Saturday, January 2, 2016

Jessica Smith and Xuan He | Musicians Club of Women


Award Winners In Concert is sponsored by The Musicians Club of Women with performances scheduled during the Chamber Mondays Concert Series>. Concerts are 45 minutes long and held the fourth Monday of each month at 12:15 pm. These free concerts are a great lunch hour event if you work or attend school downtown. My wife and I often meet for lunch and then walk back to work when the concert finishes. It's a refreshing break during a busy day. Got kids that are old enough to sit quietly and attentively through a 45 minute concert? Schedule a Monday off from work and school to bring the kids.

The Musicians Club of Women (MCW) helps to support and develop the careers of women musicians. MCW offers women musicians performance opportunities and financial support through scholarships. Show women musicians your support by attending Award Winners In Concert series performances. The Musicians Club of Women also sponsors free concerts on the first Friday of each month, September through June, at 12:10 pm at the beautiful Fourth Presbyterian Church located at 126 E. Chestnut Street (at North Michigan Ave) in Chicago.

Jessica Smith and Xuan He | Musicians Club of Women | Chamber Monday Concert Series - photo by Tom Bowser

Jessica Smith and Xuan He

My main exposure to the clarinet has been while listening to the big band jazz music of Woody Herman and Benny Goodman. Jessica reminded me what a beautiful voice the clarinet has when used in other types of music. I enjoyed the music she selected for the concert especially the beautiful piece by Claude Debussy. I love the music of Leonard Bernstein. Jessica and Xuan's performance introduced me to the works of composers Paul Harvey and Carl Maria von Weber.

Jessica played passionately and demonstrated her technical prowess especially while playing Grand Duo Concertant, Op 48. Jessica and Xuan played well together as an ensemble. I liked Xuan's sensitivity as an accompanist. His playing never got in the way or overpowered Jessica's solo work. Piano can become loud in Preston Bradley Hall with it's many hard, reflective surfaces. Xuan's playing was never to loud for the room as is sometimes the case.

Jessica and Xuan performed:

- Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Leonard Bernstein
I.  Grazioso
II. Andantino - Vivace e leggiero

- Premiere rhapsodie by Claude Debussy

- Three Etudes on Themes of Gershwin by Paul Harvey (NOT the radio broadcaster)
I.   I Got Rhythm
III. It Ain't Necessarily So

- Grand Duo Concertant, Op 48 by Carl Maria von Weber
I.   Allegro con fuoco
II.  Andante con moto
III. Rondo