Thursday, March 26, 2015

Witches and Lovers Clash in Opera Workshop Dido and Aeneas

 Witches and lovers clash when HSU Opera Workshop presents the lively and tragic love story of Dido and Aeneas in Gist Hall Theatre, Thursday through Sunday March 26-29. 

 Set in the ancient world of myth, Dido (played by Olivia Bright) is the widowed Queen of Carthage, and Aeneas (Alberto Rodriguez) is a legendary Trojan warrior. Dido’s friend Belinda (Jessie Rawson) supports their love but a sorceress (Lorena Tamayo) and her witches plot to drive them apart. 

 “It has dancing as well as drama,” said Elisabeth Harrington, who directs the Workshop and the production. “Even though it’s a tragedy it doesn’t really became sad until the final scene. It has many moments of levity before then.” 

 This relatively short opera (about an hour) is by Henry Purcell, one of England’s greatest composers. Written in the Baroque period, it remains the only English opera before the 20th century that is still performed in the modern repertoire. It is renowned for its stirring overture, its melodic sailors dance and especially for Dido’s final aria, which has been called unsurpassed in all opera for its melancholic beauty.

 Paul Cummings conducts an instrumental ensemble accompanying the 18 singers and dancers. Student Jessie Rawson is choreographer and assistant director. Catherine Brown designed costumes, Calder Johnson and Megan Johnson provide the sets. A song performed by soprano Jessie Rawson and tenor Victor Guerrero will precede the production. 

 HSU Opera Workshop performs Dido and Aeneas in Gist Hall Theatre beginning at the earlier time of 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 26-28, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday March 29. Tickets are $10, $5 seniors and children, $3 HSU students, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: North Coast Journal, Eureka Times Standard Urge, Humboldt State Now.

Dido and Aeneas: The Production

The Cast:
Dido: Olivia Bright
 Aeneas: Alberto Rodriguez
 Belinda: Jessie Rawson
 Second Woman: Cindy Meadows
 Sorceress: Lorena Tamayo
 Spirit: Danielle Murray
 Witches: Meagan Blachly, Stevy Marquez, Danielle Murray, Cora Rickert, Kate Selway
 Ensemble of Courtiers and Sailors: Karen Currier, Victor Guerrero, Sean Laughlin, Joseph Mayer, Chris Moreno, Nur Pratama, Kyle Rispoli, Daniel Szylewicz.

The Orchestra
 Conductor: Paul Cummings
 Violin: Michael Donovan, Hannah Rolf, Madeline Shapiro
 Viola: Noah Dunkley, Greta Goshorn
Cello: Kyle Swanson, Gabrielle Wood
 Bass: Eric Simpson
 Harpsichord: John Chernoff

The Production
Assistant Director and Choreographer: Jessie Rawson
Costume Design: Catherine Brown
Set design and construction: Calder Johnson, Megan Johnson

Dido and Aeneas: Director's Notes and More

Director’s Notes by Elisabeth Harrington

Eighteen singers, accompanied by harpsichordist and string chamber orchestra, will transport audiences to ancient Carthage and a time when gods and witchery toyed with the fate of mortals. The hour-long opera is preceded by a brief historical presentation about the style of Henry Purcell and the mythology surrounding Dido, the legendary Queen of Carthage.

The performances will begin with a curtain warmer entitled "They say 'tis love," with soloists Jessie Rawson (soprano) and Victor Guerrero (tenor), and a small choral ensemble with harpsichord accompaniment. The music is attributed to Henry Purcell, and does indeed evoke his style. The work is referred to as a "dialogue." It features the basic elements of the opera: recitative, aria and choral response (no duets), and tells a brief story about how love causes pain and distress, but all can be forgiven with one "soft look." I think it will be a good introduction to the poetic and musical style that audience members will experience. We don't hear too much early opera these days!  Total production time, with intermission, is 90 minutes.

 More Notes on Purcell and Dido and Aeneas 

“After more than three centuries, Henry Purcell’s (1659-95) sole opera Dido and Aeneas remains a treasure. Considered the greatest operatic achievement of 17th century England and the first great English opera, even though a performance only takes little more than an hour, it is often justified as holding its position as the finest English opera ever written until the 20th century.

