Classical music would have no problem attracting crowds if Impulse Artist Series founder Jade Simmons was in charge. During Monday night's kick-off of the week-long piano concert series, "In Their Own Element," Simmons introduced brilliant performances by Nigerian Sodi Braide, Brazilian Vanessa Cunha (right) and American Cameron Smith, and took a few turns at the piano herself.
The group performed solo, four-hand and even six-hand selections in a program that featured Debussy's Petite Suite, Ronaldo Miranda's "Rasga o Coração (Tear My Heart)" and Edino Krieger's Sonatina. Presented at gallery/performance space Wade Wilson Art (4411 Montrose, Suite 200), Impulse is something like the new chamber music, with small crowds, and intense, moving performances in an intimate setting.
Cunha was easily Monday's standout. Vibrant and dynamic, she poured emotion into her performance without sacrificing any of the technical prowess the works required.
L-R: Sodi Braide, Cameron Smith, Jade Simmons and Vanessa Cunha
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Photos by Olivia Flores Alvarez
With a program that included just three or four short solo pieces and several partnered performances, the range and personality of each musician was only hinted at - we're not sure what to make of the fact that each of Sodi's solo pieces involved a storyline ending in a tragic death - but this week's solo concerts should give each performer time to present a more fully actualized musical personality.
And can we forget political correctness for a minute and just say this: it was nice to see some brown and black folks performing on a Houston classical stage. Yo-Yo Ma and Maraichi Vargas' annual trek to Jones Hall aside, the city's classical season has a scarcity of minority performers. We also have a lack of minority audiences, but that's another article. - Olivia Flores Alvarez
Braide performs tonight, Cunha on Wednesday, Smith on Thursday and Simmons on Friday. 7 p.m. Wade Wilson Art, 4411 Montrose. For information, visit www.impulseartistseries.org.