Anger and beauty are quite the mirrored opposite reflections of themselves – that is also the general idea with music for instance when the viola-centric show hosted by Kira Blumberg resonated with those two terms, hence the self-titled “Anger & Beauty” last Wednesday night at the Music Recital Hall.

Collaborating with Pomona College Department Chair and Conductor Eric Lindholm on the cello and University of Redlands Staff Accompanist Stephanie Lovell on the piano, the viola – a stringed instrument that provides more of a supportive role between the violin and the cello – took center stage.

“This was a big deal for doing a viola recital,” said Blumberg, an adjunct faculty member at CPP, principal violist in the University of Redlands Symphony and member of the Long Beach Symphony. “It is also just wonderful to bring new, not necessarily the most known, music out there to the audience; there is beautiful viola music out there.”

Cellist Eric Lindholm accompanies violist Kira Blumberg in “Anger and Beauty”. (Michael Uba | The Poly Post)

To top it off, Blumberg’s pieces and title of the show “Anger & Beauty” presents these possibilities and dynamic shifts with the instrumentation.

“None of the pieces were entirely one way or another,” Lindholm said.

“There should be opportunities for different kinds of expression in each piece.”

“That was well said,” said Lovell, in agreement with Lindholm’s explanation with the theme.

The show consisted of duo performances with pianist Lovell and cellist Lindholm shifting supporting roles for Blumberg’s violist specialized pieces.

A side-by-side comparison of the viola and the violin, other than the notable size differences of the two, will reveal that the sound of the viola is darker and warming, compared to the sky-piercing sound of the violin.

Two pieces of the show are sonatas which contain a series of movements that envision the title’s theme the most as both performances are about half an hour each.

Another piece entitled “Elegy (for the rest of us)” by Frederick Lesemann was performed in tribute to the people of the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 incident as well as a tribute to pianist and musician Charlotte Zelka.

Faculty audience members and musicians Susan Svrcek, wife to Frederick Lesemann, who is the composer of the “Elegy” piece, and Tom Flaherty helped elaborate that.

“[Lesemann] wrote it for another violist and Mr. Flaherty and they premiered it and Kira [Blumberg] got her hands on it and so it’s wonderful that it’s being played,” said Svrcek when it came to the origins of the composition. She teaches piano at Pasadena Conservatory Music.

“I agree with all of it, she was a wonderful friend of ours,” said Lesemann, who teaches composition theory at Pomona College.

Tumultuous, yet harmonic sounds were the result of this program – a seamless mix between actions that can be described to some audience members as both melancholic and alluring – something that a viola is capable of which resonates with the show’s theme “Anger & Beauty.”

“I think [the audience] just needs to listen to some great viola playing,” said Blumberg, when it comes to convincing people to choose the viola over the violin or the cello. “A viola can be just as beautiful and just as heroic as a cello can be and just as soaring like a violin can be.”

For more information on future events at Cal Poly Pomona’s Music Recital Hall, contact Cal Poly Pomona’s Department of Music or visit their website.

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