Towards the Sea: A Notes on Fiction Concert Inspired by Moby Dick

Tuesday November 10, 2015
07:00 pm

Tags: Event




Through the literary work of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Catherine Gregory (flute) and Melanie Genin (harp) presented a musical program intertwined with the sea, where “meditation and water are wedded together” (Melville).


The primary musical work, Toru Takemitsu’s Toward the Sea III was commissioned by Greenpeace for the ‘Save the Whales’ campaign, and the work refers largely to Melville’s novel. Written for Alto Flute and Harp, Toward the Sea is in three sections:

The Night, Moby-Dick and Cape Cod. The composer describes his music as “a homage to the sea which creates all things and a sketch for the sea of tonality”.


The first movement: ‘The Night’ refers to the setting of the novel's action in a cold and gloomy night of December. The captain is obsessed with a sperm whale named Moby Dick. He has decided to dedicate the rest of his life pursuing and hunting the whale, which has becomed a morbid obsession. This ambiguous and devouring obesession - between hatred and twisted love - is depicted in Takemitsu's second movement: Moby Dick.


The piece by Takemitsu conveys the feelings of obsession, cold, anxiety as well as the evocation of the sea in a form of a musical Haïku. Given this, the numerous pauses in the piece, shall not be seen or interpreted as a suspension or a merely resonance of the musical discourse, contrary to its usual use in western music. These suspensions following the structure of the Japanese art of poetry have to be seen and understood as a time that reflects what has just been said. This reflection give the audience the possibility to assimilate the discourse, thus to trigger an inner resonance in their soul and being, by awaking imagination and spirituality.


While Takemitsu’s work was the main connecting musical work, other pieces were woven into the performance:


- Toru Takemitsu’s Toward the Sea III – for alto flute and harp

- Gabriel Faure - Après un rêve

- Gareth Farr – Taheke (Waterfall)

- Charles Rochester Young - The Song of the Lark

1. Song to the waking sun

2. Flight

3. Into darkness



About Catherine Gregory 

 Praised for her “rich and fully present” sound  (The New York Times), New York City based Australian flutist Catherine Gregory has performed as a recitalist, chamber and orchestral musician at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Chicago Cultural Center and the Lincoln Center festival. She has been a winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society Competition, a finalist in the Young Performer’s Awards and has worked with such composers as Steve Reich, David Lang, and George Crumb. Catherine has appeared at the Mt. Desert Festival of Chamber Music, Chestnut Hill Concert series, Summit Powder Mountain Chamber Series and is a frequent collaborator with ECCE, NOVUS NY, Ensemble LPR, the Locrian Chamber Players, Riverdale Sinfonietta, Symphony in C, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and the Metro Chamber Orchestra. In Australia, she has been a guest of the Southern Cross Soloists, and has also performed with the Paris Opera Ballet on their Australian tour, with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and at the National Gallery in Canberra. She has played under the batons of such conductors as Harry Bicket, Robert Spano, David Robertson and Susanna Mälkki.


Passionate about education, community outreach, and musical advocacy, Catherine is an alumna of Ensemble ACJW: a program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School and the Weill Music Institute and continues this work with the Alumni group, Decoda, an affiliate ensemble of Carnegie Hall. Catherine studied with Gerhard Mallon at the Queensland Conservatorium, as well as in the US under the auspices of a Fulbright Scholarship with Alberto Almarza and Jeanne Baxtresser.


About Mélanie Genin

Hailed by the Epoch Times as a “singular virtuoso with an exquisitely sensitive playing” Mélanie Genin, is a French harpist currently based in New York.


She has recently made her debut at Carnegie Hall as a soloist in the Debussy Dances for harp and orchestra as the first prizewinner of the International Shining stars series.


An international representative of the French harp school, she is the only harpist finalist of the 2014 prestigious Concert Artist Guild competition of New York and a semifinalist of the 2014 International Young artist competitions.


A passionate and dedicated chamber music player, Ms. Genin is also very dedicated to gaining a larger audience for the harp and developing its repertoire. A fervent advocate of new music she has commissioned several pieces, and premiered several works of composers such as Wei-Chieh Lin, Jules Matton and Yuri Boguinia.


With her impeccable and beautiful playing she has quickly become a major actor of the New York musical scene. She has performed in the most prestigious concert halls in the world including: Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Concertgebow –Amsterdam-, Royal Albert Hall –London-, KKL –Luzern-, Theatre des champs Elysées, Salle Pleyel –Paris- among others.


She is a recipient of the Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation, Artistic Ambassador of Champagne Ardennes Region’s chair. Future engagements include the premiere of two new works for solo harp, a collaboration with the Evermay Ensemble in Washington DC, and concerts in France and Austria.