Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Hudson Hall • Rogers Music Center

"A Thousand Tongues"  •  Missy Mazzol (b. 1980)

A Thousand Tongues was commissioned by cellist and vocalist Jody Redhage. This piece is a short but intense response to the following text by Stephen Crane:

Yes, I have a thousand tongues,
And nine and ninety-nine lie.
Though I strive to use the one,
It will make no melody at my will,
But is dead in my mouth.

Grammy-nominated composer Missy Mazzoli was recently deemed “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” (The New York Times) and “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart” (Time Out New York), and has been praised for her “apocalyptic imagination” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker). Mazzoli is the Mead Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and her music has been performed all over the world. In 2018 she made history when she became one of the two first women (along with composer Jeanine Tesori) to be commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera.

"In manus tuas"  •  Caroline Shaw (b. 1982)

In manus tuas is based on a 16th century motet by Thomas Tallis. While there are only a few slices of the piece that reflect exact harmonic changes in Tallis' setting, the motion (or lack of) is intended to capture the sensation of a single moment of hearing the motet in the particular and remarkable space of Christ Church in New Haven, Connecticut. In manus tuas was written in 2009 for cellist Hannah Collins, for a secular solo cello compline service held in the dark, candlelit nave. 

Caroline Shaw is a New York-based musician — vocalist, violinist, composer, and producer — who performs in solo and collaborative projects. She was the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013 for Partita for 8 Voices, written for the Grammy-winning Roomful of Teeth, of which she is a member.

Sonatine  •  Claude Arrieu (1903 – 1990)

Claude Arrieu (1903-1990) studied composition and at the Paris Conservatory. She wrote prolifically, particularly vocal music but also film music, chamber music, and concertos. For many years, she developed original music for the French Radio Broadcasting Program Service. Her Sonatine for flute and piano was first performed to acclaim on French radio by Jean-Pierre Rampal in 1944.

In the first movement of the Sonatine, there is a delicate balance between flute and piano. The two are true partners with melodies in both the piano and flute parts. The Andantino flows in one beat to the bar - a graceful dance, with the flute leading the way.  Both movements are lyrical and charming.

"White Sand and Gray Sand"  •  S. Maggie Polk-Olivo 

(2020) for oboe and piano  •  Commissioned by oboist, Sara Fraker

"White Sand and Gray Sand" takes its name from an 18th Century street cry originating in England, later brought to the United States by English and Irish immigrants. Street cryers stood on street corners singing the song, selling sand that would help to blot ink for quill pens. White sand was unused and the gray sand was recycled.

Notes from the composer:

Sara retreats to the Midwest each summer for the Bay View Music Festival, living in Tucson the rest of the year. Having grown up in Tucson, I now live in Bloomington, Indiana. So I turned to our own “sands” of these respective lands, particularly limestone and caliche. Although I am by no means an expert in geology, I learned as much as I could about the geological processes of these two sedimentary rocks. I saw similarities between the formations’ processes and the canon’s melody: horizontal lines layered with repetitions and colors to create vertical harmonies and bindings. It was at this point that the piece metamorphosed into a symbolic gesture, each movement emulating the process of the sedimentary rock formations: Caliche in the Southwest (White Sand), and Limestone in the Midwest (Gray Sand).

Maggie Polk-Olivo wears multiple hats as a musical collaborator, composer, educator and performer. Passionate about music education and new music, she is the creator and director of the BloomingSongs project, a music collection of works by renowned artists from all over the world. She started composing at a young age with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s Young Composers Project. Awarded the IU Freshman Composition Competition, she completed a bachelors in music composition with a minor in violin performance at IU Jacobs School of Music. Recognized by the Music Educators National Conference and a National Young Composer Award semi-finalist in her youth, Olivo has recently had music performed and commissioned by ensembles such as the Southwest String Quartet, oboist-Sara Fraker, Vera String Quartet, Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and Amity Trio.

"Mercedes"  •  Angélica Negrón (b. 1981)

Angélica Negrón is a Puerto Rican-born composer and multi-instrumentalist.  She writes music for accordions, robotic instruments, toys, and electronics as well as for chamber ensembles, orchestras, choir, and film. Her music has been described as “wistfully idiosyncratic and contemplative”  while The New York Times noted her “capacity to surprise.” 

"Coplas a Fray Martín"  •  Chanuaca Granda (1920-1983)

María Isabel Granda Larco, better known as Chabuca Granda, was born in Apurímac (Peru), on September 3, 1920. From an early age, she showed her musical talent. Chabuca broke the conventional rhythmic structure of the Peruvian waltz, and her melodies alternated the new language she proposed with that of the old saloon waltzes. Her productions also revealed a close relationship between lyrics and melody. Chabuca Granda incorporated Afro-Peruvian rhythms into her work, unfortunately Afro-Peruvian music was not considered "high art" due to the prevalent racism and devaluation of Afro-Peruvian culture.

