Campus News

Pianist Stuart Leitch to Perform Work that Encourages Quiet Contemplation

Guest pianist Stuart Leitch will perform “Musica Callada” (“Music of Silence”) by Federico Mompou on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 3 p.m. at Hope College in the John and Dede Howard Recital Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

Mompou (1893-1987) was a composer and pianist most celebrated for his solo piano music.  His work, influenced by his Catalan heritage and the French modernists, is often described as delicate and intimate.

Comprised of 28 short piano pieces, “Musica Callada” is a meditation on the poem “Spiritual Canticle” by St. John of the Cross that creates an atmosphere of stillness and inwardness.  Mompou once wrote of the work that “its mission is to reach the profound depths of our soul and the hidden domains of the vital force of our spirits.  This music is silent (‘callada’) as if heard from within.”  Its performance at Hope, co-sponsored by the Saint Benedict Institute and the college’s departments of music and religion, has been scheduled as a time of reflection.

“It is important to recover a sense of silence; the silence of God because our world is full of noise,” said Dr. Jared Ortiz, assistant professor of religion at Hope and director of the Saint Benedict Institute.  “Therefore, this is an opportunity for the community to practice religious silence.”

From 1962 to 1965 Leitch was a performing member of the legendary ONCE Group in Ann Arbor. ONCE was an early locus of the musical and theatrical avant-garde, presenting works by co-founders Robert Ashley and Gordon Mumma, with guest appearances by national and international figures including John Cage, Morton Feldman and Luigi Nono.

In New York from 1965 to 1970, he transcribed books of country blues in collaboration with the guitarist Stefan Grossman. He also worked with a rock band, Children of Paradise, touring, recording and creating music for Brian De Palma’s early film “Hi, Mom!”

Leitch moved to the Chicago area to work in opera, coaching singers privately and accompanying rehearsals for Lyric Opera of Chicago and Chicago Opera Theater. He founded Chamber Opera Chicago and directed it for three years. He was staff accompanist for a year at Northern Illinois University, and then shifted his focus to solo piano and chamber music. In Chicago he played in the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, in Schubertiade Chicago and in broadcasts by WFMT-FM.  Leitch studied at Oberlin College, Valparaiso University, and studied under several private teachers in Chicago.

Currently, he continues to perform, record and teach in Michigan.

The Saint Benedict Institute is a ministry of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Holland. It seeks to promote and nurture intellectual work done from the heart of the Catholic Church, to foster an ecumenical community of Catholic Christians and friends committed to the renewal of culture, and to aid in the formation of intellectually and spiritually mature Christians by making available the riches of the Catholic tradition to Hope College and the wider community. More information can be found at saintbenedictinstitute.org.

The Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts is located at 221 Columbia Ave., between Ninth and 10th streets.