with Guest Composer, James Dashow
Clapp Recital Hall
Sunday, April 1, 2001
|Archimedes -- A Planetarium Opera
(Act I, Scene i, in which he grows up)
|Sul Filo dei Tramonti (2000)||James Dashow|
Kristie Tigges, soprano
|Manao Tupapau (1996)||Mauro Cardi|
Antonio Guimaraes, flute
|Come vasto l'abisso
(How Vast the Abyss)
Anna Skogman, violin
|Far Sounds, Broken Cries
Antonio Guimaraes, flute
Notes & Bios
Archimedes -- A Planetarium Opera
(Act I, Scene i, in which he grows up)
Archimedes is finally in the works. It is to be performed in the 2002-2003 season at the University of Michigan, Ann arbor, and at this writing the composer has completed three out of its several scenes.
The story, as such, is based on the life of the great Sicilian mathematician, or at least what we know about his life from the legends and his extant writings. The general approach to this work involves a great deal of "electronic stagecraft" and in particular the immense possibilities of full immersion in the sights and sounds offered by the latest Planetarium technology. Surround Sound and Surround Video is the order of this play. To borrow a phrase from William James, the opera is conceived as "a stream of metamorphosing tableaux and echoing images", complete with a surprise Da Ponte-like ending.
This scene depicts Archimedes growing up through the first 20 years of his life. The primary sounds are giggles of all sorts and very fast lines of little electronic sounds, all of which run around the planetarium dome like ... well, like kids running around a planetarium dome. What you're not getting this evening, unfortunately, is the equally fast sequences of photographs of kids of the appropriate ages being projected on the dome. Try to imagine bunches of kids, from a few months to a few years to 20 years crawling, toppling over, running, jumping, hopping, playing, goofing off, wise-cracking, et. al. in the midst of which there's always one who is a little different ... smaller or taller, faster or slower, dressed more or less, etc. ... at the end of which, that slightly different one is on his own ... (into scene ii, but not tonight).
As usual, the electronic sounds were generated by the composer's MUSIC30, the giggles were contributed, in approximate order of appearance, to The (Incredible) Kehl Twins (John and Anne), Carla and Jordana Bombi, Grace and Elyse Prosniewski, Sarah and Shannon Dowd, Fiamma and Marta Cocco, Margherita Fantoli, Nina Fodaro, Guido Arbonelli's daughter, and a few anonymous gigglers recorded here and there. Thanks!
Sul Filo Dei Tramonti, 2 liriche dalla Mont
The composition is written for soprano, piano and electronic sounds on poetry by Gian Giacomo Menon. This program note is even more difficult than usual to write, first because of the extremely sad circumstances during its composing: The poet passed away before I could finish the piece and we don't know, due to his condition during the last weeks of his life, whether he was aware that I was setting his poetry to music. This is something that I had wanted to do for many years after meeting him in Udine in the late 1980s. Second, because Menon's poetry is very difficult to translate due to his profoundly unique mastery of Italian nuance, and his wonderful habit of inventing his own words, on occasion, to make Italian express what "he" wanted the language to express. And what he wanted was and is a beautifully introspective lyricism that brings together disparate images, sounds, thought-feelings into a single poetic vision saturated with an exquisite intimacy of expression and sensitivity.
And that is what the music tries to capture as well, making that mix of word and sound in order to generate a transformation of both into something new, a kind of interpretation by transformation, or better, by translation into an entirely different dimension.
The title of the piece translates, approximately, into "On the Edge of Sunsets", but the multiple meanings in Italian of the word "Filo" are not captured by "edge"; among other things, there is the image of that line of light on the water when you see the sun set into the sea (or lake, or pond) that always stretches from the setting sun straight towards you no matter where you walk; and there is that bright horizontal line the setting sun lights up for an instant at the edge of the sea before disappearing; and there is the sense of the sea itself evoked by all this, and the end of day, of many days ("tramonti" is plural), the peace of evening, a touch of sadness, all this in just four words.
Technically, the piece explores yet other aspects of the composer's Dyad System, which again is used to elaborate the basic pitch structure and generate the electronic sounds. The latter are only stereophonic here, and it was an interesting challenge to try to create different senses of perceived depth for the electronic sounds with respect to the fixed presence of the soprano and the piano. The structural plan of the music is a close variation on the structure of the poetry, which is particularly clear in the second of the two selections.
The electronic sounds were all generated by the composer's MUSIC30, and elaborated with various signal processing procedures.
Far Sounds, Broken Cries
for 12 instruments and quadraphonic electronic sounds
It develops on a large scale some ideas I had long wanted to work on having to do with the timbral/pitch interactions between a medium sized ensemble, whose instrumentation offers a wide variety of sonic possibilities, and multi-channel electronic sound, where the perceived motion of sound and change in acoustic environment can become part of the composition.
