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Program Notes and Composer Biographies

May 19 , 2003

The Forum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Mary Chun, conductor

Tod Brody, flute
Peter Josheff, clarinet
Karen Rosenak, piano
Terrie Baune, violin
Ellen Ruth Rose, viola
Thalia Moore, cello


Jennifer Lane, alto
Dan Kennedy, percussion
James Winn, piano


Mathew Rosenblum, Ancient Eyes West-Coast Premiere
for flute, clarinet, cello, percussion, and keyboards

Mark Grey, The Wonder Years World Premiere
for solo violin

Mika Pelo, Chains and Transparency U.S. premiere
for flute, violin, cello, piano


Steven Clark, Suite World Premiere, Earplay Commission
for Bass clarinet, cello, and laptop computer

Alexander Post, Thou Art the Sky (from the cantata, The Sea of Light)
for alto and piano
featuring guest artist, Jennifer Lane

Glenn Glasow, Rakka
for violin and tape

Richard Festinger, Abstraction en métal et bois
for piano and percussion
featuring guest artists Daniel Kennedy, percussion and James Winn, piano

Mathew Rosenblum, Ancient Eyes for flute, clarinet, cello, percussion, and keyboards

Commissioned by the Stony Brook Contemporary Players, Ancient Eyes was written during the months directly before and after the birth of my daughter, Anna Eileen, on November 12, 1990, and reflects some of the thoughts and emotions I was experiencing at that time. As is the case with other recent music of mine, Ancient Eyes expands the twelve note equal tempered system to include both just and equal tempered intervals. The nineteen note hybrid tuning used in this piece allows the music to move freely through passages which use either altered or tempered tunings, or combinations of the two.

Mathew Rosenblum’s works have been performed throughout the United States and Europe including the 1990 ISCM World Music Days in Oslo, De Ijsbreker in Amsterdam, the Tonhalle in Düsseldorf, the Bing Theater in LA., and at the Sonic Boom Festival, the Kitchen, Merkin Hall, and Miller Theater in New York City by ensembles including the California Ear Unit, Newband, the Rascher Saxophone Quartet, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Chicago Contemporary Players, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Sequitur, Speculum Musicae, and others. Recent commissions and performances include Möbius Loop (2000) for Saxophone Quartet and Chamber Orchestra commissioned by the Rascher Saxophone Quartet and premiered in DŸsseldorf Germany in March 2000, and a multi-media chamber opera (in-progress) commissioned by Sequitur and scheduled for production at Miller Theater in 2004. In the fall of 2001 he was a core participant in the American Composers OrchestraÕs Orchestra Tech Festival and Conference in New York City where his piece Nü kuan tzu, for singers samplers and chamber orchestra, was one of twenty works featured on the festival. In the fall of 1998 he toured with the New York New Music Ensemble as they performed several of his works at the Sonic Boom Festival in New York City, the Bing Theater in Los Angeles, and the Festival of New American Music in Sacramento California where he was a featured composer.

Other honors include a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Music Fellowship Grant (1994, 1998), a Fromm Foundation Commission (1993), a National Endowment for the Arts Music Fellowship Grant (1992), a New York Foundation for the Arts Artists Fellowship Grant (1989), and an American Composers Alliance 50th Anniversary Recording Award (1987). Recent commissions include those from flutist Patti Monson (2001) and pianist Eric Moe (2001) for upcoming compact disc releases. His music has been recorded by Newband, the California EAR Unit, the Prism Players, pianist Loretta Goldberg, and cellists Theodore Mook and Michael Finckel for the Mode, Opus One, and CRI Emergency Music labels, and is published by C.F. Peters Corporation. He is currently an Associate Professor of composition at the University of Pittsburgh.

Mark Grey, The Wonder Years for solo violin

The Wonder Years is a comment on music of the modern age. In a time when technology flourishes and automation becomes the focus of everyday life, the very basic concepts of music fall short. Here, time steps back for a moment capturing a music and sound from the past—the simple concept of a violinist alone onstage, making music. No technology to obstruct the beauty and passion of the instrument and its performer. In the wonder years of the technological revolution, we find ourselves struggling to further our creations. As a child questions the wonders of the world, this music challenges its place in the modern day. The Wonder Years is a simple moment in time, past and future.

Mark Grey is a composer and sound designer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has sound designed premieres of major theatre, opera and concert works by John Adams, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Kronos Quartet. Recent composition commissions include an interactive electroacoustic work for the Kronos Quartet mixed media production Visual Music, opening at Royce Hall in Los Angeles in February 2003, then touring major theatres around the world throughout 2005. In addition, a new work for Joan Jeanrenaud had its premiere in San Francisco in November 2002, and a new work for The Paul Dresher Ensemble premiered in February 2003. Recent sound design projects include the critically acclaimed John Adams and Peter Sellars stage productions of El Niño (premiered at Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris in 2000), Adams’ most recent orchestral work for the New York Philharmonic On the Transmigration of Souls (premiered at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center in September 2002), as well as Philip Glass’ Dracula: The Music and Film, with a new score written for the 1931 Universal Pictures release, performed live to the film with Philip Glass and Kronos Quartet (premiered at Royal Festival Hall, London in 1999). In addition, Mr. Grey sound designed Kronos’ Visual Music and Terry Riley’s Sun Rings for Kronos and prerecorded spacescapes. Mr. Grey tours extensively throughout the world with Kronos Quartet and frequently sound designs major opera productions at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris.

