The fourth and final installment of this season’s Espresso chamber concert series presented by the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra will put the spotlight on not just one, but two, small ensembles.
The concert, billed as “Blue Mountain Blend,” will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Chapman Cultural Center, 200 E. St. John St., Spartanburg, and will include performances by the SPO Woodwind Quintet and the SPO Brass Quintet.
After each group gets its turn to showcase its talents, the two quintets will join forces for the concert finale, which promises to be a highlight of the festivities.
“This will be the first time we’ve blended two (quintets) for a piece so we’re hoping to get a big sound,” said SPO director of marketing and operations Peter Kay. “Having all 10 players up there together, it’ll be largest group we’ve ever had on stage for any of these Espresso series concerts.”
Kay composed the piece that the brass and woodwind quintets will premiere. Titled “For In A New Light,” it’s inspired by the “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” art installations that have been on display in the city since last October.
“There isn’t a whole lot of music for that instrumentation,” Kay said. “So, when we were putting the concert together, we had to figure out what we had for 10 players, and I said, ‘I think I can put something together.’”
Kay said the piece is about seven minutes in length and is “clearly classical but pop-infused.”
“I’ve gone to several of the Espresso series concerts and they’re always really interesting,” said trumpeter Cody Beard, who will perform as part of the SPO Brass Quintet. “I’m especially excited to play the new piece that Peter Kay has written.
“It’s not often that you get to premiere a new piece, so it’s going to be fun. I really like the thought of playing a new composition and expanding the repertoire.”
Kay’s composition will be accompanied by cinematic visuals created by award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Ade, an alumnus of local arts organization Hub-Bub’s artist-in-residence program.
Ade said his contribution will include images that will be familiar to concertgoers who have seen the “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” installations.
“I wanted to do something that felt a little bit more abstract and a little bit more in the spirit of the piece rather than it just being like a travelogue,” he said. “There’s no point in me just reproducing on video what people can see around town on their own.”
Aside from the premiere of Kay’s new piece, the concert will feature music that ranges stylistically from the edgy and fun Canadian Brass arrangement of “St. Louis Blues” by “the father of the blues” W.C. Handy to the beautiful “Flower Duet,” which is from Léo Delibes’ opera “Lakmé” but is probably better known for its use in movies and television.
Other pieces to be performed are “Six Bagatelles for Woodwind Quintet” by György Liget and “Quintet no. 1 for Brass Quintet” by Victor Ewald.
Beard said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to perform in a more intimate setting than the full-scale orchestra concerts he’s more accustomed to playing.
“Being a trumpet player, we often just sit on the back row, and nine times out of 10 we’re just counting rests or like a hundred measures and then playing a couple of notes and then counting more rests,” Beard said with a laugh. “Of course, there is some orchestral repertoire that has a lot of great brass music, but most of the time we’re not really in the spotlight.
“So, it’s definitely going to be fun to play with other brass musicians and play repertoire specifically for brass, and I’m sure the wind quintet feels the same way about what they’ll be playing.”
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for a pre-concert happy hour reception that will include beer, wine and light snacks. As an added bonus, concertgoers will receive a limited-edition shaker pint glass to take home.