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Concert program for Stephen Porter

Friday, October 16, 2020 at 8 pm

Download a copy of the program here.

Stephen Porter, piano


Ludwig van Beethoven
Six Bagatelles, Op. 126
                        (last piano work)


Toni Lester
Here, Now, Sound
Night Walks
Know This
“These pieces are dedicated to the memory of my late father, noted jazz saxophonist and Blue Note recording artist, Samuel Conrad ‘Connie’ Lester”

Norberto Oldrini
Maiden & Death

Andrew List
Egyptian Etudes
            Thoth: The God of Wisdom and Magic
            Amon-Re: The Almighty Father, The God of All People

Martin Skafte
            Lines and Timelines
            Finding Memory Again


Claude Debussy
Images, Books I and II
            Reflections in the water
            Homage to Rameau
            Bells through the leaves
            And the moon descends on the temple that was

About the music

Toni Lester – Here, Now, Sound | Night Walks |Know This
These pieces are dedicated to the memory of my late father, noted Blue Note recording jazz saxophonist, Samuel Conrad ‘Connie’ Lester.

Norberto Oldrini Maiden & Death (2015)
The wind of the time has swept some well-known Schubert’s notes and turned them topsy- turvy. That’s what remains.

Written for Stephen Porter’s Re-Imagining Schubert concert, premiered in New York in 2015.

Norberto Oldrini Fiend (2016)
Commissioned by the company Natalie Johnson Dance for the long choreography Sleeptalking, premiered in New York in 2017, Fiend is a small musical study about the theme “F(r)iend”, and written after the choreography.

After a slow and calm beginning, a waltz explodes in a chromatic conflict of harmony and contrapuntal, and then sublimates in something quite different. As a concert piece, it has already performed in the US, Mexico and Italy.

Andrew List From the Temple of Dendera – Twelve Etudes for Piano Inspired by the Egyptian Zodiac
From the Temple of Dendera: Twelve Etudes for Piano was commissioned by pianist George Lopez Artist-in-residence at Bowdoin College. Each etude is a musical portrait of an Egyptian God represented in the Dendera Zodiac.

The sculptured Dendera Zodiac is a widely known Egyptian bas-relief from the ceiling of the pronaos (or portico) of a chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathortemple at Dendera. This chapel was begun in the late Ptolemaic period; its pronaos was added by the emperor Tiberius. The date for the relief is 50 BC, since it shows the stars and planets in the positions they would have been seen at that date. The relief, which scholar John H. Rogers characterized as “the only complete map that we have of an ancient sky”, has been conjectured to represent the basis on which later astronomy systems were based. It is now on display at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

Martin Skafte Preludes
The preludes here chosen for performance by Stephen Porter are both part of a larger book of 12 preludes, each one inspired by a corresponding prelude from Claude Debussy’s prémier livre.

They were all written as an attempt at creating a “fictional dialogue” in which my music could speak with Debussy’s music, with the goal being that a third voice would emerge out of the process; a voice that would potentially carry something from both worlds within it. A voice I could then continue working with, to push my own musical language forward and refine it further.

I later continued with a second book of preludes, completing the process by working with all 24 of Debussy’s preludes.

The two preludes played by Mr. Porter are Nos. 5 and 7 from the first book. They are perhaps the two preludes of mine that are most closely attached to the preludes which they draw their inspiration from – if not necessarily in style, then perhaps in spirit.

The Performer

Stephen Porter has appeared as a soloist in London, Paris, Sarajevo, Lake Como, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro, among other cities. He is a four-time artist resident of the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, and his concerts in the past season include the Église Saint Louis en l’Île, the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, the Gothenburg Academy of Music and Drama in Sweden, and the Malmö Academy of Music in Sweden. In 2020 for the Beethoven 250th birthday year he gives recitals of Beethoven along with premieres by composers from Sweden, Italy and the U.S., beginning with the Musica Prospettiva Festival in Torrita di Siena, Italy. Recent New York City appearances at SubCulture, the Fabbri Mansion and Symphony Space have been praised by the press, with New York Arts calling Mr. Porter’s twenty-four Debussy Preludes “a powerful revelation … as if the voice of the composer were speaking to us.” His Schubert performances are widely admired, the Boston Musical Intelligencer says he “reached the level of sublimity,” and in the acclaimed biography Beethoven:  Anguish and Triumph, author Jan Swafford calls his interpretation of Beethoven’s Appassionata “unforgettable.” Mr. Porter has had the privilege of performing and recording with two Grammy Award winning soloists, mezzo-soprano Krista River (2020 Best Opera) and bass-baritone Dashon Burton (2014 Best Chamber Music). His recitals with Ms. River include works by Ned Rorem and John Harbison coached by the composers. They have recorded a disc of Grieg’s Haugtussa, six Lyric Pieces, and Schumann’s Frauenliebe und leben. With Mr. Burton he has recorded the music of Toni Lester, released on the 2017 CD titled Will The Time Ever Come?