Saratoga summers always have so much going on, but be sure to add to your list the world premiere of a brand new composition for solo violin by Grammy-nominated composer/pianist, Pascal Le Boeuf, at Arthur Zankel Music Center at Skidmore College this Thursday at 7pm. The composition is so new that saratoga living is the first to report the name of it: Imp in Impulse. It’ll be presented by the Lake George Music Festival and will be performed by violinist and the Festival’s Co-founder and Artistic Director, Barbora Kolarova. “It’s inspired by this thing that I realized I like doing,” says Le Boeuf, who was nominated for a Grammy last year for his instrumental composition, “Alkaline,” on the album Imaginist. “Sometimes, if I’m ever told not to do something, I just get this urge to do it. It’s fun and exciting for me.” What resulted from this simple realization turned into a very different and technically demanding collection (or caprice) of musical experiments and ideas related to the theme of doing exactly what you’re not supposed to do, which, in the classical music world, is a big no-no. “I view such situations as artistic challenges, ways to push compositional boundaries,” Le Boeuf says. “And I find that these boundaries are frequently dictated by what is unconventional, by people telling you not to do things.”
As for the title, Le Boeuf explains that it’s a phrase frequently used by the American philosopher Dr. Paul A. Lee of the University of California, Santa Cruz, to describe a spirit that tempts a person to do things suddenly or without inhibition. Perhaps a more recognizable precursor to Lee’s metaphor is the “The Imp of the Perverse,” popularized by Edgar Allan Poe’s 1845 short story of the same name. “I love the piece,” says Kolarova, the violinist who worked with Le Boeuf while he wrote the score. “At one point when we were working on it, I was thinking, ‘This is exactly what I was told not to do,’” she laughs. “There’re all these different sounds and techniques in the piece that are so unique. And I’m really excited to present it in an environment where nobody’s going to say it’s wrong—it’s just different.”
Imp in Impulse may be having its world premiere, but it’s just one piece that will be performed at Zankel this Thursday as part of “Around the World with a World Premiere,” a program that celebrates diversity in classical music with composers such as Hector Villa-Lobos (Brazil), Toru Takemits (Japan), Felix Mendelssohn (Germany) and Le Boeuf (who was born and raised in Santa Cruz but is currently based in New York City). The night of international classical hits is just one of many concerts presented by the 8th Annual Lake George Music Festival, which kicked off on August 13 and features performances in intimate and unique locations in and around Lake George Village, including some farther afield in Glens Falls, Queensbury and, of course, here in Saratoga Springs. The two-week summer concert series ends this Friday with a performance of Dvorak’s Symphony No.9 “From the New World” as well as another world premiere performance (the title’s still a secret) by composer Christopher Rogerson.