Like famous dancing duos Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, or Gene Kelley and Jerry Mouse, dancing is inextricably intertwined with music. But exactly how to convey that in a thoughtful, inviting way to a Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival audience has been on Hunter Capoccioni’s mind for some time.
“There are serious ways to explore dance through time periods, examine how it has shaped musical meaning through the centuries. I wanted to find the right way to do it, and in the end, what spurred it for me was a Facebook post,” Capoccioni recalls.
The post suggested “Dancing Czech to Czech” as a great title for a program, and the artistic director suddenly had his concept, “Shall We Dance.”
“It’s the sort of pun and play on words l like … so I came up with music that would fit the title and had program No. 1 for the festival,” he says.
The 12th season for the Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival is July 14-24, featuring light-hearted music hand-in-hand with folk dances, courtly dances and popular dances that explore the rhythmic and melodic styles of various dance traditions.
Over the last 12 years, founder Capoccioni has remained true to the festival’s philosophy and mission, which is bringing classical music to new audiences through the intimacy of chamber music performed at unique venues.
The festival showcases Iowa musicians by bringing them back to the state for the event, as well as musicians who choose to live and work in the Iowa.
“Dancing Czech to Czech” begins at 3 p.m. July 16 at the Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, and will feature Suk’s String Quartet Movement, Schulhoff’s Concertino and Dvorak’s String Sextet, Op. 48.
Russian composers are highlighted on “Dancing with the Tsars,” exploring courtly dance music from the age of Chekov, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. That concert takes place at 7 p.m. July 19 in the Veteran’s Lobby at the Grout Museum District. On the program will be Arensky’s String Quartet No. 2 Op. 35, Tchaikovsky’s “Arioso and Lensky’s Aria” and Borodin’s String Quartet No. 2.
“Dirty Dancing” is the theme for the third concert at 3 p.m. July 23 in the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center lobby in Cedar Falls. Featured will be Lanner’s “Die Mozartisten Walzer,” Golijov’s “Last Round,” Bruce’s “Gumboots” and Piazzolla’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.”
“The ‘Dirty Dancing’ title is sort of a double entendre. It refers to the sensual side of dance with tango music from Argentina, and some 19th century Austrian waltz music which was considered quite risqué because couples touched while dancing. Then there’s just plain dirty with ‘Gumboots,’” Capoccioni explains.
The title refers to the Wellington-style boots worn by black South African coal miners to protect their feet while working below ground, and the music is loosely based on a dance that developed among the workers. It is believed to have been an alternative to drumming, restricted by authorities, and perhaps a means of communication for relaying messages among workers while in the mines.
Capoccioni describes the festival as a challenge for guest musicians who are asked to “bring to the table a bunch of different styles, and it’s true to our idea of covering a wide portfolio of music in a short amount of time.”
Musicians scheduled to perform are Daniel Friberg, clarinet; Michelle Cheramy, flute; Nathan Cook and David Bjella, cello; Michelle Gasworth and Julia Bullard, viola; Mia Hagarty, Zo Manfredi, Katie Wolfe and Emily Osinski, violin; and Capoccioni, bass.