The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society concludes its 38th summer season this Monday and Tuesday with an ambitious finale that includes a world premiere and the first-ever performance of a classic Stravinsky piece on the Island.
On August 11 at the Old Whaling Church and August 12 at the Chilmark Community Center, the trio of violinist Nancy Wu, clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Delores Stevens will perform the premiere of Then and Now and Forever, a piece commissioned by the chamber music society and written by the noted composer Morton Subotnik.
Also on the program is a classic chamber music work, the 1918 musical drama, L’Histoire du Soldat, by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.
Featured in the Stravinsky piece will be six leading musicians from the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Performing in addition to Ms. Wu and Mr. McGill will be bassist Leigh Mesh, bassoonist Daniel Shelly, trumpeter Billy Ray Hunter Jr. and trombonist Weston Sprott — together with percussionist Marc Damoulakis from the Cleveland Symphony and pianist Mrs. Stevens, who is artistic director of the chamber music society. Bryan Torfeh of the Royal Shakespeare Company will narrate the story of a soldier who trades his fiddle to the devil for the promise of future wealth.
“It’s a Faustian tale, really,” says Mrs. Stevens. “It’s a standard of the chamber music literature, a wonderfully dramatic story set to music.”
L’Histoire du Soldat will be presented in its full concert version, which lasts about an hour.
Morton Subotnik, composer of the piece getting its world premiere here, is a Los Angeles colleague and friend of Mrs. Stevens. His reputation in the field of electronic music was cemented in 1967 with his composition for Nonesuch Records, Silver Apples of the Moon. He’s been exploring new sound frontiers ever since.
Commissioning new music, says Mrs. Stevens, is an important part of the Island chamber society’s mission. “When we’re able to do these commissions,” she says, “new work results that might not ever get written otherwise. We’re bringing new repertoire into chamber music.”
Both concerts begin at 8 p.m. Admission is $30, and students are always admitted free.