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Program Notes and Composer Biographies

February 4, 2002

The Forum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Mary Chun, conductor


Richard Felciano, Prelude

Marja Mutru, piano

NOTES:

The son of a great jazz musician once said, “composing is really about problem-solving.” Stravinsky observed that, “if no one gives me a problem for the work, I give myself one.” They are both right. That’s what keeps the composer going. And if the problem is solved and the integrity of the work is sustained, it becomes like a living being with a life of its own. Fascination with problem-solving is what artists and scientists have always had in common; they simply came together in Leonardo.

The problem I set for myself in Prelude is that of creating a transition between my own prelude and one of Chopin (his Prelude in E-flat minor) which would be so smooth that the listener would be out of one and into the other and back out again without realizing it—as if the two works were transparent to each other. Prelude is one of a series of works influenced by the architectural ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright and Carlo Scarpa, who wanted to allow the exterior, whether natural or man-made to flow into their structures and out again. San Franciscans will soon see this principle in Gae Aulenti’s brilliant redesign of the old Public Library into the new Asian Art Museum.

BIO:

Richard Felciano likes to quote Picasso’s remark that “Beauty is not the problem in painting; the problem is the materials.” In music, the material is sound, itself, and Felciano became fascinated with acoustics and the way in which traditional instruments and voices, as well as new electronic resources, if better understood acoustically, might yield newly beautiful composite sonorities in expressive forms appropriate to them.

Richard Felciano was born in Santa Rosa, grew up in Sebastopol, and went to Paris to study with Milhaud and Messiaen, then on to Italy to work with Dallapiccola. He is Professor at UC Berkeley and founder of the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT). In September, Kent Nagano conducted his Camp Songs, in honor of his Japanese-American primary school friends who were sent to relocation centers during World War II. He recently completed a Library of Congress Koussevitzky commission for an hour-long song cycle for soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson and chamber ensemble. It will be performed in the Library of Congress in Spring 2002.

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Stacy Garrop, little bits (2000)

I. sputter
II. crumbs
III. pithy
IV. morsel
V. doubledare

Peter Josheff, clarinet
Terrie Baune, violin
Thalia Moore, cello
Marja Mutru, piano

NOTES:

little bits was written in the summer of 2000 at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Each composer who came to the Center wrote a piece while in residence, which was rehearsed and premiered by the Eberli Ensemble (who were also in residence with guest composer Aaron Jay Kernis). Given the brevity of time in which to write, I chose to compose super-short movements, each focusing on a specific set of parameters, colors, and textures. For instance, the first movement deals with a twelve-tone row that could only be manipulated in specific ways, while the second is a short tribute to American composer George Crumb. The piece concludes with a slightly longer movement that is both a whirlwind and a smorgasborg of three different bits.

BIO:

Stacy Garrop (D.M., Indiana University, 2000) has a dramatic writing style that is gaining attention in the United States. She won the Omaha Symphony Guild’s 2000 International New Music Competition, Women’s Philharmonic 2000-2001 New Music Reading Session Competition, 2000 Minnesota Orchestra Perfect Pitch Orchestral Reading Program, 2000 New England Philharmonic Call for Scores, Chicago Symphony Orchestra's 1999-2000 First Readings Composition Competition, the Dale Warland Singers 2000-2001 New Choral Music Program, and a 2001 Barlow Endowment commission. She was a finalist for the 2001 Rome Prize. Her works were performed in 2000-2001 by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Women’s Philharmonic, New England Philharmonic, Omaha Symphony, Roosevelt University Chamber Orchestra, and the Eberli Ensemble, and she received readings by the Minnesota Orchestra and the Dale Warland Singers. Upcoming performances in 2002 include the Santa Cruz County Symphony and the San Francisco Chamber Singers. In 1999-2001, she attended residences at the Banff Centre for the Arts, MacDowell Colony, Millay Colony, Yaddo, Wellesley Composers Conference, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Theodore Presser Company publishes several of her works; Hildegard Publishing Company publishes her piano trio SEVEN. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Composition at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

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Edmund Campion, Mathematica III

Tod Brody, flute

NOTES:

Mathematica, for solo flute(s) and quadraphonic tape is the first from a set of four pieces entitled Quadrivium. The four pieces in Quadrivium are designed to be played either individually or together as a complete uninterrupted cycle. All the pieces in Quadrivium explore aspects of sound spatialization as a central feature of the composition.

In Mathematica, evolving probability tables define the harmonic, dynamic and rhythmic unfolding of the piece. What might this mean? Imagine you are in a forest where you are very likely to hear birds singing. Now imagine you are in the city where the probability of hearing cars is much greater than that of hearing birds. Finally, imagine a walk from the city to the forest; the gradual shift from one sonic field to another can be roughly described in terms of shifting probabilities. At a certain point we can be sure we are no longer in the city, and we have arrived in the forest. The dividing line is fuzzy and not abrupt.

