Earplay Home Page

06-07 Season


 

2011 Season
Tickets
Players
Audio
Press
Support Us
& Donate
Competitions
About Earplay

Photos

EARPLAY 22: Exploring

 

Monday, March 12, 2007

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
Katharine Tier , mezzo  • Dan Reiter, cello  •  Kurt Rohde, viola

* * *
György Ligeti
Cello Sonata (1948/53)
Thalia Moore

I. Dialogo. Adagio, rubato, cantabile
II. Capriccio. Presto con slancio

Christopher Wendell Jones
Fictions (2000)
Tod Brody


Krzysztof Penderecki
Clarinet Quartet (1993)
Peter Josheff, Terrie Baune, Ellen Ruth Rose, Dan Reiter

I. Notturno: Adagio
II. Scherzo: Vivacissimo
III. Serenade: Tempo di Valse
IV. Abschied: Larghetto


Intermission

James H. Carr
Four Wilde Aphorisms (1991)
(West Coast Premiere)

Katharine Tier, Peter Josheff

I. To Look Wise
II. One's Real Life
III. Anybody
IV. I Couldn't Help It

Kurt Rohde
Double Trouble (2002)

Mary Chun, Tod Brody, Peter Josheff, Terrie Baune, Ellen Ruth Rose,
Kurt Rohde, Thalia Moore, Karen Rosenak

I. Obsessive Compulsive
II. Double
III. Spazoid

Program Notes

 

György Ligeti
Cello Sonata (1948/53)


...I did not choose the tumults of my life. Rather, they were imposed on me by two murderous dictatorships: first by Hitler and the Nazis, and then by Stalin and the Soviet system. Common to both of these totalitarian dictatorships was the banning of 'modern' art, which both systems considered to be 'hostile to the people'.

In 1948 all 'modern' music was banned in Hungary--that is, not only Schoenberg, Berg, Webern and Stravinsky, but even Britten and Milhaud. Bartok was 'filtered' in that his dissonant works were banned, while his fok-song arrangements were permitted. After all, Bartok (who had already died in 1945) was considered the great national composer of the People's Republic of Hungary. It was particularly difficult for young artists; they were expected to uphold the norms of 'socialist realism' as dictated by Stalin and Zhadanov, which meant accepting the aesthetics of the 'petit bourgeois'.

The authorities allowed the Cello Sonata (first movement 1948), second movement 1953) to be recorded for public radio (it was broadcast once); it could not, however, be performed in concert because of its 'formalistic' second movement."
--- György Ligeti, from the "Ligeti Project CD"-Teldec Classics

György Ligeti (1923-2006)was an adventurer in form and expression and a great visionary of contemporary music. His richly varied output takes a special position in its musical quality and uncompromising individuality. Admired and hugely influential in the profession, the sensual accessibility of his music has won the hearts of audiences everywhere.

Born in Transylania, on 28 May 1923, the son of Hungarian-Jewish parents, he studied at the Klausenburg conservatory and later at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. Very soon he developed the micropolyphony which later was to become one of the most significant features of his music. In December 1956, after the Hungarian Revolution, he fled to the west, for artistic and political reasons.  Working at the West German Radio electronic studios in Cologne he made an intensive study of  the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel and Pierre Boulez,  which found its musical expression in Artikulation (1958). This work, with Atmosphères, the orchestral work he created in 1961, made Ligeti instantly well-known. In this piece, he worked almost completely without traditional melodic, harmonic and rhythmic parameters and concentrated on sounds with constantly changing textures. ‘Micropolyphony’, he once described, ‘means such a dense tissue that the individual parts become inaudible and only the resulting intermingling harmonies are effective as a form'.

After his intensive work in Cologne and the development of micropolyphony in the 1960s, Ligeti’s personal style became simpler and more transparent in the 1970s. And as if wanting to withdraw from the predominating musical tendencies, he began to use tonal sounds again. He said: 'I no longer listen to rules on what is to be regarded as modern and what as old-fashioned.' His only full-length stage work Le Grand Macabre was inspired by the theatre of the absurd and is teeming with operetta-like wit and black humour. The composer wanted to communicate more directly with audiences: 'Stage action and music should be dangerous and bizarre, absolutely exaggerated, absolutely crazy.'

György Ligeti travelled a long road: from Romanian folk music and the tonal language of his fellow countryman Béla Bartók to his own cosmos of sounds. The mentor of a whole generation of composers, he wanted to 'fuse the fear of death with laughter'.   Ligeti was honoured with all the world’s major musical awards, including the Grawemayer Award, the Praemium Imperiale, the Ernst-von-Siemens Music Award, the Sibelius Prize, and the Kyoto-Prize.  He died on 12 June 2006 in Vienna.

top

*   *   *

Christopher Wendell Jones
Fictions (2000)
eight pieces for solo flute

I first encountered Jorge Luis Borges’ labyrinthine short stories while I was writing this piece.  Borges establishes intricate but fragmentary networks of relationships in many of these stories, implying worlds extending far beyond the confines of a few pages of prose.  I found this technique to be an extraordinarily compelling way to solve some of the problems inherent in working with small forms.  Just as Borges’ stories reveal individual facets of much larger fictional domains, I attempted to create brief musical forms through the implication of musical processes rather than comprehensive realization.

