If you’ve never heard a work for solo tuba and piano, you’ve had a tuba-sized hole in your life. (That’s a big hole.) Check out the latest by composer and forum-member Benoit Glazer, performed here by Robert Carpenter, tuba and Jamila Tekalli, piano.
Come hear a mixture of new music that runs the gamut from Big-band style jazz, contemporary art song, soaring solo piano music to a cutting edge electroacoustic post-minimal exploration of new science.
The Central Florida Composers Forum will premiere two new works on its April 29 concert at the White House in Orlando: local arts luminary and musical director of La Nouba (Cirque du Soleil) Benoit Glazer‘s Suite Circassienne #6 for brass quintet and percussion quintet and Full Sail University’s Rebekah Todia‘s The Solitary for soprano and piano.
Also on the concert will be Rollins College professor of composition Daniel Crozier‘s Winter Aubade, for piano solo and Full Sail University’s Charles Griffin‘s Emergence, for flute quartet, prerecorded audio and video projection.
The composers will all be present and are joined by an impressive body of performers: Benoit Glazer & Mike Avila, trumpets; Kathy Thomas, horn; Jeff Thomas, trombone; Bob Carpenter, tuba; Jeff Moore, Matt Roberts, Wesley Strasser, Thad Anderson & Garth Steger, percussion; Julie Batman, Soprano; Heidi Louise Williams & Rebekah Todia, piano; Elsa Kate Nichols, Nicholas Buonanni, Adriane Hill, Anielka Silva, flutes; and you (Griffin’s piece includes the audience as performers).
The concert starts at 7PM. Admission is free, but it is the custom at the White House that attendees bring a beverage or snack to share before, during and after the concert. You are also highly encouraged to donate to the Central Florida Composers Forum via the Paypal Donate button in the right-hand column of this website.
Daniel Crozier – Winter Aubade
Piano solo (2009), ca. 11’30”
Benoit Glazer – Suite Circassienne #6
Brass Quintet and Percussion Quintet (2011), ca 30’
In 8 movements:
I. The Town Square, Before the Show
III. Flea Trapeze
IV. Le BarbierV. Circus Fanfarus
VI. Mara Tan Val
VII. Circa Circus
Charles Griffin – Emergence
Flute quartet, prerecorded audio and video projection (2010), ca. 28′
In 4 movements:
II. The Brain
III. Artificial Intelligence
Rebekah Todia – The Solitary
Soprano and piano (2012)
Text by Madison Julius Cawein (1865 – 1914)
Daniel Crozier – Winter Aubade
Winter Aubade was conceived with the special gifts of the pianist Heidi Louise Williams in mind. It was an absolute joy to return to writing music for my most favorite instrument with the confidence that virtually anything that the music demanded would be possible. Winter Aubade continues to explore some of the principal concerns expressed in the orchestral works that immediately preceded it, namely the narrative power inherent in music itself apart from any concrete literary references or explicit programmatic ideas. These orchestral works might be described as “fairy-tale” music in a general sense, and that designation suits Winter Aubade as well. Like those pieces this work tells a story, of a “fantastic” sort, in the context of a variety of widely contrasted emotional states; however, unlike them, which all rely on several well-delineated themes that interact over the course of the pieces, this work achieves its dramatic arc through the musical examination of a single complex of ideas stated in turn at the very outset. These appear in a wide variety of juxtapositions and transformations that fashion the drama, or “plot,” of the piece. “Aubade” means “morning music” or in this case, perhaps more appropriately, “dawn music.”
Benoit Glazer – Suite Circassienne #6
The Town Square, Before the Show – The first movement is instruction based, and is meant to put you at the scene, before the show at the big top in the town square. It includes the musicians warming up, tuning up, and then try to reproduce the bustling feeling of anticipation in the streets surrounding the tent in the minutes before the spectacle commences.
Jambette – Jambette is the second movement. It is my response to the parade of characters at the top of the show, when you get to see some of the outlandish costumes and make-up that bring you into a world of wonder and magic. Jambette (croc-en-jambe in France) is an expression that means to trip someone. I have opened the show at La Nouba playing the trumpet in a parade, and I wear a mask for it that restricts my peripheral vision, and ten times a week I have this vision that a mischievous kid will extend his leg and trip me while I am playing this treacherous melody filled with octave jumps.
My melody is built on sixths, and the movement starts with percussion, to have the theme bounced between the trumpets and the trombone. Short and sweet, just like the parade it is supposed to portray.
Flea Trapeze – This is the most difficult movement for the percussion section, which holds the theme for most of the movement. Brisk and choppy at times, it settles into a fast two step feel eventually. Originally written with Bob Becker (of Nexus fame) in mind. Since Mr. Becker has the reputation of being the best xylophone player in the world, the xylophone part, as well as the other tuned percussion parts, is most challenging indeed.
Le Barbier – My first effort in writing an Adagio, I tried to orchestrate the piece in a way that would make the tuba part so that every note he plays is important, and adds weight to the sound. After the first exposition, the bowed gongs come in one at a time, and once all in, the brass come back in to recap the theme, with this new element to it, lending it a disturbing, hopefully very unsettling effect.
Circus Fanfarus – A good old fanfare and march. Here I tried to see if I could modulate a semitone below (and then back up), without the audience noticing it. Can you spot the modulation? The foreign element is carried by the percussion, in their feature about half way through.
