Marian Miner Cook

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Athenaeum Concert Series: Renewal from Ashes (Remembrance)

Tue, January 30, 2024
Dinner Program
Forrest Howell

The Athenaeum Concert Series continues Renewal from Ashes – War, Destruction, Remembrance, Peace in its inaugural 2023-24 season, inviting five celebrated guest artists to speak about and perform music composed at times of war.

For the third concert in the series, "Remembrance," we examine how many of humanity's most poignant works of art are born as tributes, homages, and memorials. This is in part because the emotions which accompany loss and grief are universally understood, but the sentiments of a particular relationship are unmistakably distinct -- the juxtaposition of these two levels of meaning draws us in and speaks to our shared humanity.

The second piano trio by Dmitri Shostakovich is one such example of this phenomenon. Shortly after beginning the work, news of longtime friend Ivan Sollertinsky's death reached Shostakovich, deeply affecting him. Written in the midst of World War II, the piece depicts both his personal loss as well as a collective lamentation for the horrors of war. It presents emotional turbulence alongside dissociative numbness, and concludes with Jewish-inspired themes woven into a "Dance of Death."

Forrest Howell is a near-nomadic musician and writer from Woodinville, Washington. His work as a performer embraces an omnivorous taste in music, ranging from historical keyboard instruments to contemporary Broadway productions to experimental sounds and improvisation. Recent highlights include performances at Music Academy of the West, the Gilmore Piano Festival, Hill Auditorium with the Ann Arbor Symphony, the University of Michigan’s Imprint Series, CoLab at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, Round Top Festival Institute, and Porto PianoFest as an artist in residence.

As a writer, Howell has contributed to I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, American Music Teacher, and The Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies. He is currently developing the program-note essay genre which contextualizes musical interpretation within personal narratives. The first iteration of this project, “Return from Oblivion: Essays During a Recital”, is focused on stories of loss which occurred during his years as a humanitarian worker in São Paulo.

Howell currently resides in Denver where he is serving as a full-time Senior Resident Teaching Artist with ArtistYear, an AmeriCorps program focused on providing access to arts education in underfunded schools.

Howell completed studies in music and science at Brigham Young University and the University of Michigan.

For his performance, Howell will be joined by Jason Moon on the violin and Olivia Cho on the cello.

The 2023-2024 Athenaeum Concert Series is funded in part by the generous donation of Frank Hobbs ’74 and Victoria Shevlin Hobbs.

Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

Claremont McKenna College
385 E. Eighth Street
Claremont, CA 91711


Phone: (909) 621-8244 
Fax: (909) 621-8579