--- Christopher Wendell Jones

Christopher Wendell Jones (b. 1969) Christopher Jones has presented his music in numerous places in North America. His works have been presented by New Works Calgary, (Calgary, Alberta) and L'Orchestre vent de l'Ecole Cure-Mercure (St. Jovite, Quebec). In 2001, Christopher worked with the Ictus Ensemble at the Ictus International Composition Seminar in Brussels, and has also participated in festivals such as Darmstadt Ferienkurse and Centre Acanthes. Currently, Christopher is pursuing a DMA in composition at Stanford University where he has studied with Jonathan Harvey, Brian Ferneyhough, Chris Chafe and Jonathan Berger. He has completed a Master of Music in composition at the University of Calgary, a Master of Music in piano at Indiana University, and a Bachelor of Music in piano at the New England Conservatory.

top

*   *   *

Krzysztof Penderecki
Clarinet Quartet (1993)
clarinet, violin, viola, cello 

Krzysztof Penderecki’s (b. 1933) music has been as fascinating to the general public as it has been influential among musicians. He burst upon the scene in 1959 when, as a 26-year-old just out of the Krakow Conservatory, he entered three compositions in a Polish competition and won the three top prizes. In the works that followed Penderecki decisively abandoned traditional melody and harmony. Ignoring also the serialism then dominant in the West, he developed an immediately accessible musical language based on a dramatic and coloristic use of blocks, masses, and planes of sound. By the mid-1970s, Penderecki, to critical skepticism and continuing popular acclaim, had begun to leaven the austerity of his established style with elements of melody and harmony. His turn toward melodic expression and tonal reference brought with it an increased interest in absolute music: in recent years symphonies, concertos, and chamber music have become more prominent in his output. He counts Quartet for Clarinet and Piano Trio (1993), inspired by Schubert’s late and otherworldly String Quartet (1828), among his most significant works. Here Penderecki has chosen the most inward, subtle, and flexible of the wind instruments, the one to which Mozart, Brahms, and Reger also entrusted their most personal utterances.
(© 1994 Fenwick Smith)

top

James H. Carr
Four Wilde Aphorisms (1991)
 mezzo, clarinet


Four Wilde Aphorisms
texts by Oscar Wilde

I. To Look Wise
"To look wise is quite as good as understanding a thing, and very much easier."

II. One's Real Life
"One's real life is so often the life that one does not lead."

III. Anybody
"Anybody can be good, in the country."

IV. I Couldn't Help It
"I couldn't help it. I can resist everything
everything!
Except temptation."

My Four Wilde Aphorisms are four short songs for mezzo soprano voice and Bb clarinet on texts of Oscar Wilde’s. They were composed at the request of Patricia Lane in 1991 while I was a doctoral candidate at Columbia. Mrs. Lane planned to present her daughter (my wife), mezzo Jennifer Lane, and clarinetist Robert Klein in concert at a fund raising event for the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra in Danville, Illinois. Jennifer was unhappy with most of the works she had located for voice and clarinet duo, and suggested to her Mother that I might supply something on commission, and Mrs. Lane agreed.

Little time remained, so the four songs were composed very quickly in a period of about 3 days. I found the texts in an illustrated book of Wilde’s aphorisms entitled “The Importance of Being Oscar.” The Illustrator had selected quotations that applied to her cat, Oscar, who was the subject of the illustrations. We had joked about this book for sometime, because my little grey cat, Moskar, very much resembled the grey cat in the illustrations, and Jennifer had artfully altered the book’s cover title to “The Importance of Being Moskar,” before giving it to me as a birthday gift.

I recall these songs were partially composed by extravagantly expanding a few filched 3 or 4 note licks from Alban Berg’s Vier Stücke für Klarinette und Klavier, Op. 5. The basic musical ideas endeavor to support the wit of the text. There is even a section in “One’s Real Life,” where the mezzo is instructed to insert a brief excerpt of an opera aria of her choice, in effect, “performing” the aphorism’s text on several levels. These little pieces hold a few other silly turns and quotes, but the thing I enjoy most about them is that although a couple of my grumpy old teachers have scolded me about this or that textual or expressive failure in the work, audiences usually chuckle. Four Wilde Aphorisms has probably been my most performed composition. –-- James H. Carr

