Bonneville Chamber Music Festival: French composers

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Last Wednesday, the Bonneville Chamber Music Festival began its sixth season at Weber State University with a live recording of works by French composers.

“Chamber music is kind of like when you have four players in a rock group, and they communicate, and they improvise,” said Viktor Uzur, the artistic director of the Bonneville Chamber Music Festival and a music professor at WSU. “Except for the way that we improvise, we play somebody else’s music, but there’s a lot of different interactions with dynamics, with energy, so in a way it’s more interesting than listening to a very big ensemble.”

Uzur, who teaches cello and music theory at WSU, instigated the Bonneville Music Festival about six years ago, and has imported different performers each year for a lineup that features quartets, duets and WSU ensembles to perform classical music.

“It brings out lots of chamber music, and many composers wrote some of their best pieces for chamber ensemble,” Uzur said.

The “French Composers (Recording Live!)” performance featured the duet “Violin Sonata in G Minor” by French composer Claude Debussy, as performed by Carmelo de los Santos, a solo violinist and music professor at the University of New Mexico, and Russian pianist Guigla Katsarava. There was also a piano, violin and string quartet performance of “Concerto in D Major, Op. 21” by French composer Amedee Chausson, which featured Mone Belknap, Spencer Martin and Uzur on cello.

Uzur invited WSU senior Moriah Wilhelm, a violinist, to perform in Wednesday’s string quartet after her preview.

“Just being able to see professionals that you only see in the media, to see people live who you can only hear on a CD or can only see on YouTube . . . this is live, and there’s an element to live performance that you don’t get anywhere else,” Wilhelm said.

Only two pieces were performed in this concert, but each one was about 15 minutes long.

“(Chausson’s ‘Concerto’) is a really long piece, but it doesn’t feel long when you play it because there are so many colors and so many emotions,” Wilhelm said. “The first movement is kind of an adventure (and) very youthful, and then the second movement has a lullaby type of a feel. We decided that it was old, wholesome wisdom. The third movement is so dark and so full of anxiety that everybody feels, and then the fourth movement is again so youthful, and when I play I always imagine hope and somebody picking themselves back up, like a youthful person always pushing forward for new events and new experiences.”

Uzur said he began the festival with French composers in order to have the live-recording performance first.

“They’re really good musicians, so when you get together and you don’t have enough time to put things together, you need people who are willing to work hard and be very professional,” Uzur said.

Uzur said the performance had a smaller turnout than he wanted, but that he believes it truly depends on the night and also on the festival’s reputation, which is growing well through word of mouth.

“Sometimes I like classical music, and sometimes I like pop music, but different music has different unique feelings, so I enjoy it,” said Katherine Truong, a WSU junior who was in the audience.

The festival has several performances running until March 30, including a free concert on Monday specifically featuring Uzur and Brad Richter. The duo will perform “From Albeniz to Zeppelin,” a collection of different classical and rock music. This show will be in the Allred Theater in the Browning Center and begin at 7:30 p.m.

“What’s unique about classical music is that the spiritual level is very deep,” Uzur said, “and the composers that wrote classical music, many of them are geniuses, and the message that their music carries and the depth that the music carries will stay forever. That’s why I believe it’s very important to listen to classical music and understand the beauty of it, because it’s really an art. Not art in the sense that it’s unreachable — it’s for everyone, right? — but it’s just extremely deep and developed and masterful and beautiful.”