New York composer and saxophonist Ethan Helm composed Dream Walk Through Istanbul in 2018 on commission from the St. Matthew’s Music Guild. He will play his creation on Friday, April 29, at 8 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Church, 1031 Bienveneda Avenue.
“Dream Walk” is an autobiographical work of a day spent by the composer in Istanbul after a long transatlantic flight. In it, Helm, a jazz saxophonist, imagines two jazz musicians making their way through the streets of the city, experiencing the diverse sights, sounds and smells in a sleep-deprived wonder. Helm will be the featured soloist along with his musical partner, Owen Broder, also on saxophone.
Helm’s work has been described as pushing the jazz tradition to mysterious and surreal places, casting new light on swing, blues, and expression to bring beautiful and overlooked details into relief.
Helm grew up in Southern California and attended the Eastman School of Music. He is a New York University Steinhardt Doctoral Fellow in jazz performance and composition. Helm was a featured presenter at the 2016 North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference, performing his suite, Paul Desmond’s Sound, with the Texas Tech University Jazz Ensemble.
The Chamber Orchestra at St. Matthew’s, under the direction of Dwayne S. Milburn will also present the music of Haydn, Aaron Copland and William Grant Still.
Aaron Copland’s Quiet City was composed in 1939 for the play Quiet City by Irwin Shaw. The piece is scored for solo trumpet, English horn and strings. The performance will be dedicated to the memory of David Searfoss, the orchestra’s long-time principal trumpet who died in late 2021 at the age of 74.
William Grant Still’s Out of the Silence was also written in 1939. Still, known as the Dean of African-American composers, Still was a graduate of Oberlin College and the first African-American to have symphonic and operatic performances by major institutions in the U.S. His wife, a pianist and journalist, noted about the piece that “only in meditation does one discover beauties remote from the problems of earth.”
The jovial Symphony No. 88 was composed in 1787 by Franz Joseph Haydn. Like all of Haydn’s mature works, it is full of grace, humor, and charm. The rousing finale became famous after a performance by Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic went viral, showing the conductor doing little more than nodding and smiling at the orchestra as they played precisely and at break-neck speed.
Tickets and season subscriptions and complete information are available at MusicGuildOnline.org. Phone: (310) 573-7422. Masks are encouraged for all audience members.