Mika Pelo, Chains and Transparency for flute, violin, cello, piano

Chains and Transparency consists of two parts: Chains, where melodical fragments are combined in a chain-like fashion, and Transparency, where the musical material is seen as through an opaque filter. This music was written after a long time of studying extremely complex music. I wanted this music to be easy, out-going and fun to play as well as fun to listen to. This piece was originally written for the Swedish ensemble The pearls before swine experience in 1998.

Mika Pelo, born in Stockholm 1971, composed music for films and commercials for several years after graduating from Stockholm’s Upper Secondary Music School. The encounter with professor Sven-David Sandström at a course for film music became a turning point for Mika, and in 1996 he started his studies in composition for Sandström at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. In 2000 he began his studies in composition for his postgraduate diploma at the same school with professors Pär Lindgren and Bent S¿rensen. Mika has also taken part in master classes held by Magnus Lindberg and Peter Eötvös and studied electro acoustic composition for Bill Brunson.

Mika’s music has been played at several Young Nordic Music festivals, most recently in Reykjavik, Iceland, where his string quartet Misty was premiered. In 2000 his work Apparition for string orchestra was nominated for the prestigious Gaudeamus prize in Holland. The same work was also performed in New York earlier this season, marking the premier of Mika’s music in the USA. Apparition was also taken on a Nordic tour by string orchestra Musica Vitae earlier this spring.

Mika will conclude his diploma studies with his Violin Concerto, which will be performed by violinist Cecilia Zilliacus and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Berwaldhallen, May 2003. After that Mika will take part in a one-month course in composition and computer music at IRCAM in Paris.

Steven Clark, Suite for Bass clarinet, cello, and laptop computer

Suite for Bass Clarinet, Cello, and Laptop takes its inspiration from the Baroque “suite” format, a collection of short pieces that are stylized renditions of folk or popular dances of the day. I endeavored to create a modern corollary by tapping into the colorful pallet of contemporary techno dance music. Club DJs frequently coin peculiar names for sub-genres to distinguish subtle shades of style and rhythm:

“Goa”—Trance-like, Eastern-influenced music named for a region in India popular with “ravers.”

“Acid Jazz”—Down-tempo beats with samples of jazz and psychedelic rock.

“Gabber”—Frenetic, energetic music with dramatically sped-up drum beats, etc.

Because this style of music is generated by computers and electronic devices, it usually takes the form of loops of various lengths, superimposed in varying combinations, sometimes reminicent of Stravinsky’s ostinato techniques. The sounds produced by the Bass clarinet and cello are periodically captured by microphones and sent to a laptop computer, which then plays the samples back, transformed in various ways, as an accompaniment to the live musicians. Like a DJ mixing records in a club, the various dances in Suite blend together, making smooth transitions between tempi and themes.

Steven Clark is a native Bay Area composer, performer, and educator. His concert music has been played in the U.S. and Europe by various orchestras and chamber ensembles including the Arditti String Quartet, Earplay, Wireworks Ensemble, and The Clarinet Thing. His pop music has been heard throughout North America in clubs, on radio stations, and on internationally released albums. He also produces music for commercials, web sites, video games, and his film scores have been heard at the Sundance Film Festival.

Steven has a Ph.D. in composition from U.C. Berkeley and has also studied at IRCAM, Berkeley’s Center for New Music and Technology, and the University of Southern California. He has taught courses in music theory, composition, and technology at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, U.C. Santa Cruz Extension, and Ex'pression Center for New Media. He has received honors and awards from ASCAP, The Bourges International Festival of Electo-Acoustic Music, and others.

Alexander Post, Thou Art the Sky (from the cantata, The Sea of Light) for alto and piano

Thou Art the Sky is one song from The Sea of Light cantata. The music was written to a text by the famous Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore's Gitanjali (Song Offerings). The composer has adapted the texts from the collection of prose translations from the original Bengali made by the poet and were published in 1915 by the MacMillan Company of New York.

Sea of Light was commissioned by the Masterworks Chorale of San Mateo who gave the initial performance in 1989.

Thou art the sky and thou art the nest as well.
There in the nest it is thy love that encloses the soul with colors and sounds and odors.
There comes the morning with the golden basket in her right hand bearing the wreath of beauty, silently to crown the earth.
And there comes the evening over the lonely meadows deserted by herds, carrying cool draughts of peace in her golden pitcher from the western ocean of rest.
But there, where spreads the infinite sky for the soul to take her flight in, reigns the stainless white radiance.
There is no day nor night, nor form nor color, and never, never a word.

