Gdańsk, 11-20-18 program & notes
William Anderson, guitar/mandolin
Joan Forsyth, piano
Fouad (solo guitar)-- --Emil Awad
Cerises* (solo guitar, premiere)-- --Agustin Castilla-Avila
Simone’s Lullaby (piano solo)-- --Terry Riley
Song (solo guitar)-- --Andrzej Dziadek
Braggadocio (gt solo)-- --Jonathan Dawe
Glass houses #5 (piano solo) Ann Southam
Glass 'armonica-- --Jonathan Dawe
for e-guitar & piano (premiere)
Sechs Fügen aus dem Musicalische Lüstgarte-- --Matthew Greenbaum
for mandolin & piano (premiere)
J’entends le Moulin-- --William Anderson
Romance/Fantasy (guitar & piano)-- --Robert Pollock
21st Century North American Musical Polemics
In North America in the 21st Century we have minimalists & post-minimalists enjoying great success bringing music of living composers to an enthusiastic public. There is now an audience that is no longer afraid of new music, thanks to their breaking of taboos. Phillip Glass speaks of breaking taboos against consonance. The minimalists coexist rather harmoniously with the experimental composers of John Cage lineage; and with the free improv. ethos--John Zorn: never do anything for more than 15 seconds.
I work with a group of composers from a different universe. Milton Babbitt started calling himself a “maximalist”, sometime in the ‘80s. He talked about music doing everything it can do. By this, he implied that the minimalists were creating a new music that carefully avoided doing most of what was of interest to the maximalists. Of course, this cuts both ways. Composers from all over the map invent desire. For example, Steve Reich’s Piano Phase teaches us that we are eager to hear 16th notes phase into 32nd notes. We never dreamed that we would want such a thing. The minimalists were great innovators, and they often liked to do one thing at a time, and this was a response to the complexity of Babbitt and others.
I have been and remain fascinated with and devoted to those maximalist composers who lived long enough to become dinosaurs and work in the shadows, in the authenticity of virtual anonymity. In 1986 I joined a group of colleagues and started an ensemble. We eventually called it Cygnus. Cygnus slowly acquired new works, including works by 3 of some beloved name-brand American modernists, and I feel they are very special works:
Milton Babbitt’s Swan Song No. 1
Mario Davidovsky’s Ladino Songs
Charles Wuorinen’s Cygnus
Quietly, American maximalists accepted the challenge to be more effective, more communicative, and to recognize and give up bad habits. The dinosaurs became birds. They took flight. The ending of Babbitt’s Swan Song No. 1 barely sounds like Babbitt, and throughout the work diatonic harmonies are heard in just proportion with other harmonies. In fact, there are hard landings in and out of the diatonic space. This is in contrast to his middle period works that avoid diatonic harmonies.
Leibowitz, Darmstadt and Equal Weight
Liebowitz’ famous prescription for the future—12 tones *with equal weight*--still has a hold on many composers in the US. Babbitt was never one of them. Schoenberg never thought of his project in terms those terms, but many would agree that his 12-tone works often tended in that direction. I consider op. 9 a paradigmatic 21st Century work. The music moves and lands hard, with all its weight, as it breaks in and out of the interval cycles. Equal weight in Op. 9, as in earlier tonal music, is a prolongation technique.
20th Century Bad Habits
- --equal weight
- --avoiding diatonic harmonies (habitually dissonant)
- --habitually disjunct
- --obsessive/compulsive about “intervallic unity”, which is confused with modernist contextual clarity and Romantic thematic unity
These are among the problems that led to the minimalists’ clean break with all modernisms. It does not have to be. We are not finished with the innovations that arose in the 20th C.
I stand with a group of composers who did not want a clean break. We are the composers and musicians who were not ready to give up anything. The minimalists and post-minimalists walked away from many, many 20th century innovations. We had this vision: maximalism would mellow; minimalism would ripen. We would no longer cling to tired old modernist textures & harmonies. We would follow through on underlying principles that were at the heart of the great profusion of new compositional techniques that emerged in the 20th C., but we would not cling to what we started to feel were bad habits. In the process there have been new discoveries.
