One of the nicer aspects of our post-Katrina world is not only the continued presence of musical groups of all genres, but the addition of new ones. Musaica, founded in 2006 by a group of professional musicians, is one. This ensemble, whose mission is to promote and foster chamber music performance and to encourage the composition of new music, is comprised of members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and other musicians who teach at Loyola and Tulane Universities. Now in its seventh season, it has become an integral part of the extraordinarily vibrant musical life of this city.
For Bruce Owen, assistant principal viola with the LPO and the creator of Musaica, it is an opportunity for him and his colleagues to decide what kind of music they want to play and when they want to play it. Along the way, they have learned a lot about organizing and marketing their ambitious project as well.
“I have discovered in our programming that it’s much easier to get people in the door and get publicity if we have a theme; something to call the concert,” Owen says. So, for their next concert, the last of this season, they agreed that it would be “Musaica Goes Green”, a tribute to the color, to spring and to ecology in general. They even found a venue that is “green,” the Community Church Unitarian Universalist in Lakeview.
In keeping with their philosophy of something old and something new (so as not to scare off potential audiences unsure of what they might hear, Owen says), this concert features the Spring section from Vivaldi’s beloved Four Seasons, along with a clarinet arrangement of arias from the opera La Traviata by Verdi (which means green in Italian; but you know that).
One of the new works is the world premiere of “The Air was Green—A Remembrance”, a musical reflection on composer Mollie O’Meara’s own life. This 78-year-old Irish-American freelance composer and oboe player based in Albuquerque, NM is also Owen’s mother and a favorite of the Musaica family.
Closing out the concert is a Nonet by the rarely-played Anglo-Irish composer Arnold Bax. Composed in 1930, this two-movement work was written for nine players. The challenge, Owens says, is not finding nine colleagues to play; it’s getting them all in one room at the same time to rehearse.
To hear the results of all that rehearsing, check out “Musaica Goes Green” on Monday, April 22 at 7:30 at the Community Church Unitarian Universalist, 6690 Fleur de Lis Drive, Lakeview, New Orleans or go to www.musaica.org.
Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie. Email comments to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.