Alexander Commins Post (1931–2002) was a devoted friend of contemporary music, and served for many years on Earplay’s Board of Directors. Born in Akron, Ohio, Alex Post learned to play piano and organ as a child. In 1953 he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music from Williams College and a master’s degree at the University of Michigan School of Music, Ann Arbor. In 1958, Alex Post was offered a faculty position at San Francisco State University, where he taught music theory, composition, and organ for the next 28 years. He also served as a minister at the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco. Alex Post performed in venues around the country. He was widely known as an oratorio accompanist both on organ and harpsichord, and performed with many Bay Area groups.

Glenn Glasow, Rakka for violin and tape

Rakka was begun in Tokyo in the summer of 1970. Its title was taken from a l0th century haiku by Tomonori. My own translation reads,

On this mild spring day,
Windless with brilliant sun,
Blossoms fall Without tranquillity of soul.

The work was conceived for four channel electronic tape with live violin soloist. The sound sources on the tape are mainly small Japanese temple bells and wind chimes, an idea which came to me when I was presented with a small bell by the composer M. Higurashi. These sounds are electronically processed, frequently beyond recognition, and are sometimes mixed with other concrete and electronically generated sounds. The long central section is made up of white noise and prerecorded violin harmonics which also sound bell-like. During performance these sounds move among four speakers with the soloist in the middle, playing against them, sometimes reacting to them.

As important as the traditions of Noh and Gagaku are to me and the temple bells and title notwithstanding, the composition was not an attempt to write Japanese music. (I am, in fact, not interested in imitations of non-western music.) After hearing the quotations in the last minute of the music the listener should have no doubts about my spiritual fathers in music.

Glenn Glasow (1924–2002) was born in Pine City, Minnesota. As a young man, he played trumpet in dance bands in small towns in the Midwest. Becoming seriously interested in music as a career, he sought out distinguished composers to study with. He was a student of Ernst Krenek at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in music. In 1954, on a Fulbright grant to Detmold, Germany, he studied with Wolfgang Fortner. Glasow subsequently earned his PhD in music at the University of Illinois. His compositions include music for chorus, orchestra, electronics, chamber ensemble, and other media.

Dr. Glasow was Professor Emeritus of Music and Asian Studies at California State University, Hayward, where he taught from 1961 to 1995. With Yoshiko Kakudo, Dr. Glasow translated a collection of essays by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, “Confronting Silence,” and a book of poetry by Shozo Kajima, “Evening Clearing.”

Richard Festinger, Abstraction en métal et bois for piano and percussion

Construction in Metal and Wood is a virtuosic work for piano and mixed percussion. The music unfolds in five large sections. At the outset, the two performers respond to each other in a rapid-fire game of increasingly agitated action and reaction, until they come together in a passage featuring motoric percussion accompanying dense piano chords. Following that, quiet, sparse music gradually accelerates to another climax. As this second climax dies away, again there emerges music that is quiet, suspended, contemplative in character; but now, instead of accelerating, it dies away, leaving behind a feeling of suspense, incompleteness, a lack of fulfillment. The expectant silence is shattered by a jazzy, dancing duet for piano and vibraphone, which finally comes around to a return of the music of the beginning. Construction in Metal and Wood was commissioned by Thierry Miroglio and Ancuza Aprodu, and received its World Premiere performance at the University of Maryland during their 2001 U.S. tour. It was featured during the 2002 Festival Antidogma Musica at the Conservatorio Giusseppe Verdi in Torino last summer.

Richard Festinger’s music has been performed throughout the United States, and in Europe and Asia. His works have been composed for Parnassus, Earplay, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Alexander String Quartet, the, the City Winds, the Laurel Trio, the Left Coast Ensemble, the Alter Ego Ensemble, the Miroglio-Aprudo Piano-Percussion Duo, the Washington Square Contemporary Music Series, and the Redwood Symphony Orchestra. His music has been performed by Griffin, the New Millennium Ensemble, Speculum Musicae, Phantom Arts, Composers Inc., the Empyrean Ensemble, the Sun String Quartet, the Berkeley and Riverside Symphonies, sopranos Jane Manning and Karol Bennett, the Orchestra da Camera Italiana G.F. Ghedini, the Ensemble Italiano per la Musica Contemporanea, Ensemble Anti-Dogma, the Seoul, Korea Festival of Electro-Acoustic Music, and the Boston Chamber Ensemble.

Mr. Festinger’s works have been commissioned by the Jerome Foundation, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress, the Barlow Foundation, and the Mary Flagler Cary Trust. He has had recent residencies residencies at the Camargo Foundation, CitŽ Internationale des Arts, Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. He has been a fellow at the Wellesley Composers Conference and the June in Buffalo Festival, and in 1993 received the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Mr. Festinger studied composition at the University of California in Berkeley under Andrew Imbrie. Before turning to composing, he led his own groups as a jazz performer. He is a founder and director of Earplay. He has taught at the University of California in Berkeley and Davis, and at Dartmouth College, and since 1990 he has been a professor of music theory and composition at San Francisco State University. His music is published by C.F. Peters, and his works have been recorded for the Centaur, CRI and CRS labels.


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