The One Art Ensemble is a chamber music trio consisting of soprano Ann Moss, violist Alexa Beattie, and pianist Hillary Nordwell, all of whom hold degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). I first encountered them at SFCM in May of 2009, when they performed four settings by Vartan Aghababian as part of Beattie’s Artist’s Certificate Recital. They had not yet given their group a name; but they eventually took it from the title of a poem by Elizabeth Bishop set by Aghababian in 2010, the first of two settings of Bishop poems.
While all three of these musicians have gone in separate directions to pursue a variety of performance opportunities, they will reunite this month to launch a year-long series of concerts celebrating Aghababian’s 50th birthday. That launch will take place as part of the Old First Concerts series. For this occasion they will perform both of the Bishop songs that he composed in 2010. They will also perform settings of Edna St. Vincent Millay from the earlier (2007) collection, Songs of a Second April. The final Aghababian composition will be three settings of poems by Emily Dickinson composed in 2011.
The program will also include three twentieth-century compositions appropriate for OneArt’s instrumentation. They will perform as a trio in John Woods Duke’s settings of three of Millay’s sonnets. In addition, Nordwell will serve as Beattie’s accompanist for Rebecca Clarke’s 1919 viola sonata and join Moss for William Bolcom’s song cycle Let Evening Come, based on texts by Dickinson, Maya Angelou, and Jane Kenyon.
Old First Concerts events take place in the Old First Presbyterian Church at 1751 Sacramento Street (on the southeast corner of Van Ness Avenue). This recital will be held on Friday, April 25, at 8 p.m. General admission is $17 with a special $14 rate for seniors aged 65 and older and $5 for full-time students. (Children aged twelve and under are admitted without charge.) Tickets may be purchased through the event page on the Old First Concerts Web site. Further information may be obtained by calling 415-474-1608.