After 30 years at West Virginia University, composer-in-residence John Beall is still writing new music and will celebrate with a performance of some of his recent work Sunday (March 8) at the Creative Arts Center.
The concert, which is free and open to the public, begins at 8:15 pm. in the Bloch Learning and Performance Hall (200A).
Beall joined the WVU Division of Music as an associate professor in 1978 and has taught composition and orchestration since.
His works over the years have included two symphonies; three other shorter orchestral works; two string quartets; the Anglican Mass for soloists, chorus and orchestra; the operaEthan Frome,and many songs, hymns, choral works, chamber works and piano pieces.
I have enjoyed the support of my colleagues and students over these 30 years and almost all of my music has been performed here at WVU ,Beall said.It is gratifying to me to be able to present new works on my 30th anniversary.
All of the music to be performed Sunday is new. Bealls wife, pianist Carol Beall, will open the program withFleeting Moments: Preludes for Piano.She performed the premiere of the work last November in Shepherdstown at the state convention of the West Virginia Music TeachersAssociation, which commissioned the piece.Preludes for Pianois also dedicated to her.
The concert will also feature the following WVU music faculty: Mikylah McTeer, violin; Michael Ibrahim, saxophone; Maggie Snyder, viola; William Skidmore, cello; James Miltenberger, piano; and Andrew Kohn, double bass.
Beall composed Trio for Violin, Alto Saxophone and Piano last April. The middle movement,The Little Shepherdess Variations,refers to a Mexican folk song,A tu Rancho Pastorcilla.The use of folk materials and hymn tunes has been a hallmark of his style.
Following intermission, there will be a performance of his most recent work, Quintet for Piano and Strings.
I have long wanted to compose a work with the same instrumentation as the one Franz Schubert used in the work that we know as the �€~TroutQuintet,Beall said.This instrumentationviolin, viola, violoncello, double bass and pianois not common, though I am certainly not the first composer to imitate Schubert.
The �€~Troutin question is Schuberts song, �€~Die Forelle,or �€~The Trout,which he uses as the subject of variations in his extra fourth movement,he added.I didnt set out to take the relationship quite as far as writing a set of variations on one of my songs, but I did expand one of them. �€~December Among the Vanishedis a setting of a poem by W.S. Merwin.
Beall is a native Texan and the son of a Baptist minister. He obtained his first degrees from Baylor University. In those years, Beall absorbed a deep classical musical culture.
Before college, he had become a capable pianist and string playerboth double bass and cello. He attended the Eastman School of Music for his doctorate, obtaining the Louis Lane Prize and the Howard Hanson Prize, two of Eastmans highest composition honors. His principal teachers were Samuel Adler at Eastman and Richard Willis and Charles Eakin at Baylor.
In his work at WVU , an Appalachian orientation surfaced as early as 1981 in the quartet for piano, violin, cello and clarinet,On Chestnut Ridge,which usedFair CharlotteandLovers Lamentfrom Patrick Gainers bookFolksongs from the West Virginia Hills.
Bealls 1997 opera,Ethan Fromewritten in collaboration with librettist Jack Held, formerly of the WVU theater facultyquotes the New England fiddle tune,Soldiers Joy.Often his chosen hymn tunes have a strong flavor of folk music. In his Sonata for Cello and Piano, he used the tuneSoftly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling.His Symphony No. 1 used the hymnDunlaps Creek,and the orchestralMountain MusicusedAm I a Soldier of the Cross,as well as his original version of a barn-dance fiddle tune.
Although the Mexican folk song is the only folk element in Sundays concert, there is a quotation of a hymn tune, the Lutheran chorale melodyHow Bright Appears the Morning Star,in the third movement of the new piano quintet.
For more information about the concert, contact the College of Creative Arts at 304-293-4841 ext. 3108.