Composer/clarinetist Derek Bermel shares many things with Bela Bartok, the Hungarian composer who inspired his orchestral piece, A Shout, a Whisper and a Trace, not least of which is a passion for folk music traditions. Bartok was perhaps the leading ethnomusicologist of his day (1881-1945), and Bermel studied ethnomusicology in Jerusalem, along with various musical traditions in Brazil, Bulgaria and Ghana. Thoughts of Bartok's last years, when the composer lived in New York, led to ruminations on the city's immigrant heritage and "the hopes, fears and yearnings associated with exile" which in turn evolved into this fascinating work, which incorporates Bartokian folk tunes and Bermelian themes in the style of the classical rondo form, with strains of jazz, Copland and Debussy thrown in. This weekend, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and music director Jeffrey Kahane welcome Bermel as their new composer-in-residence with a program featuring the West Coast premiere of A Shout, a Whisper and a Trace, along with lyric soprano Laura Claycomb.
Sat., Dec. 12, 8 p.m., 2009