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EARPLAY 24: Time Landscapes

Monday, March 2, 2009

7:30 p.m.
6:45 p.m. (pre-concert talk)
Herbst Theatre

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

Guest Artists
Eric Zivian, piano  •  Loren Mach, vibraphone

* * *

Toshio Hosokawa

Toshio Hosokawa
Vertical Time Study III (1994)

violin and piano

Toshio Hosokawa (1955) was born in Hiroshima. He went to West Berlin to study composition with Isang Yun at the Hochschule der Künste in 1976. From 1983 to 1986, he studied with Klaus Huber at the Staatlichen Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg.

In 1980, he participated for the first time in the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt, where his work was performed. Since then, Hosokawa has presented his works in Europe and Japan, gaining an international reputation and winning numerous awards and prizes, including First Prize in the Composition Competition on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Berliner Philharmonisches Orchester (1982), Rheingau Musikpreis (1998), Duisburger Musikpreis (1998) and musica viva-Preises der ARD und BMW AG (2001). In 2001, Hosokawa became a member of Akademie der Künste, Berlin.

He has been invited to nearly all of the major contemporary music festivals in Europe as composer in residence, guest composer or lecturer, including the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt (1990- ), La Biennale di Venezia (1995, 2001), Münchener Biennale (1998), Internationale Sommerakademie der Hochschule “Mozarteum” Salzburg (1998), Internationale Musikfestwochen Luzern (2000), musica viva in Munich (2001), Klangspuren in Schwaz (2002), Musica nova Helsinki (2003), Centre Acanthes in Villeneuve-lez-Avignon (2003) and Warsaw Autumn (2005). At the Münchener Biennale in 1998, his first opera, Vision of Lear, commissioned by the City of Munich for the festival, was premièred, and highly acclaimed as “a work inspired by the encounter of East and West which has opened up a new musical world.”

In 2004, his second opera Hanjo, commissioned by the Festival d’Aix-en- Provence, was premièred at the Festival and achieved an overwhelming triumph. In August 2005, his orchestral work, Circulating Ocean, commissioned by the Salzburg Festival, was premièred by the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Valery Gergiev and received its U.K. première in August 2006 in BBC Proms. His Lotus under the moonlight for piano and orchestra, which was commissioned by NDR on the occasion of Mozart Year 2006 received its world première and repeate performances in regular concerts of the NDR Sinfonieorchester with the soloist Momo Kodama and the conductor Jun Märkl in April 2006. The work was also well received when it was first performed in Japan by Momo Kodama and the Mito Chamber Orchestra conducted by Seiji Ozawa in December 2006. In January 2007, the German première of Circulating Ocean took place in Berlin by the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin under the baton of Kent Nagano.

Since 1998, Hosokawa has served as Composer-in-Residence at the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. He is also Composerin- Residence with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin (2006/2007) and with the WDR Rundfunkchor, Köln (2006-2008). Since 2001, he has served as Music Director for the Takefu International Music Festival. In 2004, he was appointed a guest professor at Tokyo College of Music.

Hosokawa, who is resident in Berlin, has also been invited to be one of the 2006/2007 Fellows by the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

Mei-Fang Lin

Mei-Fang Lin
Friction (2008)
Earplay commission/World Premiere
flute and viola

“Friction” delineates the confrontation of the two instruments used in this piece - flute and viola, and the tension in between them resulting from an effort to shape the larger course of the piece together through a sort of non-cooperation. The physical phenomenon of beating in the acoustics of sound is often used as a metaphysical model for interference in a local level. The more global structure of the piece relies on the evolution of this tension and its resolution (or non-resolution).

Friction was commissioned by the Earplay New Music Ensemble through the American Composers Forum’s Northern California Composers Commissioning Program.

Mei-Fang Lin is currently a visiting professor in composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received her doctoral degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 2007 where she had studied with Edmund Campion. She was awarded a Frank Huntington Beebe Fund from Boston and the George Ladd Paris Prize from UC Berkeley to study with composer Philippe Leroux in Paris during 2002-2005. She was also selected by the IRCAM reading panel to pursue the one-year computer music course “Cursus de Composition” at IRCAM in Paris during 2003-2004.

Major awards include those from the Seoul International Competition for Composers, Bourges Competition (France), American Music Center, Look & Listen Festival Prize (U.S.), Pierre Schaeffer Competition (Italy), SCI/ASCAP Student Commission Competition in (U.S.), Luigi Russolo Competition (Italy), Prix SCRIME (France), National Association of Composers, (U.S.), 21st Century Piano Commission Competition (U.S.), and the Music Taipei Composition Competition.