Mathematica divides itself into three sections. The first ascends and displays the sonic material of the piece. The second is a virtuoso plateau which becomes more and more dense until it eventually gives way to the last section; a descent, which in structural terms is a palindrome of the first section.

In the Middle Ages, the science-oriented Quadrivium (Mathematica, Geometria, Astronomia, and Musica) was combined with the Trivium (Rhetoric, Grammar and Logic) to form the seven Liberal Arts. Quadrivium was composed in 1994/95 while I was holder of the Frediric A. Julliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize in Music Composition. The title is somewhat sarcastic. For the past twenty-five years I have primarily devoted myself to the work of inventing music, yet my life path has in a predictable probabilistic way, steered me towards a greater and greater involvement with pedagogy, scholastic endeavors and the modern day University whose origins are found in the Quadrivium.

BIO:

Edmund J. Campion was born in Dallas Texas in 1957. He received his Doctorate degree in composition at Columbia University and attended the Paris Conservatory where he worked with composer Gérard Grisey. In 1993 he was selected by the IRCAM reading panel to pursue the 'Cursus de composition' and was eventually commissioned by IRCAM to produce a large-scale work for interactive electronics and midi-grand piano (Natural Selection). Since 1996 he has held a post as Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Berkeley in California where he also serves as the Composer in Residence at The Center for New Music and AudioTechnologies (CNMAT). Recent projects include a Radio France Commission l'Autre in collaboration with poet John Campion and the full-scale ballet Playback (commissioned by IRCAM and the Socitété des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques) in collaboration with the choreographer Franćois Raffinot. Members of the Ensemble Intercontemporain premiered Domus Aurea at the Centre Pompidou in Paris last November and Saxophonist, Vincent David premiered "Corail" at the IRCAM/AGORA Festival in Paris in June of 2001. During the UC Berkeley's TEMPO Festival this past summer, he presented a monograph concert of his compositional work. Upcoming projects include a commission from the Centre National de Création Musicale for the MANCA Festival 2002.

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Shintaro Imai, La Lutte Bleue (2001Earplay Composers Competition Winner)

Thalia Moore, cello

NOTES:

La Lutte Bleue was written for violoncello and live electronics, which includes a Macintosh computer with the software MAX/MSP. The title originates in a Chinese character, which means “silence”. I took this poetic analogy in the narrow sense of the term, as silence of physical matter. Action and reaction of the invisible—such as transformation, modulation or friction of energy toward time and space—is drawn as an important motif of the music.

In many aspects of the composition, I used the software OpenMusic to design and develop complex musical materials (computer-assisted composition). For example, frequency mapping on a time axis based on models of harmonic or inharmonic spectrum data and its gradation, interpolated musical phrase (pitch, onset, duration, dynamics) manipulated via time-varying pitch/interval filter, fractal structure of the piece, and so on.

Electronic sounds were created with the software MAX/MSP and AudioSculpt, and then edited in Pro Tools. I also developed a MAX/MSP object, which works as a sample-source oscillator instead of a proper “wave~” object, to avoid click noise while changing the onset, length, and look-up buffers of the read window on samples. Trying out additive synthesis using this object, which can treat any sound and also move freely among the poles of certain frequencies, timbres, and original or expanded sample sounds, I was challenged to realize a new stage of the “instrumental synthesis” of Gérard Grisey and granular sampling techniques. These prepared sounds are placed and synchronized with the musician, controlled by a program in MAX/MSP, along with some real-time signal processing of the sound of the live instrument.

BIO:

Shintaro Imai was born in Nagano, Japan in 1974. He studied composition and computer music with Takayuki Rai, Erik OĖa, and Cort Lippe, and composition with Philippe Hurel. After finishing a masters degree at the Sonology Department of the Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo, he also completed the Course of Composition and Computer Music at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris.

Mr. Imai won "Residence" prize at the 26th International Concours of Music Electroacoustic in Bourges in France, Honorable Mention at the 3rd International Contest of Music Electroacoustic of Sčo Paulo in Brazil, the First Prize and Special Prize for Young Composer at MUSICA NOVA 2000 International Electroacoustic Music Competition in Czech Republic. His works have been selected and performed at numerous festivals, such as the International Computer Musci Conference (ICMC) in Asia, America, and Europe.

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David Heetderks, Green Suite (1999)

I. Green Love
II. Sirens
III. Green Agony
IV. Petals
V. Green Firedance

Ellen Ruth Rose, viola

NOTES:

Green Suite was completed in December of 1999 and first performed by the composer the following spring. As is sometimes the case when a composer writes for his or her primary instrument, the suite became a direct and highly personal statement, born out of frustration with the tortuous complexity of my previous works.

