CNM Concert Season 39

David Gompper, Director
Joseph Dangerfield, R.A.



2004-05
CNM Concert I


Notes & Bios
   John MacDONALD
 Lawrence FRITTS
 George CRUMB
 Michael ECKERT
 Andrew STRUCK-MARCELL
 Edgard VARÈSE
 

   SEASON: 
   CONCERT: 


 PROGRAM NOTES & BIOS




Clapp Recital Hall
Sunday, September 26, 2004, 8:00 p.m.










Sonatina (1999) John MacDONALD (b. 1959)
Andrew Brobston ,   saxophone
Katie Fang,   piano

4 Mod 4 Lawrence FRITTS (b. 1952)
Brandy Hudelson,   flute
Christine Bellomy,   clarinet
Alla Cross,   violin
Laura Ewing,   violoncello

Voice of the Whale (1971)
       Vocalise (... for the beginning of time)
       Variations on Sea-Time
       Sea Theme
               Archeozoic [Var. I]
               Proterozoic [Var. II]
               Paleozoic [Var. III]
               Mesozoic [Var. IV]
               Cenozoic [Var. V]
       Sea-Nocturne (... for the end of time)
George CRUMB (b. 1929)
Tamara Thweatt*,   flute
Anthony Arnone*,   violoncello
Kazuo Murakami,   piano

Point of No Return (2003) Michael ECKERT (b. 1950)
Brandy Hudelson,   flute
Christine Bellomy,   clarinet
Alla Cross,   violin
Laura Ewing,   violoncello
Kazuo Murakami,  piano
Jeff Strom,   percussion

My End is Dissolution (2004*) Andrew STRUCK-MARCELL (b. 1981)
Intégrales (1925) Edgard VARÈSE (b. 1883-d. 1965)
CNM ensemble
David Gompper,   conductor


 




 

JOHN MCDONALD
Sonatina

Inspired by images gleaned from the extraordinary work of physicist Stephen W. Hawking, this Sonatina, subtitled "Big Crunch," was commissioned by Tufts University to celebrate Dr. Hawking's appearance on the Tufts campus in the autumn of 1999. Composed in three interconnected movements, the sonatina progresses from a volatile, explosive opening to a brief musical representation of "the uncertainty principle;" the work closes with an imagined "singularity at the end of the universe"--a "big crunch."
John McDonald, composer and pianist, is a Professor of Music at Tufts University, and has earned international acclaim as a musician. Recently, McDonald served as Cultural Specialist in Mongolia, where he premiered his Music for Piano and String Orchestra and worked with students on his pedagogical works. In his performing capacity, recent honors include a Duo Recitalists' Grant from the NEA, an Artistic Ambassadorship to Asia, and an Artists' Residency at M.I.T. with soprano Karol Bennett, as well as invitations to perform his works at conferences in Amsterdam, Budapest, Havana, Montreal, Shanghai, and St. Petersburg.
 

