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EARPLAY 22: Visioning
San Francisco International Arts Festival

Monday, May 21, 2007, 7 PM
Herbst Theatre

The Earplay Ensemble
Mary Chun, conductor
Tod Brody, flutes  •  Peter Josheff, clarinets  •  Karen Rosenak, piano
Terrie Baune, violin  •  Ellen Ruth Rose, viola  •  Thalia Moore, cello

Special Guest artists:

Stacey Pelinka, flute  •  Laurie Radford, electronics  •  Roy Malan, violin • Dan Reiter, cello
Daniel Kennedy, percussion
* * *
Eleanor Alberga
Suite from Dancing with Shadows
(1991)


Mirtru Escalona-Mijares

Cinco Transfiguraciones Llanas
(U.S. Premiere, 2004 )

2006 Winner Earplay Donald Aird Memorial Composition Competition

Stacey Pelinka


Laurie Radford

Portals/Portails
(U.S. Premiere, 2001)


Sungji Hong

Impetuoso
( 2006)

 

Galina Ustvol'skaya
Trio
(1949)

 

Eleanor Alberga
Suite from Dancing with Shadows
(1991)

flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion

I composed “Dancing with the Shadow” as a 30 minute work in 5 sections, for the choreographer Sue McLennan. The first movement is a duo, the second a trio and so on, culminating in a sextet.  Although there is some recurrence of ideas linking the movements, they were each intended to stand as separate entities.  The suite was adapted from sections I, IV and V. The title suggests the conscious acceptance of the darker sides of the human psyche to create transformation and unity.

--E.A. 2002

Born in Jamaica, Eleanor Alberga (B.1949) is now a leading British composer of contemporary concert music.  She has also distinguished herself as a solo pianist, and has traveled the world with her husband, violinist Thomas Bowes, performing with him under the name Double Exposure.  Her talents as a composer have won her numerous commissions, leading to widely acclaimed works. Alberga held the post of Music Director at the London Contemporary Dance Theatre.

She spent three years performing with authentic African dance company and has sung with internationally celebrated Jamaican Folk Singers.  She is also a professional pianist.  Her compositional activity began with writing for London Contemporary Dance Theatre.  This has led to a wide range of concert music encompassing, besides electronic scores, works for orchestra, choral and chamber ensembles, and pieces for solo instruments.    

 


Mirtru Escalona-Mijares

Cinco Transfiguraciones Llanas
(U.S. Premiere, 2004 )

 flute solo

2006 Winner Earplay Donald Aird Memorial Composition Competition

In this cycle I pay homage to Venezuelan composers that have an important place in my cultural heritage.  Inspired by an essence in various works, I devised an overall musical meta text transfiguring harmonies, melodies and rhythms that are uniquely Venzuelan. –-m.e.m.

 

Mitru Escalona-Mijares (b. 1976) completed his initial studies in Venezuela with Rafael Saaverdra and Gerado Gerulewiez.  In 2000 he moved to Paris and continued in electroacoustic music with Christine Groult at the “Ecole Nationale de Musique de Pantin” where he obtained the “Diplome des estudes musicales” (DEM) with distinction, in 2003 and the prize of the completion of studies by the SACEM.  Afterward he received a Diplome de Composition fro the Conservatoire Nation, Strasbourg with Ivan Fedele. He is currently attending the specialization class of Philippe Leroux at the Ecole Nationale de Musique de Blanc-Mesnil. Mitrue Escalon-Mijares has collaborated with various ensembles and institutions such as the National Council of Culture of Venezuela, the International meeting of composition – Syntono, Hochshule für Musik Franz Lisz Weimar, Centre de Création Musicale Iannis Xenakis (CCMIX), and Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris.

 

 


Laurie Radford

Portals/Portails
(U.S. Premiere, 2001)

violin, viola, cello + electronics

Portals/Portails The word root  “port” appears in many languages. It lends itself to words ranging from those indicating a door, gateway, or harbor, as well as a manner of movement and the act of supporting something, to the foreshadowing of events to come and the carrying of an as-yet-to be born child. The image of a portal, a place or object that facilitates entry to a new environment, a new manner of thinking, a new body of knowledge, and in fact embodies the very act of that entry, provides the central impetus for Portals/Portails. The portal represents a state that exists while one is in transit from one point in space and time, from one state of being to another. But passage through a portal need not be merely a fleeting phase; it can be a state of action, a commitment and engagement with the very essence of change that rivals the act of departure and the pleasures of arrival. This state and place of transition (if one can speak of a particular place or time for something that is, by its very nature, in flux) hungers for new sounds, new manners of execution. Portals/Portails consists of four sections in constant transition. This music is driven towards a punctuation provided by several string solos and a near-static refrain that seeks ascendance, unsuccessfully, to some ultimate goal. A series of transformations to the sounds of the string performers provided by live digital signal processing extends the timbral and expressive range of the piece and offers an additional “portal” through which both the music and the listener are drawn.   ---L.R.