The piece is in three parts, played without pause. The overall motion of the work is not so much developmental as evolutionary/transformational. Initially, I designed three separate characteristic areas, beginning with what I thought was going to be Part 1, but which wound up being Part 3; as work proceeded, the boundaries between these areas blurred so that the listener senses moving from one kind of musical experience to another without quite noticing how one actually moved. And as with just about all of my music, the desired effect is the sense the listener hopefully will have when it's all done, the sense of the entire work as an experienced whole, much like viewing a sculpture that you've walked around in order to see the various details but whose full and complete form is the primary impression.
The structure of the work makes rigorous use of the composer's Dyad System, a set of procedures that not only generates the electronic sounds from successions of specific intervals (the generating dyads), but also provides means of structuring the actual choice of those dyads; hence, both the instrumental parts and the electronic sounds are variants and transformations of the same musical conceptions. There is succession/progression on several levels of compositional structure at once. Each of these levels has its own energy accumulation and discharge, its own developmental pace; the interactions between levels produce the large scale shapes and form of the work. At the same time, much attention has been given to the character or flavor of timbre mixture between instruments and electronic sounds that is in focus at any given moment; it is the tensions and energy contrasts between these mixtures that propel the work at the most immediate level. For the listener, this all means simply that the work can be perceived in a variety of ways, with different focusings each time.
The title of the piece comes from a Thomas Wolfe passage that very much catches the sense of the whole work.
"What is this dream of time, this strange and better miracle of living? ... Is it to feel, when furious day is done, the evening hush, the sorrow of lost fading light, far sounds and broken cries, and footsteps, voices, music, murmurous, immense and mighty in the air?"
With the exception of a single cello note and some ocean waves, the latter used only as an "impulse response" for convolution, the sounds were all produced by the composer's MUSIC30 language for digital sound synthesis, and subsequently elaborated by additional signal processing.
Far Sounds, Broken Cries was commissioned by the Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky Foundation.
James Dashow (b. 1944, Chicago) has had commissions, awards and grants from the Bourges International Festival of Experimental Music, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Linz Ars Electronica Festival, the Fromm Foundation, the Biennale di Venezia, the USA National Endowment for the Arts, RAI (Italian National Radio), the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Rockefeller Foundation, Il Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte (Montepulciano, Italy), the Koussevitzky Foundation, Prague Musica Nova, and the Harvard Musical Association of Boston. Most recently, he was awarded the prestigious Prix Magistere at the 30th Festival International de Musique et d'Art Sonore Electroacoustiques in Bourges. A pioneer in the field of computer music, Dashow was one of the founders of the Centro di Sonologia Computazionale at the University of Padova, and has taught at MIT, Princeton University and the Centro para la Difusion di Music Contemporanea in Madrid; he lectures extensively in the U.S. and Europe. He served as the first vice-president of the Computer Music Association, and was for many years the producer of the radio program "Il Forum Internazionale di Musica Contemporanea" for Italian National Radio. He has written theoretical and analytical articles for Perspectives of New Music the Computer Music Journal, La Musica, and Interface. He is the author of the MUSIC30 language for digital sound synthesis. His music has been recorded on WERGO (Mainz), Capstone Records (New York), Neuma (Boston), RCA-BMG (Roma), ProViva (Munich), Scarlatti Classica (Roma), CRI (New York), and Pan (Roma). Dashow makes his home in the Sabine Hills north of Rome.
Manao Tupapau (1996),
for flute (doubling piccolo, alto flute), percussion and tape
Manao Tupapau was composed in the Fall of 1996. The work is part of the "Kreisel Variations" project of the Freon Ensemble (Rome), which develops the theme of the relationship between music and color. "Kreisel Variations" is a voyage into color as an intellectual laboratory where the relationships between logic and experience are analyzed: a philosophical color, rather, the stuff of reflection on the relationships between language and perception, between philosophical analysis and scientific explanation; relationships, yet again, between logical experience and empirical descriptions of the living experience of color. The painting "Manao Tupapau", one of Gauguin's greatest masterpieces, is a successful fusion of music and literature, of composition and symbol. It was painted in 1892, during those happy months when the painter was living in his hut together with his young Tahitian wife Tehura, immortalized in this and other paintings and in a sculpture.
The reference to Gauguin ends here; my work is not to be taken neither as a musical translation, much less a realization of the many musical references Gauguin included in his description of the painting.
The use of the electronic sounds is based on explorations of the interactions between instruments and tape. The use of non real-time electronics, besidesmaking the work easier to perform, allows me to realize the kind of complex elaboration that I desired for this piece. This elaboration, which usessampled sounds of the same instruments as in the live ensemble, creates a third sonic level that adds perspective and depth to the music. The result is a sort of trompe-l'oeil in which the interaction between the instruments and the tape sounds produce heard modifications of articulation and envelope parameters of the live sounds, producing real time instrumental transformations during performance.
