The Musicians Who Came In From the Cold

What was wrong at today’s lunchtime concert of the Church of the Epiphany? Its heating system was working properly.  It was about 15 degrees outside, and I would guess it was about 50 inside, which meant that the audience of 75 or so kept their coats and hats on during the one hour plus concert.

The hope was that the cold wouldn’t affect the musicians:  Irvin Peterson and Jeremy Filsell.  If it did, they sure kept the effects hidden.  The concert was a terrific one, as evidenced by the lengthy standing ovation at its end.

When I enter a concert hall and look at the program, I am comforted if I knew the selections being played, and worried if I do not.  Today was a day for worry, as I saw that the pieces were by Pierre Lantier, Paule Maurice, Eugene Bozza, Alfred Hollins, Cecile Chaminade, Leo Sowerby and (whew!) Jimmy Dorsey.  Who were these guys?  (Actually, it turns out that two of them were girls.)

I can’t say I know the answer to that question, except that they all wrote in the first half of the 20th century, and were either French or American.  I also learned that Lantier and Maurice were married to each other.

Each of the musicians played two instruments.  Peterson, the tenor sax and the flute; Filsell, piano and organ.  Filsell is an exemplary musician.  I have heard him now several times on both instruments.  He is the church’s music director, the National Cathedral’s artist-in-residence, and a professor of organ at The Catholic University. Peterson, who was introduced as a member of the church, retired from 35 years as a member of the United States Marine Band (“The President’s Own”), a very select operation from which he retired in 2007, and teaches and performs around town.

To describe the pieces would not do them justice (you can look up the works of the composers on youtube, I assume, and I would suggest starting with Lantier’s Sicilienne for alto saxophone and piano).  But let it be said that Filsell is always top notch, and that Peterson can match him note for note.

No one minded the cold.


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