first commissioned composer in residence, in a special production of Samuel Beckett's mime play, Act Without Words I, directed by West Edge Opera's Mark Streshinsky. Luna Pearl Woolf is a Montreal-based composer whose work has been described by The New York Times as "by turns blazingly ardent and softly haunting." Pianist Lucille Chung ends the program with dazzling Ligeti études.

What you'll be hearing:

Robert Schumann: Märchenerzählungen (Fairytales) for clarinet, viola, and piano 

Ligeti's taste for unusual rhythms spanned cultures and centuries. He deeply admired the Romantic composer Schumann's use of the hemiola. He wrote: "The shimmering effect of dividing the bar simultaneously into two and three produces the metric tension which is one of the most seductive attractions of the music of Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, and Liszt." In this delightful trio in four movements, Schumann tells the familiar stories of Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, and Sleeping Beauty. 

Gyula Krúdy: Short story reading

Ligeti claimed that, as a young boy, he was given a collection of short stories by Gyula Krúdy, one of which instigated his obsession with "meccanico-type" music, and led to his Poeme Symphonique for 100 metronomes. 

György Ligeti: Mysteries of the Macabre: Three arias from Le grande macabre

In Le grand macabre, his only opera, Ligeti took full advantage of the medium to dive into the world of absurdism. Without giving too much away, these three arias will stretch your conception of opera! There may be screaming and stomping. And maracas. We'll let you discover the rest in person. 

Film: Scenes from Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times

During intermission, grab a drink and enjoy the absurd hilarity of this 1936 comedic classic. 

Luna Pearl Woolf and Samuel Beckett: Act Without Words I with a new musical score

What is a play doing in a music festival? In Ligeti's eyes, theater and music are closely linked, and his love for absurdist theater inspired several of his compositions, including Le grand macabre. Hear the result of our first commissioning project in the form of a short mime play with new music by composer Luna Pearl Woolf. 

Stage director Mark Streshinsky says, "I could not be more excited to direct Beckett's Act Without Words I for Bard Music West. Luna Pearl Woolf's remarkable music makes the piece into a surrealist mute opera that will fill the audience with wonder and confusion, sadness and laughter as only Samuel Beckett can provide." 

Ligeti: Continuum for solo harpsichord

Describing this intense and short work is best left to the composer. He wrote: "I thought to myself, what about composing a piece that would be a paradoxically continuous sound, something like Atmosphères, but that would have to consist of innumerable thin slices of salami? A harpsichord has an easy touch; it can be played very fast, almost fast enough to reach the level of continuum, but not quite."

Ligeti: Études for Piano (selections)

Remember the Schumann from the beginning of the program? In his groundbreaking études, Ligeti brought together his interest in the hemiola with a fascination with African percussion, fractal geometry, and California-grown minimalism, among other things. Despite their incredible difficulty, the études "have proven irresistible to both players and listeners. They combine experimentation and expression, art and artifice, brain and heart as few pieces have done in recent memory" (Peter Laki). Bard Music West welcomes Ligeti expert and virtuoso pianist Lucille Chung, to perform these marvelous pieces.