Perhaps the best way to introduce the next concert by the BluePrint Project of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the direction of Nicole Paiement would be to continue the theme I initiated yesterday of dreaming of unfamiliar masters, particularly since the title of the concert is “Which Dreamed It? “ This event will take place on Saturday, February 5, at 8 PM in the Conservatory Concert Hall; and the “dream” will involve a multimedia celebration of the centennial of the birth of Paul Bowles, which took place on December 30, 1910. His Wikipedia entry describes him as “an American expatriate composer, author, and translator,” which is probably about as accurate a summary as one can find. However, because his 1949 novel The Sheltering Sky was made into a film by Bernardo Bertolucci with a screenplay by Mark Peploe in 1990, Bowles is probably best known today as an author.
Nevertheless, prior to his emigration to Tangier, Morocco, in 1947, Bowles had definitely made a name for himself as a composer. He studied composition with Aaron Copland, and both of them were part of Gertrude Stein’s social set in the early thirties. (This earned Bowles a passing reference in Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.) Indeed, Stein was the one who first suggested that Bowles visit Tangier; and he made his first trip there with Copland in 1931.
Much of Bowles work in composition involved music for the theater arising from collaborations with Orson Welles, Tennessee Williams, and William Saroyan. He composed a light opera, The Wind Remains, based on a poem by Federico García Lorca, which was performed in 1943 with choreography by Merce Cunningham. The music was conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
The BluePrint concert will present the West Coast premiere of “The Dancer,” a theater piece that Bowles composed in 1946. The program will also include his Romantic Suite, composed in 1939 but first performed posthumously in 2000, and his 1944 Three Pastoral Songs for voice and string ensemble. In addition a short film about Bowles will be screened prior to the concert at 7:15 PM.
The program will also include a work by Bowles’ longtime friend, Ned Rorem, the song cycle War Scenes composed in 1971. The European flavor of the program will be further enhanced by the American premiere of “Which Dreamed It?,” composed in 2009 by Michèle Reverdy. The remaining works on the program will be “Wamba” and “So Tango,” by the Anglo-French Sephardic Jewish composer Maurice Ohana.
This BluePrint concert will take place in the Concert Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on February 5 at 8 PM, preceded by the screening of the film about Paul Bowles at 7:15 PM. Tickets for this performance are $20 for general admission and $15 for students, seniors, and Friends of the Conservatory. Further information may be found on the event page on the Conservatory Web site, which also includes a hyperlink for purchasing tickets. Tickets may also be purchased by calling the Box Office at 415-503-6275.