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Tufts Residency

6.9.3002

Brave New Works Plays Tufts Composers
Monday, June 9, 2003 at 8 p.m.
Goddard Chapel

PROGRAM

Rhythmic Clouds and Merengue (2003) Luis Gonzalez
For flute, clarinet, harp and piano

Prelude (2003) Lindsey Schust
For flute, violin, and harp

Some Anonymous Orishas (2003) Abigail Al-Doory
For clarinet, cello and piano

one's not half two (2003) Matthew Snook
For soprano, violin, viola

Study (2003) Ryan Vigil
For flute, viola, harp

Those Who Love (Sara Teasdale) (2003) Russ Gershon
Prayer and Advice (Phillip Appleman) (2003)
For soprano and string quartet

INTERMISSION

What's Left (2003) Don Schechter
For soprano and BNW ensemble

Contrapunctus XIII, from "Art of Fugue" Johann Sebastian Bach
John McDonald, piano

Inventious Network, Op. 382 (2002) John McDonald
A Trope on Contrapunctus XII
from "Art of Fugue" by J.S. Bach
Brave New Works Ensemble with guitar and percussion
Aaron Larget Caplan, guitar (guest artist)

Notes
Rhythmic Clouds and Merengue (Luis Gonzalez)
1. Clouds
2. Merengue
3. More Clouds

The core of the piece is the "Merengue" rhythm, a relentless 5/8 dance from my native Venezuela. This rhythm permeates all the sections of the piece, even the more undefined "clouds". The cloud element is sparse, coloristic, sometimes ethereal, a combination of the live performance with simultaneous electronic sampling/playback of this performance.

Luis Gonzalez is a working composer, producer and recording artist. He was a recent finalist in Turner Classic Movies' Young Film Composers competition. Early this year he finished work as Supervising Sound and Music Editor for "The Patchwork Monkey" (WorldFest Silver Remi award). Songs produced by Gonzalez were part of the soundtrack for the film "Missing Peace" (Audience Award, Slamdance Film Festival 2003). He has additionally served as an Assistant Music Editor for various projects for Discovery Channel, PBS and National Geographic Explorer. He holds a M.A. in Music Composition from Tufts and a B.M. in Film Scoring and Performance from Berklee College of Music, having studied privately with John McDonald, John Bavicchi and Hal Crook among others. You can visit his web site online at www.filmscoring.net.

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Prelude for Harp, Flute, and Violin (Lindsey Schust)
This piece was inspired by the sound of the "kora", a native harp-like instrument of the Mande people of West Africa. The piece uses the compound meter of 3/4 + 5/4.

Lindsey Schust graduated from Brandeis University in 2001 with a B.A. in music. This spring semester, she finished her graduate studies at Tufts, graduating with an M.A. in music composition.

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Some Anonymous Orishas (Abigail Al-Doory)
Soon after returning from a ten-day trip to Cuba in March, I found my experiences there had slowly begun to permeate my life in all possible ways--not least of all in musical ways. During our travels in Havana, we attended a comparsa, which is a kind of demonstration of the drumming, dances and song of the various orishas. An orisha is a god/goddess of the Afro-Cuban religion Santeria, which is widely practiced in Cuba (side by side with Catholicism--and it is interesting to note that many orishas and Christian saints share parallel characteristics); Ogun, Ochun, Elegua and Yemaya are a few of the major orishas. Though the particular orishas I attempt to evoke remain anonymous, these five brief movements feature the occasional direct borrowing of orisha-specific melodies and rhythms, as well as my own conception of the strong personalities of these characters.

An Ohio native, Abigail Al-Doory graduated in 2000 with a degree in French and music from Pomona College in Claremont, CA. While at Pomona, she studied composition with Tom Flaherty and piano with Genevieve Lee and Marc Ryser, winning the Rudolph Polk Competition for instrumental performance and the William G. Blanchard Memorial Prize for Composition in her senior year. After a year of graduate study in piano performance with Leslie Amper and Randall Hodgkinson at the Longy School of Music, she entered the masters program in composition at Tufts where she studies with John McDonald. In addition to being an experienced choral singer and trombonist, Ms. Al-Doory is currently the Music Library Assistant at Tufts and is also completing a masters in library science from Simmons College.

