Things you didn’t know about Alecia Lawyer: She lived in France and was a storytime docent at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Ahead of the Gallery Concerts at MFAH on Jan. 7-8, we chat with Alecia about pairing music by André Caplet, Émile Paladilhe and Stanislas Verroust with the art works currently on display as part of the exhibition “Degas: A New Vision.”
Q: What do you love about Degas?
Alecia Lawyer: Degas captures people “in the moment.” I especially love the ones of the ballerinas backstage right before they go on to perform. There is a vulnerability in a performer the moment before the lights hit them that is incredibly delicate and exposed. Audiences do not get to see this, but Degas paints a window into this unique and intense pre-moment.
Q: Do you have a favorite painting?
Alecia Lawyer: I love the “Roman Beggar woman!” Her fabric detail and her face are so realistic but moody. She is also one of the few portraits I saw that have her facing sideways instead of staring “into the lens.”
I also adored a quote about his first horse paintings, which he felt he did not paint well — “Scene from the Steeplechase: The Fallen Jockey.” Degas was quoted as saying, “I didn’t know my horse just like this jockey!”
Q: We all know how Impressionism manifests itself in visual art. In music, what does it sound like?
Alecia Lawyer: Degas adamantly did not want to be identified as an impressionist, which is why I thought the music on this program paired well with his art. The three I have chosen represent different concepts: Italian opera, Spanish influences and perfect form — just like his works.
Impressionist music can be fluid and murky and mushy and inexact. These pieces and his art communicate a realism that began to break through during the same era.
Q: What do you like about the music of Stanislas Verroust?
Alecia Lawyer: Verroust wrote wonderful Bel Canto style oboe solos. These are few of our chances as oboists to delve into this lively and colorful art form.
There are many opportunities to throw in ornamentation that is decorative without changing the true structure of the line. Verroust has lots of slightly cheesy, but wonderfully emotional motifs and also a huge amount of virtuosic writing.
ROCO presents “MFAH Gallery Concert” on Jan. 7-8 at 3 pm and 4:30 pm. Performances are free with museum admission.