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Great minds produce interesting fruit. And so it was at the first Arts Now Series concert in the Tally Student Center Ballroom on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Duke Professor Stephen T. (Tom) Moore, music librarian, conductor of the Duke Collegium Musicum, flutist, and writer, presented a program of works for solo flute. Woven throughout the program, subtitled “Tom Moore: Flutes Old and New,” were an eclectic mix of recorded electronic works by Charles Dodge, Tom Hamilton, Judy Klein, and James Tenney.
Moore, who featured works by Brazilian composer Sergio Roberto de Oliveira, began the program with Suite in G major by 18th-century French composer Joseph Bodin de Bosmortier. The obvious link between these two composers, who not only span the Atlantic but also nearly three centuries, is the dance. According to Moore, Boismortier’s huge body of work, written for practical purposes, paid off handsomely. Noted for their “tunefulness, simplicity, and elegance” (Stanley Sadie), his compositions for flute continue to please the ear. And Moore delivered with well-measured phrasing and delicate ornamentation that would have pleased the Parisian audience.
Commissioned by the performer, Oliveira’s Bagatelles for solo flute (2004-6) is a set of short, articulate “character studies,” some inspired by ballroom favorites such as “Tango” and “Waltz” and others mirroring his proclivity for jazz —“Free,” “In a Rush,” and “After All.” While musically satisfying and well suited for the instrument, the pastel colors and thin textures left this listener wanting. Oliveira’s rhapsodic “Fantasia” (1999), rooted in the Brazilian folk idiom, whet my appetite for lush melodic construction, and Andrew Gown’s “Windfall” for solo flute (or saxophone, 1999) — which followed Klein’s gorgeous lament, the wolves of “Bays Mountain” (1998) — provided a stunningly perfect segue.
Series director Rodney Waschka’s intuitive but skillful Arts Now programming provided an interesting electronic counterpoint, including a work by one of the pioneering greats of the Bell Laboratory group, James Tenney’s — the edgy “Collage #1” (a.k.a. “Blue Suede,” 1961) — and Charles Dodge’s algorithmic classic “Profile” (1994). Hamilton’s “London Fix” (2003), a fusion of highly developed “left-brain” sound work with musical imagination, reminds me of the wonderful work out there yet to be discovered.