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Thursday, April 18, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Classical Event Celebrates The Rhythm Of Words, Music

Seattle Times Music Critic

----------------------------------------------------------------- Concert preview

`Words and Music," with Claire Bloom (narrator), Eugenia Zukerman (flutist), Dennis Helmrich (piano); 8 p.m. tomorrow, Meany Theater; 543-4880. -----------------------------------------------------------------

Musicians these days are increasingly pushing the boundaries of the traditional concert, breaking down that invisible barricade between the performers up there on the stage and the audience in the house. One of the best ways to link those performers with an audience that may feel increasingly intimidated and remote is through speech: Talking breaks the code of silence and lightens the formality of the concert.

These facts are not lost on flutist Eugenia Zukerman, who has lately developed her career in more and more nontraditional ways. One of these is her series of "Words and Music" collaborations with the noted actress Claire Bloom, in which music and words are intertwined in a way that seems to spark the audience's imagination.

"Claire and I have been close friends for more than 20 years," Zukerman said in a recent telephone interview, "and we both appreciate what the other does. Claire is a great music lover, so two years ago we decided to put our two interests together. We thought of various themes that pop up in both poetry and music; really, there are so many that we could do a huge number of programs."

Tomorrow's "Words and Music" concert in Meany Theater, for instance, starts with a sequence called "Pan" (the Greek mythological figure with the pipes), in which listeners will hear two Pan-related solo flute pieces: Debussy's Syrinx and Honegger's Danse de la chevre. They'll also hear two texts, Syrinx from Ovid's "Metamorphoses," and "The Great God Pan" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

"The music and words are intertwined," Zukerman explains.

"It's not just Claire speaks and then I play. And it's not just music as background to words, either; there's a real interplay of the words and music."

The rest of the program is far-ranging indeed, from pairings of Virginia Woolf and Ned Rorem to traditional Chinese and Japanese poems and music. There's a "Blackbird" sequence uniting Olivier Messiaen's La merle noir and Wallace Stevens' "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"; a French sequence and a Hungarian section.

Thus far, Zukerman says, the "Words and Music" programs have been greeted with "enormous enthusiasm, which I think tells us something about today's concert audiences. We're not just online junkies or boob-tubed generations. We're looking for something spiritual, and these words and sounds take us somewhere different. There's an openness to trying something new."

Zukerman, who also is a writer and a television arts commentator, is the former wife of violinist/violist Pinchas Zukerman; she has been married since 1988 to producer/screenwriter David Selzer. She is the author of three novels and four screenplays, and has modeled for magazine ads.

Bloom is an award-winning theater, film and television actress whose career has spanned more than 40 years. The London-born Bloom has appeared opposite Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, Charlie Chaplin and Woody Allen, and has appeared on TV in "Brideshead Revisited" and "Shadowlands."

Their Seattle appearance tomorrow, with pianist Dennis Helmrich, is presented by the World Series at Meany.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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