'Something for everyone' -- concert to celebrate composer's 65th
by Tamara Stokes
Dallas composer Simon Sargon is throwing his own birthday party.
And, everyone's invited to hear the musician premier five new pieces in a free concert Sunday evening, at Southern Methodist University.
"This is a significant milestone," Sargon says about turning 65. "It's a time to roll back and reflect; a time for me to present a sense of compositional style expression."
He describes his style as extremely melodic, lyrical and dramatic and is anticipating playing music that has not previously been heard.
"The program will have something for everyone," says Sargon, whose personal favorite classical composer is Franz Schubert.
At 6, he began piano lessons -- and already wanted to write his own music.
"I started writing things really young," he says. But the composition that gives him the most pride is the one he wrote for his wife, "Patterns in Blue."
"This clarinet, voice and piano music is 'kind of jazzy,'" says the man who's been married 42 years.
A Bombay native of Sephardic-Indian and Ashkenazic-Russian descent, he came to the United States as an infant.
He studied music theory at Brandeis University, where he graduated magna cum laude. He then studied composition under Vincent Persichetti at the Juilliard School, where he earned an M.S. degree, and at the Aspen School of Music under Darius Milhaud.
Sargon taught at Sarah Lawrence College and Juilliard between 1967 and 1971, and served as head of the voice department of the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem from 1971 to 1974. In 1984 he joined the music faculty of the Meadows School, where he is professor of composition.
He was music director at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, from 1974 to 2001, and now hold the emeritus title.
Sunday's concert will include "Janus," a quartet for piano and strings premiered by area artists: violinist Mark Miller, concertmaster of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra; Ute Miller, principal violist of the Dallas Opera Orchestra; cellist Elizabeth Morrow, associate professor of music at UT-Arlington; and Sargon.
"Take Five," a comedic piece, will be presented by guest performer and bass-baritone Burr Phillips, assistant professor of voice at Meadows.
"Take Five" sets to music five poems by New York poet Samuel Hoffenstein, with verses that Sargon says are reminiscent of Dorothy Parker's wit.
Among Sargon's major works are "Symphony No. 1: Holocaust" (1985); the oratorio "Psalms of Qumran" (1990); several operas; "Divertimento for Piano and Orchestra" (1994); "In Time of AIDS," for Chorus and Organ (1995); "Implosions for Two Pianos" (1996); and "MoodSwings, 24 Preludes for Piano Solo" (1998).
Sargon's orchestra work, "Tapestries," was premiered by the Dallas Symphony under the direction of Andrew Litton in December 1998. The composer's latest commissions include "Psalm 8," commissioned by Yale University in honor of its 300th birthday; "The Search Unending," an oratorio commissioned by Susquehanna University; and "A House for All Peoples," commissioned by Temple B'nai Israel in Oklahoma City.
Three compact discs devoted entirely to his compositions have been issued by Gasparo: "Shema," "A Clear Midnight" and "Flame of the Lord."
The newest Gasparo CD featuring his work is Threepenny, which includes a performance of his Divertimento for Piano and Orchestra by the Meadows Symphony.
Sunday's program will begin at 7:30 p.m., at the Owens Arts Center on the Southern Methodist University campus. A dessert reception will follow. For information, call (214) 768-1951.
This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Friday, April 4, 2003