Flute, piano duo deliver 'American Spirit'

A lot of contemporary classical music is being composed, but there are relatively few opportunities to hear it live.

The Dancing Heart Flute and Piano Duo will be doing its part to provide modern music for modern ears with a concert for the Sundays at Three series on March 10 at Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia.

Comprising Karen Johnson on flute and Carlos-Cesar Rodriguez on piano, this duo is calling its program "American Spirit."

The 20th- and 21st-century composers on the bill are Lukas Foss, Joseph Schwantner, Robert Muczynski, Jeffrey Mumford, Manuel Ponce, Alberto Ginastera and Astor Piazzolla.

As for their American spirit, well, think in terms of the music of the Americas. In the case of a composer such as the late Astor Piazzolla, for instance, expect the sound of the Latin American tango.

The two musicians playing at the upcoming Columbia concert are really dedicated to doing just such varied programs of recent music. Indeed, Johnson and Rodriguez are two-thirds of a group known as the Dancing Heart Ensemble, which has contemporary music as its mission.

Johnson founded this group in 2010 and serves as its co-artistic director. Her co-artistic directors are Rodriguez and percussionist John Kilkenny. They're especially interested in doing works by living composers.

These musicians clearly are a lively presence on the music scene. Johnson, for instance, is co-principal flutist with the Chesapeake Orchestra and formerly served as principal flutist of the Washington Bach Consort. She has performed with an array of musicians including Stevie Wonder, Takacs String Quartet and Bach Aria Group.

Johnson has appeared at festivals including the Bethlehem Bach Festival, Shelter Island Music Festival and Glimmerglass Chamber Music Festival.

Her regional ties include performances at the Kennedy Center, Southern Maryland River Concert Series, National Gallery of Art, and Washington National Cathedral. Johnson teaches at Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C., and St. Mary's College in southern Maryland.

She is typical of many of the musicians who appear for the Sundays at Three series, because they have really solid performance and teaching credentials in the region.

Such musicians frequently are on the road as they go from concert hall to classroom. The road in question this Sunday is Oakland Mills Road, as Johnson and Rodriguez bring their American sounds to Howard County.

Dancing Heart Flute and Piano Duo performs Sunday, March 10, at 3 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 6800 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia. Tickets are $15, free for those under 18 who are accompanied by an adult. Call 443-288-3179 or go to http://www.SundaysAtThree.org.

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