Notes from the Train by Alice Hamlet | January 25, 2019
I sat down recently with Performing Arts School faculty member Benjamin Michael to talk about his upcoming performance on the 2018-2019 Salon Series featuring an evening of Romantic works for piano. In addition to works by French composers Debussy and Ravel, the one-hour concert on February 7 will include Granados’ From Goyescas, Op.11: Quejas o la Maja y el Ruiseñor and conclude with Liszt’s Rhapsodie Espagnole.
Q: How did you choose the repertoire for this concert?
A: Previously, I have always performed recitals where every time period would be represented. When asked to appear in this year’s Salon Series, I thought it would be an interesting departure from the norm to select music written within the time span of a hundred years or less. I have always admired French and Spanish music from the turn of the nineteenth century—so that appealed to me for this concert.
Q: What do you like most about these works? What is most significant about this repertoire?
A: Many of the pieces on this program took inspiration from much earlier composers and musical forms. In the second piece, Debussy pays tribute to the French eighteenth century composer Jean-Philippe Rameau by writing in the style of a Sarabande, an aristocratic dance that was popular in his time. Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales, a substantial and thought-provoking work, was inspired by Schubert’s waltzes of the same name, while the main theme of Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody is actually a melody that was written in the sixteenth century. Though these musical works seem wholly original and groundbreaking, they are in fact strongly linked to ideas from the past.
Q: How long have you been teaching at the Performing Arts School?
A: I have been teaching at Wharton for about a year. It has been a wonderful and very rewarding experience which I look forward to continuing!
And we’re looking forward to enjoying this Romantic program on February 7! What better way to spend a pre-Valentine’s date?
The Salon Series presents a performance by pianist Benjamin Michael on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights. The concert will feature selections by Debussy, Ravel, Granados, and Liszt. Wine and cheese will be served. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for seniors, and free for Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts students. Tickets are available at the door or by calling 908-790-0700.
When not commuting, Alice Hamlet is the Director of Marketing at the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts and is also on the faculty of the Performing Arts School, teaching cello and music theory.