Could compositional techniques be de-coupled
from the sound world which the techniques first embodied?
The early 21st Century is a moment for bringing things together. Our job will involve mixing things together that were once thought to be mutually exclusive. Do what a Minimalist is not allowed to do and combine that with what the maximalist is not allowed and make it cohere. No collage. [Frederic Jameson considers collage to be a paradigmatic fixture of postmodern, late industi
The name Terry Riley is inextricably connected with minimalism, yet his recent music is very rich and harmonically adventurous, getting complex. Jonathan Dawe (one of Milton Babbitt’s last protégès) is very much a maximalist. He is a pioneer of diverse fractal procedures in music—rotations (following Krenek and Stravisnky), nesting (much associated with Charles Wuorinen), and cellular automata (Dawe was the first to apply this to music.). A most brilliant and surprising mixture of musical elements can be found in is his experiments with fractalized Phillip Glass, in his work for guitar & piano, Glass ‘Armonica. Riley is a minimalist getting complicated, and Dawe, a maximalist treating and transforming sounds from an iconic minimalist, Phillip Glass.
For Agustin Castilla-Avila, microtones are the future. Before meeting Agustin, Jonathan Dawe’s microtonal works had begun to convince some composer/musicians in the US that microtones could move out of the decorative/ornamental role and into a structural role. The compelling sounds of Agustin’s music challenged me to explore this world of microtones. “12-tones, that’s been done before!” I understand this argument. I am not finished with 12 tones, nor am I afraid to open that new can of worms. There is another wonderful position that I share with the Salzburg-based Spanish composer. We are both guitarists. Guitarists exist in the cracks of musical culture. It’s not a bad place to be. ---William Anderson
William Anderson, composer, guitarist, and ensemble director, began playing chamber music at the Tanglewood Festival at age 19, and later performed with Met Opera Chamber Players, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, NY Philharmonic, and many others. Anderson was a guest on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show; and on NPR's All Things Considered, Anderson’s Djuna Barnes settings were orchestrated and performed by the Riverside Symphony in 2015. Anderson founded the Cygnus Ensemble in 1986. He teaches classical guitar at Sarah Lawrence College and Queens College. He has been Artistic Director of Marysas Productions since 2011.
Joan Forsyth, pianist, is an eclectic artist whose performing career has taken her all over the world. Dr. Forsyth is both a sympathetic chamber musician and commanding soloist. She has made appearances at such venues as the Kennedy Center, Merkin Hall, Zankel and Weil Recital Halls, as well as tours of Europe, Russia, Japan and South America. Her playing has been broadcast on WNYC, WFAS, RAI(Italy), Vermont Public Radio, and New York Public Radio. She has appeared as soloist with the Westchester Chamber Orchestra and the Westchester Philharmonic. Joan Forsyth has recorded for CRI, Albany, Bridge, Soundspells and Furious Artisans. Currently she teaches at Bennington College and is the Chairperson of the Piano Department at Third Street Music School in New York City.
MATTHEW GREENBAUM was born in New York City in 1950. He studied composition with Stefan Wolpe and Mario Davidovsky and holds a Ph.D. from the CUNY Graduate Center. Greenbaum’s awards, fellowships and commissions include the Serge Koussevitzky Music Fund/Library of Congress, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Meet the Composer, the Fromm Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund and the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Penn Council on the Arts. Performances of his works include the Japan Society of Sonic Arts (Tokyo), the BEAMS Festival (Brandeis University), the Darmstadt Summer Festival, the Leningrad Spring Festival, the Jakart Festival (Indonesia), Hallische Musiktage, Ensemble SurPlus (Freiburg), Nuova Consonanza (Rome), Ensemble 21 (Odense), the Da Capo Chamber Players, Cygnus, Parnassus, Fred Sherry, Marc-André Hamelin, David Holzman, Stephanie Griffin, the Momenta Quartet, Network for New Music, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Group for Contemporary Music, Orchestra 2001, Christopher Taylor and the Riverside Symphony,CounterInduction, Ensemble Mise-En, and the Houston Symphony. His works are published by American Composers Alliance. Recordings are available from Antes and CRI. All-Greenbaum recordings are available on the Centaur and Furious Artisans labels. Greenbaum is also a video animation artist. Works in this medium include Effacement for piano, video animation and electronic sound, and I Saw the Procession of the Empress on First Avenue for fixed media.