LAWRENCE FRITTS
4 Mod 4

In social worlds, the individual and the groups seem perpetually at odds. Either an individual's identity is subsumed by the group or the group becomes fractured by the individuals that comprise it. In abstract worlds of mathematics and music, however, individuality and unity can sometimes be thought of as the same thing. For example, the algebraic expression 4 mod 4 = 0 characterizes a collection of four individual elements as a single unit. Likewise, 4 mod 4 treats the four instruments, flute, clarinet, violin, and cello, as individual elements that unite in a whole. From the beginning of the piece, open textures created by silence and wide registral spaces allow individual instruments to freely develop their own voices. As the work progresses, however, the voices begin to compete with each other, becoming more angular and rhythmically non-conforming. As the character of each instrument becomes increasingly complex, certain features are inevitable shared by combinations of instruments and small alliances are thus formed. This tension between individuality and conformity evolves into two extended duets. The first duet, for clarinet and cello, has practically no communication between parts, as if each is adamantly maintaining its independence. The flute and violin duet is much more cooperative as the instruments seem to share the common goal of shutting out the pizzicato cello, who tries to join in. Like 0 mod 4, the goal of musical identity acts as a gravitational pull to unite the four instruments in the final section of the work, which ends in a simple homophonic statement of unity.
Lawrence Fritts (1952) is Associate Professor of Composition at the University of Iowa, where he has directed the Electronic Music Studios since 1994. He received his PhD in Composition from the University of Chicago, where he studied with Shulamit Ran, John Eaton, and Ralph Shapey. His music is recorded on the Albany, Frog Peak, Innova, and Tempo Primo labels. His writings appear in Music Theory Spectrum, Papers Presented to the American Mathematical Society, Systems Research in the Arts, and The Computer Music Journal of the MIT Press. In the past year, his music has been performed in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Diego, Cincinnati, Bowling Green, Tempe, Greensborough, Gainesville, Vancouver, British Columbia, Singapore, Evora, Portugal, Birmingham, England, and Trieste and Genoa, Italy. He currently serves as Director of Conferences for the Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States.
 

GEORGE CRUMB
Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale)

Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale) was composed in 1971 for the New York Camerata. The work was inspired by the singing of the humpback whale, a tape recording of which I had heard two or three years previously. Each of the three performers is required to wear a black half-mask (or visor-mask). The masks, by effacing the sense of human projection, are intended to represent, symbolically, the powerful impersonal forces of nature (i.e. nature dehumanized). I have also suggested that the work be performed under deep-blue stage lighting.

The form of Voice of the Whale is a simple three-part design, consisting of a prologue, a set of variations named after the geological eras, and an epilogue.

The opening Vocalise (marked in the score: "wildly fantastic, grotesque") is a kind of cadenza for the flutist, who simultaneously plays his instrument and sings into it. This combination of instrumental and vocal sound produces an eerie, surreal timbre, not unlike the sounds of the humpback whale. The conclusion of the cadenza is announced by a parody of the opening measures of Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra.

The Sea-Theme ("solemn, with calm majesty") is presented by the cello (in harmonics), accompanied by dark, fateful chords of strummed piano strings. The following sequence of variations begins with the haunting sea-gull cries of the Archezoic ("timeless, inchoate") and, gradually increasing in intensity, reaches a strident climax in the Cenozoic ("dramatic, with a feeling of destiny"). The emergence of man in the Cenozoic era is symbolized by a partial restatement of the Zarathustra reference.

The concluding Sea-Nocturne ("serene, pure, transfigured") is an elaboration of the Sea-Theme. The piece is couched in the "luminous" tonality of B major and there are shimmering sounds of antique cymbals (played alternately by the cellist and flutist). In composing the Sea-Nocturne I wanted to suggest "a larger rhythm of nature" and a sense of suspension in time. The concluding gesture of the work is a gradually dying series of repetitions of a 10-note figure. In concert performance, the last figure is to be played "in pantomime" (to suggest a diminuendo beyond the threshold of hearing!); for recorded performances, the figure is played as a "fade-out".

-George Crumb
George Crumb, (b Charleston, WV, 24 Oct 1929) an American composer. Born to accomplished musical parents, he participated in domestic music-making from an early age, an experience that instilled in him a lifelong empathy with the Classical and Romantic repertory. He studied at Mason College (1947^50), the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (MM 1953), the Berlin Hochschule fuer Musik (Fulbright Fellow, 1955^6), where he was a student of Boris Blacher, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (DMA 1959), where his teachers included Ross Lee Finney. In 1959 he accepted a teaching position at the University of Colorado, Boulder. After receiving a Rockefeller grant in 1964, he became composer-in-residence at the Buffalo Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. His first mature works, composed during these years, include Five Pieces for Piano (1962), Night Music I (1963) and Four Nocturnes (1964), in which delicate timbral effects combine with a Webernesque pointillism and echoes of a Virginian folk heritage to create the atmospheric chiaroscuro that became a trademark of his style.
Richard Steinz

