Program Notes: B, C
Broken Tulip was premiered on July 9, 2008 at Interlochen Arts Camp. Performers were: Jill Heyboer, flute; Daniel Silver, clarinet; Tim McAllister, alto saxophone; George Sakakeeny, bassoon; Hank Skolnick, contraforte; Mark Hetzler, trombone; and Kim Burja, percussion Broken Tulip takes inspiration from the notion that an idea or an object can remain static while the perception of that idea or object shifts radically around it. A real life example of this type of radical paradigm shift is the broken tulip, a rare, multi-colored tulip with irregular flame- or feather-like markings. A standard tulip, however, is solid-colored, a unitary blend of two overlaid pigments. Because a tulip is reproduced by planting its genetically identical offsets, a broken tulip was quite rare and appeared seemingly at random. This combination of mystery and rare beauty made the broken tulip aesthetically prized--and economically valuable. But it was discovered that a virus, carried from bulb to bulb by the peach potato aphid, irregularly suppressed the laid-on color of the tulip, allowing a portion of the base color to show through in that tell-tale flame or feathered pattern. These rare moments of beauty were suddenly seen as diseased and undesirable, and growers set about ridding their fields of the infected tulips. A violent paradigm shift occurred and the broken tulip was doomed. My piece does not tell the story of the rise and fall of the broken tulip—there is no tulip melody, no virus leitmotif. It borrows the energy and tension in the story of the broken tulip and explores the more general idea of radical paradigm shift. I’d like to point to another example of a potential paradigm shift right in our midst. Broken Tulip has an important part for the contraforte, played by Hank Skolnick. The contraforte is a modern, reworked version of the contrabassoon. It has a wider bore, is more agile, and more consistent throughout its expanded range. The rather limited paradigm of the contrabassoon as an occasional octave doubler of the bassoon in late romantic and 20th c. orchestra music may shift as the contraforte moves into chamber repertoire like Broken Tulip and its own solo repertoire.
Build A World
Peg Lauber, a Wisconsin poet, wrote the text for Build A World specifically for Zae Munn to set for the Madison Children's Choir. Each of three visions of a better world is followed by a rejection of something negative in our current world. The two musical characters in Build A World closely follow this alternation of text ideas. However, the music dwells on and develops some special words and phrases such as "overflows," like a spring," and "where freedom shines." The piano both supports the singers and provides subtle changes in character for each verse. Commissioned by the Madison Children's Choir (Wisconsin), Heather Thorpe, Director. Premiered by them on May 14, 2000. Advanced children; High school. "We want to build a world where peace comes down like rain and snow, so...don't give us a world of hunger and cold." Published by Yelton Rhodes Music.
Text and music suitable for both children's and women's choirs with mostly unison and two-part writing; pitch material well-supported in the instrumental parts; orchestral writing appropriate for college and community orchestras, with an emphasis on relatively simple parts for strings and more challenging parts for winds; pairs of winds plus piccolo, 3 tps, 3 hns, 2 tbns, 1 tuba, timpani, 1 percussion, strings. Text quote: "I loosen the canvas when the wind has dried it and the sun passed through it to become the unbelievable light that touches each living thing." Commissioned by Cynthia Bradford, conductor of the Southlake Children's Choir and Dennis Friesen-Carper, conductor of the Valparaiso University Symphony Orchestra. Published by Yelton Rhodes Music. High school; College; Adult women.
A number of concepts drawn from the scientific literature on sleep contributed to the organization of Care-Charmer Sleep, including: the alternation of periods of synchronized sleep and dreams throughout a single night of sleep; bodily movements are often associated with the periods between dreams; large, slow delta waves characterize synchronized sleep; and, each dream may be built up slowly, with eye movements at first slow, then gradually becoming rapid (REM sleep). Structurally, there are three dreams separated by synchronized sleep. Dream 1 uses texts listing the qualities of sleep; Dream 2 uses texts based on a sleep-death simile--sleep as a miniature, a rehearsal, of death; in Dream 3 the texts use sleep as a direct metaphor for death--sleep is death. The choir moves into different groupings during synchronized sleep sections. The drone can be played by a synthesizer or wind instruments. Commissioned and premiered by the Transylvania University Concert Choir (Lexington, KY), Gary Anderson, conductor. (not currently available)
I like the way cascade is used in electronics—a series of networks, each having an output that serves as the input for the next. This image gets at the deep connectedness between distinct sections that I was striving for in Cascade. But the several long, descending gestures in Cascade draw on another sense of cascade—a series of waterfalls over steep rocks.
Certainty of Stone, a young person's guide to the chorus
Commissioned by the South Bend Chamber Singers to open their May 11, 1997 children's concert, this piece functions as the choral equivalent to Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. Text was commissioned from Peg Lauber. Published by Yelton Rhodes Music. Advanced college; Professional quality.
Come With Me
This piece plays with the idea of encouragement and resistance, for instance: "Come on! Let's skate upon a cloud." "Not on a cloud, I'm not allowed." There are passages using asymmetrical meters, clapping, and foot stomping, as well as optional maracas and rhythm sticks. The text is by Peg Lauber. Commissioned by the Southlake Children's Choir in Crown Point, Indiana, Cynthia Bradford, conductor; premiered by them at the 1996 Indiana Music Educators' Conference in Indianapolis. Advanced children; High school.