Program Notes: T
Tangles in the Web
The title borrows from the oft-quoted line from Sir Walter Scott: "Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive." Material appears, connects, recedes, realigns and re-asserts in a complex web of relationships. It was written for percussionist Keith Aleo in 1997 for performance by his student ensembles. Published by Honeyrock.
Terrible Title Troubles
Terrible Title Trouble is a celebratory pastiche, quoting tunes of Tchaikovsky* and referencing Renaissance style melodies, intermixed with more modern asymmetrical meters and melodic gestures. The unusual combination of instruments—flute, trombone, 4 roto-toms, violin, and cello—is also an aspect of this diversity and eclecticism. *Violin Concerto in D, Rococo Variations
They Were Mysterious Guests, Hard to Capture
This three-movement work for alto sax and piano will work well as a recital piece, with demanding parts for both players. The movement titles are:
I. They were mysterious guests, hard to capture
II. If enough hosts weep, the all-night dance ceremony is considered a success
"They were mysterious guests, hard to capture" is a sentence from When Elephants Weep by Jeffrey Masson. The phrase refers to the unbidden nature of emotions. It served both as a starting point for the piece and as the basic watchword which focused the musical development of the first movement.
The "all night dance ceremony" is described in Judith Becker's 1986 article "Is Western Art Music Superior?" She describes a ceremonial song performed by talented guests which takes "the hosts on a nostalgic journey intended to touch upon the pain of remembrance and the memory of loss." There is both grief and resolution in this movement.
In the third movement, Recollection, direct and distant quotations and reminiscences recall temperaments from the earlier movements. Published by Frank E. Warren Music Service.
Three Piano Pieces With Important Things for the Left Hand
These pieces, Take a Break, Bridge Over the Canyon, and Mix and Match may be played separately or as a set. They are appropriate for intermediate level piano students. Each piece gives primary importance to the left hand, and, as a group, provide a good introduction to mixed meter, hands crossing, modes, and simple modern harmonies in seconds and fourths. Published by Frank E. Warren Music Service.
Time to Face the Music
This new work for younger players uses a variety of eclectic materials in a user-friendly, introductory way: minimalism, asymmetric and traditional meters, and tonal, quartal and modal pitch material. All the orchestra sections and many individual players are highlighted. It is appropriate for high school players and beyond.
The title is a playful use of the old expression “It’s time to face the music,” meaning that it’s time to face up to what you have done. This is something musicians always do when they perform music, and it is literally what they do each time they sit down facing a music stand.
The two possible sources for the expression each add their own musical flavor o the saying. One story is that a soldier being forced out of the army would be put backwards on a horse and led away, facing the military band. The other story refers to new actors, shaking in fear at the prospect of an audience, were told to go out and face the music. It was quite literal because the musicians were seated at the front of the stage or in the pit, between the actor and the audience.
Time to Face the Music was written for conductor Paul Salerni and the Intermediate Concert Orchestra at Interlochen Arts Camp. They premiered it on August 4, 2007. Has been performed by youth orchestra and adult community groups.
To Be Like Music
The text, by Peg Lauber, begins this way: "To be as pure as Gregorian chants sung by ten-year old boys in a garden of flowering plum trees:" To Be Like Music was commissioned by the Nova Singers, Laura Lane, conductor, and has also been performed by the South Bend Chamber Singers, Nancy Menk, conductor. It requires a near-professional quality ensemble to perform it successfully. Advanced college; Professional quality
Touched to Apocalypse
The text for Touched to Apocalypse was excerpted from a poem by Sister Madeleva, a founding member of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. It is a series of images of music ("Music: bare, destrously patterned air; music is key to ecstatic liberty") which seemed to the composer to suggest the prophetic, non-literal powers of music. Musical material generated by fourths alternates with sections based on more traditional triadic structures, but returning material is never exactly literal. Rather, it uses the "image" of its earlier self as it evolves with each new text image.
The piano, while supporting all the sung material, also features black note clusters and long black note glissandos. All harp parts are cued in the piano part. Though the harp is optional, it adds a great deal to timbral variety, glissando gestures, and general resonance. Commissioned by the Saint Mary's College Women's Choir, Nancy Menk, Director, in celebration of the new millennium. It was premiered by them in 2001. Published by Yelton Rhodes Music. Recorded by Pro Organo. College; Adult women.
'Treasure up' references the notion of hoarding things, especially socially, as in keeping track of compliments and slights. In modern terms, we see it in how we can't help but notice how many people have 'liked' our Facebook posts, and how we might let this affect our sense of self-worth and standing in the world.
The chromatic sections that are anchored by a clear tonic pedal (starting with D, on to G, etc.) express this obsession. The whole tone sections that intervene continue to include the note D, but it completely loses its sense of tonic because, well, it's a whole tone scale! So....obsession vs. free from obsession.
The final section overlays the two pitch collections, suggesting that we live with the tension between treasuring up and being free of that kind of control.
Trumpet Calls is written for twenty C trumpets in five separated groups, each with a unique character and an associated name: Fat n' Sassy, Agitated, Heroic, Bellows, and Echo. The five characters are released, one at a time, into the same space, and then things get interesting.
Of special note, the group called Bellows is directed to play with “Clang/Buzz” mutes. These are made by folding the edges of an aluminum pie tin over the edges of the trumpet bell. When played, they rattle and buzz with a sound that is as unforgettable as it is difficult to describe. Needless to say, this is not your grandfather’s trumpet ensemble.
Two for Three
In "For a few minutes, lie in the sun," an expression of serenity is followed by more venomous emotions, which are then followed by a return to serenity. This structure puts musical parentheses around anger and bitterness, encapsulated by the text "let bitterness lapse momentarily." This directness and sincerity of expression is contrasted with a wittier, more urbane and self-conscious presentation in "Contemplate cliché angels." The words of the song celebrate themselves--they are about words--but they occasionally bump into seemingly unavoidable clichés. Sections of music with a manic, humorous character, complete with intentionally silly word painting, alternate with clearly derivative jazz. Texts by Peg Lauber. Published by Arsis Press. Advanced college and beyond.