RICHARD TEITELBAUM, SoundPaths
“SoundPaths” continues and combines several of my main musical interests of the past forty years: First, the structural and expressive use of timbre and noise (a path that can be traced back to the innovations of Schoenberg, Russolo, Cowell and Cage starting a century ago). Second, the combining of acoustic and electronic instruments in real time live electronic performance, to which Musica Elettronica Viva has contributed since the sixties. Third, the exploration and expansion of extremely soft dynamic levels, which I explored previously in a series of “threshold” pieces in the seventies and for which Feldman, Nono, Lachenmann and Sciarino have also provided great inspiration. Finally, the employment of open forms and improvisational structures, with which I have been involved in performances with MEV, as well as with Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Katsuya Yokoyama and many others over the years.
Extending such approaches to working with Da Capo has stimulated the development of new strategies: early in my conversations about this piece with Pat Spencer, she expressed a strong interest in exploring improvisation as well as electronics—two areas that she indicated would be relatively new to them, but which she said would also provide a welcome challenge. My approach has been to record samples of each member of the group playing unusual, non-pitched “noises” as well as more conventional tones, and to “confront” the group with them, both by using those samples to improvise live with them in rehearsals and by composing and playing back recorded collages of these and other sounds for them to play with.
I have also provided the notated, sometimes fragmentary “soundpaths” to act as trails, guideposts and steppingstones within the freer, less charted wilderness of improvisation. These are made up of special symbols that indicate varying degrees of distortion, modulation and complexity. They range from pure overtones to normal pitches, bent, sliding and increasingly modulated tones (vibrato, tremolo, flutter tongue, bow pressure), granulated sounds, filtered noise, (air through the wind instruments, bow scrapes) and even relatively pure white noise (breath). They provide a scale of degrees of transformation to be negotiated as timbral pathways by both the acoustic and electronic performers.
Each of the movements has a distinctly different character and employs differing compositional and performance techniques, both with respect to the instruments and the electronics. With regard to the latter, several kinds of software are employed, including MAX/MSP (MAX/MSP patches by Marco Gasperini), Ableton Live, and Orbits (Orbits software by Christopher Tignor).
Each can process the live instruments in real time, and offers the players variously distorted or elaborated reflexive images of their own sounds and musical gestures. This immediate “feedback” enables and encourages the players to respond interactively with their own electronic “doubles” as well as with each other and themselves.
Special thanks to Da Capo and the Fromm Music Foundation for generously commissioning this piece. Thanks also to the Emily Harvey Foundation, Alvise Vidolin, Tom Mark, Bob Bielecki, Tristan Shepard and my wife Hiroko Sakurazawa.
ERICA BALL, of f(all)ing
of f(all)ing is the second movement of a larger work of varying instrumentation,”..... the re(sil)i(ent) sound of f(all)ing in[f(in)ite] .” . In the scope of the larger work, of f(all)ing is preceded by a string quartet, and followed by a violin solo. It is written in a form of spatial notation with the hope that it will enable the two players to take part in a more active response between the two instruments.
JESSE BROWN, Phosphorescent Dreams
As the title suggests, Phosphorescent Dreams came about from a dream I was having two years ago. It was early in the morning, just after sunrise. However, little by little my dream became awash in white light until the light was so sharp and harsh that I finally woke from my dream. Phosphorescence is a type of light emission where absorbed energy is slowly emitted as light energy rather than immediately like fluorescence. The science behind this is irrelevant as I was only concerned with the slow physical process of phosphorescence. The music is a gradual meditation over an eighth note pulse, slowly expanding, until the pulse changes, becoming
jagged, leading to an awakening from peaceful dreams.
Phosphorescent Dreams received its premiere by Blair McMillen at Bard College, December 2008.
