I have been an inquisitive and industrious student this semester, engaged in Baroque music studies with musicologist Marc Vanscheewijck and Baroque flute studies with Kim Pineda. My studies are reinforced while exploring 17-18C art in museums and churches throughout Italy, and while attending events featuring music and rhetoric of the Baroque era.
by Mike Telin
Anyone who has been paying attention to the world of contemporary chamber music during the past twenty years will recognize the names of flutist Molly Barth and guitarist Dieter Hennings — together known as Duo Damiana.
On Sunday, June 5 at the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Kulas Hall, these extraordinary musicians presented a program of 21st-century music that bore witness to their irreproachable technical skills and their mesmerizing palette of colors.
Presented as part of the Cleveland International Classical Guitar Festival, Duo Damiana opened with Michael Fiday’s Five Haiku (2013) — a piece inspired by texts of 17th-century Japanese Haiku master Matsu Basho.
From the opening rhythmic taps on the guitar that are gradually joined by beat-box accents in the flute, which then give way to a sequence of evolving rhythms, the players held the audience in rapt attention. The second Haiku is defined by a series of short motifs that become the arc of a conversation between the instruments, while the seconds-long third Haiku continues the conversation. In the fourth, guitar chords underpin lush, lyrical melodies in the flute, and the concluding poem is a dance. Keeping true to its title, Five Haiku has a lot to say in a short period of time, and Duo Damiana interpreted it with poise.
Written for and premiered by the Duo, John Liberatore’s The Soughing Wind (2015) is based on a three-line poem by William Carlos Williams. Written in a five-movement arc, the work opens with harmonics in the guitar that support a long, serene flute line, while movement two is full of catchy, bouncing rhythms. Barth and Hennings were at their most animated during the playful exchanges of short, whimsical musical material in the third. The soft, meditative fifth can only be fully appreciated in live performance. Here the composer directs the flutist to play as quietly as possible. And Barth’s dynamic control was astonishing as she played the nearly inaudible ending all while maintaining a presence in her sound.
The performance also included the world premiere of Herbert Vazquez’s El Jardin de los destellos(The garden of the delicate sparkles). Dedicated to the Duo, the composer writes: “I have always had a feeling of intimacy and introspection when walking through a Japanese garden. To me Japanese gardens possess a delicate expression of both the human existence and the passing of time.”
Vazquez’s music is so vivid that you can feel the fireflies around you. Accented snaps and thumps from the guitar transition into fast, interlocking technical passages and complex rhythms. The work is like a cabinet of curiosities for the ears — one that Barth and Hennings turned into a sonic heaven, setting the stage for David Lang’s beautifully melodic Gift (2018).
Shafer Mahoney’s Shining River (2007) is inspired by the American naturalist John Muir, and the music paints a picture that is at times placid and at times rippling. Here Barth was at her most lyrical as her inner-singer came forth.
Tōru Takemitsu’s Toward the Sea was the perfect concert closer. Written in 1981 — the only work on the program not from the 21st century — it still sounds thoroughly modern. Takemitsu writes in his composer note that “music is like a river or a sea. As many different currents create those oceans, so does music deepen our lives with constantly changing awareness.”
Commissioned by Greenpeace for the Save the Whales campaign, the piece is written in three movements whose titles reflect Herman Melville’s most famous novel. “The Night” is calm, “Cape Cod” soft and meditative, and “Moby Dick” picturesque with whales splashing in the ocean. Throughout Barth and Hennings were astute interpreters of Takemitsu’s score.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com June 17, 2022.
In reflecting on the past year, during a pandemic, I kept VERY busy:
In May 2020 I was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor of Flute.
I produced a CD titled “Vanderbilt Virtuosi”, released on Blue Griffin Recording, featuring Blair faculty performers and works of Blair faculty and alumni.
