NOVA NOTES

August 17, 2017

0 Comments


CMA Announces More Than $950,000 in Grants for Small Ensembles and Presenters

For Immediate Release
Contact: Nichole L. Knight
nknight@chamber-music.org
212-242-2022 ext. 106

New York, NY (July 31, 2017)—Chamber Music America (CMA), the national network for ensemble music professionals, today announced the distribution of $951,545 through its four major grant programs: New Jazz Works and Presenter Consortium for Jazz, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Classical Commissioning, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and the Residency Partnership Program, funded by Chamber Music America's Residency Endowment Fund.

This funding will provide key support for the creation, performance, and presentation of small ensemble works, as well as support community engagement and audience-building initiatives. The grantees in each program were selected by independent peer panels. A complete list of the 2017 grantees follows:

NEW JAZZ WORKS
Funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

A total of $447,000 was awarded to fifteen jazz ensembles through the New Jazz Works program, which supports the creation of new works by professional U.S.-based jazz artists and helps assure that these compositions will be heard through live performances and recordings.

Alchemy Sound Project (Rosendale, NY)
Composer: Erica Lindsay | Instrumentation: Flute/alto flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, oboe, trumpet/flugelhorn, trombone, piano, bass, drums

2017 NJW Recipients

2017 New Jazz Works Grantees

Andrea Brachfeld Quartet (Jersey City, NJ)
Composer: Andrea Brachfeld | Instrumentation: Flute/alto flute, piano, bass, drums

Ben Wendel Group (Brooklyn, NY)
Composer: Ben Wendel | Instrumentation: Saxophone, bassoon, Fender Rhodes, guitar, piano, bass, drums

Craig Handy and 2nd Line Smith (Weehawken, NJ)
Composer: Craig Handy | Instrumentation: Saxophone, organ, sousaphone, drums/percussion, guitar, bass

The Curtis Brothers (Weehawken, NJ)
Composer: Zaccai Curtis | Instrumentation: Piano, bass, drums, alto saxophone, trumpet

Ian Carey Quintet + 1 (Richmond, CA)
Composer: Ian Carey | Instrumentation: Flute, bass clarinet, alto/tenor saxophones, trumpet, piano, bass, drums

Joshua Lawrence and Color Theory (New York, NY)
Composer: Joshua Lawrence | Instrumentation: Flute, trumpet/flugelhorn, trombone, alto saxophone, Fender Rhodes, piano, bass, drums

Kendrick Scott Oracle (New York, NY)
Composer: Kendrick Scott | Instrumentation: Soprano/tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, guitar, piano, bass, drums, electronics

Manuel Valera Trio (New York, NY)
Composer: Manuel Valera | Instrumentation: Piano, bass, drums

Martin Bejerano Trio (Miami, FL)
Composer: Martin Bejerano | Instrumentation: Piano, bass, drums

Mickey Bass and the New York Powerhouse Ensemble (New York, NY)
Composer: Mickey Bass | Instrumentation: Bass, vibraphone, alto/tenor saxophones, trumpet, drums

Mike Holober and Balancing Act (Mount Kisco, NY)
Composer: Mike Holober | Instrumentation: Flute, soprano/alto/tenor saxophones, clarinet/bass clarinet, trumpet/flugelhorn, trombone, piano, bass, drums, voice

Piano Iberico (Brooklyn, NY)
Composer: Chano Dominguez | Instrumentation: Piano, bass, percussion/hand percussion (palmas), foot percussion, voice

Samuel Torres Group (Long Island City, NY)
Composer: Samuel Torres | Instrumentation: Percussion, piano, bass, two trumpets, alto/tenor/baritone saxophones, trombone

Vardan Ovsepian Chamber Project (Glendale, CA)
Composer: Vardan Ovsepian | Instrumentation: Piano, flute, viola, cello, double bass, percussion

CLASSICAL COMMISSIONING
Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Twelve grants totaling $231,550 have been awarded through the Classical Commissioning program, which provides support to U.S.-based professional classical and world music ensembles and presenters for the creation and performance of new chamber works by American composers.