BRUCE WOLOSOFF, blues for the new millennium
In the mid-90’s I began to feel lost as a composer. I felt no urge to compose and wondered if I would ever write again. Then one night I was talking to William Bolcom and he urged me just to “come from your fire. It’s the only thing that matters”. For some reason these words had an enormous impact on me. I went out the next day and bought a stack of boogie woogie recordings by the masters: Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson. I’m not sure why, I just felt like doing it, so I went with my excitement and did it! I spent the next few weeks listening to these records, absorbing their energy, then one day I sat down at the piano and started writing my own boogie woogie pieces! I did this happily for a number of months, until one morning the phone rang and it was Christopher Kendall who runs the 20th Century Consort in Washington. I’d written a number of pieces for them before, and now they wanted to commission a new work for performance in January 2001 in honor of the new millennium. Uh-oh! I wasn’t inclined to turn down a commission and at the same time wasn’t sure how to approach a composition for a “modern classical” audience in light of the stylistic changes I’d undergone as a composer. I wasn’t even sure I could do it! The result of the next few months’ work is “blues for the new millennium”, a piece for clarinet, violin, and piano (the same instrumentation Bela Bartok used when he got to write for Bennie Goodman). With blues underpinnings throughout, the music seems to morph back and forth between “modern classical” sounds and a blues and boogie based language. I hope that you enjoy it.
JOAN TOWER, Valentine Trills
Valentine Trills was commissioned by flutist Carol Wincenc for her solo recital on Valentine’s Day (February 14, 1998) at Merkin Hall in NYC. She wanted something very short, and this work is the shortest work I have, [lasting] one and a half minutes. It is mostly about trills (and runs), which flutists do better and faster than almost any other instrument. (They also commission more pieces than any instrument. When the 20th century is over, I believe statistics will show that the flute repertoire has increased substantially over any other instrumental area.)
JOAN TOWER, Platinum Spirals
Platinum Spirals (1976) was commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts and dedicated to the memory of my father, who was a geologist and mining engineer. Platinum is a mineral whose internal properties reveal a very malleable and flexible set of characteristics. It is said that an ounce of platinum can be stretched into a mile. A lot of this piece is about the stretching of lines of ten upward in “spirals.” Other times, there is a quiet kind of “rocking” pattern that “holds” the action in place.
Hailed as “one of the most successful woman composers of all time” in the New Yorker magazine, JOAN TOWER was the first woman to receive the Grawemeyer Award in Composition in 1990. She was inducted in 1998 into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters, and into the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University in the fall of 2004. She was the first composer chosen for the ambitious new Ford Made in America commissioning program, a collaboration of the League of American Orchestras (at that time, the American Symphony Orchestra League) and Meet the Composer. In October 2005, the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra presented the world premiere of Tower’s 15-minute orchestral piece Made in America. The Nashville Symphony and conductor Leonard Slatkin recorded Made in America, Tambor, and Concerto for Orchestra for the Naxos label. The top-selling recording won three 2008 Grammy awards: Best Classical Contemporary Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. Tower has added conductor to her list of accomplishments, with engagements at the American Symphony, Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Scotia Festival Orchestra, Anchorage Symphony, Kalisto Chamber Orchestra, and another eight of the Made in America orchestras, among others. Since 1972, Tower has taught at Bard College. She recently concluded her 10-year tenure as composer in residence with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a title she has held at the Deer Valley Music Festival in Utah since 1998, as well as at the Yale/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival for eight years. Other accolades include the 1998 Delaware Symphony’s Alfred I. DuPont Award for Distinguished American Composer, the 2002 Annual Composer’s Award from the Lancaster Symphony, and an honorary degree from the New England Conservatory (2006). “Tower has truly earned a place among the most original and forceful voices in modern American music” (Detroit News).
Educated at Haverford College and the Yale School of Music, composer and performer RICHARD TEITELBAUM is known principally for live electronic and interactive computer music composition. His compositions have been performed in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Lisbon, Tokyo, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, and elsewhere around the world. A founder, with Frederic Rzewski and Alvin Curran, of Musica Elettronica Viva in Rome in 1966, he has composed works in a variety of genres, including compositions for the Japanese shakuhachi master Katsuya Yokoyama, pianists Aki Takahashi and Ursula Oppens, a choral piece for twenty Japanese Buddhist monks, and multimedia works with Nam June Paik, Joan Jonas, and others. Recordings include Golem: An Interactive Opera, Tzadik CD (U.S.A.); Live at Merkin Hall: Duets with Anthony Braxton, Music and Arts CD (U.S.A.); Concerto Grosso, Hat Art CD (Switzerland); Run Some By You, Wego CD (Germany); and Cyberband, Moers CD, Germany. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Prix Ars Electronica from Austrian Radio and Television (1987); commissions from the Venice Biennale, German Radio, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Mary Flagler Cary Trust, Meet the Composer/NEA Commissioning Program, and Rockefeller Foundation; and Fulbright research grants to Italy and Japan. Teitelbaum has taught at Vassar College, California Institute of the Arts, Antioch College, and York University, Toronto. He is currently on the faculty of the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts and associate professor of music at Bard College.