Lin’s works have been played by groups such as the Nieuw Ensemble (Amsterdam), Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin (Berlin), Yarn/Wire (New York), Ensemble Surplus (Freiburg), San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (San Francisco), Ensemble Concorde (Dublin), Armonia Opus Trio (Buenos Aires), Melos-Etos (Bratislava), Left Coast Chamber Ensemble (San Francisco), Parnassus Ensemble (New York), Ensemble Cairn (Paris), North/South Consonance (New York), Alea III (Boston), Empyrean Ensemble (Davis), Nodus Ensemble (Florida), Chicago Ensemble (Chicago), Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra (Taiwan), I-Chamber (Phoenix), Contemporary Chamber Orchestra Taipei (Taiwan)…etc. Lin’s music had also been heard in international festivals such as the ISCM World Music Days (Hong Kong, Slovenia), Festival Résonances (France), The Seoul International Computer Music Festival (Korea), Ostrava Music Days (Czech Republic), Amadeus Piano Festival (US), Festival Synthèse (France), Vancouver Pro Musica Festival (Canada), Festival HTMLLES (Canada), Maxis Festival (UK), ppIANISSIMO Festival (Bulgaria), En Red O Festival (Spain)…etc.

Andrew Imbrie

Andrew Imbrie
To a Traveler (1971)

To a Traveler (1971)
To a Traveler, for clarinet, violin, and piano, takes its title from Kenneth Rexroth’s translation of an allegorical poem by Su Tung Po. The poem suggests the passage of time and the departure of a friend. Although fashioned in one continuous movement, three main sections (slow fast slow) are clearly perceptible. Toward the end of the first section, the violin leads the piece to a passionate climax, only to disappear. The ensuing return of the lyrical opening materials is made more poignant by the violin’s sudden absence. Indeed, this was intended to represent the departed traveler, Norman Fromm, to whose memory the work is dedicated.

Andrew Imbrie (1921-2007) composed works for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, and stage, and his music has been praised for its profound integrity, ardent expression, and an intense drive and conviction. The first of his five string quartets, written while at Princeton, won the New York Music Critics' Circle Award in 1944. Other commissions include works for the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Halle Orchestra, San Francisco Opera, the Naumburg Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the Pro Arte Quartet. His awards include the Prix de Rome, two Guggenheim Fellowships, The Walter M. Naumburg Recording Award, and membership in the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Alex Hills

Alexander Hills
Line Study (2004)

Line Study (2004)
clarinet, piano and vibraphone

This piece was something of a departure for me. Much of my music has been concerned with the superimposition of many elements, both on top of each other as layers and in strings of very intricate objects. Here, instead, I wanted to explore a single thing - basically just a melodic line. The piece becomes a study in moving in and out of melodic and rhythmic unison, something which has often made up one layer of my work, but here instead heard on its own.

Alex Hills is a composer, pianist and teacher, based in London. His music has been played at events such as the events in the UK such as the Cheltenham Festival, the London Sinfonietta State of the Nation Weekend and the Cutting Edge series, at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and the South Bank Center to the Bethnal Green Working Mens' Club, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and the German SWR, and recorded on the American Innova label. Recent collaborators have included the Berlin-based Ensemble Mosaik, the cellists Kwesi Edman and Lucy Railton, and the pianist Zubin Kanga. He is currently working on a large project based on ideas from the Russian futurist movement that will be performed in London in 2009.

From 1998 to 2004 he lived in California, studying first at the University of California, San Diego, and then Stanford, completing a doctorate supervised by Brian Ferneyhough, and working there as a lecturer. Before that he was a student at the Royal Academy of Music, where his teacher was Michael Finnissy, and an undergraduate at the University of Exeter.

He is now a full-time lecturer at the Royal Academy of Music, where he teaches analysis, keyboard skills and musicianship classes. He also teaches piano and, rather improbably, writes a monthly review column on rock and pop music for Clash Magazine.

Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter
Cello Sonata (1948)
cello and piano

When I was asked in 1947 to write a work for the American cellist Bernard Greenhouse, I immediately began to consider the relation of the cello and piano, and came to the conclusion that since there were such great differences in expression and sound between them, there was no point in concealing these as had usually been done in works of the sort. Rather it could be meaningful to make these very differences one of the points of the piece. So the opening Moderato presents the cello in its warm expressive character, playing a long melody in rather free style, while the piano percussively marks a regular clock-like ticking. This in interrupted in various ways, probably (I think) to situate it in a musical context that indicated that the extreme disassociation between the two is neither a matter of random or indifference but to be heard as having an intense, almost fateful character.

