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Program Notes: G, H, I, J

Garavaglia Dances
Garavaglia Dances was written for Emily Munn-Wood in 2012. At the time, Emily played a lovely cello made by Chicago-based luthier, Gary Garavaglia.  Garavaglia Dances is a virtuosic, high-spirited dance with lots of asymmetric beats, with playful slides and high-register double stops in the cello part.

    The three movements of Gathering are 'gathered' together by means of an essential bass line that moves downward by half step with each new movement.

In the first movement, an insistent underlying tone anchors and eventually pulls down the lines rising above it. 
    The second movement is full of rhythmic and metrical diversity, with outer sections alternating between an asymmetrical meter (12  345) and a chorale-style passage. A distinct middle section plays with the accent tension between 3/4 and 6/8 (12  23  56  vs. 123  456), sometimes one after the other, sometimes simultaneously.
    The third movement draws on traditional tonality as a way to establish a sense of both unresolved longing and of remembrance. 


Gnashing of Teeth

Gnashing of Teeth marshals instrumental sounds, singing, shouting, and speaking to capture different aspects of extreme anger and frustration; building towards outrage and letting it dissipate, then building again in a new way and perhaps over yet another irritant. All of the texts are borrowed from fabulous Facebook 'rants' by the saxophonist Lois Wozniak. She and her husband Matt commissioned this piece and premiered it at the 2020 Biennial Conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance just before the pandemic closed out nearly all live performances.

Grandma's Alleluia
The text is pieced together from several of Ann Kilkelly's stories and poems, and presents a series of Grandma's memories as she rides the train across country. The music provides a constant reference to the rhythm of the train on the tracks, and at the same time changes character with each new memory. An Alleluia section connects each section and increases in length and complexity at each recurrence, finally ending the piece in a celebration of Grandma's long and productive life. Published by Earthsongs.  Advanced high school; College; Adult women.

Hanging Onto the Vine
Hanging Onto the Vine, for saxophone quartet, was commissioned by Kelland Thomas and was composed in 2000. It was premiered by the Indiana University Student Saxophone Quartet in 2001.   The title draws on several obliquely related images of vines and hanging: images in the Book of John of branches abiding in the vine and bearing fruit, the psychological state of "hanging by a thread," and Tarzan swinging from a vine.  Published by JOMAR Press.


Hushed Haiku

    Hushed Haiku, written for the South Bend Chamber Singers and completed in 2017, is a musical setting of five unpublished haiku by Karen Hesse, an American author of historically based books for young adults. As with traditional haiku, Hesse’s five evoke images of the natural world, and these five have a particular focus on the season of winter.

    Haiku syllabic structure requires five syllables in the first and third lines of each three-line haiku, and the number five figures prominently throughout Hushed Haiku—five sections, five-part chorus, 5/8 and 5/4  meters in alternating sections, and a five-word phrase, built of one significant word from each of the five haiku, provides the text for a unifying musical ostinato.

    In her choral and vocal works, Munn typically sets texts by living writers, including Peg Lauber, Marilyn Taylor, and Karen Hesse. One of Hesse’s young adult novels, Witness, was the basis of the libretto for Zae’s 2006 full-length opera of the same name and her very short opera, Night of Blue Magic, sets 22 haiku by Hesse.

In the Maze of the Moment
In the Maze of the Moment was written for Randall Faust.  Its title is a phrase from the text "Only your wisdom and grace can thread a way for us through the maze of the moment."  Published by Arsis Press.

In the Scarred Distortions of the Words
This is a verbal score based on a recurring text by Peg Lauber and a recurring rhythmic motive. It has a somewhat variable instrumentation: 7-9 readers (5 with text solos, the remaining reading in the background); 1 piano; 1-3 unpitched low percussion (bass drum, field drum, oil can, etc.); 5-8 brass players; readers may double as pianist and percussion; background readers may double as brass players; a conductor may be used to give some structural cues and to double as a performer. The piece is based on the idea that all communication involves some risk, struggle, and failure because it must be filtered through language, gesture, visual images, or sound. The thing being communicated must travel through one of these intermediaries, then must be interpreted by someone else. Inevitably, the thing is changed by this process, sometimes in fairly predictable, manageable ways, and sometimes, when we most want it to arrive intact, it is changed frighteningly. but we continue to struggle with whatever communication system we have at hand. Short of the Vulcan's "mind meld," it is the best we can do. Verbal score and verbal parts.

The artist, played by the viola, undertakes to capture and intone a discernible version of the archetype, played by the marimba. As they come closer and closer together in their expressions, they join in a flash of insight and inspiration; they are linked in an uneasy dance. Their dance falters: the marimba begins a slow fall down its scale; the artist struggles to retain the inspiration. The archetype recedes more and more, the artist falls silent. Published by Honeyrock.  

It's the Soup That Animates the Noodle
Three movements. The title is a phrase from Tampopo, the 1987 Japanese film that tells the story of a search for the perfect noodle. The first movement deals with a kind of "reverse heterophony," carving simpler lines and pedals from a more complex strand; the second movement uses layering techniques to build intensity and creates new lines from short quotations of different layers; the third movement alternates intense unisons based on additive rhythm and free, expressive, contrapuntal versions of the same pitch material. Duration 10 min. Published by Arsis Press.

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