Image courtesy of Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

PREVIEW: Local composers Alice Spatz and Larry Wallach premiere new chamber music works at Simon’s Rock on March 31

I expect Wallach's piece to carry subtle rumors of klezmer. In any case, it features a virtuosic role for the clarinet, and you can decide for yourself how klezmer-ish it is.

Great Barrington — Bard College at Simon’s Rock continues its South Berkshire Concert Series on Sunday, March 31, with premiere performances of chamber works by local composers Larry Wallach and Alice Spatz, performed by Sangwon Lee on clarinet, Ronald Gorevic on violin, James Bergin on viola, Anne Legêne on cello, and Larry Wallach on piano. The program will also include works by Darius Milhaud and Charles Ives. Admission to the performance is free.

Larry Wallach is a pianist, but he has a special affinity for the clarinet, having accompanied that instrument on keyboard more times than he can remember. In fact, he is so familiar with the clarinet that he needn’t even have one in his hands when composing for it. His piece on this program, “Klezmer-ish,” is scored for clarinet, viola, cello, and piano. (And not just any clarinetist will suffice. Sangwon Lee, Principal Clarinet of the Hartford Symphony, has the required chops.) Mr. Wallach knows perfectly well what real klezmer is, but he would like you to take the title of this work literally, especially the last three letters. I haven’t heard it, but based on Wallach’s description of the piece, I expect it to carry subtle rumors of klezmer. In any case, it features a virtuosic role for the clarinet, and you can decide for yourself how “klezmer-ish” it is.

William Butler Yeats’ poem “To a Child Dancing in the Wind” was the inspiration for Alice Spatz’s eponymous chamber music work. The score includes lines from the poem to be read at the start of each movement. Alice is a composer, free-lance double bassist, Wintergreen folk trio member, and educator who has taught at the Berkshire Music School since 1980. She has been performing at folk festivals, concerts, clubs, schools, and colleges throughout the Northeast since the 1960s and has collaborated with Cindy Mangsen, Bernice Lewis, many other musicians on recording projects. Along with her husband and the late Anson Olds, she appeared on the WAMC radio show “The Northeast Folk Festival.”

Larry Wallach holds the Livingston Hall Chair in Music at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, where he taught for five decades. A composer, performer, musicologist, and educator, Dr. Wallach’s interests span the history of Western music, with a special focus on baroque and modern repertories. He has published articles about Charles Ives and Johannes Brahms, and, as pianist, performed all the Ives violin sonatas. Dr. Wallach was a founding board member of the Berkshire Bach Society. His compositions, mainly of chamber music, have received performances throughout the United States. He has received two “Meet the Composer” grants, and his 1986 composition “Echoes from Barham Down” won the composition award from the New School of Music in Cambridge, Mass. He has composed music for the Atlantic Sinfonietta, the Da Capo Players, the Housatonic River Festival, the Prometheus Piano Quartet, the New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble, and the Claflin Hill Symphony. In 2020, the Janacek Philharmonic in the Czech Republic recorded Dr. Wallach’s orchestral composition “Species of Motion” for Navona Records. The Orchestra Now performed it on March 3 of this year, and you can hear the Janacek recording on Spotify.

A violist, violinist, and educator, Ronald Gorevic is principal violist of the Springfield Symphony and teaches at the University of Massachusetts and Smith College. In tours of the U.S., Germany, Japan, Korea, and Australia, Mr. Gorevic has played most of the quartet repertoire on viola, including the complete Beethoven cycle. With pianist Larry Wallach, he has performed complete sonata cycles of Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms.

James Bergin is a violist, composer, conductor, and teacher. His compositions include microtonal and tonal works for chamber ensemble, solo instruments, voice, chorus, piano, and organ. Formerly a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Mr. Bergin was executive director of the Boston Microtonal Society from 2006 to 2018. He co-founded and conducted the Society’s chamber ensemble NotaRiotous, which is dedicated to microtonal music performances on traditional instruments. In 2013, James founded the Community Intergenerational Action Orchestra (CIAO!), based in Williamstown, and is an artist-teacher at Kids 4 Harmony (Berkshire Children & Families), an El Sistema-inspired intensive youth music program. He has taught music at Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter School in Adams since 2016.

Anne Legêne performs chamber music on cello and viola da gamba with her husband Larry Wallach; harpsichordist Mariken Palmboom; and with her sister, recorder virtuosa Eva Legêne. She teaches cello and conducts the chamber orchestra and Collegium at Bard College. She also teaches cello and viola da gamba at her home studio in Great Barrington. Anne studied cello with Jean Decroos, principal cellist of the Concertgebouw orchestra, at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Netherlands. She earned a graduate performance diploma in early music from the Longy School in Cambridge, Mass., where she studied viola da gamba with Jane Hershey and baroque cello with Phoebe Carrai.

Hear Sangwon Lee, Ronald Gorevic, James Bergin, Anne Legêne, and Larry Wallach perform Alice Spatz’s “To a Child Dancing in the Wind” and Larry Wallach’s “Klezmer-ish,” along with works by Darius Milhaud and Charles Ives, on Sunday, March 31, at 3 p.m., in Kellogg Music Center on the campus of Bard College at Simon’s Rock. Admission is free. For more information, call (413) 528-7212.