The Vivace, a breezy treatment of a type of pop music, verges on a parody of some Americanizing colleagues of the time. Actually it makes explicit the undercurrent of jazz technique suggested in the previous movement by the freely performed melody against a strict rhythm. The following Adagio is a long, expanding, recitative-like melody for the cello, all its phrases interrelated by metric modulations. The finale, Allegro, like the second movement based on pop rhythms, is a free rondo with numerous changes of speed that end up by returning to the beginning of the first movement with the roles of the cello and piano reversed.

As I have said, the idea of metrical modulation came to me while writing this piece, and its use becomes more elaborated from the second movement on. The first movement, written last after the concept had been quite thoroughly explored, presents one of the piece's basic ideas: the contrast between psychological time (in the cello) and the chronometric time (in the piano), their combination producing musical or "virtual" time. The whole is one large motion in which all the parts are interrelated in speed and often in idea; even the breaks between movements are slurred over. That is: at the end of the second movement, the piano predicts the notes and speed of the cello's opening of the third, while the cello' conclusion of the third predicts in a similar way the piano's opening of the fourth, and this movement concludes with a return to the beginning in a circular way like Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. --E.C.

Elliott Carter (b. 1908) began to be seriously interested in music in high school and was encouraged at that time by Charles Ives. He attended Harvard University where he studied with Walter Piston, and later went to Paris where for three years he studied with Nadia Boulanger. He then returned to New York to devote his time to composing and teaching.

With the explorations of tempo relationships and texture that characterize his music, Carter is recognized as one of the prime innovators of 20th-century music. The challenges of works such as the Variations for Orchestra, Symphony of Three Orchestras, and the concertos and string quartets are richly rewarding. In 1960, Carter was awarded his first Pulitzer Prize for his visionary contributions to the string quartet tradition. Stravinsky considered the orchestral works that soon followed, Double Concerto for harpsichord, piano and two chamber orchestras (1961) and Piano Concerto (1967), to be "masterpieces". Carter continues to show his mastery in smaller forms as well. Along with a large number of brief solo and chamber works, his later years have brought major essays such as Triple Duo (1983), Quintet (piano and winds, 1991), and String Quartet No.5 (1995), composed for the Arditti Quartet.

Twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize, first composer to receive the United States National Medal of Arts, one of the few composers ever awarded Germany's Ernst Von Siemens Music Prize, and in 1988 made "Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" by the Government of France, Elliott Carter is internationally recognized as one of the leading American voices of the classical music tradition. He recently received the Prince Pierre Foundation Music Award, bestowed by the Principality of Monaco, and was one of a handful of living composers elected to the Classical Music Hall of Fame.



Guest Artists

Loren Mach

Loren Mach is passionate about the arts as they relate to our 21st century world and all who inhabit it. A graduate of the Oberlin and Cincinnati Conservatories of Music, he has premiered countless solo pieces as well as chamber and orchestral works. Mach is the percussionist with ADORNO, currently the resident new music ensemble at SFSU, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and Worn Chamber Ensemble. He has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Empyrean Ensemble, sfSound, Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players and most of the areas many regional symphony and opera orchestras. In the summer he has performed at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and was guest artist with Dawn Upshaw and eighth blackbird at the 2006 Ojai Music Festival. Mach has enjoyed recent collaborations with Lucy Shelton, Gino Robair and David Tanenbaum. Tonight he is delighted to be making his first appearance with Earplay.

Eric Zivian

Eric Zivian is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, and the Yale School of Music.  He studied composition with Ned Rorem, Jacob Druckman, and Martin Bresnick and piano with Gary Graffman and Peter Serkin.  He attended the Tanglewood Music Center both as a composer and as a performer, studying composition with Oliver Knussen and Alexander Goehr.  He has also attended summer programs in composition at the Scotia Music Festival, June in Buffalo and the Wellesley Composers’ Conference, participating in seminars with Mario Davidovsky, Ross Bauer, James Primosch, David Felder, and Donald Erb, among others.

Mr. Zivian’s compositions have been performed widely in the U. S. and Japan, and have earned him numerous prizes.  He was awarded an ASCAP Jacob Druckman Memorial Commission to compose Three Character Pieces, which was premiered by the Seattle Symphony in March 1998.  An earlier orchestral work, Quincunx, was commissioned by the Paul Jacobs Memorial Fund and performed by the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra in 1994.  His Double Fugue, for string quartet, was commissioned by the Brentano Quartet and performed in New York’s Alice Tully Hall and at many other venues in the United States during the 2002-2003 season. 


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