2017 Classical Commissioning Grantees

2017 Classical Commissioning Grantees

Attacca Quartet (New York, NY)
Composer: Chris Rogerson | Instrumentation: Two violins, viola, cello

Boston Musica Viva (Boston, MA)
Composer: Sebastian Currier | Instrumentation: Soprano, flute, clarinet, trumpet, violin, cello, piano, percussion

The Dorian Wind Quintet (New York, NY)
Composer: Billy Childs | Instrumentation: Flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn

Ensemble Dal Niente (Chicago, IL)
Composer: Erin Gee | Instrumentation: Two sopranos, flute, clarinet, cello, bass, two percussion

Enso String Quartet (New York, NY)
Composer: Alyssa Weinberg | Instrumentation: Two violins, viola, cello, clarinet

Eurasia Consort (Seattle, WA)
Composer: Alice Shields | Instrumentation: Soprano, alto flute, recorder, Renaissance harp, ud, theorbo, percussion

Garth Newel Music Center (Hot Springs, VA)
Composer: David Biedenbender | Instrumentation: Violin, viola, cello, piano

Longleash (Brooklyn, NY)
Composer: Shawn Jaeger | Instrumentation: Violin, cello, digital/prepared piano

Momenta Quartet (Bronx, NY)
Composer: Alvin Singleton | Instrumentation: Two violins, viola, cello

NOVA Chamber Music Series (Salt Lake City, UT)
Composer: Morris Rosenzweig | Instrumentation: Two violins, viola, cello, clarinet, prepared piano

Spektral Quartet (Chicago, IL)
Composer: Tonia Ko | Instrumentation: Two violins, viola, cello

Zéphyros Winds (Las Vegas, NV)
Composer: David Sanford | Instrumentation: Flute, oboe, clarinet/bass clarinet, bassoon, horn

Chamber Music America's commissioning programs are also supported by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the Amphion Foundation, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and the Chamber Music America Commissioning Endowment Fund.

RESIDENCY PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM
Funded by the Chamber Music America Residency Endowment Fund

The Residency Partnership Program supports ensembles and presenters in building awareness and appreciation for classical/contemporary, jazz, and world chamber music through community-based residencies that engage audiences beyond traditional concert settings. A total of $41,995 has been awarded to seven ensembles and two presenting organizations across the United States.

2017 Residency Partnership Grant Recipients

2017 Residency Partner Program Grantees

The 2017 grantees are:

  • • Apollo Chamber Players (Houston, TX)
  • • Great Falls Symphony with the Cascade Quartet (Great Falls, MT)
  • • Lawler + Fadoul (New York, NY)
  • • Matt Davis' Aerial Photograph (New York, NY)
  • • The Playground Ensemble (Denver, CO)
  • • Sonic Forest (San Francisco, CA)
  • • Sylvan Winds (New York, NY)
  • • Wendell Harrison Ensemble (Detroit, MI)
  • • Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco's Bronx Music Heritage Center) (Bronx, NY) with the Garifuna Jazz Ensemble
PRESENTER CONSORTIUM FOR JAZZ
Funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

 

Presenter Consortium for Jazz supports consortiums of three U.S. presenters to collectively engage up to three professional U.S. jazz ensembles. Project grants totaling $156,000 have been awarded to five consortiums (15 presenting organizations), which will receive an additional $75,000 in general operating support.

 

This year’s grantees are:

PCJ Grantee 2017 Walker Arts Center

• Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis, MN),
• Krannert Center for Performing Arts (Urbana, IL)
• Wexner Center (Columbus, OH)
Presenting The Bad Plus with Bill Frisell

PCJ Grantee 2017 Western Michigan University Foundation

• Western Michigan University Foundation
(Kalamazoo, MI)
• City of East Lansing/Summer Solstice Jazz Festival (East Lansing, MI)
• The Carr Center (Detroit, MI)
Presenting the Dafnis Prieto Sextet*

*Dafnis Prieto Sextet will perform Prieto's 2005 New Jazz Works commission, The Emotion Series: Taking the Soul for a Walk.

PCJ Grantee 2017 Arts for Art

• Arts for Art (New York, NY),
• CapitalBop (Washington, D.C.)
• Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (Pittsburgh, PA)
Presenting the Odean Pope Saxophone Choir

PCJ Grantee 2017 Nameless Sound

• Nameless Sound (Houston, TX),
• Epistrophy Arts (Austin, TX)
• The New Quorum (New Orleans, LA)
Presenting the Wadada Leo Smith - Golden Quartet*

*Wadada Leo Smith - Golden Quartet will perform Smith's 2010 New Jazz Works commission, Ten Freedom Summers.

PCJ Grantee 2017 Acadiana Center for the Arts

• Acadiana Center for the Arts (Lafayette, LA)
• Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge/River City Jazz Masters Concert Series (Baton Rouge, LA)
• Banner Series @ McNeese State University
(Lake Charles, LA)
Presenting the Arturo Sandoval Sextet

For more information about CMA’s grant programs, including past grantees and projects, please visit:
www.chamber-music.org.

