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Friday, October 07, 2022
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Inside Lukas Foss’ ‘midnight atmosphere’

UB Slee Sinfonietta performs an entrancing tribute to the American-German composer

<p>A tribute concert for Lukas Foss, an American-German composer and founder and director of UB’s Center for Creative and Performing Arts, was performed Sunday in the UB CFA.</p>

A tribute concert for Lukas Foss, an American-German composer and founder and director of UB’s Center for Creative and Performing Arts, was performed Sunday in the UB CFA.

A whirlpool of sound descends on the audience in Lippes Concert Hall. The entrancing call of the clarinet and the enchanting ring of the piano lures the audience into a hypnotizing and liminal musical space.

An audio mixture of urgency, mystery and livelihood fades into an all-encompassing tranquility as members of UB’s Slee Sinfonietta finish the first program of the Lukas Foss Centennial Celebration.

Foss, an American-German composer, was the founder and director of UB’s Center for Creative and Performing Arts and the music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, among other notable positions. To commemorate what would be Foss’ 100th birthday, members of the Slee Sinfonietta, a professional chamber orchestra in residence, performed five pieces by Foss on Sunday.

The first program, “Elegy for clarinet and piano,” came to an end and left the audience in the wake of a simultaneously lulling and lively performance. Jonthana Golove and Eric Huebner, associate music professors, then made their way to the stage to play “Capriccio for cello and piano.”

With the tendrils of the previous performance still lingering in the minds of the audience, Golove successfully captured the spirit of the “midnight atmosphere” of Foss’ music. He further pushed the mystical atmosphere by recounting the story of spotting a red fox on a trip to Berlin and drawing the audience into the delightful world of Foss.

As he and Huebner launched into their rendition of “Capriccio,” the performance hall came alight in the passionate and joyful piece, one reminiscent of the music set against the backdrop of a sunny countryside.

Yet, despite the concert’s focus on Foss and his legacy, each musician’s individuality in performance is what truly shined through to heighten the viewer’s experience.

As “Capriccio” continued, Golove became inflamed in passion, raising his eyebrows and puckering his lips while Huebner swayed in his seat, channeling the levity of the piece.

Still, the program’s fourth piece, “Solo Observed,” might be the brightest display of individuality.

A staggering piece that began with a lengthy (and worthwhile) piano solo, “Solo Observed” features musicians playing the vibraphone, cello and electric organ.

As all finally joined in to play, “Solo Observed” quickly transformed into a symphony and battle of sounds. There was the mysterious and near-extraterrestrial pull of the vibraphone, the intense and almost frightening nature of the piano and the festive-laced notes of the cello. The diversity of sound and performance personalities created a spectacle that resounded in a standing ovation.

The concert continued to successfully wield this wonderful environment into its last piece, “Time Observed.”

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“Time Observed” entrenched the audience into a world of philosophy and literature, as the works of Kafka, Nietzche and more were sung in a haunting siren’s song by soprano Tiffany Du Mouchelle. 

The accompanying instruments created a twinkling rush of frantic noise, eventually descending into a soft and haunting lull, like an eerie breeze in the dead of the night. 

As Du Mouchelle whispered the final words of “Time Observed,” the Lukas Foss Centennial Celebration successfully concluded as the Slee Sinfonietta’s entrance into the 2022-23 performance season. 

The group now looks ahead to their next performance, Sphinx Virtuosi, on Oct. 15.

Kara Anderson is the senior arts editor and can be reached at kara.anderson@ubspectrum.com


KARA ANDERSON
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Kara Anderson is a senior arts editor at The Spectrum. She is an English and Spanish double major and is pursuing a certificate in creative writing. She enjoys baking chocolate chip cookies, procrastinating with solitaire and binging reality TV on the weekends.  

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