Portals/Portails was written for Concerts M in Montréal and members of the Bozzini String Quartet and was made possible through funding support from The Canada Council for the Arts.

                                                                  

Sunji Hong photo
Sungji Hong

Impetuoso
( 2006)

flute, piccolo, bass clarinet, violin, cello, and piano

The title suggests impetuous, violent and dashing gestures that underline the direction of the music. Particular attention was given to the timbre of instruments in their different registers.

The piece is in two sections. The first five bars introduce the prominent sound materials of the piece: aeolian sounds, fairly slow, irregular oscillations and sul ponticello with extreme bow pressure. The sound materials are transformed in various ways throughout the piece by juxtaposing different techniques or moving from one sound-type to another.  – S.H.

Sungji Hong’s (b. 1973) creative output includes works from solo instruments to full orchestra, as well as choral, ballet and electroacoustic music. Her works have been commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation (Harvard University, USA), the Tongyoung International Music Festival (Korea), the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (Korea), the Foundation for Universal Sacred Music (USA), The International Isangyun Music Society (Germany) and the MATA Festival (USA), and are regularly performed at international festivals and on major concert series throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Her music has been broadcast around the world and has been recorded and released on the Dutton label and by ECM Records.

She has won the European Competition of State Conservatory of Thessaloniki (1st Prize), the Temple Church Composition Competition (1st Prize), the Crwth Competition (1st Prize), the international competition for original ballet music at the ISCM World Music Days –Slovenia (1st Prize), the Montserrat International Camera Music Composition Competition (1st Prize), the Theodore Front Prize (IAWM) and the Yoshiro Irino Memorial Prize (ACL). Sungji Hong graduated from Hanyang University in Seoul (BA Hons), the Royal Academy of Music in London (MMus) and the University of York (PhD).

 

Galina Ustvol'skaya
Trio
(1949)

clarinet, violin and piano

Speaking of her Clarinet Trio of 1949, the composer said: ‘all my music from this work onwards is “spiritual” in nature”.

Galina Ustvol'skaya was just 30 when she wrote her Clarinet Trio in 1949 and is often referred to as her best work. It’s been described a tortuous, ascetic statement using tension and density to convey a large-scale intent, a style that continued in the music she wrote fifty years later in her own solitary underground retreat in St. Petersburg. The opening clarinet melody exhibits the influence of her teacher Dmitri Shostakovich in the slow-moving, semi-tonal, sparsely expressive lines and yet establishes Ustolskaya’s formidable independent voice as the piece becomes grittier. In the third movement, Ustvolskaya’s characteristic note-against-note counterpoint and explosive repeated notes allows the secondary "folk" tune to sound natural.

Galina Ivanovna Ustvol'skaya (1919-2006) was a Russian composer of classical music with a small, but highly personal and idiosyncratic catalog. Born in Petrograd, she studied at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in Leningrad under Dmitri Shostakovich (1939 to 1947). After completing postgraduate course she assumed the composition class at the Conservatory, where she lectured until 1977. Ustvolskaya developed her own very particular style, of which she has said, "There is no link whatsoever between my music and that of any other composer, living or dead. " She is regarded as the only one of Shostakovich’s students who worked out her own aesthetic, completely independent from the style of her great teacher (‘It’s not you who is under my influence, but rather I am under yours,’ Shostakovich once wrote to her). She retained little of his influence from the 1950s onwards and her composition are regarded as standing outside fashion, past or present. Among the characteristics of her music are: the use of repeated, homophonic blocks of sound, which prompted the Dutch critic Elmer Schoenberger to call her "the lady with the hammer"; unusual combinations of instruments (such as eight double basses, piano and percussion); considerable use of extreme dynamics; employing groups of instruments in order to introduce tone clusters; and the use of piano or percussion to beat out regular unchanging rhythms (all of her acknowledged works use either piano or percussion, many use both). Hallmarks of her style are unswerving severity and seriousness, presented in a predominantly harsh, hard-edged sound spectrum that is bleak and compelling, neither typically avant garde nor minimalist; cathartic but never comfortable. As a modernist, she had few public performances and none of her works were performed other than patriotic pieces written for official consumption until 1968. After the fall of the USSR, her music has been increasingly programmed at festivals in Europe and the U.S.

 

 

 
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