Chamber Music America, the national network for ensemble music professionals, was founded in 1977 to develop, support, and strengthen the chamber music field. With a membership of nearly 6,000, including musicians, ensembles, presenters, artist managers, educators, music businesses, and advocates of ensemble music, CMA welcomes members representing a wide range of musical styles and traditions. CMA provides its members with grant programs, consulting services, a national conference, professional development seminars, access to instrument and other insurances, and several publications, including Chamber Music magazine; the weekly Accent e-newsletter; and a member-driven website, www.chamber-music.org.

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research, and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies. To this end, the Foundation supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.

April 21, 2017

0 Comments


April 19, 2017

0 Comments


NOVA Notes: 04.23.2017

Violins, Violas, and Virtuosi

Nicolò Paganini, the violinist whose technical command and compositional ingenuity would forever alter the art of his instrument, came from humble beginnings. He was born in Genoa in 1782. His father, Antonio, was a dock worker and amateur musician who delighted in giving young Nicolò violin and mandolin lessons. The child’s phenomenal talent was evident early: at the age of thirteen, Paganini’s public concerts earned enough money to fund his studies with Alessandro Rolla, one of the leading violinists in northern Italy. When Paganini arrived in Parma to begin his lessons, however, Rolla declared that there was nothing left to teach the young musician.

Paganini’s flamboyant performance style would have a profound impact on a society just beginning to embrace the public concert as a locus for bourgeois artistic enjoyment, and his technical prowess would fundamentally redefine what it meant to play the violin. Moreover, his compositions––all written to showcase his own playing––pulled revolutionary new sounds from the instrument. For instance, in an early set of variations (Carmagnola, based on a French revolutionary song and written when Paganini was only twelve), he specified that the violinist should play “organetto,” i.e., imitating the sound of a bagpipe by bowing on the bridge. He regularly utilized scordatura tuning (in which the strings of the violin are tuned to different pitches than the usual G-D-A-E); had the bridge of his Guarneri violin flattened so that he could easily play triple and even quadruple stops; and pioneered the technique of double harmonics.

At the time, Paganini’s works were considered unplayable by anyone other than the master himself. He also preferred to keep techniques such as the aforementioned double harmonics secret. As such, Paganini published only five collections during his lifetime. Of these, it is the set of twenty-four violin caprices, Op. 1, that remain his calling-card; today they are still considered diabolically difficult and a hallmark of any modern violinist’s repertoire. NOVA’s April 23 concert will feature three of the caprices, alongside works for violin and viola by Mozart, Bartók, and the young composer Eric Wubbels.

A daguerrotype of Paganini, circa 1840

In modern terms, Paganini’s unusual methods of producing sound on his instrument would be called “extended techniques,” i.e., modes of producing sound from an instrument that “extend” the instrument to include the entire body and all its material parts. The young composer Eric Wubbels makes extraordinary use of extended techniques in his quartet “IJver” for four violas. In fact, Wubbels’s program note begins with two quotes suggesting that his extended techniques are inspired by the technology of science fiction:

[Checklist for forming Voltron]

Keith: Ready to form Voltron! Activate interlocks! Dyna-therms connected. Infra-cells up; mega-thrusters are go!

All: LET’S GO VOLTRON FORCE!

- Voltron, Defender of the Universe

“Now, [this concept] is not mere emptiness. It is that which is living, dynamic, devoid of mass, unfixed, beyond individuality and personality— the matrix of all phenomena.”

- Haku-un Yasutani

As a citizen of the nineteenth century, Paganini’s career played out on the stages of public concert halls. A generation before, by contrast, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s career had taken place in the gilded palaces of the European aristocracy. The small boy, with his phenomenal talent and prodigious charm, was feted by kings and emperors, coddled by queens (he is said to have proposed marriage to Marie Antoinette at the age of seven), and showered with gifts. As the young Mozart approached adulthood, however, his marketability as a prodigy began to wane, and the family returned to their home town of Salzburg, where Mozart entered the employ of the Archbishop Hieronymous Colloredo. Mozart’s relationship with Colloredo was stormy at best, yet the stability of the Salzburg years gave him the opportunity to mature as a composer, and his position as the lead violinist of the court orchestra gave him a platform for writing solo works for the instrument. Between April and December 1775, he wrote no fewer than five violin concertos, of which the concerto in G Major, on NOVA’s upcoming concert, was the third.

