Notes & Bios
Lee Ferguson, percussion
Stephen Altoft, trumpet
Clapp Recital Hall, Sunday, September 10, 2000, 8:00 pm
Duo Contour was formed following the performers' participation in the Darmstadt
International Summer Course for New Music in 1998 with the primary aim of
promoting music by living composers. In order to achieve a "new sound" they
like to work with a composer during the preparation, learning, and
performance of each piece. The ideal result being an interdependence
between percussion and trumpet. These relationships translate directly
into their improvisations in which they explore the possibilities of
combining their instruments with other art disciplines (electronics, visual
art, theatre, and dance).
Stephen Altoft is dedicated to the creation and performance of new
repertoire for the trumpet. He plays with the Cornelius Cardew Ensemble
and has collaborated with Golem Theatre. He has recently returned from a
residency in Berlin, supported by the Music Sound Foundation, where he
worked closely with German composers and performers, and studied with
William Forman of Ensemble Modern. He holds a Master of Arts degree from
the University of Huddersfield and is a recipient of the Ricordi Prize for
Contemporary Performance. In 1996 and 1998 he was awarded scholarships to
participate at the Darmstadt International Summer School for New Music,
where he studied with Michael Svoboda and Markus Stockhausen, with whom he
has since undertaken further private study. For two years Stephen ran the
new music ensemble yon and also established the Composers' Exchange project
in the north of England. He has participated in educational projects at
schools in West Yorkshire and given numerous contemporary trumpet
Lee Ferguson lives in Freiburg working as a teacher and freelance
percussionist and is a member of the Freiburg based new music ensemble,
Suono Mobile. He has played with Ensemble Recherche, Surplus, the Basel
Symphony Orchestra, Furstenberg baroque ensemble (of which he is a founding
member), as well as performing solo concerts. Lee is particularly
interested in promoting American contemporary music in Europe and is an
organizing member of a new music ensemble which is dedicated to this
Lee Ferguson was born in Grinnell, Iowa, USA. After studying as a
scholarship student at the University of Iowa under Thomas L. Davis, Lee
obtained a Fulbright Grant to study with Bernhard Wulff at the Staatliche
Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany. During his time at Freiburg, he
was a member of the Freiburg Percussion ensemble which recieved first prize
in the German Music School Competition for the category New Music in
#1 and #6 (8')
Quattro Pezzi (2.5')
for trumpet solo, No. 1 and 2
Giacinto Scelsi (1905)|
HAUT for three handdrums
Pulse (1998) (9')
Christian Wolff (1934)
Five Pieces (2000) (3')
James Saunders (1972)
Fellaheen (1999) (9')
Tim Parkinson (1972)
Generic Composition #1 and #6
Christopher Fox writes music which defies ready categorisation and has, as a
result, been variously described as 'complex', 'minimal', 'senile' and 'like
a steamroller'. His work habitually oversteps the boundaries of conventional
concert media and as well as the radio pieces includes gallery installations in collaboration with
video artists and printmakers and a 'musical box' made with the poet Ian Duhig. Paul
Griffiths, writing in the Times, has said of Fox's work that 'he takes simple
ideas but he makes them sound quite wonderful'.
These Generic Compositions may be performed as solos, as a duo, or,
eventually, as part of the ensemble work Everything You Need To Know, which I
am writing for the Dutch group, the Ives Ensemble, and which they will
premiere in April 2001. Each of the seven Generic Compositions isolates
an aspect of instrumental behaviour for especial compositional
attention: in Generic Composition #1 'it's the distribution of rhythms and
instruments between the percussionist's hands; in Generic Composition #6 it's
the conjunction of valves and the harmonic series in a brass instrument.
What interests me in these Generic Compositions is the extent to which the
instruments seem to write their own music when composers (players
too?) let them.
Giacinto Scelsi had a keen interest in Eastern European music. Having recently
returned from performing in Bulgaria where I experienced its folk music at
first hand, it is easy to appreciate the influence it has had on Scelsi's
music. The ornamental vocal line, the richness of tone colour, the
inflections of pitch, and the meditative stillness I heard from the
Bulgarians, could be said to be present in Scelsi's trumpet pieces. Yet,
when used by him they are typically and uniquely Scelsi.