Sechs Fügen aus "Der Neuer Musicalischen Lüstgarte" has a double purpose: to challenge myself to write in fugue form, and to try to rethink the tonal answer (the second voice’s modified subject). The title is taken from Der Neuer Musicalischen Lüstgarte of Johannes Schultz 1582 –1653), of whom very little is known, but whose music is surprisingly witty and even strange. The work is dedicated to William Anderson and Joan Forsyth, who will premiere the entire piece.
Agustín Castilla-Ávila, vice-president of the International Ekmelic Music Society and director of the symposium “Mikrotöne: Small is beautiful” in Salzburg, worked as a composer in Europe, Asia and USA. His music was conducted by D. Russell-Davies, J. Kalitzke, T. Ceccherini, A. Soriano, H. Lintu and H. Schellenberger among others. He has written solo and chamber music, orchestral, theater plays, choreographies and five chamber operas. He has published for Doblinger Verlag, Joachin Trekel, Da Vinci Edition, Verlag Neue Musik and Bergmann Edition. His music has been recorded on 12 CDs. He has given nearly one hundred lectures about his musical ideas in Europe, Asia and USA. These ideas are published in Austria, Poland, USA, France and Slovenia. In 2013 he receives the Music Prize (Jahresstipendium) from the Region of Salzburg. -“A very high degree of originality, he is always in search for new horizons”. Alexander Müllenbach, director of the Sommerakademie Mozarteum Salzburg.
Cerises is a result of an exchange of microtonal ideas for guitar between William Anderson and Agustin Castilla-Ávila using different scordatura. The tuning system of “Cerises” is inspired on William Anderson´s “Les fraises et les framboises”.
Terrence Mitchell Riley (born June 24, 1935) is an American composer and performing musician associated with the minimalist school of Western classical music, of which he was a pioneer. His work is deeply influenced by both jazz and Indian classical music, and has utilized innovative tape music techniques and delay systems. He is best known for works such as his 1964 composition In C and the 1969 album A Rainbow in Curved Air, both considered landmarks of minimalist music.
Ann Southam (February 1937 – 25 November 2010) was a Canadian electronic and classical music composer and music teacher. She is famous for her minimalist, iterative, and lyrical style, for her long-term collaborations with dance choreographers and performers, for her large body of work, and for "blazing a trail for women composers in a notoriously sexist field."
Born in Mexico in 1963, Emil Awad studied composition and conducting at the Juilliard and Manhattan Schools of Music before earning a doctorate at Harvard University. Ensembles such as the Webster Trio, Cygnus, Kolot, Harvard Group of New Music, Manhattan Contemporary Ensemble, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico have played his compositions internationally.
He has received grants from the Roger Shapiro Fund (2018), the National Endowment for the Arts and Culture of Mexico (2001, 2002, 2011-14), National Institute of Arts of Mexico (2000, 2005), and the State of Veracruz Institute of Culture (1999, 2005). His compositions are published by the American Composer Alliance.
Currently, Emil Awad is professor of composition and theory at the University of Veracruz, where he serves as Director of Graduate Studies and fellow of the university’s Research Advisory Board. He has been Artistic Director of the International Music Festival Camerata 21 (1998-present).
Fouad was written thanks to a grant by the National Endowment of Culture and the Arts of Mexico and is dedicated to William Anderson. Fouad is an Arabic name that means Heart. The work uses gestures and rhythms that evoke Arabic-Flamenco guitar style, which can be recognized from the very opening. Seven frames of contrasting character evolve out of the post-tonal concert music structure of Fouad; the first and last frames are the question and answer of the musical idea. The second and third frames take the listener and performer into the heart of the work, the asymmetrical middle of the piece. After these, two complementary frames prepare the arrival of the last frame’s conclusion.
