During the warm months, residents and employees of the companies on the Weehawken waterfront make a habit of attending the Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center’s (HRPAC) concerts held outside, at Triangle Park. In the winter, they find themselves craving lunchtime tunes.
This Wednesday, Weehawken’s music lovers can head down to the lobby atrium at UBS Financial Services, located in the Lincoln Harbor development, for HRPAC’s first winter concert of the season, featuring the Cosmopolitan Chamber Trio. The concert is scheduled to kick off at 12:30 p.m. and will feature a program of rock and jazz-infused classical music performed by the three-piece group.
“Eric, Gleb, and Russell are world-class talents and I’m proud to be able to present them on the series.” – Bruce Sherman, HRPAC’s producer
“It’s always an honor for me to present musical artists of great distinction,” said HRPAC’s founder and producer Bruce Sherman. “Eric, Gleb, and Russell are world-class talents and I’m proud to be able to present them on the series.”
A diverse program
The Trio will perform a series of genre-bending pieces composed by the Frenchman Maurice Ravel and Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, as well as original pieces composed by Grossman’s father-in-law, Cuban composer Jorge Lopez Marin, and Peterson himself.
“The whole program is so interesting. The piece by Ravel is very exciting,” said Grossman. “The piece by Shostakovich, meanwhile, is interesting because you have a great classical composer looking at ’20s jazz, and placing the waltz, polka and the foxtrot into a classical piece.”
Shostakovich, known for infusing other genres into his symphonies, originally composed the piece for a full jazz orchestra, complete with a steel guitar and other non-classical instruments. The Trio has since harnessed the most exciting aspects of the piece and compressed into a three-piece arrangement.
The presence of Peterson, who teaches music at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., is likely to be the concert’s most exciting aspect. Peterson, a composer himself, trained classically in Bordeaux, France, and is considered one of the preeminent classical saxophonists in America today. Still, he rarely gets the chance to play saxophone in a classical setting, due to the lack of compositions which call for the instrument.
“I’m not a great composer, I’m just a frustrated saxophonist,” he said.
Because of this, he writes his own pieces, such as the one which will be performed Wednesday - Trio for Saxophone, Violin and Piano.
The piece, which spans over three movements and roughly 18 minutes, is technically a classical chamber piece, but both Peterson and Grossman described it as outside the box.
“The first movement is rhythmically aggressive, while the second is more lyric, and allows the sax and the violin some really beautiful melodic opportunities,” said Peterson. “The last movement is just meant to show off. I call it moto-perpetuo, meaning non-stop motion. Lots of unrelenting sixteenth notes.”
Grossman pointed out the piece’s rock influences.
“Because he is classically trained, Russell has a refinement in his sound that maybe lots of rock and jazz sax players don’t have in their repertoire,” he said. “Having said that, he plays a lot of jazz and rock, so for us, [the piece] is about crossing into a really modern style of fusion-type music.”
The concert’s other original piece, Sweet Cecimar, composed by Marin, also holds special significance for the trio. Marin, Grossman’s father-in-law, lives in Havana, Cuba, but studied at the Moscow Conservatory with master virtuoso Aram Chatschaturjan. When Grossman’s daughter, Cecilia, was born, Marin composed the piece and dedicated it to her.
Still, raising an infant can be a hectic and time-consuming commitment, and Grossman never got a chance to play the piece, which was originally composed for viola, clarinet, and piano. After performing with Peterson for the first time, Grossman was convinced that together they could do great things with the piece, and so he asked Marin to transcribe the arrangement to include saxophone. Wednesday will be the piece’s first performance by the trio.
“I love that it’s a personal piece for him, and that it has deep meaning,” said Peterson.
The UBS Atrium Series series is made possible through generous support from UBS, Hartz Mountain Industries, and the Hudson Reporter. For further information, call the HRPAC concert info line at 201-716-4540 or visit www.hrpac.org.