The final event in the 1978 Inter-American Music Festival was a concert Saturday evening in the State Department auditorium by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Frederick Parusnitz.
The new composition of the evening was Tamares, by Argentine composer Luis Jorge Gonzalez, who was present to acknowledge the applause. The title is the Spanish word for a bunch of dates, and is taken to mean clusters of sounds, differing in shape, color and texture. There is little structure in the conventional sense, the work taking shape from the changes in sonority, with some detectable development of motives.
The rest of the program featured works by three composers of the United States: Elliott Carter, Wallingford Riegger and Charles Ives.
Carter, an intensely logical and intelligent composer, was represented by his double concerto for harpsichord and piano. The accompaniment divides a chamber orchestra into two groups, one associated with a harpsichord, the other with a piano, and much of the content of the piece consists in the interplay of these two sections, varied by occasional brilliant passages for one or the other of the soloists. The elaborate percussion, requiring four players, is normally heard with the piano, but often stands alone, and is so used to begin the piece and to set the boundaries of the seven divisions that comprise the work.
The concert closed with a second orchestral set by Charles Ives, a wonderful collage of everything imaginable by this most independent and stimulating of American composers. He adds two harps, a piano accordion, and an independent small ensemble to the general festivities. I can't imagine a better conclusion for the program.
The orchestra was remarkably fine, considering that it is a student organization which has been in existence for only a year. Much of the credit goes to Prausnitz.
The programming of these festivals has changed since the early days. Gone is the profusion of new works, largely because the sources of money for commissions have dried up. The emphasis has shifted to the performance of 20th-century music which deserves to be heard again, music by Ives, Villa-Lobos, Chavez, Harris and Piston.
Nevertheless, the 1978 festival included one new work in each program, and the festival remains one of the best opportunities for new composers to hear their works and for the listening public to keep abreast of what is happening in contemporary music.