Composer James Harold Carr (b. 1950)  was a pupil of that generation of American composers most deeply influenced by Schönberg, Berg, and Webern. His musical language has been described by Charles Passey of New York Newsday as, “at turns, strident and angular, reflective and elegiac, but thoroughly distinct and definitely of its day.” Jim has taught theory, music history, and composition and at the University of Kentucky, San Francisco State University, Stanford, and Columbia University.

top

Kurt Rohde
Double Trouble (2002)
flute, clarinet, 2 solo violas, violin, cello and piano

Written for the Empryean Ensemble and dedicated to violist Ellen Ruth Rose, Rohde’s Double Trouble resembles a Baroque concerto grosso in as its three movements structure (fast slow fast) and its exuberant interplay between soloists and chamber group.  Though his demands on the ensemble players requires some fascinating and virtuosic teamwork, the concerto naturally highlights its two viola soloists, allowing unusual expressive freedom to an often underestimated instrument.

The composer writes:  “Obsessive Compulsive opens the concerto.  As is characteristic of my recent music, the movement is thrust along, propulsive and compulsive in nature.  The two instruments play a single melodic line that is divided between the two solo players, adding a rhythmic component that would not be possible using only a single player.  As for the title, it reflects one of the few obsessive rituals that I practice:  composition.  The fact that the four minutes of music which are in this movement took over thirteen weeks to write gives an idea of the type of ‘running in circles’ I tend to do when I compose.

“Double is a more exotic movement, languorous at times.  Loosely based on the Baroque concept, the double is a separate movement or section which is based harmonically on the previous section or movement. In the case of this movement, the soloists weave a melody which is derived from the rapid repeating patterns that they played in the first movement.

“The work closes with a fast and furious finale called Spazoid.  The movement is rhythmic and harmonic in nature, rather than melodic.  It features a number of gestures and technical displays which pay homage to the age old myth that the violist is a ‘lesser’ string player.  In this instance, however, the spastic and nearly ‘out of control’ character of the music requires extreme virtuosity, tremendous finesse and technical control.  It also requires a little humor.”  --- Kurt Rohde

KURT ROHDE (b. 1966) is an active composer whose work is performed by numerous orchestras and music ensembles to critical acclaim. In addition to his composing career, Rohde is a violist with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, the New Century Chamber Orchestra and other ensembles in the San Francisco Bay Area, and artistic director of the Chamber Music Partnership. He is the 2001 recipient of the Walter Hinrichson Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In addition, Rohde has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and commission awards from the Hanson Institute for American Music, the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, and the Koussevitzky and Fromm Music Foundations. A winner of the Lydian String Quartet Composition Contest, he has participated in the Tanglewood Festival, the Wellesley Composers Conference, and has been in residence at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. Rohde is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and SUNY Stony Brook. Kurt Rohde is the Artistic Director of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, based in San Francisco. Kurt Rohde has taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is visiting composition faculty at the University of California, Davis.

top

Guest Artists

Katharine Tier (mezzo)Australian-born Katharine Tier graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the Sydney Conservatorium in 2003, studying voice with Dr. Rowena Cowley.  She subsequently enrolled in the Diploma of Opera course, during which she performed the role of Amaranta in Haydn’s Fedelta Premiata. She participated in the 2006 Merola Program at San Francisco Opera, and has recently joined San Francisco Opera’s Adler Young Artist Program.

Her awards include the prestigious Marianne Mathy Scholarship at the 2002 Australian Singing Competition, the 2004 Barilla Opera Award for study at the Rome Opera Company, and the 2006 Vocal Workshop Award from the Neue Stimmen (New Voices) international singing competition in Germany.  Other awards include the Encouragement Award in the McDonald’s Operatic Aria Competition, the Operatic Voice Award in the McDonalds Performing Arts Challenge, the Mezzo  Award in the 2005 Sydney Opera Awards, the Joan Sutherland Society of Sydney Scholarship.

Dan Reiter (cello)is principal cellist with the Oakland East Bay Symphony (OEBS), Festival Opera Orchestra, Diablo Ballet Orchestra and Fremont Symphony.   His solo work has included Leonard Bernstein's Three Meditations (OEBS, 2000) and Robert Schumann's Cello Concerto (Fremont Symphony, 2002). Dan is also a former Earplay member (1989-90).

As a composer, Dan has written varied chamber works.  In 1999 he won an Izzy Award for is composition Raga Bach B Minor featuring dancer Robert Moses. He has had the privilege of working with India's master musician Ali Akbar Khan and has recorded two CDs (Garden of Dreams and Legacy) with Khansahib. In addition, Dan produced Cello and Harp, a CD of his own compositions for cello and harp with his wife, Natalie Cox.

Kurt Rohde (see composer bio)

top

 
 
 
Home | This Season | Tickets | Earplayers | Audio
Press | Support Earplay | Competitions | About Earplay