It was not merely his difficult relationship with Colloredo, however, that made Mozart’s years in Salzburg unhappy: there was also the shadow cast by his domineering father. Finally, in 1781, Mozart broke away (he had been dismissed by Colloredo, he would later recall, “with a kick in the ass”), and made his way toward Vienna, where he would spend the last decade of his life. It is thus somewhat surprising that Mozart and his wife Costanze returned to Salzburg for several months at the end of 1783. The exact reason for the return is unknown; perhaps Mozart wished a reconciliation with his father. Alas, he was greeted with coldness, and his visit to Salzburg was rendered infinitely worse by the news that his infant son, who had remained in Vienna in the care of a nursemaid, had died while he and Costanze were away. Despite the difficulties, however, it was a musically fruitful visit for Mozart, and included the composition of two duos for violin and viola––for none other than Hieronymous Colloredo! In fact, the duos are two of a set of six that Colloredo had commissioned not from Mozart but from Michael Haydn, Salzburg court composer and brother to Franz Josef. Haydn had fallen ill before completing the final duos, and asked Mozart to complete the commission. Mozart, remembering the distinct lack of amicability in his parting from Colloredo, is said to have found it humorous that he was once again writing a work for the archbishop.

NOVA’s selections by Paganini and Mozart display the violin at its most virtuosic; the violin duos by Béla Bartók grew out of a project for students. In 1931, the pedagogue Erich Dorflein asked permission to use some of Bartók’s pieces in a collection of violin exercises Dorflein was preparing. Bartók was so intrigued by the request that he offered to write a set of duos for two violins that would draw on folk music from a wide range of cultures: Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Ukrainian, and even a kind of orientalized “Arabic.” Bartók had long drawn on folk songs in his compositions, and his repeated trips to the Eastern European countryside to catalogue and collect folk tunes (which he recorded on wax cylinders) set the groundwork for modern ethnomusicological research. Yet the violin duos also reflect another more overtly political project: on January 13, 1931, Bartók accepted an invitation to join the Permanent Committee for Literature and the Arts of the League of Nations’ Commission for Intellectual Co-operation. As a member of the commission, Bartók would spearhead efforts for musical research and preservation, as well as champion artistic and musical freedom. Only a few days before accepting this position, Bartók clearly articulated the importance of music in international peace efforts in a a letter to the Romanian diplomat Octavian Beu:

[I believe in] the brotherhood of peoples, brotherhood in spite of all wars and conflicts. I try – to the best of my ability – to serve this idea in my music; therefore I don’t reject any influence, be it Slovak, Romanian, Arabic, or from any other source.

The idea of music reaching across international borders to foster peace and community is one that Mozart and Paganini, traveling virtuosi, would have recognized well.

Bartók (center) on a trip to collect rural folk songs.

––Kamala Schelling

March 03, 2017

0 Comments


NOVA Program Notes: 03.05.2017

Robert Schumann’s compositions inhabit a musical world rife with literary associations and extra-musical meaning. An avid writer, reader, and critic, Schumann left us a vivid record of his thoughts on music. His reading of Jean Paul Richter lead him to create his own unique pairing of invented characters: the extrovert Florestan and the introvert Eusebius. In letters to Clara Wieck before they married, Schumann sometimes referred to himself as a person split between these competing personalities, and Florestan and Eusebius would later appear in his criticism and his music.   
The dialogue between the two extremes found in Florestan and Eusebius is essential to understanding the drama of Schumann’s music, so much so that he annotated some of his works by ascribing movements or passages to one of these imagined characters with an “F.” or “E.” These figures developed a certain amount of complexity in Schumann’s thought over time, but their basic personalities remained a source of inspiration throughout his career as a juxtaposition of vying musical and intellectual perspectives. These relationships are evident in the Märchenbilder (Fairytale Pictures), heard on the first half of this afternoon’s program: the thoughtful outer movements could be credited to Eusebius, while the boisterous music of movements II and III belongs to Florestan.  
This discourse, inherent in the very fabric of Schumann’s music, is the inspiration behind today’s NOVA program. The alternation of music by Schumann and Christian Asplund is designed to expand upon and exaggerate the doppelgänger psychology of Schumann’s work. And what better composer to pair with Schumann- Mr. Asplund possesses a wildly creative and imaginative approach to composition and performing. 
As a graduate student in Seattle at the end of the grunge era, Asplund found success as an improviser and composer of avant garde music in unexpected venues like record stores and clubs.  
Now a professor at BYU, Mr. Asplund has enriched the underground scene in Provo and Salt Lake City with his energetic presence. You’re just as likely to catch him playing a set at Diabolical Records or Velour as in Libby Gardner or Madsen Recital Halls. But perhaps most important to his own creative growth and the larger experimental music scene in Utah, Asplund began a series of concerts held in his garage. Frequent collaborators have included poets, jazz musicians, rock musicians, fellow BYU composers and performance faculty. These events frequently include a healthy dose of improvisation and works completed hours before the show and rehearsed in the moments leading up to the event itself. The rawness found in the musical material and style in which it is delivered led Asplund to the name “Avant GaRAWge.”   
The centerpiece of Avant GaRAWge became a house band of sorts, named after a nickname Asplund had come up with for an old car of his, FunCoffin. A group of students that have since graduated from the BYU jazz program began participating in the sessions: Jesse Quebbeman-Turley on drums, Aaron McMurray on bass, and Logan Hone playing alto saxophone. They formed a quartet with Asplund himself performing on a variety of instruments, including viola, piano, harmonium, singing, spoken word, and electronics, to name a few. With a style ranging from Asplund’s very personal take on Thelonius Monk to extremes of sonic and rhythmic experimentation, FunCoffin has performed widely in Utah and released a number of albums. 