 Despite the opera’s mostly forgotten status from 1700 to the 1890’s when it was revived by the Royal College of Music at the Lyceum Theatre in 1895, who could ever forget the haunting aria, Dido’s Lament, “When I am Laid to Rest.”

 One of the first pieces of keyboard music I learned to play was a Purcell ‘Hornpipe’, and I’ve never forgotten this delightful melody with its inverted second part and the austere but perfect counterpoint in this little gem. Although he also borrowed and adapted folk tunes, Purcell was a supreme melodist who created some of the best tunes in English music.

Whatever may be said of [libretist] Nahum Tate’s liberties or weaknesses as his critics have claimed, his artful collaboration with Henry Purcell on this opera, and in particular this most haunting of arias (“Dido’s Lament”) is as successful as any librettist-composer relationship in Classical music.”
Patrick Hunt

“As well as a corking overture and some great operatic moments... Purcell hits the operatic jackpot in terms of a tune at the moment Dido dies. ‘When I am laid in earth’, is an aria of melancholic beauty perhaps unsurpassed in all opera, let alone those written by English composers. 'Ah Belinda' comes in at a close second as a mournful classic."
--Classic FM

Voice of the Whale with the Lancaster Trio

 A cellist from Sacramento, a flutist from Venezuela and a pianist from Florida walked into a university in Lincoln, Nebraska. The result is the Lancaster Trio, performing a program at HSU that includes a work inspired by whale songs, on Thursday March 26.

 Born in Ukraine, cellist Elizabeth Grunin grew up in Sacramento, and performed there and in the Bay Area. Award-winning pianist Jelena Dukic was born in Serbia, and taught and performed widely in South Florida. A native of Venezuela, flutist Nicaulis Alliey won prizes in Latin America and Europe. They met while pursuing advanced degrees at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and formed the relatively new Lancaster Trio. 

 Their scheduled program at HSU features Vox Balaenae, or “Voice of the Whale” by contemporary American composer George Crumb, who was inspired by the first recordings of humpback whale songs in the late 1960s. Crumb, who won both a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy, requested that performers wear masks, and be bathed in blue light. 

 The concert begins with the lively and haunting Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano by Bohuslav Martinu. A Czech composer, Martinu fled from the Nazis to America, and wrote this piece influenced by the sounds of the New England countryside. 

 Carl von Weber’s highly melodic Trio also emerged from a bucolic setting, the composer’s summer home outside mid-19th century Dresden in Germany.

The Lancaster Trio performs on Thursday March 26 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $10 general/$5 seniors, children and students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. This Guest Artist Series concert is produced by the HSU Music Department. 

Media: Mad River Union, North Coast Journal, Humboldt State Now

Lancaster Trio: The Program

Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano H. 300 by B. Martinu 
Poco Allegretto
Adagio Andante-Allegretto Scherzando

Trio in G Minor Op. 63 by C.M. Weber
 Allegro moderato
 Scherzo. Allegro vivace
 Schafers Klage:Andante espressivo
 Finale. Allegro

Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale) by G. Crumb 
 Vocalise- Sea Theme
 Sea Nocturne

Additional Notes

Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano H. 300 by B. Martinu 
"After an arduous departure from Hitler’s Europe, where his music had been blacklisted, Martinů and his wife arrived in New York in 1941. Serge Koussevitzky of the Boston Symphony Orchestra had championed his orchestral music since the early 1930s, and he encouraged the disheartened immigrant by commissioning his First Symphony and offering him a summer teaching position at Tanglewood. Martinů never really settled anywhere, but lived briefly in various locations across New England, including Cape Cod.

The three-movement Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano from 1944 is close kin to the Flute Sonata of the following year. A Poco allegretto opening has a genial spirit and infectious motoric rhythms. The following Adagio starts in a quietly reflective mood and then shifts to a more declamatory bardic vein before coming to a peaceful close. After a brief slow introduction, the concluding Andante–Allegretto scherzando launches its main section with a turbulent, running first theme that alternates with a more measured second subject, though energetic bustle predominates throughout.

The Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano meets the expectations of the listener-reader: inexhaustible invention. I would add only that the cello, that most soulful of instruments, lends the Trio a welcome gravitas and warmth."
--Fenwick Smith

Trio in G Minor Op. 63 by C.M. Weber
"On 25 July 1819 Weber completed the Trio for flute, cello and piano in G minor in Hosterwitz, his peaceful summer residence up the Elbe above Dresden. It had its first playthrough in the Spohrs’ house on 21 November, when, he noted in his diary, ‘it went very well, and came off just as I wanted’...