Mara Tan Val – Originally written in 1999 for a demo where I played all the instruments, it is orchestrated for a very different ensemble here. Here is a mix of rhythm from North Africa, a waltz and a tango (all at the same time). Yet, it feels quite natural and has a simple song form, with a vibes solo in the middle. It is in 5/4 time, and so could probably not be danced as a tango, but it has the flavor and the longing of a tango, somehow.
Circa Circus – My tip of the hat to Nino Rotta and his work with Fellini. A very ironic sounding song, originally done for that aforementioned 1999 demo as an accordion piece. You will hear it very soon in an upcoming Banks Helfrich movie in version that is close to the original orchestration. It is the funeral theme in this somewhat Fellini inspired “death centered romantic comedy feeling” movie about a woman and the seven people who die in the story. Jambette also figures in that movie…
Yaygosstov – As a trumpet player, I am naturally drawn to certain orchestral repertoire, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is part of that. The finale movement was an exercise in writing these long, tonal phrases that still contain harmonic movement, with rich orchestration and this particular voice leading that makes Pictures, as well as many works from Copeland, Holst, and others, so appealing. A call and response piece, where many people get to be the caller.
The title is a completely misspelled Québecois slang expression that came to mind because I wanted to honor the predecessor to our present high wire artist at work. You see, Valery almost never misses his salto on the wire, but his predecessor did so… quite often. And in most cases, he would land, well, let’s just say that siring children may be impossible for him now. Yet, he would stand up, turn around, and do it again, all with a grace and dignity that honored his classy costume, his proud Russian heritage, and his profession.
Watch for the ending, where I went a little outside of the normal French horn range (If anyone can do it, Kathy can), and where my youth participation in DCI drum corps creeps up at the finale.
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” – Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1859
For the past 15 years, my reading of scientific literature has affected my worldview, brought me solace, and sparked my imagination. The job of science, as I see it, has always been twofold: to rationally peer behind the veil of reality and discover what is there, and also to imagine future possibilities. I find it fascinating how fantastical reality can actually be, and that so many connections exist amongst ourselves and with our world once we actually look.
The science of Emergence is the study of how complexity emerges from essentially simple component parts.
King Solomon urged us to look to the ants, “consider her ways and be wise; which having no guide, overseer or ruler, provides her meat in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest.” Scientists and businesses now use Ant Colony Optimization algorithms and other Swarm Intelligence methods for problem solving. Bees, birds, fish and locusts follow essentially three simple rules of movement in groups, and it turns out, humans follow the same rules when walking in a crowded urban environment. The first movement is a structured improvisation for the flute quartet where they use swarming rules to create their music.
The human brain, with its modular structure weaved together by roughly 30 billion neurons electrically firing chemicals across synapses in synchronous waves that produce measurable electronic current up to 12 Hz, is the ultimate example of complexity. Understanding our brains is yet another way of understanding our own evolution as a species: at the deepest level is the emotionless reptilian brain stem, controlling our metabolic system and incapable of anything we would call thought; then comes the limbic system, from which comes our primary emotions and which we share with most other mammals, enabling us to form powerful bonds with each other and with them; stacked on top are the two hemispheres of the neocortex, from which we get abstract and analytical thought, language, and of course, art. As Steven Johnson says in his book Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life, “ The more you learn about the brain, the more you understand how exquisitely crafted it is to record the unique contours of your own life in those unthinkably interconnected neurons and their firing patterns.”
For this movement I sampled a recording of a symphony by the Baroque composer William Boyce, which was used in an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) study of how the brain organizes segmented events. The flute quartet part is largely based on rhythms borrowed from gamelan music, where multiple players create a complex interlocking structure based on simpler rhythmic units.
Researchers into artificial intelligence are using the human brain as a model of learning. While estimates vary of exactly when a completely new form of life will be created by us, inorganic but self-aware, I have no doubt that it is inevitable. And that will naturally force us to question the nature of existence and sentience, and given enough time, might even become a new pathway for human evolution. You can decide for yourself the moral or ethical implications. For this movement, I sampled/quoted two orchestral pieces: Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question, in which the trumpet part asks “The Perennial Question of Existence,” and the Hymn section of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, “Veni Creator Spiritus.”
I decided to go a less serious route with the fourth movement, and create a piece that is somewhat spontaneously created by the flute quartet and the audience. I learned how to use Adobe After Effects to create an animated graphic score, where shapes or graphics of four colors, red, blue, green and yellow are each interpreted by a different flutist, and text or symbol cues are given to the audience to shout, sing or speak. After about a minute, an electronic score enters underneath, comprised mostly of prerecorded human speech and sounds.
Rebekah Todia – The Solitary
Upon the mossed rock by the spring
She sits, forgetful of her pail,
Lost in remote remembering
Of that which may no more avail.
Her thin, pale hair is dimly dressed
Above a brow lined deep with care,
The color of a leaf long pressed,
A faded leaf that once was fair.
You may not know her from the stone
So still she sits who does not stir,
Thinking of this one thing alone–
The love that never came to her.
The Solitary encompasses a women’s life whose love has never been discovered. Her unique perspective through self-reflection is expressed with pivotal moments, overwhelmed by contrasting feelings of rage and adoration. The Solitary integrates moods and emotions of considerable affection, agitation, and moments of despair. The Solitary is a dramatic art song that carries you off to the cloistered life of a women’s life that love has never found.