Classical Musical Performance Review and Thesis

Total Length: 1088 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

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Cosmos ended the work with a performance of "A Columbus Triptych" by Stephen Main, which it premiered in 2007. Main often makes use of Christian iconography in his work, and one of his most noted compositions is a reinterpretation of "Pie Jesus." ("Stephen Main," Official Website, 2008). The setting of the performance in St. John's Evangelical Church of Columbus seemed fitting for the work. The "Columbus Triptych" tries to render religious iconography into a contemporary argot. Columbus refers to Columbus Ohio, the group's and Main's geographical base, while a triptych, most notably deployed in Hieronymus Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights," is a form of Christian medieval altar, with three hinged wooden panels where the artist paints different visual interpretation of the same scriptural theme. The images contained on each panel relate to the content displayed on the other panels. The three panels viewed together are supposed to suggest that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Columbus Triptych is supposed to be a musical, tonal painting in three parts, as the first part is cheerful, the second is calm and spiritually grounding because of its cautious, reflective quality, and the third brighter and less plaintive than the second, but filled with a new sense of religious awakening ("Stephen Main," Official Website, 2008).

The performance, although all works were commissioned by Cosmos Trio, featured a variety of different tones and approaches to contemporary classical music, although all of them had a similar, gentle, and delicate quality, perhaps because of the limited number of instruments and the relatively narrow tonal range of the flute, harp, and viola.
Delicacy and a lack of a sense of urgency permeated most of the works except for the final "Columbus Triptych," which had the most compelling and linear quality of all of the works -- something seemed to genuinely 'happen' or change over the course and resolution of the piece. Overall, the performance of all four works was respectfully, although not raucously received, and decorum seemed to pervade the church setting. It was interesting to read that some of the composers had undertaken the challenge of writing passionate operas about contemporary subjects, the task of composing for brass bands, even of putting compelling religious sentiments into modern classical 'paintings' given the relatively moderate and gentle sounds of the evening.

Overall, the reception of the works reflected the soothing rather than urgent quality of the pieces that were played. One problem with Cosmos Trio in performance might be that the viola and the harp do not have a wide audio range, and a flute is too quiet an instrument to provide a truly driving melody. The works, although skillfully played by exceptional musicians ultimately made an argument for the reason that most chamber groupings feature the more tonally rich and vibrant violin, viola, and cello rather than showcase the viola and the harp as the primary instruments over the course of an entire performance.

Works Cited

Biography." Stephen Paulus Website. 2 Sept 2008. http://www.stephenpaulus.com/

Klein, Andrew. "I am: Andrew Boysen. Jr." 2 Sept 2008. http://www.bsu.edu/web/amklein/portfolio/Iamstudentintro.htm

Stephen Main." Official Website. 2 Sept 2008. http://stephenmain.com/page12.html

What's New?" Cosmos Trio.org. 2….....

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