Eclectic Styles and American Classics

“In the 1970s and '80s it took a lot of courage for a young composer to write pop-influenced tonality,” says Brian Connelly, a guest artist on NOVA’s February 12 concert. “It was a sure-fire way to be dismissed and derided by the serious critics and the powerful academicians who could make or break a career.” Yet in the early 1970s, two young composers in Michigan chose to take such a risk, forging a style deeply influenced by ragtime. Connelly, a close friend of the two, will bring their music to the stage of Libby Gardner Concert Hall.

William Bolcom was born in Seattle in 1938; William Albright was born in Gary, Indiana, six years later. Both were trained in the modern style of composition then in favor at American universities and conservatories, had lessons in Paris with Olivier Messiaen (a composer featured in NOVA’s December 4 concert), and were hired in the early 1970s to teach at the University of Michigan. It was around this time that ragtime, an old strain of American music, began to see a revival. While living in New York in the late ‘60s, Bolcom had begun to play and record ragtime, and he would soon begin to write his own. Albright, too, began to experiment with the form.

The popularity of ragtime at its inception, around the turn of the twentieth century, is best attested by an anecdote about commercial music sales. When Scott Joplin published his “Maple Leaf Rag” in 1899, musicians typically sold the publication rights for a one-time lump sum of $25. Unsatisfied with this arrangement, Joplin negotiated a deal that would earn him a 1¢ royalty on each copy sold. “The Maple Leaf Rag” sold only 400 copies in its first year; by 1909, however, the work had sold well over a million copies, and it would provide Joplin with a comfortable income until his death in 1917. The syncopated rhythms and infectious melodies were a major precursor to jazz, yet the popularity of ragtime itself would wane with time.

Bolcom and Albright’s interest in ragtime dovetailed with a sudden spike in mainstream popularity the genre experienced in the early 1970s. This was due, in large part, to the inclusion of Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” in the soundtrack of the 1974 film The Sting. Suddenly, a syncopated style that had been the domain of black musicians at the end of the nineteenth century was sharing space on the pop music charts with the biggest hits of rock and roll. As Connelly notes, to write music influenced by an idiom that was so popular (in both senses of the term) was essentially at odds with the academic musical tendencies of the time. 

Connelly sees in the work of both Bolcom and Albright a tradition stretching back much farther, to one of the most important modernists in the history of American music, Charles Ives. The son of a music teacher, Ives grew up steeped in the musical traditions of the American North-East. He was born in Danbury, CT, worked as an organist in New Haven, attended Yale, and had a successful career as an insurance salesman. Through it all, he developed one of the most unusual voices American music has ever known. The upcoming NOVA concert will feature two of Ives’s works: the Piano Trio, and the Violin Sonata No. 4. Both Bolcom and Albright, Connelly told me, are, like Ives, “astoundingly literate. They fully absorb the traditions of––but are not limited by––the musical ‘establishment' of their times.” And, like Ives, both “put enormous pressure on themselves to write the most imaginative, emotionally direct, and exquisitely crafted music.”

The upcoming NOVA concert will also include Albright’s “Hymne,” from his Flights of Fancy for organ, and Bolcom’s Black Host. Inscribed in the score of Black Host is a Lord Russell quote: “In the daily lives of most men and women, fear plays a greater part than hope: they are more filled with the thought of possessions that others may take away from them, than of the joy that they might create in their own lives and in the lives with which they come in contact. It is not so that life should be lived.” At a time when fear threatens the very cultural diversity upon which both our nation and our arts have depended for so long, both Russell’s quote and this concert are a reminder that America’s identity––artistic and otherwise––has always been a reflection of the rich variety of her people.

––Kamala Schelling

1 2 3 12 Next »