 As always with Weber, the opening movement has a highly personal approach to sonata form. It is melodically rich, with a graceful opening theme and a gentle second subject, a figure in octaves between cello and piano that comes to dominate the entire movement. Though the warm and impassioned development section begins with the second subject, and brings with it yet another new melody in the major key, it is with the opening theme that the movement ends.

The Scherzo has no real trio section, but contrasts a violent, drumming theme in the minor with a graceful major-key flute melody for which Weber might have found room in his next work, Invitation to the Waltz. It is, however, the pounding piano octave theme that concludes the movement.

The thematic richness of the work takes a new form with the Finale, which compresses into its eight opening bars a wide-ranging piano line and its answer in the bass.. The immediate answer is not development of them, but a completely new tune from the flute. This melodic profusion, in all its variety, permeates the movement, and it is in the extremes of contrast that the essence of the whole work lies. Even within a classical framework, Weber’s Romantic imagination is running high."
 from notes by John Warrack © 2005 

Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale) by G. Crumb 

"As the environmental movement took hold in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and “save the whales” became more than just a bumper sticker, George Crumb’s groundbreaking Vox Balaenae [1971] provided a distinct musical voice to this cause while creating a richly vivid landscape (or seascape) of sound and texture.

 Crumb puts the contemporary relationship between man and whale on a much broader scale, painting a picture that encapsulates the vast spans of history that predate man’s interaction with the sea and its inhabitants before introducing the inevitable conflict. This chronological musical journey touches upon elements of science, history, religion and existential philosophy, as well various moral and ethical questions.

The players each wear black half-masks throughout the performance of the work. In Crumb’s own words, “by effacing a sense of human projection, [the masks] will symbolize the powerful, impersonal faces of nature,” while the oft-used blue lighting enhances the figurative immersion into the sea. Although inspired by recordings of humpback whale song, Crumb bypasses the use of tape and instead calls upon the three musicians to produce sounds naturally aided by amplification and extended technique, allowing for a remarkable scope of range in dynamics, color and emotion."

The Lancaster Trio: Biographies

Elizabeth Grunin cello
Elizabeth Grunin was born in Ukraine where she began taking cello lessons at a special music school. Her family immigrated to the United States when she was six years old and settled in Sacramento, California. From that point on, Elizabeth became an active member of the Sacramento and Bay Area musical communities. She has performed with symphonies including Camellia Symphony, San Francisco Youth Symphony, Merced Symphony, UC Davis Symphony, and the North Bay Opera orchestra.

 Miss Grunin also performed regular solo recitals in Sacramento. She has participated in many chamber music festivals such as Mendocino Music Festival, Youth Music International Oxford, England, CSU Summer Arts Fresno, and the Zephyr Chamber Music Festival in Courmauyer, Italy.

 Elizabeth is a founding member of the Lancaster Trio along with Jelena Dukic and Nicaulis Alliey. Miss Grunin holds a Bachelors and Masters of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she studied in the studio of Jennifer Culp. Elizabeth teaches regularly at Navarro River String Camp in Santa Rosa, CA and she holds a faculty positions at Union College and Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska. She is also a member of the Lincoln Symphony. Currently, Miss Grunin is working on her doctoral degree in the studio of Dr.Karen Becker at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Jelena Dukic piano
Born in Novi Sad, Serbia, Jelena Dukic, received her Bachelor of Music Degree at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia in the studio of Professor Vladimir Ogarkov and her Master of Music Degree from Florida International University in the studio of Professor Kemal Gekic.

 She has been the winner of several competitions and awards including: the Glen Korff School of Music Concerto Competition 2013, the Florida International University Concerto Competition 2009, the Concorsi internazionali di musica-Citta di Stressa, Italy, the International Competition of Pianists "Nikolai Rubinstein", Paris, France, and the award of the County Council of Vojvodina Republic of Serbia. In 2010, Miss Dukic became a member of The Golden Key International Honor Society.

