Ekstasis is Greek for ecstasy, and it’s the name Natasha Farny and Eliran Avni chose for their cello and piano collaboration.
The Ekstasis Duo will perform Sunday, March 13 at 3 p.m. as part of the National Music Festival’s Resonance concert series, at St. Paul’s Parish, Kent, 7579 Sandy Bottom Rd., Chestertown.
“We are passionate about playing music and are fascinated by the emotional power that music has on performers and listeners,” Farny explained. “We felt that this Greek word best captured our feelings about music-making.”
Other musicians and music critics would seem to agree about the emotional impact of their playing.
“She has a big, generous, personal-sounding tone, through which she communicates big, generous, personal-sounding emotions,” Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe’s former classical music reviewer, wrote describing Farni.
No less a luminary than John Corigliano has praised Avni’s playing as “intensely musical.” Corigliano, a Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winning composer, said of Avni: “He plays the hell out of the piano.”
The Ekstasis Duo formed in 2018; both musicians are on the faculty of the State University of New York, Fredonia.
“We are presenting music by women, Black and Jewish composers on this program,” Farny said. “We love playing the great cornerstone works as well, but we felt intrigued by these fabulous works which have not been shared as much.”
Among the music to be featured is the “Sonata for Cello and Piano” by the late George Theophilus Walker, a Washington, D.C. native, who, in 1996, became the first black composer to receive the Pulitzer Prize in music for his work, “Lilacs” for voice and orchestra.
Alluding to the challenges faced by women composers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the duo will perform a work by Alma Mahler, “In My Father’s Garden,” penned by a composer who was perhaps better known as Gustav Mahler’s wife. According to music scholars, her career was cut short by her famous composer-conductor husband’s opposition to it. March is Women’s History Month.
“We have given a presentation on women in music, which explores the painful underlying issue of misogyny, and we feel that racism has also been a factor in denying great composers their due attention,” Farny said.
Also scheduled are works by Henriëtte Bosmans, Alexander Zemlinsky and Lili Boulanger.
Tickets are $20 may be purchased online at https://nationalmusic.us/
The Resonance season will continue with NMF violin mentor Emily Daggett Smith, April 24 at 3 p.m., also at St. Paul’s.