The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University will present the University’s 150th Anniversary Concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 31, at the Quick Center’s Rigas Family Theater.
The concert features the world premiere of “Il Cantico delle Creature” (The Canticle of Creation) based on the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and composed by Cal Stewart Kellogg. The new work was commissioned by The Quick Center and will be performed by Metropolitan Opera tenor Kenneth Riegel and the acclaimed chamber ensemble Antares. Olivier Messiaen’s seminal chamber music work “Quartet for the End of Time” will be performed by Antares after intermission.
The devout Catholic composer Messiaen (1908-1992) represents the core of this Anniversary Concert. In 2003, on the occasion of the inauguration of St. Bonaventure University’s Olivier Messiaen Award for the Arts and Spirituality, The Quick Center invited the chamber ensemble Antares to the award ceremonies to perform “Quartet for the End of Time,” one of the greatest and most influential works of the chamber music repertory.
Hearing this triumphant performance, and looking ahead to the University’s 150th Anniversary, Joseph A. LoSchiavo, executive director of The Quick Center for the Arts, conceived the idea of commissioning a new work using the same instrumentation heard in “Quartet for the End of Time” – clarinet, violin, cello and piano. These were the instruments available to Messiaen while composing the piece during his internment in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
LoSchiavo enlisted the internationally recognized conductor and composer Cal Stewart Kellogg, who had studied composition at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, to compose the new work for Antares. Metropolitan Opera tenor Kenneth Riegel, for whom Messiaen wrote the role of “Lepreux” in his opera “St. Francois d’Assise” and who performed it at the 1983 world premiere at the Paris Opera and recorded the work twice, agreed to sing the vocal part of the “Canticle of Creation.”
This world premiere performance celebrates both the 150th anniversary of the founding of St. Bonaventure University and the 100th anniversary of Messiaen’s birth.
Kellogg earned diplomas in composition and counterpoint at the Conservatorio di Musica S. Cecilia in Rome, where he also studied conducting under the legendary Franco Ferrara. He made his operatic debut at the Rome Opera, where he worked intensively with the Italian composer Nino Rota, who is more widely known for having composed the familiar theme to the “Godfather” films. Kellogg, who is the music director of the Mesa Symphony Orchestra in Arizona, conducts at many leading opera houses in the United States and in Europe, as well as major symphony orchestras. He will attend the performance at St. Bonaventure.
Since his 1973 Metropolitan Opera debut, Riegel has appeared at all the most important opera houses and festivals throughout the world, under the leading conductors of our time. He can be seen in the widely acclaimed movie version of “Don Giovanni” by Joseph Losey and on several opera and concert DVDs from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London and with the Vienna Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. His numerous recordings won him the Grammy, Grand Prix du Disque and German Record Award, among others.
The chamber ensemble Antares has “the gift of making whatever they’re playing seem the most important piece in the world,” declared Grammophone magazine in its rave review of the group’s debut CD “Eclipse.” Their high-energy performance style and remarkable dynamic led to the quartet’s selection as First Prize Winner of the 2002 Concert Artists Guild International Competition. They have performed in many venerable concert halls around the United States and Europe and have completed two-year residencies at both Columbia and Wesleyan universities. Their continuing quest for expanding their repertoire has won them two American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Awards for Adventurous Programming, in 1999 and in 2004.
This performance is sponsored by The New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.
Tickets are $18 full price, $15 for senior citizens and St. Bonaventure staff members, and $5 for students. For tickets and information, call The Quick Center at (716) 375-2494.