Sicilienne  •  Maria Theresia von Paradis (1759-1824)

Maria Theresia von Paradis was an Austrian musician and composer.  By the age of three, she was completely blind. But her godmother was determined she’d still receive a fine music education. She studied the piano with Leopold Kuzeluch, and singing with Vincenzo Righini. She is known to have been friends with Classical composers Mozart and Salieri, and the former is believed to have written his Piano Concerto No. 18 for her. It was while touring Europe that she met and hung out with none other than French royalty Marie Antionette and English royalty George III. The Times of London contemporaneously called her ‘the Blind Enchantress’.

This ‘Sicilienne’ is a beloved piece. Famous violinists, such as Pinchas Zukerman and Nathan Miilstein would perform this as an encore. There is some doubt as to if this piece was written by von Paradis, as some scholars ascribe it to the violinist and composer Samuel Dushkin. Whatever the truth, she was clearly part of music’s most influential circles, and working at the center of the Viennese School.

"Bend Willow Branch"  •  Carmen Braden

Bend Willow Branch is a piece inspired by the low willow trees growing on the shores of Great Slave Lake. They are a commonly found tree, but they possess many beautiful qualities that I explore in this piece. Their flexibility and speedy growth, their healing powers, the graceful branches that are exposed in the spring before the leaves emerge, with the softed of downy willow tips welcoming the sun. I wrote this poem as I composed the work, and include lines at specific points in the performers' scores:

branches, long and slim
growing and softening in spring
weaving through the boreal forest
weaving through the dream catcher circle
glowing deep and red
as the sap begins to flow
healing and wisdom
hidden in the bark
after the winter snows pull and bend
will branch will rise green again

Award-winning contemporary composer and singer/songwriter Carmen Braden is a dynamic force in the world of new music, hailing proudly from Yellowknife NWT. Carmen is a “multi-talented artist” recognized as an “acoustic ambassador of the Canadian Subarctic”. She has played intimate theaters and main stage folk festivals, and smoothly jumps between genres of songwriting and composing. Her contemporary classical compositions are nationally recognized, with commissions and performances by world class ensembles and performers including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, James Ehnes and the Canadian Chamber Choir. Carmen has released three studio albums: Seed Songs (2021), Songs of the Invisible Summer Stars (2019) and Ravens (2017). Carmen has been nationally recognized, winning several awards.  As an educator, Carmen regularly gives workshops, individual instruction, guest lectures and collaboration facilitation ranging from elementary-level to university graduate level, both online and in-person. Carmen has most recently begun to work as a producer in Yellowknife, and a presenter of unusual music concerts including the Longshadow Music Festival.

"L'heure Exquise" and "Brume"  •  Poldowski (1879-1932)

Poldowski was the professional pseudonym of a Belgian-born British composer and pianist born Régine Wieniawski (16 May 1879 – 28 January 1932), daughter of the Polish violinist and composer Henryk Wieniawski. She entered the Brussels Conservatoire at age 12, studying piano. Some of her early works were published under the name Irène Wieniawska. She married Sir Aubrey Dean Paul, becoming Lady Dean Paul, but her musical publishing name appears in a number of forms - For most women writers, employing a male nom de plume was the only option if she hoped to publish in a male-dominated genre or reach a wider audience.

Poldowski’s studies in Paris had a lasting impact on her musical aesthetic, and from the early 1910s her affinity with French poetry, particularly Verlaine, became the dominant aspect of her work. She set no fewer than 22 Verlaine poems, ranging in composition date from ‘Bruxelles’ (1911) to ‘A Clymène’ (1927). Poldowski’s settings evoke the world of the salon concert for which they were composed, and her Verlaine is an unequivocally romantic poet. She brings to Verlaine’s poems a heightening of their emotional mood.

"Where in the World" and "A Bit of Earth," from The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is a musical based on the 1911 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The musical's script and lyrics are by Marsha Norman, with music by Lucy Simon. It premiered on Broadway in 1991 and ran for 709 performances.

The story is set in the early years of the 20th century. Mary Lennox, an English girl born and raised in the British Raj, is orphaned by a cholera outbreak when she is ten years old. She is sent away from India to the moors of Yorkshire, England, to live in the manor of a brooding uncle she has never met. There, her personality blossoms among the other residents of the manor as they bring new life to a long-neglected garden.

Lucy Elizabeth Simon  was an American composer for the theater and of popular songs. She recorded and performed as a singer and songwriter, and was known for the musicals The Secret Garden (1991) and Doctor Zhivago (2011). In 1963, Simon began performing with her sister Carly Simon as the Simon Sisters. Simon won a Grammy Award in 1981 with her husband, David Levine, in the Best Recording for Children category for In Harmony, and again in 1983 in the same category for In Harmony 2. Simon received Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations for composing the music for the Broadway musical The Secret Garden.

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