Earplay
P.O Box 192125
San Francisco, CA 94119-2125
earplay@earplay-sf.org

Program Notes and Composer Biographies

April 29 , 2002

The Green Room at the War Memorial Performing Arts Center
401 Van Ness Avenue, 2nd floor, San Francisco


David Rakowski , Two can play that game

Peter Josheff, clarinet
Jessica Van Oostom, marimba

BIO:

David Rakowski was born and raised in St. Albans, Vermont, and studied at New England Conservatory and Princeton with Robert Ceely, Milton Babbitt, Peter Westergaard, and Paul Lansky. He also studied with Berio at Tanglewood. He has received the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and other awards, and has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music: in 1999 for Persistent Memory, commissioned and premiered by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and in 2002 for Ten of a Kind, commissioned and premiered by “The President's Own” U.S. Marine Band. He teaches composition and theory at Brandeis University, was formerly on the faculties of Stanford and Columbia, and has also taught at Harvard. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife Beth, and together they own a red canoe.

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Yu-Hui Chang, Perplexing Sorrow (Earplay Commission)

Tod Brody, flute
Ellen Ruth Rose, viola
Marja Mutru, piano

NOTES:

Perplexing Sorrow—Watching the unfolding of events last September was one of the most dreadful experiences a person could have. For those of us who did not lose someone, what has become seemingly insurmountable are the waves of questions pounding our minds. Questions about how in the same day, the good and bad of human nature were shown in such extreme ways; about finding truth among such vastly opposing perceptions of it; doubts about humankind’s repeated mistakes, and about the meaning of life. The compositional ideas of Perplexing Sorrow were planned out when I was wrapped up in these thoughts. It is not a melancholy elegy, but a sorrowful expression with moments of intensity, and a sense of uneasiness and uncertainty throughout.

BIO:

Yu-Hui Chang—composer, conductor, pianist, and singer—is currently an Assistant Professor in composition at the University of California, Davis, and the co-director of the Empyrean Ensemble. Ms. Chang began her professional music training in performance and music theory at the age of six and started composing seriously at the age of fourteen. This early professional training, and constant involvement in music making since, has fostered in her writing a natural and unpretentious flow. The materials and language of Ms. Chang's music are contemporary, yet the spirit is lyrical and filled with humanity. She believes that good music resonates with its audience regardless of its style.

Ms. Chang holds degrees from the National Taiwan Normal University (BFA), Boston University (MM), and Brandeis University (Ph.D.). She has received awards from the Council for Cultural Affairs of the Executive Yuan (Taiwanese government agency), Music Taipei Composition Competition, and the 12th ACL - Yoshiro Irino Memorial Prize. Her works have been heard in cities such as Amsterdam (Nieuw Ensemble), Seoul, Shanghai, Boston (Alea III; AUROS Group for New Music), Taipei (Taipei Symphony Orchestra), and Sacramento (Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra), and selected for the 19th Conference and Festival of the Asian Composers' League, and the 2002 Asian Contemporary Music Festival in Seoul. She is currently working on a commission for the Alexander String Quartet and pianist Lara Downes, to commemorate the opening of the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in the Fall of 2002.

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Paul Siskind, Duo Bagatelles (in five movements)

Peter Josheff, clarinet
Thalia Moore, cello

NOTES:

Duo-Bagatelles, composed in 1990, displays an important aspect in the development of my musical style: a penchant for a terse and aphoristic sense of drama. Each of its five movements presents a concise, self-contained mood or gesture, with focus on the coloristic possibilities of the instruments rather than on motivic development. As virtuosic, show-pieces, the Bagatelles present numerous challenges to the performers.

BIO:

Paul Siskind's music encompasses many genres, and has been performed across the country and abroad by renowned ensembles such as the Minnesota Orchestra, the Omaha Symphony, the Arditti String Quartet, the New Amsterdam Singers, Continuum, the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble, and soprano Cheryl Marshall. His major honors include the 1995 G. Schirmer Young American's Art Song Competition, the 1994 Omaha Symphony Guild Prize, and a Composition Fellowship from the McKnight Foundation in 1993. He has also received awards and grants from ASCAP, Meet The Composer, the Puffin Foundation, the American Music Center, and the National Federation of Music Clubs. His commissions include the Dale Warland Singers, the Leif Ericksson International Festival, the Monmouth Civic Chorus, and the Gotham Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Siskind was invited to attend the first international conference on Words and Music in 1994, sponsored by the Latin American Music Center at Indiana University; he has also been a guest composer at the University of Delaware's New Music Delaware 1999 Festival and the University of Colorado's Artsweek '92. His music is published by G. Schirmer Inc. and Sweet Child Music, and has been recorded on Innova and New Ariel labels.

Dr. Siskind is on the faculty of the Crane School of Music, SUNY-Potsdam; prior to this position, he taught at a number of other schools throughout the Midwest. He completed his Ph.D. in Composition at the University of Minnesota, after studies at Queens College, the Crane School of Music, and Tufts University (where he completed a degree in biology); his teachers included such diverse figures as Dominick Argento, Thea Musgrave, Pauline Oliveros, Robert Starer, and T. J. Anderson. Along with teaching, Dr. Siskind has worked as a composer-in-residence for the Education Department of Minnesota Opera, Twin Cities Chapter Coordinator for the American Composers Forum, Music Director of One Voice Mixed Chorus, and as an Auditor for the New York State Council on the Arts.

