Former Bakersfield resident and Bakersfield High grad Cari Craig is the featured artist at Friday evening's Ensemble Melodica chamber music concert.
Craig, 34, will perform works by Debussy, Bach, Rachmaninoff and Copland in a program that includes music by Arvo Part and Robert Schumann. Craig has been working with Ensemble Melodica founder and pianist Elizabeth Cervantes.
"I'm trying to build up a group to do some regular chamber music concerts, trying to get chamber music performed in the community," Cervantes said.
The genre of "chamber music" specifically refers to music performed by soloists and small ensembles, usually one musician performing each part, instead of several players as one would see in an orchestra. Such ensembles typically performed in small rooms, or chambers, rather than in large theaters or auditoriums.
"It's really meant to be in a small room," Cervantes said. "It's meant to be intimate."
This weekend's performance is at St. Paul's Anglican Church, a popular venue for chamber music and organ concerts. Older churches make particularly good chamber music concert halls, as they are relatively small and possess superior acoustical properties.
The concert program includes a performance by Cervantes and violinist Julia Haney of Arvo Part's famous "Spiegel im Spiegel" ("Mirror in the Mirror"), a classic example of tintinnabuli, the Part's signature compositional style that juxtaposes bell-like ("tintinnabuli" means "bells") triads, or three-note chords, played one note at a time, against a simple melody moving up and down the scale, an effect similar to chant.
"It's very meditative," Cervantes said. "It's very contemporary, but it's not in the least bit dissonant."
Cervantes, Haney and cellist Karen Blockley will perform the Piano Trio in d minor, Op. 63 by Robert Schumann, the first of three such trios by the composer. Craig is the featured artist for the second half of the concert. She will begin with the solo flute piece "Syrinx," by Debussy.
"I think it's probably one of the most famous pieces for flute Debussy ever wrote," Craig said.
The piece is based on the Greek legend of the beautiful nymph Syrinx, who is pursued by the nature god, Pan. The nymph prays to be rescued, and she is turned into reeds. Pan takes the reeds and turns them into a musical instrument.
"This is story of the pan-flute," Craig said.
Craig will also perform two movements of the Partita in a minor for solo flute, by J.S. Bach. Cervantes will accompany Craig in a performance of the Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninoff, a transcription of the famous vocal work.
The concert will conclude with a performance of Aaron Copland's Duet for Flute and Piano.
"I'm really excited about doing this piece," Craig said. "A lot of the time, we're just accompanied by the piano."
"It's wonderful to perform a real duet," Craig said.
During her high school years, Craig studied with Nancy Ayala, principal flutist for the Bakersfield Symphony. After graduating, she attended Cal State Northridge, earning a Bachelor of Music in 2001.
Since that time, Craig, who is also the manager of the CSUN Youth Orchestra, has been working steadily.
"There is so much talent here," Craig said. "One minute I can be recording for a movie or television, the next I'm performing for an art project."
Craig also teaches flute, specializing in beginners, special-needs students and retired adults who want to re-learn their instrument.
"It's really rewarding to be able to share all that with my students," Craig said.
Craig acknowledges that the economy is making things more difficult for her, but is still happy with her career.
"I'm really doing what I wanted right now," Craig said. "I would just like to be doing more of it."
"I'm really having a fun life," Craig said.