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Music of Leslie Bassett - October 6 & 7, 2001

Short Bio

Leslie Bassett was born in Hanford, CA, January 22, 1923, the son of Archibald and Vera Bassett, and grew up on ranches in the San Joaquin Valley. His early music training in Fresno was on piano, trombone, cello and other instruments, and he spent 38 months in army bands during World War II as trombonist, arranger and composer. He enrolled at California State University, Fresno (then Fresno State College) and was principal trombonist with the Fresno Symphony Orchestra. Graduate study at the University of Michigan under Ross Lee Finney was interrupted by a Fulbright Fellowship to Paris and work with Arthur Honegger and Nadia Boulanger.

He joined the Michigan faculty in 1952, then held the Prix de Rome at the American Academy in Rome, 1961-63. He has also worked with the Spanish-British composer Roberto Gerhard and with Mario Davidovsky in electronic music. At Michigan he became chairman of composition, the Albert A. Stanley Distinguished University Professor of Music, and the 1984 Henry Russel Lecturer, the university's highest faculty honor.

He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Bassett's music has been widely performed by the nation's orchestras, bands, choirs, soloists and ensembles. He has composed electronic music and written for plays, film, and all performing ensembles with the exception of opera. He frequently serves as guest composer with performing ensembles and universities.

October 6-7, 2001

Each concert will start with comments by Leslie Bassett These concerts are free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted at the door.

Please note the change in programs.

Concert #1: Saturday, October 6th, 8PM in Britton Recital Hall at the School of Music at the University of Michigan

"Illuminations for flute & piano"

Illuminations was composed for former faculty colleagues Keith Bryan and Karen Keys, the Bryan-Keys Duo, who gave the premiere performance at a faculty artists concert on campus February 11, 1990, and who recorded it on Opus One 161. Peters #67332.

Emily Perryman, flute
Winston Choi, piano

"Five Love Songs"

The Love Songs were commissioned by the Music Teachers National Association and premiered in Dallas by Elizabeth Mosher and Jack Roberts. Ms. Mosher was a member of the Michigan faculty. The Songs were settings of texts that intrigued me, but the piece had its challenges, such as the request to whistle, or if whistling is impossible, to use inflected speech in he last song.

Jill Pearon, Soprano
Eric Melear, piano

"Music for cello & piano"

Music for Cello and Piano was written for Fred Dempster and Bob Bennett, faculty members and friends at my undergraduate college in California, Fresno State, for concerts when I returned as guest composer. The final slow movement contains, thoroughly disguised, a couple of phrases from the school's alma mater, which even the performers failed to locate.

Katri Ervamaa, cello
Winston Choi, piano


"Sounds Remembered"

Sounds Remembered is a testimony of affection for the Spanish-British composer Roberto Gerhard, who came to the Michigan campus for a term late in his life. The sounds remembered are, for the most part, from his Gemini (then known as Duo Concertante); however, the remembered sounds turned out to be occasionally inaccurate, for I had not always remembered them correctly. The commission was from the McKim Foundation in the Library of Congress, where the premiere was played by Charles Treger and Samuel Sanders, who also recorded the piece for Desto

Scott Conklin, violin
Robert Auler, piano

"Pierrot Songs"

Schoenberg's famous Pierrot Lunaire, a wonderful 20th century classic, draws upon German translations of French texts by Albert Giraud, not all of which the composer used. In 1988 the Schoenberg Institute commissioned several other composers to set some of the remaining poetry for the same ensemble, premiering the new works in a pair of concerts. My three were presented in Los Angeles in 1988 by the New York New Music Ensemble with Chistine Schadeberg, then by Lucy Shelton and the Da Capo

Emily Perryman, flute
Deborah Chodacki, clarinet
Stephen Miahky, violin
Katri Ervamaa, cello
Charisse Baldoria, piano
Jennifer Goltz, Soprano
Chris Younghoon Kim, conductor

Concert #2: Sunday, October 7th, 8PM in Britton Recital Hall at the School of Music at the University of Michigan


Temperaments is such a demanding work for solo guitar that I have on several occasions, since writing it, regretted its difficulty. Michael Lorimer, a fearless virtuoso, kept after me for a piece, and I wanted to show him to the world at his best. He carried it off beautifully, to my great pleasure, but my conscience still bothers me. The tuning of the instrument, a pile of fourths with a third in the middle, seemed a challenge, so I worked with a dummy fingerbord, in order to be sure that the result would be playable. As if all these worries were not enough, I tuned the lowest string down from the usual E to E-flat. Roseanne Music.

Matthew Ardizzone, guitar

"Duo Concertante"

The Duo was the second of my works for alto saxophone and piano, theresult of a commission from the Concert Artists Guild in New York, where Steven Jordheim and Ted Rehl gave the premiere in 1985. The discovery of an "altissimo register" by Michigan's own Donald Sinta revolutionized saxohonists' expectations and enlarged their upward performing range by over an octave. For the alto saxophone, this new upper register became especially effective and is now possible by all expert players.

Clifford L. Leaman, Saxophone
Derek J. Parsons, piano


"Fourth String Quartet"

The Fourth Quartet was commissioned by the UM School of Music in celebration of the School's Centennial Year, 1980. The premiere took place on a Musical Society concert by the New World String Quartet, an excellent ensemble, which originated as the string section principals in the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra. They performed the piece many times.

Gabe Bolkosky, violin
Maria Sampen, violin
Tam Tranh, viola
Katri Ervamaa, cello

The following pieces are cancelled due to illness

"Preludes" [cancelled] Gabriela Frank, piano

"The Jade Garden" [cancelled]

Jennifer Goltz, Soprano
Gabriela Frank, piano

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