Each of the four trumpet pieces are based around a small group of notes,
sometimes revolving, almost cycling around a particular pitch centre or
intervals, and other times resting on one pitch, inflecting it or colouring
it with ornamentation or varied articulations.
Igor Majcen was born in Maribor, Sovenian in 1952. He studied music padagogy
in Maribor, theory and composition in Ljublijana, and completed a Masters
degree in Composition on the Staatlichen Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg,
Germany. Mr. Majcen lives and works in Freiburg as a Composer, Music
teacher, and Choir director.
The title of this piece is a word play on the German word Haut (skin, or in
this case the skin of a drum) and a similar German word Hauen (to strike, a
drum). The work is constructed in three Esercizios and three Rhapsodien.
The six sections of this piece are proportionate to each other. The same
proportions are also present in the rhythmic makeup (figures, meters,
phrases). Behind the constriction of only hand drums, lies a seemingly
paradoxical intention. The listener is presented with timbral richness
despite the reduced instrumentarium. (Igor Majcen)
Pulse (1998) (9')
Pulse was written in June 1998 for the Berlin-based American percussionist
Robyn Schulkowsky (Univ. of Iowa alumni) and the trumpeter, Rheinhold
Freidrich. Typically Wolff allows the performers certain freedoms of choice
with regard to tempi, dynamics, timbre and instrumentation.
Listenings III (1999)
Bryn Harrison lives in the small penine town of Hebden Bridge. His music has
been played widely in the UK and broadcast on Radio 3. Recent projects have
included an In Nomine for the German group, Ensemble Recherche, and a new
piece for the London Sinfonietta. He enjoys collaboration and is currently
working an a piece for the Ixion Ensemble based on a series of abstract
paintings by Mike Walker.
Listenings III is part of a cycle of five pieces for different combinations
of solo instruments and duets. Whilst the pieces bear no relationship to one
another, a conscious attempt is made to focus on specific timbres and pitches.
Ewan Stefani was born in 1971 and grew up in East Lothian, Scotland. After
completing a music diploma course at Napier University in Edinburgh, he moved
to Leeds to study electronic composition. Since 1995, Ewan has been teaching
Music Technology at the University of Leeds while continuing his research
into various aspects of computer music. He is an active member of the UK
Sonic Arts Network and has enjoyed regular performances of his tape pieces
and other works.
Forza is divided into three main sections: solo percussion and tape, trumpet
and tape with live electronics and then a short coda with percussion, trumpet
and tape. The focus of the trumpet part is upon timbre as the performer
plays a slow series of pitches which are derived from overtones contained
with in the electronic sounds on the tape. Subtle use of live electronics is
also used to alter the natural sound of the trumpet.
Similarly, the perccussion part contains rhythms which are influenced by the
scraping and dragging noises on the tape. The musical result is an abstract
expression of physical force (in section 1), and the force of human emotion
(in section 2).
Five pieces (2000)
James Saunders studied at the University of Huddersfield and RNCM. His recent
music explores extremely short time scales and is concerned with the scalic relationship
between timbre, gesture, and form James works as a researcher at the
University of Huddersfield, where he also Lectures.
These five pieces are drawn from a larger set of short pieces that can be
played in various combinations, depending on the available instruments and
programme time. They are separated by silences of varied lengths. The title
is a generic one; other performances of Five pieces might not necessarily
feature the same five pieces.
Fellaheen (1999) (9')
Tim Parkinson was born in 1973. He studied composition at Oxford with Robert
Sherlaw Johnson and the with Kevin Volans in Dublin. He has written for the
Ensemble Bash, Tubalate, and duo Contour, and has received performances in
London, Cologne, Bonn, and Grahamstown, South Africa.
Oswald Spengler in his book The Decline of the West (1922) set out the view
that civilisations existed in life cycles, within which distinctions can be
made between peoples before, within, and after a Culture. He named these
people primitives, culture-peoples, and -- from its best known example, the
Egyptians of post-Roman times -- fellah-peoples, or fellaheen.
The work's percussion and trumpet part have been written independently of one
another. They are to be performed simultaneosly with the stipulation that
they begin together and that the trumpet part ends shortly before the