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October 22, 2010 at 8:00 pm
This first concert of the season features the premieres of two works written for fEARnoMUSIC: Four on Five, by Paul Safar, and Triage by Shaun Naidoo. Also on the program is Naidoo’s Electric Fences (which FNM performs on the CD by the same name) and works by Mark Vigil and Judith Shatin.
Conversations with the composers after the concert.
General $20, Seniors $15, Students $5, children under 13 free
Five Preludes (2007–08)
for violin and piano
The seeds of design for all five of the preludes sprang from my discovery of composer Vincent Persichetti’s Twentieth Century Harmony—Creative Aspects and Practice, published in 1961. In the chapter on scales, Persichetti describes the three most common hexatonic scales — the Six-Tone Symmetrical, the Prometheus and the Prometheus Neapolitan. The best use of these scales is primarily for melodic writing. (For the technically minded: what’s interesting is that the harmonies need to be nonscalar and independent of the hexatonic pitch collection; so, pretty much anything goes, harmonically.) The goal is to avoid monotony, and the end result is a unique sense or flavor of polytonality.
The first, third, and fifth preludes are designed to be fast; the second and fourth are slow and lyrical.
— Mark Vigil
Mark Vigil was born in Spokane, Washington. In 1981 he received a Bachelor’s degree in piano and composition from the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where he studied piano with Corri Celli and Jessie Parker and composition with Janice Giteck. In 1996 he received a Master’s degree in composition from the University of Oregon School of Music in Eugene where he studied with Robert Kyr and Hal Owen. He currently studies with Portland composer Tomas Svoboda.
for percussion and amplified piano
1492 was a year of both exhilaration and turmoil: the excitement of Columbus’s voyage to the New World; the expulsion of the Jews from Spain; the invasion of France by Henry VII. 1492, inspired by these events, sets, stretches, and breaks boundaries. This one- movement, tripartite work for amplified piano and percussion plays with the exchange of gesture and content, the pianist metamorphosing into a percussionist and the percussionist into a keyboard player, particularly for the work’s central section. The players storm into each other’s territory in the outer sections; only the middle section offers a more contemplative view of the exchange. The rhythmic structure was created by mapping permutations of the numeric values of the title onto time signatures and durational spans; the pitch intervals are similarly structured.
Commissioned by the Arioso Ensemble, 1492 was premiered under the auspices of the Fundación Latinoamericana para la Musica Contemporanea at the San Juan Conservatory on February 2, 1992. The Core Ensemble toured and recorded the piece on New World Records, and it has also been performed by ensembles such as Polaris in Baltimore and Synchronia in St. Louis. Performance venues have included the Aspen, Autumn (Moscow), and West Cork Music Festivals.
Judith Shatin is a composer, sound artist, community arts partner, and educator. Her inspirations range from myth, poetry, and her Jewish heritage to the calls of the animals around us and the sounding universe beyond. Recent projects include Jefferson, In His Own Words for narrator and orchestra, a co-commission of the Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra and the Illinois, Richmond and Virginia Symphonies, which premiered in the spring of 2010, and a McKim commission from the Library of Congress for Tower of the Eight Winds for violin and piano, which premiered in December 2008.
Educated at Douglass College (AB), The Juilliard School (MM), and Princeton University (PhD), Judith Shatin is currently William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor and Director of the Virginia Center for Computer Music, which she founded at the University of Virginia in 1987. Now an advocate for her fellow composers, she has served on the boards of the American Composers Alliance, the League/ISCM, and the International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM). She also served as President of American Women Composers, Inc. (1989–93). In demand as a master teacher, she has fufilled the BMI residency at Vanderbilt University, and served as resident composer for California Summer Music and Wintergreen Performing Arts, both in the summer of 2010.
Four on Five (2010)
World premiere (quartet version)
for violin, cello, percussion, and piano
The piece “Five” has had an interesting little journey. I originally wrote it as a violin and piano piece for my friend Roy Sonne, a retired Pittsburgh symphony violinist. He was just starting to get his feet wet playing jazz, and I wanted to compose something that went in that direction. We read through it once but with distance as a factor we never performed it. In the meantime, my friend Ben Farrell and I began playing the piece as a clarinet and piano duet. This culminated in adding drums and having the piece performed as part of the Cherry Blossom Musical Arts Visual Music show (directed by Nancy Wood), where “art music meets vaudeville” — with jugglers, tap and ballroom dancers, and monkeying around on five exercise balls.
Last year I got to hear fEARnoMUSIC perform the piece in its original violin and piano version at a Cascadia Composers concert, which led to today’s new arrangement adding cello and percussion. I feel very lucky to have gotten so much out of this little piece! At the time of it’s creation, I was very interested in this mysterious prime number. I found it cropping up in various cultures, in the categorization of the elements in nature and the cardinal directions. Then there are pentagons, pentagrams, the senses, color categories, and of course the five Beatles (if you include George Martin). OK, that might be stretching it …
Musically, I use pentatonic scales, meters in five, and simply the interval of a fifth. There is a short quote from a jazz standard (not “Take Five”); five dollars goes to anyone who catches it. The piece runs about five minutes.
Paul Safar is a versatile composer/performer and music educator living and working in Eugene, Oregon. Having received his B.Mus from the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio, he draws upon his classical music training while encorporating various popular styles He wrote the music for the children’s theatre musical Nisse’s Dream produced in 2005. His Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra will be premiered in February 2011. He enjoys a busy piano teaching studio working with students of all ages.
for violin, cello, percussion, and piano
Etymology: French, sorting, sifting, from trier to sort, from Old French
Triage was composed for fEARnoMUSIC during the summer of 2010. The central musical figure is drawn from Fear of the Moon, the second movement of Diamond Morning, for two pianos.This figure is subjected to constant sorting and sifting.
Electric Fences (1999)
for violin, cello, and electronics
This version of Electric Fences is preceded by a version without electronics, which was composed in 1997 and premiered by Robin Lorentz and Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Ensemble-in-Residence Series on October 13, 1999.
The title is derived from the poem “Electric Fences” by Philip Larkin. The first and last lines of the poem read:
The widest prairies have electric fences…
Electric limits to their widest senses.
Shaun Naidoo’s music has been performed throughout the United States, Europe, South Africa, and Australia, and released by Island Records, C.R.I., New World Records, Capstone Records, and Evander Music, among other labels. Born in Ladysmith, South Africa, in 1962, he composed extensively for cabaret, musical theater, and modern dance in the 1980s. During this period he was closely associated with Shifty Records and released three records in collaboration with Warrick Swinney, including the “found” opera Season of Violence (1990), which received an Honorable Mention at the Prix Ars Electronica in 1992. He settled in California in 1990 and is currently an Associate Professor of Composition at Chapman University Conservatory of Music. Recent performances include a premiere of a new percussion quintet by the New World Percussion Consort (Miami Beach), and upcoming performances include premieres by the German Trio Ecco.