SANTA FE, N.M. — French hornist Scott Temple is fascinated by the thinking behind the creation of John Harbison’s chamber piece “Twilight Music.” The title of the work, Temple says, came from what happens in the horn part for about five seconds in the second section.
“For the briefest moment, the horn has to play halfway between an open and stopped horn,” he explained. “This creates a kind of sinister quality in sound. Harbison calls the half tones that are created by this technique as ‘twilight half tones.’ That’s why he named the piece ‘Twilight Music.'”
Music with nocturnal themes is featured in Taos Chamber Music Group’s concert “Twilight,” which takes place next weekend at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos.
Harbison’s piece “Twilight Music” will be played by Temple, violinist David Felberg and pianist Debra Ayers. Temple describes the work as a dialogue between the violin and horn that has a sense of loneliness to it.
“I love this piece, it’s absolutely tremendous,” said Temple. “Harbison thought the combination of instruments in this work is curious, but he wrote the piece very well. It’s extremely difficult for the horn, a major piece for the horn.”
Temple also plays in Katherine Hoover’s work “Summer Night,” which was written for horn, piano and flute. Flutist Nancy Laupheimer, who is the artistic director of Taos Chamber Music Group, joins Temple and Ayers on stage.
“The first section seems to me to be an evening invocation,” said Laupheimer. “Both the horn and flute parts convey a sense of expansiveness, as if played from the rim of the Grand Canyon at sunset. Hoover has spent time in the Southwest, and several of her works are influenced by Native American flute music, especially Hopi.
“I am not sure if this piece was informed by that or not, but it has a pentatonic flavor. The middle section is a spirited dance with the horn and flute chasing each other, before returning to the more mellifluous opening material. The piece ends with one more playful outburst, as if reluctant to settle down for the night.”
When Felberg, Ayers and cellist Sally Guenther play “Lullaby for my Favorite Insomniac” by Kenji Bunch, a video by Taos photographer Geraint Smith will be projected.
Smith, who has been a freelance photographer for more than 30 years, has had a wide range of clients including O, The Oprah Magazine, Forbes, the Millicent Rogers Museum, New Mexico Magazine, New Mexico State University and Sunset Magazine. The video he has put together for the performance features landscape imagery.
In an email from Scotland, Smith describes the video as “a short movie, crossing over … moments before sleep, drifting and dreaming into the unconscious. Surrendering to the images I sometimes see on the inside of my eyelids. Traveling backroads of the mind to find a crossing point into sleep. A visual lullaby for an insomniac.”