P.O Box 192125
San Francisco, CA 94119-2125
Program Notes and Composer Biographies
"Made in the Bay Area"
October 23, 2000 - 8pm
The Forum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Mary Chun, conductor
Polarities (1995) is emblematic of several of the most striking characteristics of Mamlok's style. The first movement employs delicate weaving, fluttering textures, which are contrasted with fff piano chords and passages of rhythmic stasis. The brief second movement, originally composed as a memorial tribute to Samuel Starr, a friend of the Alaria Chamber Ensemble, dispenses with the piano entirely. With its stately, almost circular motion around a few musical gestures, it serves as a bridge between the frenetic activity of the first and last movements. The finale begins with neoclassically tinged motifs and textures that soon blossom into an intricate contrapuntal web. This wave-like buildup to complexity is the major device by which Mamlok creates structural contrast between the many short episodes within the overall arch structure of the movement. Polarities was commissioned and premiered by the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society. A recording of this work is available on CRI disc number 806.
Ursula Mamlok began her study of music in her native city of Berlin, and continued at the Mannes College of Music in New York with George Szell. She earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. She also studied with Roger Sessions, Ralph Shapey, and Stefan Wolpe. Among her numerous commissions are those from the Koussevitsky and Fromm Music Foundations, Alaria Chamber Ensemble, Eastman School of Music, EARPLAY, and the San Francisco Symphony. She has received awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation, and in 1995, a Fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. Her works are regularly performed by major domestic and foreign ensembles and have been recorded on the CRI, Gasparo, Leonarda, Newport Classics, Music and Arts, Opus One, True Media, and Centaur labels, and are published by CF Peters Corporation, McGuinness and Marx, and Hildegard. In 1987, Ursula Mamlok received a Commendation of Excellence "for her contribution to the new world of concert music" by BMI. She has been on the composition faculties of New York University, City University of New York, Temple University, and the Manhattan School of Music. She is also a board member of the League of Composers/ISCM.
West Coast Premiere
John McGinn, piano
"Everything we hear is an echo. Anyone can see that echoes move forward and backward in time, in rings. But not everyone realizes that as a result silence becomes harder and harder for us to grasp -- though in itself it is unchanged -- because of the echoes pouring through us out of the past, unless we can learn to set them at rest. We are still hearing the bolting of the doors of Thermopylae, and do not recognize the sounds. How did we sound to the past? And there are sounds that rush away from us: echoes of future words.
So we know that there are words in the future, some of them loud and terrible. And we know that there is silence in the future. But will the words recognize their unchanging homeland?
I am sitting on the shore of a lake. I am a child, in the evening, at the time when the animals lose heart for a moment. Everyone has gone, as I wanted them to go, and in the silence I call across the water, "Oh!" And I see the sound appear running away from me over the water in her white veil, growing taller, becoming a cloud with raised arms, in the dusk. Then there is such silence that the trees are bent. And afterwards a shock like wind, that throws me back against the hill, for I had not known who I was calling."
-- W.S. Merwin
Jason Eckardt (b. 1971) has been internationally recognized through commissions from Carnegie Hall, the Koussevitzky and Fromm Foundations, and percussionist Evelyn Glennie; awards from the League of Composers/ISCM (National Prize), Deutsche Musikrat-Stadt Wesel (Symposium NRW Prize), ASCAP, the University of Illinois (Martirano Prize), and Columbia University (Rapoport Prize); and fellowships from the Fondation Royaumont, the MacDowell and Millay Colonies, the Fritz Reiner Center for New Music, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, and the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music. Eckardt's music has been performed in Europe, Asia, Australia, and America at festivals including Darmstadt, the ISCM World Music Days, Voix Nouvelles, Musica Nova Sofia, Currents in Musical Thought-Seoul, Musik im 20 Jahrhundert, the International Review of Contemporary Music, and the International Bartok Festival. An active promoter of new music, Eckardt is a co-founder and the Executive Director of Ensemble 21, the contemporary music group in New York City. He is currently fulfilling a commission for Melbourne's Libra Ensemble and has new recordings of his music forthcoming on the CRI and Helicon labels and a portrait CD on Mode.
