Eiteljorg Museum; March 27.
“Spring in the West” as a Chamber Conversations program title covered the territory rather well. Along with Copland’s Appalachian Spring and “Hoe Down” from his Rodeo, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra featured James DeMars’ Spirit Horses: Concerto for Native American Flute and Chamber Orchestra (1985) with Dennis Sizemore playing the solo instrument. As in January, the Clowes Sculpture Court in the Eiteljorg was packed for this second installment of the ICO’s small-scale, informal concert series hosted by ICO bassist David Murray. ICO music director Kirk Trevor had enough forces this time around for him to conduct, beginning with “Spring” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, using 13 strings and violin soloist/concertmaster Larry Shapiro. The evening’s high point was the DeMars concerto and Sizemore’s playing of it, his instrument held straight out rather than sideways, and sounding a bit like a recorder. The 13-minute work displayed exotically accessible timbres and “primitive” intervals. Sizemore, with a mixed Native-American/European heritage, articulated at length, and with an easy humor, about the many flute-like instruments which evolved in our native tribal cultures. Earlier, however, Murray groped inappropriately for humor by translating the printed English text for Vivaldi’s “Spring” into his badly spoken Italian. It was totally unnecessary and well over the top.