Sunday, November 16, 2014 – Project TenFourteen: Concert #1 – The opening concert of Project TenFourteen included the World Premiere of two works by George Crumb – Yesteryear and The Yellow Moon of Andalusia as well as his Five Pieces for Piano; the World Premiere of Corpórea by Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz; and the World Premiere of Elena Ruehr’s It’s About Time. Also on the program: Georges Aperghis‘s Récitations 9 and 10 for solo voice. Special guest soprano Tony Arnold joined the SFCMP ensemble members led by Steven Schick, at Cal Performances Hertz Hall in Berkeley.
Pre-concert talk: Steven Schick in conversation with Gabriela Ortiz and Elena Ruehr
George Crumb – Yesteryear – (2013, WP, Comm ~9’) – for mezzo-soprano, amplified piano, and 2 percussionists Tony Arnold, mezzo soprano. Kate Campbell, amplified piano; William Winant, percussion; Nick Woodbury, percussion
George Crumb – Five Pieces for Piano, ~9’ (1962). Kate Campbell, piano
Elena Ruehr – it’s about time (2014, WP, Comm ~20′) – for clarinet, percussion, guitar, harp, violin, and cello. Peter Josheff, clarinet; Hrabba Atladottir, violin; Stephen Harrison, cello; Karen Gottlieb, harp; David Tanenbaum, guitar; Daniel Kennedy, percussion; Steven Schick, conductor.
George Crumb – Yellow Moon of Andalusia, (2013, WP, Comm ~15’ ) – for mezzo-soprano and amplified piano. Tony Arnold, soprano; Kate Campbell, piano.
1. Pause of the Clock
2. Ballade of the Little Square
3. Casida of the Lament
5. Song of the Dead Orange Tree
6. In the Forest of Clocks
Georges Aperghis – Récitations 9 & 10 (1978) – Tony Arnold, soprano
Gabriela Ortiz – Corpórea (2014, WP, Comm ~ 20′) – for flute, clarinet, horn, trumpet, percussion, harp, violin, cello, and bass. Tod Brody, flute; Jeff Anderle, clarinet; Adam Luftman, trumpet; Alicia Telford, horn; Nick Woodbury, percussion; Karen Gottlieb, harp; Roy Malan, violin; Stephen Harrison, cello; Richard Worn, bass; Steven Schick, conductor.
2. Breathing Dance
3. Intangible, Arising Adagio
4. Ritual Mind-Corporeous Pulse
About the works on this concert
Elena Ruehr began it’s about time immediately upon receiving the TenFourteen Project commission, completing it in the month of her 50th birthday in August 2013. Ruehr intended it, in part, as a birthday present to herself; it’s prevailingly optimistic, the title referencing her birthday milestone as well as the work’s dynamic focus on rhythm and meter, patterns and their transformation. The piece is modeled loosely on the Baroque (particularly Vivaldian) concerto. The violin has a sometime concertante role supported by “continuo” of clarinet, guitar, harp, drum, and cello, but the continuo textures frequently become the true focus of the piece. In contrast with the buoyant outer movements, the introspective middle movement was triggered by a catastrophic world event whose echo suffuses its mood.
In addition to the two world premieres this evening, George Crumb’s Xylophony, written for Steven Schick, is slated for premiere in March. The composer writes, “The sense of YESTERYEAR is implied by François Villon’s Ballad of the Dead Ladies: ‘Where are the snows of yesteryear?’ ” In Yesteryear, “a Vocalise for Mezzo-Soprano, Amplified Piano, and Percussion,” the instruments provide a shimmering and resonant atmosphere for the voice; in a real sense the voice expands into this non-vocal sound-world. At the same time the voice is in itself a kind of hyper-voice, beyond everyday communication, beyond singing and speaking. This is enhanced by characteristic theatrical elements. The Yellow Moon of Andalusia is a cycle of six Lorca settings for voice and amplified piano. Imagery of clocks’ inexorable machinery rubs against the wild sounds of cicadas and fundamental expression of song.
Crumb’s Five Pieces for Piano are an early (1962) example of the composer’s penchant for extending instruments’ basic idioms into new worlds of sound. These pieces also reveal a succinct, direct control of musical gesture and the creation of a highly individual musical rhetoric.
Georges Aperghis produces highly exploratory and experimental work in the service of the most immediate expressive content, with particular focus on vocal and theatrical works. His Récitations series for voice is somewhat in the vein of Berio’s Sequenza III or Ligeti’s Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures, along with other linguistically structuralist (/deconstructionist) works of that era. Composed in 1977-78, the Récitations pieces crowd vocal and emotional actions into such densely packed moments that they elude any possible sense of “completion,” instead suggesting a landscape of layered meanings—musical, semantic, emotional, instinctive, all centered within, and emerging from, the performer herself. Récitation 9 weaves together a placidly uttered sentence with a repeated vocal fragment like a displaced loop. Récitation 10 creates a simulacrum of realistic communication via a “sentence” expanding via fragments of quasi-words, interposed with sung phrases.
Gabriela Ortiz’s TenFourteen Project commission, Corpórea, is dedicated to the Mexican diplomat Gilberto Bosques Saldívar, whose actions as consul in France during World War II allowed thousands of Jews, exiles from Franco’s Spain, and others to escape the Third Reich during the years 1940-43. As its title suggests, the music of Ortiz’s four-movement work is strongly centered on the physical, fragile nature of the human body, as well as the body as foundation for human thought and spirit. The first and third movements are ethereal and airy: the first, “Air,” is virtually a miniature flute concerto, with that instrument frequently recalling the very sound of breath, of wind. The second and fourth are more concretely rhythmic and pulsed, representing “primitive and earthy aspects of life” (Alejandro Escuer).
About Project TenFourteen
Under the artistic leadership of internationally acclaimed musician and educator Steven Schick, SFCMP 2014-15 season was anchored by Project TenFourteen – four concerts with world premieres from ten distinctive composers all challenged to “reflect upon and address the human condition, common to us all.” The ten composers participating in this project are of extraordinary caliber – George Crumb, Elena Ruehr, Gabriela Ortiz, Ken Ueno, Gabriela Ortiz, Du Yun, Agata Zubel, Koji Nakano, Lei Liang, Laurie San Martin, and Chou Wen-Chung. Collectively, they represent cultures ranging from China, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand, to Mexico, Poland, and several regions of the U.S. and span music styles from lyric to extended techniques to the forefront of electro-acousticism.
The four concerts — in November 2014 and January, February and March 2015 — took place at Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. They were presented in collaboration with Cal Performances. A pre-concert talk preceded each performance, and a post-concert reception allowed audience members to engage with the composers and artists.
Read more about Project TenFourteen
This concert was sponsored in part by the Ross McKee Foundation.