On Spring's Eve was completed at the very beginning of this last spring (2000) and is dedicated to Richard Hoffmann on his 75th birthday.
Edwin Dugger (b. 1940) was born in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio in 1962, and his Master of Fine Arts from Princeton University in 1964. He studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria from 1960 to 1961. Mr. Dugger is currently a Professor of Music Composition at UC Berkeley. Dugger's numerous awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Naumberg Award and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Commissions have been received from the Boston Symphony and the Fromm Foundation, Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress, Columbia University and EARPLAY.
Dugger's music has been performed at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Princeton University, UC Berkeley, the University of Colorado, the Gulbrekian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal, Columbia University, the Milwaukee Art Center, the Portland Summer Concerts, the Manhattan School of Music, San Francisco State University, the University of Chicago, the Parnassus Ensemble, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the New York Philharmonic, the Group for Contemporary Music, the Chicago Symphony Chamber Music Series and EARPLAY.
West Coast Premiere
FUSE-VII reflects the birth of a stream which flows into a river. The piece was inspired by images of objects that the stream runs into and the various shapes the water forms. The composition begins with subtlety by using a narrow belt of notes [A# (Bb), B, C, C# (Db), D] for the stream, which reflects faint, yet numerous color changes by sound beating in the narrow intervals between two instruments. This is followed by other instruments adding to the close harmony. (Sometimes, by limiting the capacity, by limiting the quantity and by narrowing the pitch ranges the clarity of a composition is refined.)
I also created similary narrow belts of notes for several groups of instruments which represents other streams. From time to time, these streams come together to the note "C", making sure that each one is on the way to become one melded force. The stream sings along with small creatures; it makes large waves against the banks. It fuses. They fuse seven times.
After the premiere of Fuse-VII, last May in New York City, a friend of mine came up to me and said, "It was nice to hear the woman's side of music in this piece, something which I have seldom heard in your music." (Incidentally, my first name is generally given to males in Japan.)
The composition took place from mid-January through March in 2000. I greatly acknowledge the warm support of the Asian Art Museum, Aislinn Scofield, the Asian Improv aRts, Mary Chun and EARPLAY who all helped to make this performance possible.
This piece was commissioned by the Japan Society as part of a national series of works from Meet the Composer/Arts Endowment Commissioning Music/USA with support from the Helen F. Whitaker Fund.
Ms. Ushio Torikai has a wide-ranging musical background. She began her education at an early age on violin and piano, followed by studies on traditional Japanese instruments, shamisen and koto. She also holds a B.A. in Economics from Keio University in Tokyo.
Ms. Torikai has received commissions from the Japan National Theater, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, the City of Los Angeles, the Mabou Mines Theater, the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, Work-in-Progress Berlin and the Kronos Quartet, among others. Commissioned pieces range from works for concert music and opera to a permanent music installation in a public park. Her compositions vary considerably in instrumentation, ranging from Western to traditional Japanese instruments, computer/electronics to reconstructed ancient Asian instruments, and Western choir to Japanese Buddhist monks' chants. Her music has been performed in many different venues in North America, Japan and internationally, including major cities in Europe and East Asia.
Her newest album, A Un, a seventy-five minute work for forty Japanese Buddhist monks, was released by Japan Victor. Ms. Torikai has lived in New York City since 1986, when she was awarded a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council, New York City.
The San Francisco performance of FUSE VII is in association with the Asian Art Museum/Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture. Additional support for Ms. Torikai comes from Asian Improv aRts. FUSE VII was funded by Meet the Composer/Arts Endowment Commissioning Music/USA and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund.
