by Jarrett Hoffman
It happens so often in any industry that one collaboration morphs into many. That was the case when violinist Lauren Cauley and cellist Mariel Roberts worked with composer Jeffrey Mumford at June in Buffalo. At the time, Cauley and Roberts were members of the Mivos Quartet, which went on to perform Mumford’s the promise of the far horizon at the Kennedy Center in 2017.
Having recently left the Mivos, Cauley and Roberts will continue their partnership with each other — and with Mumford — on the next edition of Lorain County Community College’s Signature Series, which the composer curates.
The free concert of solos and duos will take place on Thursday, September 26 at 7:30 pm in Cirigliano Studio Theatre at the Stocker Arts Center. The program includes three works by Mumford, a world premiere by Richard Carrick, and music by Dai Fujikura, Clara Iannotta, Kaija Saariaho, and Mariel Roberts herself.
“It’s going to be really fun and intense,” Cauley said during a telephone interview. “It’s always great to play with Mariel — I feel like we have an exciting energy together onstage. And I love working on Jeffrey’s music. It’s difficult, and that makes it so rewarding.”
Without having heard Mumford’s music, one way you can spot it is through his distinctive, poetic titles. That’s certainly true on this program with his duet eight aspects of appreciation II, his eight musings . . . revisiting memories for violin, and his radiances spreading from a world of resonant stillness for cello, which was commissioned and premiered by Roberts.
Cauley sees a connection between the titles and the music. “There’s an expressive and poetic element in all of Jeffrey’s pieces,” she said, adding that the same thought and care that go into his titles are necessary for interpreting his music. “There are all of these little elements that need to be highlighted — details that could disappear,” she said. “You need to bring them out to do justice to these pieces.”
Mumford’s duet closes the program, while Richard Carrick’s opens it: his Graphic Series No. 2 will receive its premiere on Thursday. It’s one of “several visually beautiful graphic scores” that the composer has been working on, Cauley said. In this one, he intertwines two lines — one red, one blue — which navigate across the page through sections that are simple, busy, jagged, smooth, thin, or thick in shape. “There’s a lot of potential for what we can do with it,” Cauley said. “It’s evolved as we’ve worked on it.”
In addition to the two by Mumford, the solo works on the program will include Fujikura’s Fluid Calligraphy and Iannotta’s Dead wasps in the jam-jar (i) for violin, and Saariaho’s Sept Papillons and Roberts’ own Cara for cello. That work is from Roberts’ album of the same name featuring her music for cello and string quartet, released in August.
Both Cauley and Roberts attended the Eastman School of Music, but being a few years apart, they didn’t get to know each other until playing together in the Mivos Quartet. They left that ensemble around the same time and wanted to keep performing together. “We’re looking forward to doing more of that this season and next,” Cauley said.
They’re both based in New York City, and though that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to get together, they happen to live near the same subway line. “It works out pretty conveniently for rehearsing,” Cauley said. “We just alternate apartments.”
Over the years, Cauley has had the chance to work with a Who’s Who of contemporary composers. Asked what stands out about those encounters, she said that in general, people are always nicer than you expect.
“Often going into your first contact, you’re a little nervous, and you want to make sure you’re doing justice to their work,” Cauley said. “Then you meet them and realize they’re really kind and grateful to have their music played. And it reminds you why you do it — for those types of experiences.”
Published on ClevelandClassical.com September 23, 2019.
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