BIO:

David Heetderks (b. 1975) is active as a composer, violist, and teacher in the New Haven, Connecticut area. He is a doctoral candidate in composition at the Yale School of Music, and received a Master of Musical Arts there in 2000. His teachers have included Ezra Laderman, Evan Ziporyn, Ned Rorem, David Del Tredici, and Alvin Singleton. He has also studied viola with Roberto Diaz and Daniel Foster. Awards for his compositions include a first prize, Eastern Division from the Music Teachers' National Association collegiate composition competition in 1994, a Woods-Chandler Memorial Prize from the Yale School of Music in 1998, and a Frances E. Osborne Kellogg Memorial Prize from the Yale School of Music in 2000.

Mr. Heetderks has written works for the Gemini violin duo and for pianists Reto Reichenbach and Liam Viney. He has also written and performed works that employ his own capacities as a violist and improviser, such as the Green Suite for solo viola and Three's a Crowd for one violist/pianist/singer. His pieces have been performed at the “By Our Friends” concert presented by the Gemini duo in Boston, the New Music New Haven Concert Series, and at St. Thomas More Church in New Haven.

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Massimo Lauricella, Eco di un tempo perduto (2001Earplay Composers Competition Winner)

Tod Brody, flute
Peter Josheff, clarinet
Terrie Baune, violin
Thalia Moore, cello
Marja Mutru, piano

NOTES:

Eco di un tempo perduto for flute, clarinet, piano, violin, and cello was composed in memory of Arnold Schonberg. The first thing that came to mind when I decided to compose a new work dedicated to Arnold Schoenberg, was to start with a series of twelve tones based on the letters of Schoenberg’s name (following the system of J.S.Bach: A=la, B=si-flat, etc.). I tried it, but I did not get the results I was looking for. The letters of Arnold Schoenberg’s name are not at all suitable for generating a twelve-tone series; in fact is name only generated a seven-note series: A, D, C, H (B-natural), B (B-flat), E, and G. From this came a new idea.

Since it was not possible to create the twelve-tone series I wanted, I discovered the possiblity of creating two groups of notes: the ones from Schoenberg’s name, and then the remaining pitches of the chromatic scale (7+5). At this point, all 12 tones of the chromatic scale are present, not in series, but rather two; thus creating two different harmonies.

The work grows in a crescendo fight between the piano and the other four instruments that, starting from the seven notes of Schoenberg’s name, come to quarrel around these two harmonic blocs.

BIO:

After years of concert activity as a pianist, Massimo Lauricella started composing as a pupil of his father Sergio Lauricella, and gained immediate international success. His first composition, Impressions of an American sparrow, for two pianos, won the Valentino Bucchi prize of Rome in 1986 and two years later he won the Forum prize of Cologne with Tremiti, a work for string quartet. This piece, played by the Quartetto Arditti and recorded by the German radio-tv station WDR, was subsequently also awarded the prize of the Kennedy Foundation of Washington. In the following years his works received much more recognition and began to be diffused throughout the whole world by internationally renowned soloists, ensembles and conductors. In 1992 Witold Lutoslawski, chairman of the International Contest of Warsaw, gave his work for orchestra Spectra the Interpreted by the Warsaw Philarmonic Orchestra prize. Spectra was a great success according to both the public and critics.

After two more prestigious international prizes (Jewish Culture Center of Los Angeles in 1994 and Tulane University of New Orleans in 1995), the B. Barattelli Society of Aquila, on the occasion of their fiftieth anniversary, appointed him to compose Imis, a piece for seven instruments, which, among many other interpretations, was also played by the Ensemble Pierrot Lunaire at the Vienna Musikverein. He composed two works for the Geonoese Youth Orchestra 'Giovine Orchestra Genovese' (GOG), the first in 1996 for the centennial of Eugenio Montale's birth, is E piove in petto una dolcezza inquieta for soprano and quintet with texts of the Ligurian poet and, in 1999, Fiabe, miti e magie for percussion instruments and piano.

In 1997, on the occasion of a work appointed by the Verdi Theatre of Pisa and dedicated to Arnold Schoenberg, he was both composer and conductor, performing his piece Eco di un tempo perduto for the first time. From then on, apart from his own works, he also conducted and recorded works of other contemporary composers who even entrusted him with the very first performances of their pieces. That same year the prize of the Japan International League of Artists of Tokyo, which he won for his setting to music of texts of the poet Montale, aroused the interest of the Genoa Opera Theatre which decided to perform his symphonic work E fu sera, e fu mattina dedicated to the Genesis. Among the listeners was Riccardo Chailly who arranged for another performance in Milan, in 1998, during the season of the Verdi Orchestra. He is also a teacher at the N. Paganini Conservatory in Genoa.

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