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one's not half two (Matthew Snook)
one's not half two is essentially a solo for two instruments, with a third voice singing above it at times. The text is from an e.e. cummings poem of the same name; it embodies the idea of two people coming together to form one single, unified entity. To this end, the two instruments, the violin and viola, play in unison for the majority of the piece, only occasionally diverging into a contrapuntal setting, but always returning to the single, unfied melodic line. At times when one instrument drops out completely, the other will continue to play, but with a restless, longing feeling, as if incomplete. It is only when its partner reenters do things return to normal.


one's not half two. It's two are halves of one:
which halves reintegrating,shall occur
no death and any quantity;but than
all numerable mosts the actual more

minds ignorant of stern miraculous
this every truth-beware of heartless them
(given the scalpel,they dissect a kiss;
or,sold the reason,they undream a dream)

one is the song which fiends and angels sing:
all murdering lies by mortals told make two.
Let liars wilt,repaying life they're loaned;
we(by a gift called dying born)must grow

deep in dark least ourselves remembering
love only rides his year.
All lose, whole find (e.e. cummings)

Matthew Snook is currently pursuing his Master's Degree in Music Composition at Tufts University, studying with John McDonald. Matt received his Bachelor's Degree from Tufts in 2000. His works include compositions for string quartet, trumpet quartet, flute quartet, a violin sonata, a duet for violin and vibraphone, as well as a concert overture for orchestra; also solo pieces for flute, piano, cello, trombone, clarinet, contrabass, marimba, and tenor saxophone.

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Study (Ryan Vigil)
Composed for flute, viola, and harp, this study is only part of a blueprint for a much larger work for extended ensemble. The planned work will eventually interlink a good number of pieces like this one into a coherent whole.

Graduated from the Manhattan School of Music in 2000 with a degree in composition and working towards a Masters degree at Tufts University, Ryan Vigil is active as a composer, pianist and teacher in the Boston area. Ryan's principal teachers have been Marti Epstein, John McDonald and Elias Tanenbaum; his compositions - ranging from chamber music to orchestral works - have been performed throughout New York and the Boston area. As pianist, in addition to numerous solo and collaborative recitals, Ryan has been engaged as accompanist by the New England Conservatory, Rivers Music School and Tufts University, amongst others. Since January 2002 Ryan has served as the Director of Music at the United Methodist Church of Newton, Massachusetts.

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Those Who Love and Prayer and Advice (Russ Gershon)
Sara Teasdale wrote often of unrequited love, befitting a romantically tragic and clinically depressed life, ended by her own hand. (I suppose this made her a perverse role model for Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton.) It takes the form of a free sonnet, retaining here only the 14 line structure and the volta, or mood shift, of the traditional sonnet. I was attracted by the lugubrious beauty of the names invoked (a veritable Siren song to the prospective melodist), and by the volta, which demands contrasting musical settings. To modern ears, the language may seem somewhat mannered but in her day Teasdale's poetry was considered spare and colloquial compared to most contemporaries. Compositionally, I use dense harmonies and voicings to reflect the charged yet ambivalent feelings that love (and talk of love) can create.

Those Who Love - Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

Those who love the most,
Do not talk of their love,
Francesca, Guinevere,
Deirdre, Iseult, Heloise,
In the fragrant gardens of heaven
Are silent, or speak if at all
Of fragile, inconsequent things.

And a woman I used to know
Who loved one man from her youth
Against the strength of the fates
Fighting in somber pride,
Never spoke of this thing,
But hearing his name by chance,
A light would pass over her face.

Prayer and Advice
To balance the harmonically and orchestrationally rich "Those Who Love," we offer a brief setting of a witty untitled poem by Phillip Appleman, a Hoosier who taught at Indiana University for many years. I enjoy the tongue-in-cheek ritualized language, alluding to a nursery rhyme, the Boy Scout Pledge, and both up-to-minute and archaic language. Perhaps inspired by Appleman's own use of quotations, I stumbled into a humdinger myself when setting the last line to melody. The sentiments expressed are those of this composer and poet and have not been edited or prescreened by any governmental, military or religious entity.

[untitled] - Phillip Appleman (1926-)

O Karma, Dharma, pudding and pie,
gimme a break before I die.
grant me wisdom, will, & wit
purity, probity, pluck, & grit.
Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind,
gimme great abs & a steel-trap mind,
and forgive, Ye Gods, some humble advice-
these little blessings would suffice
to beget an earthly paradise:
make the bad people good-
and the good people nice,
and before our world goes over the brink,
teach the believers how to think.
Note: Special thanks go to Jennifer Goltz for helping to select the texts.

