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Celebration of art and music

The Art of Music: musicians perform at Masterworks, celerating a combination of art and music (Photograph by Blair Raughley Masters)

A thoughtful pairing of selected Bermuda art with musical works yielded a number of insights which deepened our understanding of both art forms in The Art of Music, featuring the Bermuda Philharmonic Society, at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.

John Hartman’s 2005 View from Gibbs Hill was painted after his return to Canada and, as Risa Hunter, Masterworks’ executive director, stated, was “abstracted” from his imagination.

Hartman’s vision of Bermuda is no pretty postcard. The pink beaches invade northward giving the mainland a blocky, sandstone look. Ireland Island forms an elongated U marked by storm surf; bitty, threatening black clouds migrate over the East End.

Appropriately, Kate Kayaian, director of the Bermuda Philharmonic Society, called it an “Ariel” view; we’re seeing Bermuda through the sprite’s eye. Chopin’s Nocturne No 1, beautifully rendered by Anne Marshall, had the perfect mix of disquietingly restful eeriness, understated emotion and half familiarity of this dreamscape.

Veteran visitor and painter Bernard Aime Poulin’s Sunrise: The Arches, painted in 2003 just before hurricane Fabian destroyed the Natural Arches in Tucker’s Town, evoked the question from Kayaian: “How do we depict light in music?”

In the painting, dawn light slants upward across vegetation, cliff and pillars rendering them into quasi animal and human forms.

The music was La Lune a Midi, composed by talented Dylan Jeffrey, winner of the 2024 Philharmonic Young Artist Composition Competition, and played by Caroline Eaton.

It was a straightforward, charming waltz which became a song without words – actually a bit like a French Chanson. It also had a hymn-like simplicity. Morning Has Broken came into my mind. In a way, this is an answer to Kayaian’s question.

Dorothy Austin Stevens’ Street Scene from 1946 shows children playing on what could be Angle Street. It was paired with Adolphus Hailstork’s Great Day played with great energy by string Trio Cassandra Leschychyn (violin), Johanna Pino (viola) and Isiah Pennington (Cello).

A sermon-like introduction led into a brisk pizzicato 6/8 swinging folk spiritual with the cello driving the rhythm. The main theme of the song, building Zion, was somehow echoed in the high, natural North wall of the street and in the masonry pile in the foreground.

John Goodwin Lyman’s 1914 St George’s, Bermuda (Century Plant) shows a peaceful, sunlit St Georges seen from a western hillside with a century plant in full bloom. But there’s a menacing cast to the sky beyond Town Cut. The old wreck is a black iron blob.

The century plant is a reminder that the time between Waterloo and the Marne was 99 years. The music was the first movement of the 1909 Quintet in F sharp Minor by Amy Beach. The musicians were joined by Alison Black (violin), Ryan Beauchamp (viola) and Anne Marshall (piano) to form a quintet.

Over a sustained string drone-like opening, the piano played dark, menacing chords, foreshadowing the First World War. Strings led into sad, desperate romantic melodies accompanied by brilliant piano arpeggios. But the menace never let up. Shimmering tremolos reminded us of underlying tension and brief melodies flew past. The movement ended with slow, pavane-like chords.

The Art of Music was a thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking experience for us all. Thank you, Masterworks and Bermuda Philharmonic.

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Published May 18, 2024 at 7:55 am (Updated May 18, 2024 at 7:37 am)

Celebration of art and music

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