Santa Barbara Music Club kicking off 50th season of free concerts
The Santa Barbara Music Club is celebrating its 50th season of year-round free concerts, kicking it off with an evening of Bach and Brahms. At First United Methodist Church on October 19, SBMC board member Betty Oberacker will perform two pieces by Johan Sebastian Bach on her own before being joined by renowned clarinetist David Singer to conclude the concert with a rendition of Johannes Brahms’ “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in F Minor, Op. 120, No.1.” Calling the Bach pieces “masterworks of musical creation” and the Brahms sonata as one of the composer’s “great works of enormous beauty,” Ms. Oberacker told the News-Press she’s greatly looking forward to the season’s start and once again performing with Mr. Singer.
“We enjoy performing together very, very much,” she said.
When Ms. Oberacker performs the music of Mr. Bach, to her “it’s the only thing that exists.” For the concert’s first number, the pianist will perform “The Well Tempered Clavier Book II in C major, BWV 870, and F-sharp minor, BWV 971,” the piece with which she made her New York solo piano debut. Every couple years, Ms. Singer likes to revisit the piece in live performance because as with all Bach music, she sees new aspects of the composer’s creativity. She also enjoys that the piece has a lot of room for artistic interpretation, in part because composers at Mr. Bach’s time didn’t specify tempo or dynamics since instruments then typically only had a single volume.
The evening’s second piece will be Mr. Bach’s “Italian Concerto in F Major, BWV,” which according to a press release is one of the few pieces on which the composer specified that the song should be played on a specific instrument. That instrument was the two manual harpsichord. Ms. Oberacker explained that concertos require contrasting roles between an orchestra and soloist, and that the two manual harpsichord’s double keyboard, one loud and the other soft, was meant to imitate the orchestra and soloist playing against each other. When it comes to her own performances on a piano with only one keyboard, Ms. Oberacker said this differentiation is achieved “with different touches and dynamics.”
Quoting her former teacher, pianist and composer Beryl Rubinstein, Ms. Oberacker stated, “The greatest discipline permits the greatest freedom.” In her view, this quote is applicable to what Johannes Brahms achieved with the “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in F Minor,” the evening’s closing piece featuring Mr. Singer on clarinet. Ms. This achievement, she said, was combining romantic style music with the “classical, organizational style of music.” Whereas romantic music was characterized by its extreme richness, use of contrast, and expressiveness, classical music had a very strict form and structure. When Mr. Brahms was writing the sonata, he was widely known as a classicist at a time when many of his peers were breaking out into different forms of expression. He on the other hand managed to incorporate romantic richness without compromising strict, classical structure.
“Within the discipline of classical structure, he created a marvelous, powerful, musical work,” Ms. Oberacker said.The Santa Barbara Music Club’s 50th season opening concert will begin at 3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, located at 305 E Anapamu St. Admission to the concert is free.