 

MICHAEL ECKERT
Point of No Return

Point of No Return is a single movement lasting a little over nine minutes, scored for flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello, piano, and percussion (vibraphone and marimba). The title alludes to the absence of literal repetition in the music, and indirectly to the psychological effects of the events of September 11, 2001, and February 1, 2003 (the crash of the space shuttle Columbia). The piece was written between November 2002 and February 2003 in fulfillment of a project funded by a University of Iowa Arts & Humanities Initiative. The first performance was given by the CNM under the direction of Amelia Kaplan in April 2003.
Michael Eckert joined the Composition/Theory Area of the University of Iowa School of Music in 1985, becoming an Associate Professor in 1988. He previously taught at Colorado State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tulane University, and Antioch College. He studied composition with John Richard Ronsheim at Antioch College, and with Ralph Shapey at the University of Chicago, where he earned the M.A. in music history & theory and the Ph.D. in composition. His awards for composition include the Bearns Prize from Columbia University, a Charles E. Ives Scholarship from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, an NEA fellowship, and the Music Teachers National Association Distinguished Composer of the Year Award. He has been a fellow at the Charles Ives Center for American Music, and at the Composers Conference at Wellesley College. His music has been frequently performed by the University of Iowa Center for New Music, and at the annual festivals of the Iowa Composers Forum. Eckert's scholarly publications include articles on the music of Johannes Ockeghem and Luigi Dallapiccola, and editions of 15th-century sacred music. He received an NEH Travel to Collections grant and a Fulbright Junior Research Fellowship for archival research on the music of Luigi Dallapiccola. Lawrence Fritts. He has composed music for theater and dance, and his works have been performed throughout the United States, including the Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival and the Midwest Composers Symposium.
 

ANDREW STRUCK-MARCELL
My End is Dissolution

In My End is Dissolution, I attempted to dissipate the violence implied by the climactic material presented in the first half of the piece. The pitch content consists of three octachords presented sequentially, which when taken together create 24 total pitches. Thus, the harmonic language is primarily modal with a nod to serial procedures. Throughout the piece, I made use of the pitches Bb, B, C, and Db as bass notes independent of the octachord system, with C acting as the tonal center.
Andrew Struck-Marcell is a senior undergraduate studying music and psychology at the University of Iowa. Composition teachers of his include David Gompper and Lawrence Fritts. He has composed music for theater and dance, and his works have been performed throughout the United States, including the Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival and the Midwest Composers Symposium.
 

EDGARD VARÈSE
Intègrales

Intègrales, completed in 1925, forcefully illustrates Varèse's conception of polyphony--a polyphony consisting not, as in traditional Western music, of contrasting melodic lines, but of contrasting sound blocks. These are repeated in constant variation so that their relationship to one another undergoes continuous metamorphosis. Intègrales is divided into four major sections, each of which ends with a sustained tutti chord for the winds (the only places in the piece where these occur) and, with the exception of the first, begins with percussion alone. As in all of Varese's compositions, however, it is impossible to speak of an abstract "form" independent of the particular shape of the specific piece. Robert P. Morgan
Edgard Varèse, (b Paris, 22 Dec 1883; d New York, 6 Nov 1965) an American composer of French birth. Varèse has frequently been honoured as the adventurous explorer of techniques and conceptions far ahead of his time. This view of his work as 'experimental' and valuable chiefly for its prophetic character has perhaps been overemphasized, but enthusiasm for the new was undeniably an important part of Varèse's personality. He produced in the 1920s a series of compositions which were innovative and influential in their rhythmic complexity, use of percussion, free atonality and forms not principally dependent on harmonic progression or thematic working. Even before World War I he saw the necessity of new means to realize his conceptions of organized sound (the term he preferred to 'music'), and, seizing on the electronic developments after World War II, he composed two of the first major works with sounds on tape.
Paul Griffiths from Groves