Fans of Musicians of Ma’alwyck’s concerts, such as the one Saturday night at Siena College’s intimate Beaudoin Theatre, always know they can expect something of a musical adventure. That’s because MOM’s artistic director, Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz, has a gift for finding hidden musical gems. But for this concert, she chose to explore a collaboration with contemporary dance in the guise of eleven dancers from Laurie Zabele Cawley’s Loose Change Dance Collective.
Cawley choreographed three of the works and Maxine Lautenberg, one of her dancers, choreographed one. Both worked well with the music as did the dancers.
The concert opened with Robert Broemel’s “Marion’s Prayer” for Karen Hosmer, English horn; Barker Schwartz, violin; Andrew Snow, viola; Petia Kassarova, cello; and three dancers in flowing, Grecian-style costumes. Lautenberg created fluid balletic moves that mirrored the music’s long lines. Arms reached, turns and feet were soft and graceful.
Barker Schwartz was the soloist in Missy Mazzoli’s “Dissolve, O My Heart” with two dancers in interesting pant/skirt costumes with bare backs. As the violinist played darkly abstract music with frequent double stops, the dancers were in a unison counterpoint with beautiful arched backs, tight spins, long balances, a lift or two, and a slow coming together.
Gambist Andre O’Neil then performed two movements by Baroque composer Carl Friedrich Abel a bit unevenly but with rich tones. A prelude had undulating arpeggios across the gamba’s seven strings and a quicker movement had sad overtones.
Arthur Foote’s “Scherzo” for flutist Norman Thibodeau; Barker Schwartz, Hillary Cumming, violins; Snow, viola; O’Neil, cello; and five dancers in blouses and tights was a springtime frolic. Playful music and puckish choreography brought smiles.
Things were more serious in Peter Warlock’s “The Curlew” for all the players, except O’Neil, and for tenor Timothy Reno, who sang a few lines by William Butler Yeats with great care and excellent diction. Five dancers, three in flowing blue like Grecian goddesses and two in brown leotards, appeared near the end of the piece. With a text about lost love, the music was desolate and in segments with Hosmer providing the most interesting lines.
A video compiled by Scott Foster of Joseph Gonzalez’s photography was meant to be a visual of the text but was not so much distracting as without direction. Strangely, visuals seen at the beginning reversed to end as they began.
The next MOM concert is Nov. 18.