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New Music La 1987 : Music Review : Works By Northridge Composers

March 06, 1987|DANIEL CARIAGA

Ever champions of the new, the composers on the Cal State Northridge faculty have as a group been confined to exposure mostly on their own campus. Wednesday night, as part of the continuing New Music Los Angeles '87 Festival, they came downtown.

Daniel Kessner conducted three of the five works presented, in performances at the Japan America Theatre peopled largely by CSN faculty and alumni; all five proved hardy and challenging, .

Kessner again showed himself a committed advocate of the works of others, as well as of his own "Texts for Nothing," here in its first performance. He coped carefully with the intricacies of Aurelio de la Vega's "Asonante" for soprano, dancer, recorded tape and seven instruments (another world premiere); and seemed to bring out the best qualities, as well as all the resonances, of Frank Campo's handsome and brief "Alba," as played by a chamber orchestra of 15.

"Asonante" combines theatrical movement--the soloist (soprano Anne Marie Ketchum) interacts with an alter ego (dancer Lori du Peron) in fluid choreography devised by Marion Scott. This interaction takes place at the center of the piece, accompanied by a musical dream-sequence on tape; surrounding it are movements for singer and instruments. Using neo-1950s costumes and mime, the work seems to hark back to the pop, balletic psychologies of more innocent decades.

Ketchum was also the assured protagonist of Kessner's half-hour-long "Texts," which the composer describes as "a musical-literary-theatrical stream after Samuel Beckett." With canny utilization of only flute, trombone, viola and cello, Kessner underlines the poet's words skillfully, but at a length which discourages concentration.

William Toutant's episodic but engaging "Gems" (1977) for piano and two percussionists, and Beverly Grigsby's haunting and graphic "Shakti" for soprano (Deborah Kavasch) and computer music instrument, completed the program.

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