The Duke music department offers a steady stream of rare opportunities to hear cutting-edge modern music through its "Encounters: with the music of our time" series. This concert features piano variations that aestheticize the leftist struggle in Frederick Rzewski's classic composition "The People United Will Never Be Defeated," as well as Duke doctoral candidate Michael Trinastic's "The Yellow Wallpaper," a short opera based on Charlotte Perkins Gilman's seminal feminist text.
The politics of the story, in which a husband confines his "hysterical" wife to an attic room where the wallpaper pattern contributes to her slipping into madness, is expressed in Trinastic's usage of Romantic and modern musical styles to represent patriarchal oppression and the stirrings of feminist ideology, respectively.
Pianist Omri Shimron performs Rzewski's 36 variations on Sergio Ortega's popular Chilean song of defiance and protest. Known for their force and power, the variations also require a virtuosic flair of the pianist, who must slam the piano lid, whistle, and bang the keys hard enough to create after-harmonics with the still-vibrating strings. Admission is free to the 8 p.m. concert. —Chris Vitiello