On January 28, 2012 at 8:00 p.m, the Furman University Percussion Ensemble (Omar Carmenates, Director), UCF Percussion Ensemble (Thad Anderson, Director) and KnightWinds Ensemble (Dr. Nora Lee Garcia-Valazquez, Director) will come together to perform an array of works by Central Florida Composers.
Robert Raines – A Quickening (Concerto for Flutes and Percussion)
Christopher Marshall – Birds of a Feather
Thad Anderson – Lines: Withheld (percussion quartet for tuned metals)
Charles Griffin – The Persistence of Past Chemistries (percussion quartet: marimba,xylophone, log drums, cajon, caxxixxi, claves)
Charles Griffin – Twisting Magnetic Spins (percussion quartet: vibraphone, timpani, brake drums, gongs, cymbals, etc.)
Two UCF student composers works will be presented.
The program in detail:
Robert Raines: A quickening – Concerto for Flutes and Percussion
(1 piccolo, 6 flutes, 2 alto flutes, 2 bass flutes, (Optional: contra bass flute, sub-contra bass flute) assorted percussion, glockenspiel, crotales, and marimba); Dedicated to Eva Amsler, this piece was made possible by a Grant from the Brannen-Cooper Fund for New Music.
Composer’s notes: This piece illustrates my continued interest in exploring the sonic landscape created by a group of instruments from the same family, an effect heightened by the purity of tone produced by the family of flutes. I have expanded this palette by adding the warmth of the marimba and vivid percussion colors. Extremes of range, tone, texture, and tempo are explored: dense vertical clusters juxtaposed with more horizontal, kaleidoscopic/contrapuntal passages. I have strived to give each member of the ensemble its own voice and a chance to stand alone, while in other sections all of the players are meant to meld into one macro-instrument.
Those technical points aside, I strove to illustrate my personal feelings about the act of creation – music, literature, dance, the visual arts, all I believe share a common creative electricity. I have long been inspired by the following words from Martha Graham, and I kept this quote near while composing this piece. The title is inspired by her words:
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy… a quickening… that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium but will be lost.
It’s not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. Whether you choose to take an art class, keep a journal, record your dreams, dance your story, or live each day from your own creative source, above all else, keep the channel open.–Martha Graham
Christopher Marshall: Birds Of A Feather
One of the discoveries I have made since moving to the United States is the poetry of Emily Dickinson. I encountered some of her poems by chance on the internet and found a great many of them stimulated an immediate musical response in me. So far I have set nine for choir and used those settings as the basis for suites of miniatures for various instrumental combinations. And there are so many more Dickinson poems I would like to use in this way.
The four avian themed miniatures that comprise Birds Of A Feather were taken from the longer wind ensemble work ‘An Emily Dickinson Suite’ and recomposed for the current ensemble with a dedication to Nora Lee García-Velásquez, George Weremchuk and Thad Anderson.
- To Hear An Oriole Sing – The poet asks why birds sing. Do they consider their song beautiful or is it only beautiful to us? And what part does God play in all this?
- I’m Nobody – No direct reference to a bird, though the two gossipy ‘nobodies’ could certainly be described as ‘birds of a feather’.
- If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking – Our existence is validated only by our acts of kindness to others.
- Hope Is The Thing With Feathers – I love this poem with its picture of hope as a resilient little bird that keeps singing no matter what life throws at it.
Thad Anderson: Withheld, a piece from my series called Lines, is a percussion quartet for tuned metals. My original intention was to have it performed with tuned pipes, but it could also be performed with an assortment of tuned metals (crotales, glock, vibraphone, chimes, celeste, bell plates, muted gongs, etc…). It was composed with the pipe pitches used for David Lang’s second movement of The So-Called Laws of Nature in mind. The Lines pieces are based on a series of rhythmic “duration lines,” which are used to create both structure and polyrhythmic interest.
Charles Griffin: The Persistence of Past Chemistries
One of the ways that Professor Lynn Margulis of the University of Massachussets defines life in her book What is Life?, is as “patterns of chemical conservation in a universe tending toward heat loss and disintegration. . . . Death is part of life because even dying matter, once it reproduces, rescues complex chemical systems and budding dissipative structures from thermodynamic equilibrium. . . . Preserving the past, making a difference between past and present, life binds time, expanding complexity and creating new problems for itself.”I hit upon the title for this piece after I had already decided to restrict the sonic palette exclusively to instruments made of wood, a way to acknowledge this uniquely human reconstitution of organic matter. Not only do the instruments give the trees from which they came new life, but the musicians also bring new life to their instruments. Furthermore, my music tends to be the sum of sometimes disparate parts that take on new life through their integration; jazz, latino, and minimalist music all coexist in The Persistence of Past Chemistries.
Charles Griffin: Twisting Magnetic Spins was commissioned by the University of North Texas for Mark Ford, the director of percussion studies there. Ever since I wrote The Persistence of Past Chemistries for Ethos Percussion Group several years before, where I restricted the sonic palette to instruments primarily made from wood or organic materials, I wanted to write another piece with the same restriction, but this time with metals. The main solos are taken by the vibraphone and the timpani, but perhaps the bigger challenge for the ensemble is the necessity for the accompanying metallophones to play very softly part of the time. After the premiere, this piece was featured by ASU’s percussion ensemble (J.B. Smith, director) at the 2006 PASIC conference in Austin, Texas as part of the New Ensemble Literature session.