So, the flute. It’s one of those instruments that, in the wrong hands, can be wretched. But in the hands of an inventive and smart musician like Sarah Brady, it’s a beautiful thing.
Portland audiences get to experience the beauty and range of the flute on Monday, when the Portland Chamber Music Festival returns to SPACE Gallery for “Variations on Light,” an evening of contemporary classical chamber music for flute and strings.
Brady lives in Boston and performs with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Odyssey Opera, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Boston Ballet and Boston Lyric Opera, among others.
Chamber music is her specialty, because small ensembles suit what has been described as her “clairvoyantly sensitive” performance style. New music is her love, and Monday’s program was tailored with Brady in mind.
“I really love her playing, and she’s a lot of fun to play with because she’s a gorgeous player,” said Jennifer Elowitch, artistic director of the Portland Chamber Music Festival. “She is very creative. She is not flashy for the sake of being flashy. She is flashy when it serves the music.”
Brady and her musical pals will have plenty of chances to show some flash on Monday. It’s an inventive program with a lot of challenging and rewarding music. “I don’t think anyone will be bored,” Elowitch said.
“Variations on Light” opens with a piece by Andrew Norman, Musical America’s 2017 Composer of the Year and recent winner of the Grawemeyer Award for composition. His piece “Light Screens” was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass windows. “Spell” by composer Mark Berger, who also will perform on the viola, will be followed by a premiere by Andy Vores, “Dark Days.” Amy Beach’s “Theme and Variations” closes the evening.
Vores, interim dean of music at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, wrote “Dark Days” specifically for this concert. He and Elowitch, who lives in greater Boston, are friends. Elowitch has played and programmed his music in the past. She mentioned she was looking for music to include in this winter concert, and he made an offer.
” ‘Let me write a piece for you,’ he said, so we did. I’m flattered that he wanted to do it,” she said.
“Dark Days” references Shakespeare, and Elowitch suspects it was inspired by the recent presidential election. Vores will introduce his piece. Berger also will talk about his composition before the musicians perform it.
In addition to Brady and Berger, other performers are Gabriela Diaz and Elowitch on violins and Joshua Gordon on cello. While Monday’s concert will be Brady’s debut with the Portland Chamber Music Festival, the other performers have played here before.
Elowitch, who grew up in Portland and has family here, loves the collegiality among the musicians. “We are almost like a family group,” she said. “We’re a group of friends who really enjoy playing together, and we care about each other.”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday
WHERE: SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland
TICKETS & INFO: $15, $13 for SPACE members and students; pcmf.org