The Austin Chronicle

The Austin Contingent

By Graham Reynolds, June 4, 2004, Music

Three stand-out Austin performers and teachers participating in Round Top's 2004 summer series.

Rebecca Henderson, oboe

Rebecca Henderson has the kind of command and expressiveness on her instrument that makes an oboe the favorite instrument you never knew you had. Her phrasing and tone bring life to music that in other hands sounds stiff or dated. These abilities have made her in demand as a player, and she has found herself playing the world over.

In 2003 Henderson released Is But a Dream on Boston Records, a collection of rarely heard 20th-century music for solo oboe. Unlike so much composed music, Dream is sophisticated enough for the academic listener and melodic enough for the general listener.

Look for Henderson to be featured on the monstrously difficult Villa-Lobos Trio for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon, June 18 at 8pm.

Thomas Burritt, percussion

Thomas Burritt heads up one of the coolest ensembles at UT: the UT Percussion Ensemble. An oddity in Western composed music, percussion ensembles came into their own during the Thirties and Forties. After 200 years of developing tonal music, then washing it out with impressionism, subverting it with atonal music, and finally systematizing an alternative in 12-tone serialism, composers realized that the best way to free themselves of tonal restrictions was to get rid of tonal instruments.

What results is music far easier on the ears than standard atonal music, given that percussion instruments aren't fighting to be nontonal and don't clash so harshly with preconceived notions. The percussion ensemble is a vibrant new showcase of exciting instruments that traditionally played a supportive role. Burritt, given his considerable skill both as a performer and a leader, brings out the most in the group.

This marks the release of Burritt's Music for Hammers and Sticks, compositions for percussion and piano. It's the culmination of work with his non-UT chamber group, whose final performances of the pieces took place last April at Carnegie Hall. Look for Burritt as a player throughout the orchestral part of the series and then in a special free percussion section concert featuring music ranging from Steve Reich to Austin composer Steve Barber on July 10, 1:30pm.

Brian Lewis, violin

Like Rebecca Henderson, violinist Brian Lewis is a world traveler. Not only has he played the famous New York venues, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Avery Fisher Hall, he's also appeared with orchestras from Berlin and Lima to Korea. Not so much a specialist as an eclectic, Lewis' programming choices are diverse and adventurous.

As an assistant professor of violin at UT, Lewis has become one of the youngest people in the country to hold such a position. Look for Lewis throughout the summer series at Round Top and as a featured soloist in the Charles Ives memorial concert.

Copyright © 2023 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.