Festival Alexandria, July 2nd 2006

A summer concert series that has been in existance for 16 seasons was the occasion for a performance of Olivier Messiaens La Quatour Pout La Fin du Temps, the Quartet for The End of Time. Composed in 1940 while Messiaen was interned in the prison Camp Stalag 8A in Gorlitz, Austria, it is perhaps the strongest work written including the clarinet of the last century, and considered by many to be one of the composers finest works.
This performance featured Sara Bohl Pistolesi, violinist, Donald Pistolesi, Violincellist, Lauretta Altman(founder of the festival) Pianist, and myself as clarinetist.
I have written many times of this work and all are listed within the archives of this site. They include a performance analyses and a description as well.
Surprisingly the work is not heard with that much frequency and many clarinetists know little if anything of the Quartet.
(One professional player whom I met recently, thought that certainly it must be a work for “folk clarinet”, and this was a fellow with a doctorate in the clarinet).
Now Festival Alexandria is one of the most beautiful spots for such a concert series I have ever seen or in which I have performed.
It is reminiscent of Tanglewood, fully as beautiful, only a tanglewood yet to flourish, perhaps needful of a benefactor.
It reminds me of Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony because of the house on the property located near the performing area which is an old barn with a corrogated metal roof. Surrounding this is a very large tract of beautiful countryside all a part of the Festival.
My wife and I have been married for 41 years and after our marriage ceremony we spent our honeymoon in Tanglewood where I was a Fromm Fellow, performing contemporary music . I was immediately brought back to Lenox and Tanglewood when I first saw Festival Alexandria.
The barn holds only about 80, however the acoustic is excellent and they have two modern facilities for those who are in need.
I was taken and very much moved by this little jewel of a little Tanglewood.
The program included the Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano by Bohuslav Martinu, a very pleasant happy work, a pefect foil for the Messiaen.
I would like to call your attention to this lovely Festival Alexandria and to the work of Lauretta Altman and Ken Milkman who are the force behind this truly lovely place for summer music.
I thank them both for programming the Messiaen and for asking me to perform. It was my 13th time playing this very special work.
All of the performers were in very excellent form and performed as I have never heard the work before. Wonderful and inspired.
A work of a spiritual nature it was truly a performance of the nature of the heavens.
Thank you all for your beautiful inspired work.
sherman

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