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January 31, 2013

Bird-themed concert on tap for weekend

Ensemble to perform pieces influenced by flight and song

The award-winning Radius Ensemble will perform a unique bird-themed concert at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport this Saturday.

The concert program, created especially in honor of Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend, includes both classical and contemporary works that explore birds, said Jennifer Montbach, the artistic director of the seven-piece ensemble comprised of winds, strings and piano.

The Saturday concert also is a special collaboration between Rockport Music and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce for the birding weekend, which opens Friday and ends Sunday, with a dovetailing of missions. The chamber said there is still time to register for the weekend’s other activities by calling 978-283-1601 or visiting

Montbach said that Rockport Music’s artistic director David Deveau knew he wanted the ensemble to perform here during the birding weekend.

“He asked us to put together a customized birding program,” she said. “It was a challenge because we wanted to stay true to our mission, which is to present interesting works both old and new and both familiar and unfamiliar. So I dug pretty deep. For this concert we have works by Ravel and Schuman, two very well known composers for traditionalists, but we have some more modern works, too.”

One of those contemporary pieces is American composer Libby Larsen’s “Black Birds, Red Hills,” based on six paintings by the American artist Georgia O’Keefe.

The program also includes Schumann’s “The Prophet Bird,” Morrison’s “Lonesome Whistle,” and Ravel’s “Oiseaux tristes.”

Joan Tower, a Grammy Award-winning composer, created the work “Island Prelude.”

“This piece is particularly beautiful and is less about a particular bird or bird call, but more about the movement of flight. She describes a lush tropical island and a bird soaring and dipping and diving around the island,” said Montbach.

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