The tape was realized at the Istituto Gramma in L'Aquila. Flute and percussion samples were recorded by Giuseppe Pelura and Rodolfo Rossi, who also played the world premiere.
Mauro Cardi (b. 1955, Rome) received his musical education at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia. He continued his studies with Franco Donatoni at the Accademia Chigiana di Siena and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia where, in 1984, he obtained a post-graduate diploma in composition.
He attended the Ferienkürse in Darmstadt in 1984. In 1982 he won the International Valentino Bucchi Prize (Melos, per soprano and orchestra), in 1984 the Gaudeamus Preize (Les Masques, Quattro Capricci per flauto, viola e chitarra), and in 1988 the International Gian Francesco Malipiero Prize (In Corde, per orchestra). In 1987 Promenade: Variazioni sul blu wan chosen by RAI to represent Italy at the International Composers' Tribune organised by UNESCO.
Mauro Cardi has over 50 works to his credit. Nel 1994, commissioned by RAI, he composed the radio opera Temperatura esterna and, in 1996, La mia puntualità fu un capolavoro. In 1995, commissioned by the Accademia Filarmonica Romana, he composed the opera buffa Nessuna coincidenza. In the last few years he has been concerned with computer music, and in his recent works he makes use of technology applied to music. For 1995-96 he has been selected by IRCAM for its international stage. In 1997 Manao Tupapau has been selected as finalist at the 24th Electroacustique Music Competition of Bourges.
President of Nuova Consonanza, Mauro Cardi teaches Composition at the Conservatorio "L.Cherubini" in Florence. His works are published by Casa Ricordi that recently dedicated to him a CD.
He collaborates with numerous ensembles including Het Nieuw Ensemble, Het Trio, the Ensemble Modern, the Ensemble Contrechamps, the Wiener Kammer Ensemble, Elision, Perihelion, Ensemble Recherche, Musica d'oggi, Ars Ludi, Ensemble Antidogma, Freon Ensemble, Icarus Ensemble. Mauro Cardi's music has been performed in the concert seasons of -- amongst others -- the most important italian institutions (the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Teatro alla Scala, the RAI Orchestras, the Accademia Filarmonica Romana, Musica del Nostro Tempo, the Istituzione Universitaria dei Concerti, the Società B.Barattelli) and at the festivals RomaEuropa, Nuova Consonanza, Musica Verticale, La Nuova Musica Italiana, Festival Pontino, Spazio Musica, Latina Musica Oggi, Musica Presente -- Musica in Europa, Musica d'oggi, Progetto Musica, Animato, Estate Musicale Frentana, Holland Festival, Midem Classique, Italiana 86 (Buenos Aires), Dias de Musica Contemporanea (Vigo), International Tage der Gitarre (Berlino), Biennale di Zagabria, Festival di Nueuwe Muziek (Middelburg), Etè Italien (Ginevra), Aspekte (Salisburgo), Festival d'Automne (Strasburgo), Festival Cervantino (Città del Messico).
Enrico Correggia, (b. 1933, La Spezia) is a pianist, conductor and composer, who has earned a Law degree. He studied for two years piano and conducting at the Mozarteum of Salzburg respectively under Carlo Zecchi, Herbert von Karajan, Lovro von Matacic and Erich Leinsdorf. Correggia is founder and president of the Camerata Strumentale "A.Casella", and founder and artistic director of Antidogma Musica. His chamber opera AYL, (text by Italo Calvino), which won a prize at the International Contest announced by Teatro Regio of Turin in 1973, inaugurated the Piccolo Regio in 1974. He taught composition at the Turin Music Conservatory, he retired in 1985. At present he devotes himself only to composing and concert organization. He received a commission from the Gulbenkian Foundation and, in 1986, from the French Ministry of Culture for his work "Duna" that was premiered at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
From that year he received many others commissions: in 1989 by Tage für Neue Musik of Zurich, from the National School of Evry (France) and by General Direction of Cultural Affairs Ile de France; in 1990 from City of Genève (Switzerland) and from Radio France; in 1991 from Festival of Alicante (Spain) and from AIEC-Région Nord-Pas de Calais; in 1992 again from Radio France for a concerto for cello and orchestra premiered April 1993 with Alain Meunier soloist and Denis Coen conductor at the concert-hall Messiaen of Maison de la Radio in Paris; yet again from Radio France for Narcissus et Echo, a piece for children's choir and ensemble.
He never followed a particular musical trend. Massimo Mila writes about him: "...his pieces of these last years confirm his willingness to hack his independent and personal way through the jungle of contemporary languages without fashions and not giving way to post-modern temptations".
Correggia is published by: Suvini-Zerboni (Milan), Tonos (Darmstadt), BMG-Ariola (Rome), Edi-Pan (Rome), Berben (Ancona) and many compositions at Salabert (Paris).