The highly innovative and conjured world of composer Jonathan Dawe joins Baroque imagery with a modernist mix, cast with dynamic dramatic flair. Cited for his "quirky, fascinating modernist variations on earlier styles" (Time Out) his music involves the recasting of energies and sounds of the past into decisively new expressions, through compositional workings based upon fractal geometry. Recent pieces and productions have been described as “music of such vitality and drama” (New York Times) "a brake-squealing collision of influence" (Boston Globe) and "bound to be provocative." (Time Out) Described as “one of our most talented and distinctive – yet little-known – contemporary composers,” (Seen and Heard International) Dawe is the youngest composer to have been commissioned by James Levine and The Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Flowering Arts, a bold fractured transformation of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Les arts florissants, was hailed in 2005 as a “Powerful Premiere” (Boston Globe).
Recent productions include the Nero and The Fall of Lehman Brothers with BOP Ballet | Opera | Pantomime (Montreal) as well as the premiere with Ensemble Echappe at The Italian Academy (NYC.) Cracked Orlando: dramma per musica e fractals was presented on the 'Beyond the Machine' series at The Juilliard School. In additional productions include Così faran tutti (They’ll All Do It!) 2012 –a prequel to Mozart’s Così fan tutte- and Cracked Orlando: dramma per musica e fractals 2010 both produced at The Italian Academy in New York City. Commissions from The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The American Composers Orchestra, The Italian Academy of Columbia University, The Wharton Center for Performing Arts, Ensemble Echappe, Da Capo Chamber Players, Load Bang, The Miro Quartet, The Brentano String Quartet, The Manhattan Sinfonietta, Cygnus Ensemble, The New York New Music Ensemble, New Juilliard Ensemble, The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. Awards he has received include two recording grants from The Copland Fund for New Music, a Koussevitzky Music Foundation Commission (Library of Congress), a NYSCA commission grant, a Fromm Foundation Grant (Harvard University), a Presser Award (Presser Foundation), The Charles Ives Scholarship (American Academy of Arts and Letters), The Bearns Prize (Columbia University), two ASCAP prizes, two BMI awards, the David Cinnamon Prize and the Herbert Ellwel Prize (Oberlin Conservatory.) Jonathan Dawe was born in Boston Massachusetts in 1965 and studied at the Oberlin Conservatory (BM 1987) with Richard Hoffmann and The Juilliard School (MM 1993, DMA 1995) with Milton Babbitt. Upon graduation he joined the graduate faculty of the Juilliard School where he teaches today.
Robert Pollock has organized over 500 new music concerts. As pianist he has premiered over 100 compositions by composers from around the world. He recently performed solo piano recitals in Honolulu, Hawai'i, Seoul (twice), Xalapa, Mexico (twice), and Tokyo (twice). He participated as composer-in-residence at William Paterson University, and the Festival for New American Music, Sacramento State University (three times).
Some of his one hundred-forty (140) compositions received performances in Israel, Moscow, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Honolulu, Italy, Poland, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Russia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, New Jersey, California and NYC. Several of his works are recorded for Furious Artisan, CRI, CGNJ and Union of Composers, Tartarstan, Russia, labels. Several works are published by Mobart, E.C. Schirmer, Veritas Musicae and Rosalime Productions.
He received a B. A. in Music from Swarthmore College, and M.F.A. in Musical Composition from Princeton University. He is co-founder of the New York Guild of Composers (1975), and founder/director emeritus of the Composers Guild of New Jersey (1980-1998). Since 1999, Pollock directs a contemporary music and arts presenting organization, Ebb & Flow Arts, Inc., in Hawai'i.
Romance-Fantasy for guitar and piano is dedicated to Joan Forsyth and William Anderson. They have performed it several times. This sane performance practice enables them to give the piece heartfelt, mature renditions. I am deeply grateful for their dedication.
A characteristic 4 eighth note theme begins the piece and pervades throughout. There are lyrical parts that could be called episodic love songs. Other parts are brusque, even boisterous. There are moments in the middle of the piece when the pianist plucks strings inside the piano in order to match the colors of plucked guitar strings. There is an extended transition in order to place the piano stand in position and then replace it. During this transition, the guitar performs sorts of soliloquies. The final, upbeat passage arrives via metric modulation.