I recorded and produced a solo flute video production: “Ineffable” which is available on the Vanderbilt and Molly Barth YouTube Channels
Online performances included:
MaerzMuzik Berlin, commissioned work of Kristina Wolfe
Bang On A Can Marathon, commissioned work of Kristina Wolfe
Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt Virtuosi CD release concert
Chatter Concert Series, Albuquerque NM
NY Flute Club, Edgard Varèse original and reworked “Density 21.5” presentation
Raleigh Area Flute Association Festival, NC
I was a guest clinician as follows:
University of South Carolina, virtual flute masterclass,
New Music Series curated by Nick Photinos, titled “1:2:1 Online intensive for Composers and Performers”
Raleigh Area Flute Association Festival, masterclass and extended techniques workshop
University of North Carolina, virtual flute masterclass
University of Wisconsin-Madison, virtual flute masterclass
Blair Academy flute masterclass
Aria International Summer Academy Faculty
I was involved in the premieres of the following:
Julia Wolfe, Oxygen, flute ensemble work
Kristina Wolfe, Listening to the Wind, for solo amplified flute
Michael Rose, To the Four Winds, for flute, oboe, bassoon and horn
Michael Slayton, softeR.Mutt.errings for flute, bassoon and viola
Michael Rose, Dream for Light Years, for flute, trombone, violin and cello
I co-wrote an article for the The New York Flute Club, Fall 2020 issue, “Density 21.5, a performer’s perspective”
I was a 2020 Music Panelist for the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, Santa Monica CA.
I was a NAACP ACT-SO High School Contemporary Instrumental Competition Judge (online)
Contemporary Music Ensemble, which I co-directed, offered the inaugural concert at the National Museum of African American Music
2021 Blair Concerto Competition Winner Holly Venkitaswaran, finalist Steven Wu
2020 Beyond the Masterclass, Jim Walker summer session: Holly Venkitaswaran
2020 National Flute Association Masterclass Competition winner: Steven Wu
Admission to graduate schools:
Crystal Kim, Carnegie-Mellon
Maya Koteshwar, University of South Carolina
Savannah Gentry, Manhattan School of Music
Sunday, March 21, 2021
3-7pm ET / 8p-12m CET
Wherein Bang on a Can brings you a bunch of über-cool artists and pieces we’ve programmed over the past year for further consumption. In previous times we’d have packed up and hauled it all to Deutschland, but now we all can enjoy the Festival for Time Issues in, well, real time, all around the world.
To find out more about the wonderful Maerz Musik Festival for Time Issues, their website has all you need to know, in English und German natürlich,
[Set times are approximate and subject to change.]
3PM NEW YORK | 8PM BERLIN
Daniel Bernard Roumain Why Did They Kill Sandra Bland? performed by Arlen Hlusko
Rohan Chander △ or THE TRAGEDY OF HIKKOMORI LOVELESS from FINAL//FANTASY performed by Vicky Chow
4PM NEW YORK | 9PM BERLIN
Kristina Wolfe Listening to the Wind performed by Molly Barth
Aeryn Santillan disconnect. performed by Ken Thomson
5PM NEW YORK | 10PM BERLIN
Ken Thomson Birds and Ambulances performed by Robert Black
Tomeka Reid Lamenting G.F., A.A., B.T., T.M. performed by Vicky Chow
Steve Reich Vermont Counterpoint performed by Claire Chase
Molly Joyce Purity performed by David Cossin
6PM NEW YORK | 11PM BERLIN
Jeffrey Brooks Santuario performed by Mark Stewart
Spearheaded by Grammy-winning flutist Molly Barth, the star-studded recording titled ‘Vanderbilt Virtuosi’ showcases the performers and composers of Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music, and includes tour-de-force performance of such staple of flute repertoire as Samuel Zyman’s magnificent Flute Sonata, as well as world-premiere recordings of newly commissioned works by Michael Rose and Sean Calhoun, newly adapted piece by Michael Slayton, and works by Blair alumni Alyssa Weinberg and Peter Dayton. ‘Vanderbilt Virtousi’ – flutist Molly Barth, oboist Jared Hauser, bassoonist Peter Kolkay, hornist Leslie Norton, violist Daniel Reinker, guitarist Richard Todd, pianists Heather Conner and Megan Gale – offers an invaluable addition to chamber music repertoire for wind instruments and will delight the listener with dazzling performances of these captivating works
Ineffable: Molly Barth, flute, and Heather Conner, piano
Flutist Molly Barth brings music and poetry to life with stunning videos filmed at some of Nashville’s most iconic locations.
The program includes works by Adolphus Hailstork, Andre Myers, Katherine Hoover, Ricardo Zohn Muldoon, and Samuel Zyman.
Videographers: Continuous Motion Productions
Audio: Jeff Coffin, Paul Eachus, Blue Griffin
Mark your calendars! I am playing the ORIGINAL 1936 manuscript of Density 21.5 (very different from the piece you all know!) on a beautiful BURKART PLATINUM FLUTE for this FREE online performance/discussion on November 5 at 7:30pm Eastern Time! This original version of the piece has not been performed since Georges Barrère performed it over 70 years ago!