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Betsy Jolas, Quatuor VI

Peter Josheff, clarinet
Terrie Baune, violin
Ellen Ruth Rose, viola
Thalia Moore, cello

NOTES:

Quatuor VI—Some thirty years ago, I had named quartet a work for string trio and voice with reference to such pieces by Mozart with flute or oboe. Indeed I recall that among my concerns at the time was the need to confront three members of a given instrumental family with a unique representative of another. I was then already seeking answers to questions that are today among my most foremost preoccupations and which might be classified as organizational: who does what, when, where; who leads, who follows, etc, etc...?

The choice in this case of a clarinet to represent winds versus strings meant naturally remembering, not only Mozart, but also Brahms—and remarking that both masterpieces are quintets, not quartets. Four strings to one clarinet, as if this instrument was worth more, weighed more than a flute or an oboe. I knew somehow that I would have to take this fact into account: compensate as if it were the missing violin by giving the clarinet more importance, by making it in a way—and what was still in question—principal.

BIO:

Betsy Jolas, a dual citizen of the United States and France, was born in Paris in 1926. She received her B.A. from Bennington College in 1946. At the same time, she sang in the Dessof Choir in New York, which she also accompanied as organist and as pianist, thus discovering the polyphonic repertory of the Renaissance, which was to have a profound influence on her. She returned to Paris in 1946, and studied under Messiaen and Milhaud at the Conservatoire National. She was appointed professor of analysis at the Conservatoire de Paris in 1975 and professor of composition in 1978. She also taught in the United States, notably at the universities of Yale, Harvard, University of California at Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as Mills College (the Darius Milhaud chair).

Ms. Jolas has been awarded prizes by the American Academy of Arts, the national music Grand Prix, the Maurice Ravel International Prize and the SACEM Prize for the best creation. Betsy Jolas is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; she was made Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1985, made “Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur” in 1997, and named "Personality of the Year" for France in 1992. She was a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin during fall semester 2000. During this time, she worked on two compositions: a piano concerto for pianist Jay Gottlieb (Paris/New York) and chorus, and the orchestration for an excerpt from the opera Schliemann.

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Ross Bauer , Motion

Terrie Baune, violin
Thalia Moore, cello
Marja Mutru, piano

NOTES:

Motion, commissioned by and dedicated to the Triple Helix Trio, was written in the spring and summer of 1998. They premiered it on December 5, 1998 at Brandeis University. The piece is in three movements played without pause.

The first movement begins with a statement, played in octaves by the strings, which will prove to be important throughout. This two measure statement is responded to by a hushed five note chord in the piano. This opening, fragmented and minus its first two notes, returns to end the piece. The first movement is full of octave and double octave tunes by the strings. It ends with a high, lyrical cello line, which provides a transition to the second movement.

The second movement, which has a restrained, inward quality for most of its short duration, begins with solo piano. Lois Shapiro's expressively lyrical playing was very much in my ear while writing this passage. The sense of dialogue between piano and strings, somewhat downplayed in the first movement, comes to the fore here.

The third movement, perhaps the most wide-ranging of the three, has a strong sense of pulse much of the time. In 12/8 and 9/8 meter for most of its length, it switches to fast 4/4 near the end in an octave passage reminiscent of that which occurred near the end of the first movement. This music is meant to tie the piece together through the completion of what was left unfinished at the conclusion of the first movement.

BIO:

Ross Bauer (born 1951) teaches composition at the University of California, Davis and has also taught at Stanford and Brandeis Universities. He attended New England Conservatory and Brandeis and studied composition with John Heiss, Martin Boykan, Arthur Berger, and Luciano Berio (at Tanglewood). A founding member of Boston’s Griffin Music Ensemble, and founder and director (from 1988-2001) of Empyrean Ensemble (a professional ensemble in residence at Davis), he’s remained active in the performance, recording and promotion of contemporary music, conducting over one hundred performances including numerous premieres. Bauer’s honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Fromm Foundation commissions, a Koussevitzky commission, an NEA Composition Fellowship, the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, prizes from the International, National, and New England sections of the ISCM, and winning the 1997 Speculum Musicae National Composers Competition. His work has been performed and recorded by the Radio Orchestras of Hilversum and Slovakia, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Berkeley, Rohnert Park and Santa Cruz Symphonies, Speculum Musicae, the New York New Music Ensemble, the New Millenium Ensemble, Ensemble 21, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Earplay, sopranos Susan Narucki and Christine Schadeberg, violinist Curt Macomber, Paul Hillier, and many others. His music is published by C.F. Peters, and a CD including his Along The Way for ten players is available on GM Records. Other recordings include Octet (Centaur Records), and Tributaries, recorded by the Core Ensemble on New World Records. He was Guest Composer at the Wellesley Composers Conference in the summer of 2001.

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