Bard’s Concordium is harmonious in Hudson

Published on November 24th, 2012 | by Tatiana Klacsmann
The TMI Arts Page The Millbrook Independent

Members of Concordium ensemble in front of a photograph by Roy Volkmann. Photo by Tatiana Klacsmann

Members of Concordium ensemble in front of a photograph by Roy Volkmann.
Photo by Tatiana Klacsmann.

ClaverackLanding, established in 2010 by artistic director Gwen Gould, sponsors chamber music  in an informal atmosphere. Programming includes both guest artists and musicians drawn from the Columbia Festival Orchestra. On November 17, at the First Presbyterian Church in Hudson, ClaverackLanding hosted musicians from the Bard College Conservatory of Music. The ensemble group, Concordium, comprises Greg Drilling and Alex Meyer, oboes; Noémi Sallai and Molly Wyrick-Flax, clarinets; Josh Hodge and David A. Nagy, bassoons; Ferenc Farkas and Jimmy Haber, horns; Bence Botár, double bass; and Frances Lee, piano. Oboist Stephen Hammer coaches the young musicians. Hammer performs with groups including the New York Collegium and Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society and has been affiliated with Bard since 2003.

Concordium is a harmonie ensemble—a group mostly made up of wind instruments. The group’s name relates to Concordia, Roman goddess of agreement, whose Greek counterpart is Harmonia. The harmonie is a large ensemble with up to nine members on stage at a time and, as an ensemble, performs without a conductor. The goddess of cooperation and accord is an apt patron for the group, which played beautifully in unison by staying alert to cues from fellow musicians while each maintaining his or her own intricate part.

The concert, titled The Streets of Vienna, included late 18th- and early19th-century music written and performed in Vienna. Vienna was a hub of musical activity and home to Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. It was also the city where the harmonie type of ensemble was popular.  Hammer, who selected the three pieces by Mozart, and one each by Beethoven and Franz Krommer, considers the harmonie group to be in some ways analogous to an iPod in that it offered music on the go. Originally these wind ensembles performed out-of-doors and helped popularize music commissioned by and performed for the aristocracy. The contemporary audience was likewise treated to arrangements of popular pieces for symphony orchestra, including the overture from Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

Program notes written by Michael Collier accompanied the music, providing more information about the composers and each piece. These notes could be helpful to anyone who might be new to classical music or just needed a reminder of the particulars. I found them particularly useful in learning more about Czech composer Krommer, who spent part of his productive years in Vienna as well as Hungary.

The program’s integrated offering of both music and historical information reflects Bard’s approach to conservatory education.  Established in 2005, the Bard College Conservatory of Music offers a five-year program during which students complete both a bachelor of music and a bachelor’s degree in a nonmusical subject. Bassoonist David A. Nagy, a Bard senior, describes first becoming acquainted with the program while living in his native Hungary in a conservatory where one needs to know math. Nagy is in the midst of applying to Juilliard for graduate school. At Bard he studied linguistics and will receive a degree in Japanese literature.

ClaverackLanding’s The Streets of Vienna, performed by the Concordium ensemble, offered the audience classical Viennese music. The students engaged with a receptive and enthusiastic audience. ClaverackLanding and Concordium is a win-win situation. Concordia would be pleased.

For more information about including upcoming concerts: