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EARPLAY 22: Musing

All-American Program

Monday, September 18, 2006, 7 PM
Herbst Theatre

The Earplay Ensemble
Mary Chun, conductor
Tod Brody, flutes  •  Peter Josheff, clarinets  •  Karen Rosenak, piano
Terrie Baune, violin  •  Ellen Ruth Rose, viola  •  Thalia Moore, cello

Guest Artists
Jeremy Galyon, baritone  • Chris Froh, percussion  •  Kevin Neuhoff, percussion
* * *

Vincent Persichetti
Infanta Marina (1960)

Ellen Ruth Rose and Karen Rosenak

Ronald Caltabiano
Lines from Poetry (1992)

Terrie Baune

Peter Josheff
House and Garden Tales
(World Premiere, 2005, revised 2006)

Intermission

Allen Shearer
Bagatelles
(World Premiere, 2006)

Tod Brody and Peter Josheff

Chen Yi
YangKo
(West Coast Premiere, 2000, arranged 2004)

Terrie Baune, Chris Froh, and Kevin Neuhoff

 

Libby Larsen
Slang
(West Coast Premiere, 1994)

Peter Josheff, Terrie Baune, and Karen Rosenak

* * *

Program Notes

 

 

Infanta Marina

This piece by Persichetti, an American, is for viola and piano. It, too, is based on a literary source, a Wallace Stevens poem titled "Infanta Marina." The dreamlike text depicts a young woman emerging from the sea into a world where "Her terrace was the sand / And the palms and the twilight."   In life, an infanta was the daughter of a Spanish or Portuguese monarch. Huebner said that even before he knew the Stevens poem, he had played the Persichetti piece and found the heroine a "magical, mysterious figure."

 

Infanta Marina by Wallace Stevens

Her terrace was the sand

And the palms and the twilight.

 

She made of the motions of her wrist

The grandiose gestures

Of her thought.

 

The rumpling of the plumes

Of this creature of the evening

Came to be sleights of sails

Over the sea.

 

And thus she roamed

In the roamings of her fan,

Partaking of the sea,

And of the evening,

As they flowed around

And uttered their subsiding sound.

Online text © 1998-2006 Poetry X, All rights reserved.

From Harmonium, 1923

 

Vincent Persichetti

American composer Vincent Persichetti (1915-87) was, along with William Schuman and Walter Piston, one of the foremost representatives of what has become known, somewhat inappropriately, as the American academic school of composition. Born in Philadelphia during the First World War, Persichetti began studying music at the age of five, taking lessons in piano, organ, and, later, theory and composition. Persichetti entered Combs College of Music, studying with composer Russel King Miller while still attending public school, and in 1935 he took a BM in composition from Combs and was appointed Head of Music Theory at Combs immediately after graduating. 

Persichetti accepted an invitation to take over as head of theory and composition at the Philadelphia Conservatory in 1941, and in 1947 he joined the composition faculty of the Juilliard School. Three Guggenheim Fellowships, two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Brandeis University Creative Award, the first ever Kennedy Center Friedham Award, and the Juilliard Publication award are just some of the more noteworthy such honors.

Persichetti's compositional language was a panorama of twentieth century techniques; he moved between tonality, atonality, polytonality and modality with fluency. In addition to his ceaseless activities as a composer and educator, Persichetti found the time to write an important textbook on modern compositional practice, Twentieth-Century Harmony: Creative Aspects and Practice, and a 1954 biography of composer William Schuman.

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Ronald Caltabiano, Lines from Poetry (1992) violin solo

Lines from Poetry was written in 1992 for my good friend, Mitchell Stern. Each of the nine movements is based on personal impressions of one or two brief poetic statements, which are shown below. The relationship of the music to the poetry is more impressionistic than programmatic.

 It was my desire to compose a work that would highlight both the virtuosic and lyrical aspects of the violin. These elements are often juxtaposed between movements (as between the first and second), and sometimes within one movement (as in the third). To provide unity, all the movements share an ever-varying cantus firmus, as well as motivic elements. Moreover, movements are attacca except for two short pauses. --- R.C.

I.  Moderato

 "The air broke into a mist with bells"

 (Robert Browning: The Patriot)

 II.Allegro flessibile

 "An avalanche of stars, last night the Leonids

 fired every farm with ancient light"

 (Jim Barnes: Last Night in La Plata)

III.  Andante

 C.P. Cavafy: Walls

 [Copyright restrictions]

IV.  Andante moderato

 "The sobbing of the bells"

 (Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass)

-pause-

V.Adagio molto

 (Sandro Penna: La veneta piazzetta)

 [Copyright restrictions]

VI.Andante moderato

 (E. E. Cummings: the first of all my dreams was of)

 [Copyright restrictions]

 -pause-

VII.Adagio molto: Andante

 (W. H. Auden: Aubade)

 [Copyright restrictions]

VIII.Presto

 (John Ashbery: Heibun 4)

 [Copyright restrictions]

Prestissimo

 (Margaret Atwood: The Red Shirt)

 [Copyright restrictions]

IX.Andante

 "The breezy call of incense breathing Morn"

 (Thomas Gray: Elegy in a Country Churchyard)

Adagio

 "Now fades the glimmering landscape on the night"

 (Thomas Gray: Elegy in a Country Churchyard)

Ronald Caltabiano's (b.1959) music has been hailed as having achieved "a remarkable synthesis of modernism and romanticism, of violence and lyricism, of integrity and accessibility."

He first came to international attention in the early 1980s with his String Quartet No. 1, premiered in Great Britain by the Arditti Quartet and in the United States by the Juilliard Quartet, and a series of prominent orchestral commissions soon followed. Works written for the San Francisco Symphony, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Symphony exhibit kaleidoscopic colors and provocative designs. Performances by international orchestras include those of the BBC Symphony, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

 Major awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation were anticipated by a number of awards from BMI and ASCAP as well as two Bearns Prizes. Since working as assistant to Aaron Copland during the last five years of that composer's life, Caltabiano has served on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and the Peabody Conservatory. He currently lives in San Francisco.

 Caltabiano is a BM/MM/DMA graduate of The Juilliard School, where he studied with Elliott Carter and Vincent Persichetti. In addition, he has studied composition with Peter Maxwell Davies and conducting with Harold Farberman and Gennadi Rozdesvensky.

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Peter Josheff , House and Garden Tales (2005) revised 2006, for voice, flute, viola, cello, and piano

House and Garden Tales, Six Poems by Jaime Robles (2005, 2006)was premiered by Allen Shearer at last year’s Harvest of Song. It is a nine-minute set of miniatures exploring the comings and goings of the animals in the Robles household. The poems are domestic portraits of her chickens, birds and cats, the territory in which they roam and the sounds they make as they go about their daily business. It was originally written for baritone, flute (piccolo), harp, viola and double bass. The in-a-nutshell qualities of House and Garden Tales make it a kind of preamble, a final fling at concision before plunging into the wild passions of the Inferno.

The composer would like to thank Mary Chun and Ellen Ruth Rose for initiating the process that has made this performance possible, and to acknowledge the support and encouragement of Jaime, Allen and Eliza O’Malley to all of whom this work is dedicated.

P.J.

TEXTS FOR HOUSE AND GARDEN TALES, SIX POEMS BY JAIME ROBLES

 

I. Haiku

Flapping up down flutter, cornered in the eye—a small brown bird

II. Aversion

Yow! grinned cat.
That’s the biggest wingy thing I’ve ever seen.
Chicken raises an open beak from the gritty dirt,
turns her feathery gaze toward cat, and cat,
seeing big-toothed dinosaurs in the history
of her
slanted
yellow eye,
flees.

III. Desire

Curved in the window of emerging day,
cat attends
to the conversation of birds.
Kekk ka ka kkkkek, whispers cat,
dreaming of soaring
into the pinioned sky

IV. Flourish

4 a.m. Cat enters,
promenades the bedroom

—puhrrrrrruh puhrrrrruh puhrrrrrruh—

and waves his hindquarters out the sliding glass door

V. Fervor

Chicken runs as fast as she can:
wing tips tucked, feathered trousers, lacy fringed,
bobbling. Did she hear the back door open?
Is the cat food out? Cat on the kitchen counter complains, “Mine,
that food is mine.” Chicken—ping, ping—keeps—ping, ping—eating—ping, ping—
till—ping, ping—she’s—ping, ping—thrown out. Whoosh.
Flap flap.

VI. Absence

Under the juniper bushes
gnarled wood
Under the junipers
between ancient branches and feathery foliage—
junipers dark, pungent, nested warp of branch, weft of scaly leaves—
Under feathery dark junipers,
a clutch of green eggs, one broken,
nestled sticky in a mulch of matted leaves, woody sediment

Poems Copyright © 2004 by Jaime Robles. Used with permission

Peter Josheff [b. 1954] is a founding member of Earplay. Over the past twenty years he has established himself as a leading performer and advocate of contemporary music.

His most recent compositions grow out of a decade of collaboration with Bay Area poet and book artist Jaime Robles. What started as bass clarinet improvisations in response to her readings has expanded to song-cycle and chamber opera. The larger scope of their recent work was inspired by Harvest of Song, an annual autumn concert at the Berkeley Art Center, organized by Josheff, Robles and composer/baritone Allen Shearer. A previous work, Diary (2002), seven songs for soprano, baritone, alto flute, bass clarinet, guitar and double bass, premiered at Harvest of Song. It received a second performance at an American Composers Forum Salon and was later staged by Goat Hall Productions in San Francisco. Memento (2001), Diary and 3 Hands (2003) are all attempts, in part, to think about the issues of writing for the stage, and have led to Josheff and Robles’ current chamber opera project, Inferno. The first completed music from that work, Francesca’s Complaint (2006), will premiere at the sixth annual Harvest of Song, October 28 and 29 at the Berkeley Art Center. He is also working on a commission from the Empyrean Ensemble to be premiered in April 2007. Josheff has received grants from the American Composers Forum and Meet the Composer, and has been in residence at the MacDowell Colony. He did graduate work in composition at the University of California, Berkeley, studying with Olly Wilson, Andrew Imbrie and Edwin Dugger.

 

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*   *   *

Allen Shearer, Bagatelles (2006) for flute and clarinet, World Premiere

These seven duos for flute and clarinet are quite brief. They range from a minute to a minute and a half each. I began them as compositional studies in order to take stock of my own musical language, and also to practice some basic techniques such as inversion without having to struggle with a large form. Though there is no real thematic link between the movements, some prominent element of each connects with the beginning of the next. My instrumental music tends to be descriptive, but the Bagatelles are an exception. Some of them do chirp, but that seems to be my way with these instruments. I did not intend to evoke any pastoral associations.

My thanks to Tod Brody and Peter Josheff, for whom the piece was written.

--A.S.

Allen Shearer has received many awards in music, including the Aaron Copland Award, the Rome Prize Fellowship, a Charles Ives Scholarship, an Alfred Hertz Fellowship, residencies at the MacDowell Colony, several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, including one for the creation of his opera The Goddess, and grants from Meet The Composer. His choral works have been performed in nearly every state of the U.S. as well as in Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and South Africa. Recent premieres include Memory Beams for violin and guitar, Outbound Passenger for mixed chamber group, Hymn to Gaia for men’s voices and instruments, and Secrets for mezzo soprano, flute, cello and piano. Also a baritone, he frequently performs vocal music old and new, including his own. He is artistic codirector of the San Francisco new music presenter Composers, Inc. He holds degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and the Akademie Mozarteum in Salzburg, and teaches at California State University, East Bay and at the University of California at Berkeley.   

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*   *   *

Chen Yi , YangKo (2000), arranged 2004 for violin and two percussion

YangKo, originating in northern China, is a major folk dance form in mass performance popularized in the country.  In a YangKo performance, people always play rhythmic patterns on the drums hung around their waists while singing and dancing.  In my piece YangKo, I have imagined a warm scene of YangKo dancing in the distance.  The solo violin plays a sweet and gracious melodic line imitation a beautiful girl’s singing, supported by the sound produced by the two percussionists, who play instruments and recite percussive words, with the evergoing pulse, imitating the warm scene of the dance parade in the background.  Under request of Network for new Music ensemble, the piece is adapted from the second movement of my Chinese Folk Dance Suite for violin and orchestra, premiered by NNM at its dance program in Philadelphia on March 8 and 9, 2005. – C.Y.

Chen Yi (b.1953) is the Cravens/Millsap/Missouri Distinguished Professor at the Conservatory of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the recipient of the prestigious Charles Ives Living Award (01-04) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Dr. Chen Yi has been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2005. Chen Yi has received bachelor and master degrees in music composition from the Central Conservatory in Beijing, China, and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Columbia University in the City of New York. Her composition teachers have included Wu Zu-qiang, Chou Wen-chung, Mario Davidovsky, and Alexander Goehr. She has served as Composer-in-Residence for the Women's Philharmonic, the vocal ensemble Chanticleer, & Aptos Creative Arts Center supported by Meet The Composer, and as a member of the composition faculty at Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. Fellowships have been received from Guggenheim Foundation, American Academy of Arts and Letters, and National Endowment for the Arts in the United States. Honors include a first prize from the Chinese National Composition Competition, the Lili Boulanger Award, the NYU Sorel Medal Award, the CalArts/Alpert Award, the UT Eddie Medora King Composition Prize, the ASCAP Concert Music Award, the Elise Stoeger Award from Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Friendship Ambassador Award from Edgar Snow Fund, an Honorary Doctorate from Lawrence University. Her music is published by Theodore Presser Company, performed world wide, and recorded various labels. 

*   *   *

 

Libby Larsen, Slang (1990), for violin, clarinet, and piano, West Coast Premiere

SLANG(1990)is a one-movement work in three sections.  Its title references a culture's evolution of its own lexicon of sound-bytes to express itself to itself in short hand. I'm fascinated by this idea. Considering the vast array of musical languages which are available to us on a daily basis, I set about to compose SLANG. An abstracted country fiddle gesture provides a structure in which jazz and boogie slang combine twentieth century 'new music' slang, rounded off by a coda cadenza build on a rock and roll strumming pattern. SLANG asks the performers to freely change performance styles as the musical language dictates. This piece was commissioned by the Verdehr Trio, 1990.

--- L.L.

Libby Larsen (b. 1950)  has created a catalogue of over 200 works spanning virtually every genre from intimate vocal and chamber music to massive orchestral and choral scores.  Libby Larsen has received numerous awards and accolades, including a 1994 Grammy as producer of the CD: The Art of Arlene Augér, an acclaimed recording that features Larsen's Sonnets from the Portuguese. Her opera Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus was selected as one of the eight best classical music events of 1990 by USA Today. The first woman to serve as a resident composer with a major orchestra, she has held residencies with the California Institute of the Arts, the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, the Philadelphia School of the Arts, the Cincinnati Conservatory, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, and the Colorado Symphony.

 Holder of the 2003-2004 Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education at the Library of Congress and recipient of the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Libby Larsen is a vigorous, articulate champion of the music and musicians of our time. In 1973, she co-founded (with Stephen Paulus) the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composers Forum, which has been an invaluable advocate for composers in a difficult, transitional time for American arts.

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Guest Artists

 JEREMY GALYON, (baritone), a 2006 Adler Fellow, was seen this past summer as Nick Shadow in the Merola Opera Program production of The Rake’s Progress. After spending four years as a Resident Artist with Binghamton’s Tri-Cities Opera he recently returned there to perform the role of Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Other roles with Tri-Cities Opera include Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Colline in La Bohèmeand Dulcamara in The Elixir of Love. He has been a Young Artist with the Glimmerglass Opera where he performed the roles of Larkens in The Girl of the Golden West and Masetto in Don Giovanni. Other engagements include Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Chicago Opera Theatre and 2nd Armored Man in The Magic Flute with Florida Grand Opera. His awards include Regional Finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and an Opera Index Encouragement Award.

CHRIS FROH (percussion) is a San Francisco freelance percussionist specializing in new music written for solo and chamber settings. the State He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Michigan and has also studied at the Eastman School of Music and the Toho Gakuen Conservatory of Music, where he was a special audit student of marimbist Keiko Abe. He is a member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Empyrean Ensemble, the new-music improvisation group sfSound, and Gamelan Sekar Jaya. He has also performed with Earplay, Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players, Santa Cruz New Music Works, and at the Other Minds, Berkeley EdgeFest, Festival Nuovi Spazi Musicali, and Pacific Rim Music Festivals.

KEVIN NEUHOFF (percussion) is a soloist and new-music chamber musician who has performed with the Cabrillo Festival, the Oakland Ballet, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, the Other Minds Festival, New Century Chamber Orchestra, and the Paul Dresher Ensemble.  He holds the post of principal timpanist with the International Carmel Bach Festival Orchestra, the Western Opera Orchestra, the Berkeley Symphony, and the Fremont Symphony, and is principal percussionist with the Marin Symphony.  Neuhoff is frequently invited to play with the San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Rosa, and Sacramento Symphonies and can be heard on recordings made on the Harmonia Mundi, Triloka, New Albion, Wide Hive, and Nonesuch labels.

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