In this month no destruction
Jonathan Berger's music encompasses a broad range of media including orchestral and chamber works, interactive works for performers and computer, and installations. Echoes of Light and Time, Berger's collaboration with sculptor Dale Chihuly, for a millennium exhibition in the Citadel of David in Jerusalem, has received international recognition. The work incorporates numerous prayers recorded by the composer in Jerusalem and uses light and heat sensors embedded in Chihuly's towering glass sculpture to process and alter these sounds. Excerpts from this sonic sun-dial have been broadcast throughout Europe and the United States and the work has been heard live by over two million people. A compact disc based upon the work is available on the Sony Classical label. Other commissions include Miracles and Mud, a work for the St. Lawrence String Quartet, which will receive its premiere this season, a work for Ensemble Kaprizma, and a work for members of Ensemble Intercontemporaine. Also premiering this season is Berger's Piano Concerto (Zagreb Philharmonic). Berger's music is available on the Centaur, Neuma, Harmonia Mundi, and Sony Classical labels. In addition to composition, Jonathan Berger is actively involved in research on signal processing and music cognition. His work on denoising (together with CCRMA, Charles Nichols and Yale Professor Ronald Coifman) produced a transcription and reconstruction of the historic 1889 cylinder recording of Johannes Brahms playing the piano. This work was featured on NPR's Performance Today and in the New York Times. Berger's book, Musical Expectations, will be published by MIT press next year. Berger is an Associate Professor of Music at Stanford.
West Coast Premiere
Daedalus and Icarus was inspired by a recent re-reading of the myth as translated and commented upon by Robert Graves in his excellent two-volume collection The Greek Myths. In order to escape from the labyrinth which he himself designed to hold the Minotaur but within which he was now being held prisoner, Daedalus makes a pair of wings for himself and his son Icarus, and they manage to fly away from Crete, but Icarus, against his father's warnings, flies too high and the sun melts the wax holding the feathers, causing him to plummet into the sea. This piece is, in a sense, program music, and indeed the treacherous rise and tragic fall of Icarus are musically depicted, but I also saw in the myth a symbolic representation of my own artistic dilemma and that of the artist in general. I began composing this piece without a program in mind but soon felt as if, like Daedalus, I was trapped within a labyrinth of my own invention, and the idea struck me that the dramatic framework of the myth would serve this piece well, since it would force me to escape from the gravitational pull of low pedal tones and the use of ostinato and imitation set up early in the piece. Daedalus and Icarus represent the two sides of artistic creation: invention and artifice on the one hand versus imagination and flight of fancy on the other. The artist needs to escape from the self-imposed limitations of pattern by flying in the face of logic, somehow managing to be simultaneously a circumspect planner and a heedless risk taker.
Born in New York City in 1962, Stephen Blumberg received his Ph.D. in composition from the University of California, Berkeley, and his MA and B.A. degrees from the University of California, San Diego. He has studied composition with Richard Felciano and Andrew Imbrie at UC Berkeley, and with Bernard Rands, Will Ogdon, Joji Yuasa, Pauline Oliveros and Roger Reynolds at UC San Diego. He also studied privately with Ivo Malec in Paris.
Blumberg has won numerous awards, including the UC Berkeley Music Department's George Ladd Prix de Paris Fellowship for two years of independent research in Paris (1991-93), two Nicola De Lorenzo Prizes for Composition (1990 and 1994), and a BMI Student Composer Award (1987). His works have been performed in France and the Netherlands as well as throughout the United States by ensembles such as the Arditti Quartet, the Cassatt Quartet, EARPLAY, and Octagon, and by noted soloists including harpsichordists Jory Vinikour and Lorna Peters, flutist Laurel Zucker, and percussionist Daniel Kennedy. Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle described Blumberg's Sextant as "a deftly shaped score of streamlined beauty" in a review of a performance by the new music ensemble Earplay at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in February 1996. He was commissioned by the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, directed by Gilbert Kalish and Raymond Des Roches, to compose a new work for flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello, and piano--Daedalus and Icarus--which was performed at the 12th Annual World Premieres Concert in New York City in April 1999. Inflorescence for flute solo was recently recorded by Laurel Zucker to be released on CD in September 2000.
Blumberg has taught musicianship and harmony at the University of California, Berkeley, and has been teaching music theory and composition at California State University, Sacramento since 1995, where he was appointed Artist-in-Residence in 1997. He is the director of the Center for Contemporary Music at California State University, Sacramento, and the editor of its newsletter, Spectrum. He is also Co-Director of the Festival of New American Music at California State University, Sacramento. In addition, Blumberg has taught in the Young Musicians Program at UC Berkeley every summer since 1994.