- Russ Gershon

Russ Gershon has worked as a saxophonist, composer and bandleader since 1980. He founded internationally known ten-piece jazz ensemble the Either/Orchestra in 1985 and serves as principal composer, and has performed, played on and arranged music for studio sessions with rock and jazz headliners, along with creating and operating Accurate Records, an independent label with almost 100 CD releases of jazz, rock and soundtrack music. Russ holds an AB in Philosophy from Harvard, has studied music theory, arranging and saxophone at Berklee College, and is now working toward a masters in music composition at Tufts.

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What's Left (Don Schechter)
What's Left, written for the entire Brave New Works ensemble, incorporates various musical fragments into one cohesive yet unraveling work. A delicate and lyrical first section gives rise to a harsher texture. The cello quotes part of a Swedish folk tune, "Se solen sjunker" (īThe sun has set'), that Schubert used in his Piano Trio in E flat. A string-dominated passage precedes a Soprano cadenza that slows the frantic pace. The full ensemble gradually returns in a spatial and improvisatory-like section. Entrances and exact duration of notes are left up to each performer, though a series of large downbeats provides a loose structure.

Don Schechter recently completed a Masters Degree in Music Composition from Tufts University. He is a freelance composer, filmmaker, classically trained flutist and improvisatory theremin player. Mr. Schechter's compositions and arrangements have been performed throughout the Greater Boston area as well as in Princeton, NJ, and Athens, Greece. He has worked in the past few years for Dateline NBC, Nibblebox and The Rolling Stones.

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Inventious Network: A Trope on Contrapunctus XIII from "Art of Fugue"
by J.S. Bach, Op. 382 (John McDonald)
Composed for Chris Younghoon Kim and the Brave New Works Ensemble in September of 2002, this piece was offered as part of BNW's "Art of Fugue" project for which several composers were asked to write works inspired by Bach's singular masterpiece. My response, which augments the core ensemble with guitar and an array of six percussion instruments (playable by two to five players, I think), expands on Bach's amazingly chromatic canon in augmentation and contrary motion (in other words, imitation slower and upside down). I will play the canon on tonight's concert as a prelude to my composed response. My network of "inventions" or "inventious passages" is designed in overlapping obsessive sections that eventually give way to a series of short lyrical duets; after a valedictory piano solo recalling the early obsessions of the work, a tutti coda concludes this ode to Bach (and to Chris Kim and this extraordinary group) with spacious, ringing sounds. Along the way, some novel percussion sounds including a repeatedly slammed book (for tonight's performance, we use the resonant complete journal entries of Delmore Schwartz, 1939-1959) enliven the proceedings. At the first performance in Ann Arbor in October 2002, the BNW players actually doubled their own instruments by playing the percussion parts! They are true heroes, but are spared this taxing and ridiculous feat tonight by the four composers who have mastered the percussive parts: Lindsey Schust (guiro), Luis Gonzalez (woodblock), Russ Gershon (tambourine), and Ryan Vigil (maracas). The composer plays the book and crotales.

- John McDonald

John McDonald, composer
A "fresh, inventive, urbane, and keen-witted young composer" (Boston Globe) and "a splendid pianist" "with a born pianist's command of colors, textures, dynamics"(Boston Globe), John McDonald has earned international acclaim as a musician. His compositions have been performed on four continents, and his work is frequently featured in the United States by such ensembles as Alea III, Arden Quartet, Boston Composers String Quartet, Hartt Contemporary Players, Marimolin, Rivers Trio, and Duo 101. Recently, McDonald served as Cultural Specialist in Mongolia, where he premiered his "Music for Piano and String Orchestra" and worked with students on his pedagogical works. In his performing capacity, recent honors include a Duo Recitalists' Grant from the NEA, an Artistic Ambassadorship to Asia, and an Artists' Residency at M.I.T. with soprano Karol Bennett (1995, 1993, 1990-91), as well as invitations to perform his works at conferences in Amsterdam, Budapest, Havana, Montreal, and St. Petersburg. McDonald's solo piano recital of "Common Injustices" by twenty-five living composers given in September of 2001 prompted Richard Dyer of The Boston Globe to write "one can hardly imagine anyone else undertaking such a program, or playing it with such modest and unobtrusive but total musical and pianistic mastery."

Currently Associate Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Tufts University, McDonald's recent accomplishments have included Composer Residencies with the METYSO Youth Orchestra, the Southern Illinois University Music Department, and Duke University, commissions from American Composers Forum and the Harvard Musical Association, and First Prize in the Leo M. Traynor Composition Competition for music for viol consort.


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