Born and raised in North Canton, Ohio, JESSE ALEXANDER BROWN ('10) developed his interest in music relatively late when he wrote his first piece, Scherzo, in 2005 for his high school orchestra. He started college at Case Western Reserve University, but transferred to Bard College in 2007 in order to pursue a music composition major. He will graduate in May with a bachelor of arts degree in music. Brown writes with simple structures and forms, drawing inspiration from the music of video games from such composers as Kō Ōtani (Shadow of the Colossus), Jack Wall (Myst III), and Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy). Brown recently completed his first opera, When We Dead Awaken, an adaptation of the play by Henrik Ibsen, and is premiering the work in April 2010 at Bard College. He is currently studying with Kyle Gann; previous teachers include Keith Fitch and George Tsontakis.
ERICA BALL ('10) is a multitalented musician-violinist, pianist, and composer. As a composer Ball’s works have been played by numerous ensembles, including the Walden Players, Bard College Orchestra, Da Capo Chamber Players, Colorado Quartet, and the International Contemporary Ensemble. She is currently pursuing a double major in environmental studies with a concentration in economics and in music with a concentration in composition at Bard College, with an early graduation date of December 2010. She studies chamber music with Luis Garcia-Renart, violin with D. Lydia Redding, piano with Blair McMillen, and composition with Joan Tower. She has been invited to be a guest composer on the Deer Valley Music Festival’s Emerging Quartets and Composers Series in the summer of 2010.
BRUCE WOLOSOFF (’77) began his musical studies on piano at a young age, playing in rock, jazz, and fusion bands throughout his teen years while simultaneously pursuing his “serious” studies as a classical pianist. He studied classical piano for 16 years with German Diez and later studied with distinguished pianist Richard Goode. Wolosoff holds degrees from Bard College, where he worked with Joan Tower, and the New England Conservatory of Music. In addition to his classical studies, Wolosoff studied jazz piano and harmony for many years with Charlie Banacos, and jazz piano and composition with Jaki Byard. Wolosoff’s principal studies in composition and orchestration were with Lawrence Widdoes. At the age of 30, he stopped performing in public to devote his energies more fully to his work as a composer. He has received five commissions to create new works for the Smithsonian, and has also written for the Columbus Symphony, Minnesota Ballet, Carpe Diem String Quartet, violinist Charles Wetherbee, oboist Rudy Vrbsky, Danish recorder virtuoso Michala Petri, and the Lark Quartet, among others. Wolosoff’s chamber opera Madimi was performed by the Center for Contemporary Opera at Symphony Space in New York City. Songs without Words (18 divertimenti for string quartet), composed for the Carpe Diem String Quartet, are now available on the Naxos label and are being choreographed by Ann Reinking. In addition to his work as a composer, Bruce Wolosoff is an innovative music teacher who spends three weeks each year in residence at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, where he runs a creative orchestra of young students who compose, conduct, and perform their own music.
ADRIENNE ELISHA holds degrees from Indiana University (Bloomington), where she studied composition with John Eaton, Donald Erb, Bernhard Heiden, Juan Orrego-Salas, and Leonard Bernstein. While at Indiana she studied violin with Thaddeus Wronski, Henryk Kowalski, and Franco Gulli. She also received a certificate/diploma in viola performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she was an assistant to Heidi Castleman. More recently, she was winner of the 2007 Thayer Award in Music Composition and received her Ph.D. in composition at the University of Buffalo, where she was a Presidential Doctoral Fellow, working with David Felder. Ms. Elisha has received numerous grants and commissions, including Meet the Composer, National Music Teachers' Association (which named her “Ohio Composer of the Year 1997”), the Fortnightly Music Club of Cleveland, Cleveland Chamber Music Society, newEar Ensemble (Kansas City), and the American Music Center. Her works have been featured nationally and internationally at numerous concerts and music festivals, including, June in Buffalo, Colorado Springs New Music Symposium, Chintimini Chamber Music Festival, and International Bartók Festival in Szombathely, Hungary, where she has performed her own solo and chamber works as well as works by other composers. Adrienne Elisha is principal violist with Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Center for 21st Century Music Ensemble, and June in Buffalo Chamber Ensemble and frequently performs with Boston Modern Orchestra Project. She is currently visiting assistant professor of composition at Vassar College.