Moravec: A Fantastic Challenge

Moravec Montserrat Jameson Platte 2

Jameson Platte, cello

“The scope and range of Paul Moravec’s Montserrat is a fantastic challenge for the cello and cellist.”

And so, performer Jameson Platte introduces us to Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Moravec’s 17-minute work Montserrat: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra—the composer’s homage to renowned Spanish cellist and educator Pablo Casals. On January 26, Platte performs the work with the Society of Musical Arts Orchestra (Maplewood, NJ) and music director Stephen Culbertson. Moravec will attend and participate in an informal audience chat. Montserrat received its world premiere in November 2001 in New York City, as featured soloist Arthur Fiacco joined the Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola and conductor Kent Tritle.

Moravec Casals statue Montserrat red crop 400dpi

Pablo Casals centenary statue at the monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat

Moravec reflects on his concerto. “The idea for Montserrat occurred to me when, during a visit to Spain in 1994, I happened upon a statue of Pablo Casals at [Montserrat]—the legendary mountain monastery north of Barcelona.”  Casals, after returning from his studies in Paris, taught music in Barcelona. He developed a long-standing affiliation with the monks of the nearby Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat—a community where Moravec continues, “The concerto gestated over a period of several years and I finally finished it at the MacDowell Colony in the summer of 2001. My memory of its premiere in Manhattan that November is colored by the lingering fear and uncertainty all New Yorkers experienced following the 9/11 attacks, but also by the determination to get on with making music. Arthur and Kent presented the premiere at Kent’s professional home at the time, The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, which was especially apt in light of Ignatius’ own historical and spiritual identification with the monastery at Montserrat.”

Platte notes, “Montserrat explores the full range of the cello, and has ample virtuosity to assure the listener an exciting afternoon. ThMoravec Montserrat scoree greatest feature of this piece, however, is the arching long melodies which frequently use the upper extreme range of the cello. These plaintive, aching melodies are the center piece of a work that I feel sure will become standard repertoire in my lifetime.”

Upcoming: Throughout February, Chicago-based group 5th House Ensemble tours Moravec’s chamber work Cool Fire. For more details, visit 5th House Ensemble.

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