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Arts and Culture

Pacific Conservatory Faculty Ann Miller Releases CD

Ann Miller Shares her Perspectives on Light and Shadow
Madeleine GuekguezianFeb 29, 2016

In January 2016, Associate Professor of Violin at the Conservatory of Music, Dr. Ann Miller, released an album with pianist and Conservatory professor, Dr. Sonia Leong. The album, Perspectives on Light and Shadow: Sonatas by Beaser, Ysaÿe, and Bartók, explores music of a dual quality that reflects timbres of shadows and darkness coexisting and giving way to simultaneously glorious and playful light. This conceptual examination showcases the profound spectrum of musicality and expression possessed by Miller that elevates every register of the violin and sings in accord with the piano.

Perspectives on Light and Shadow is available for purchase from CDbaby and on iTunes.

Although none of the recorded pieces are programmatic meditations on the chiaroscuro, the album's three sonatas offer themselves readily to this interpretation by the performers. The first three tracks, Ronald Beaser's Sonata for Violin and Piano, seamlessly melds the traditional sonata form with a theme and variations that navigate the breadth of the violin. Even in the smallest samples from the album, the union between the percussive piano and languid violin provides a unique, multifaceted perspective on Beaser's sonata. The album's second piece, Eugéne Ysaÿe's Sonata No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 27, focuses on the qualities of the solo violin. The sonata is an homage to Bach's sonatas and partitas for violin using the harmonic language of the early 20th century. The piece itself is full of brooding and dramatic moments interspersed with bright, captivating virtuosity, yet is elevated even further in both emotional extremes by Miller's performance. In the technical passages, she sprints and dances across the violin while making the instrument sing when the piece slows down. Closing the album is Béla Bartók's Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano, Op. 21. The piece is a true embodiment of the duality of light and darkness in the individualistic and varied material between the piano and violin. This sonata is known for an overarchingly dark and brooding character that is interspersed with humorous, light-hearted moments and quotations of folk music and dance. Musically, the Bartók is a fitting finale for the album in which Miller and Leong both exhibit exceptional soul and thoughtfulness alongside great virtuosity in their performance.

On Monday, February 8th at 11 AM, Ann Miller was a guest on KWDC 93.5 FM's Stockton Arts Showcase talking about the album. Additionally, she performed in concert alongside fellow Conservatory string faculty members, Igor Veligan, violin/viola and Nina Flyer, cello, on February 17th at 7:30 PM in the Recital Hall. 

SPECIAL NOTE: In addition to the above mentioned album, Ann Miller and Sonia Leong have released Trio 180 with fellow Pacific faculty member Nina Flyer. The three are members of Trio 180, the Conservatory's faculty piano trio. Their album is available for purchase from North Pacific Music.

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