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Kyle Adam Blair, piano - Graduate Recital

Friday, April 6th, 2018 7:00 pm

Conrad Prebys Concert Hall


Event Program (PDF)

Kyle Adam Blair presents: “With A Little Help From My Friends…”

  • Stuart Saunders Smith – Family Portraits: Self (in 14 Stations) (1997)
  • Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh – Radius (2017)
  • Charles Ives – Piano Sonata No. 2 (Concord, Mass. 1840-1860) (1911-15)

Dedicated to his late father Charles, Kyle Adam Blair’s final solo piano recital at UC San Diego explores themes of friendship, community, and reverence. The title “With A Little Help From My Friends…” pays homage to one of Charles Blair’s favorite musical moments: Joe Cocker’s performance of The Beatles’ song of the same name at Woodstock 1969.

Click on the image on the left for the full concert description.

Additional Description:

Though this program doesn’t sound anything like Joe Cocker or The Beatles, the sentiments of that song ring true Blair performs works by two of his close friends, Stuart Saunders Smith and Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh, during the first portion of the program. Smith invokes the Stations of the Cross in his Family Portraits: Self, a piece composed of 14 brief movements, some as short as 10 seconds.

Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh’s Radius, written in 2017, explores physical distances ranging outward from the pianist himself. The sonic novelties elicited by performing inside the piano, when combined the visual theatre of the pianist’s motions, make for a truly arcane experience.

The recital concludes with Charles Ives’ 45-minute masterwork, Piano Sonata No. 2 (Concord, Mass. 1840–1860), which consists of four movements named after 19th century transcendentalist writers. In the first movement, “Emerson”, Ives imagines Ralph Waldo “standing on a summit, at the door of the infinite where many men do not dare to climb…hurling back whatever he discovers there…thunderbolts for us to grasp, if we can…” Ives titles his frenetic, humorous scherzo “Hawthorne” after Nathaniel, a second movement which Ives describes as “an extended fragment trying to suggest some of his wilder, fantastical adventures into the half-childlike, half-fairylike phantasmal realms.” “The Alcotts”, named after Amos Bronson, Louisa May, and the rest of the family, juxtaposes a scene of Beth Alcott sitting at a spinet piano playing through bits of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 against Amos’ impassioned rhetoric. Finally, the sonata closes with “Thoreau” named after Henry David. This movement paints an impressionistic image of him at Walden Pond, which Ives describes in the following passage:

“…And if there shall be a program let if follow his thought on an autumn day of Indian summer at Walden—a shadow of a thought at first, colored by the mist and haze over the pond:
        Low anchored cloud,
        Fountain head and
        Source of rivers…
        Dew cloth, dream drapery—
        Drifting meadow of the air…”

Kyle Adam Blair is a D.M.A. candidate in Contemporary Music Performance under the tutelage of Aleck Karis.

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