 Jelena has performed with FIU Symphony Orchestra under conductor Huifang Chen. She has also participated in ensembles such as UNL University Choral, the Wind Ensembles, the New Music Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra at Florida International University and at other venues in the South Florida. Miss Dukic has recently joined the Music Teacher National Association. Jelena is a founding member of the Lancaster trio. Currently, she is working on her Doctorate of Musical Arts in the Glen Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the studio of Dr. Paul Barnes.

 Nicaulis Alliey flute 
First Prize of the Ville de París –Unanimous- in 1994, and First Prize at the Latin American Flute Competition (Caracas, 2000), Nicaulis Alliey is regularly invited as a soloist, chamber musician and flute teacher by presenters, institutions and festivals, performing in prestigious venues in France, Colombia, Venezuela and the Caribbean Area.

As soloist, Nicaulis has performed with most of the major orchestras in Venezuela, with conductors such as Eduardo Rahn, José Luís Castillo, Arnaud Pairier. Her experiences in chamber music include performances with Armand Simon, Ney Alliey, Marlon Titre, and Luis Quintero. Nicaulis Has been Flute Solo at the Orchestre International de Paris and Assistant Flute at the Orquesta Sinfónica de Lara and and at the Orquesta Sinfónica de Maracaibo.

 Nicaulis’ pedagogical career in flute includes Universidad de Los Andes (Faculty), Universidad Nacional Experimental del Táchira (Visiting Professor), and at the Music School of the Universidad del Zulia (Faculty), where she was appointed Founder Director (2005-2009). She has also been featured teacher at “El Sistema”, Venezuelan youth orchestras. Her work was recognized in 2011 with the Rafael Rincon Gonzalez Award, offered by the Universidad del Zulia. 

Nicaulis Alliey holds a Maitrise en Musique at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne (1995), Etudes Superieures de Flute (1994) in Flute with M. Raymond Guiot at Hector Berlioz Conservatory (Paris), and the Degree of Profesor Ejecutante at the Escuela de Musica Jose Reyna, in Caracas. She currently attends the DMA program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she has been granted a Graduate Teaching Assistantship and a Hixson-Lied Fellowship.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Competition Winner is Humboldt Symphony Soloist 

 The Humboldt Symphony performs a rarely heard concertino with student trombonist and concerto competition winner Craig Hull as soloist, on Friday February 27 at Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 “Craig does a great job,” said Humboldt Symphony conductor Paul Cummings. “He’s one of the best trombonists we’ve ever had here.” 

 First performed in 1837, the Concertino for Trombone and Orchestra by German composer Ferdinand David became his most popular and most enduring composition. This concertino (or “little concerto”) is rarely played now, Cummings said, partly because works written expressly for trombone and orchestra are themselves very rare.

 “Trombonists are used to playing transcriptions from other instruments but this is an original piece by a good composer. It has the typical concerto layout of a dialogue between the orchestra and the solo instrument,” Cumming said. 

 David was only 25 when he composed it. He was a contemporary and friend of Felix Mendelssohn—they were born one year apart, in the same house. Mendelssohn had agreed to write a trombone concerto for a famous instrumentalist of the time but eventually suggested that David write it instead. Mendelssohn conducted its premiere performance. The Concertino became so associated with David that part of it was played at his funeral—ironically, transcribed for violin and orchestra. 

 The program also features Symphony No. 8 by late 19th century Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. It has been called warm, light and playful, especially in contrast to the Dvorak symphonies that immediately precede and follow it. Musicologist Peter Laki writes, “The music is always cheerful and optimistic, yet it doesn’t lack grandeur.” On this evening the Humboldt Symphony plays the first two movements, and will perform the entire symphony in May. 

 Humboldt Symphony performs on Friday February 27 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors, students and children, and free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Conducted by Paul Cummings, produced by HSU Music Department.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Players for Schubert’s “Trout Quintet”: Karen Davy, Cindy Moyer, Daniel Colson, Kira Weiss, Daniela Mineva.

A Carnival of Welcome

 HSU Music’s second semester Welcome Concert goes big, as a total of 16 faculty, staff and friends perform music from Bach to Gershwin, Schubert to Miles Davis, including a dozen players combining on the playful Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens, with hilarious verses by Ogden Nash. 

 This is not the only ensemble on the bill that’s larger than usual for a Welcome Concert. Soprano Elisabeth Harrington sings a church cantata by J.S. Bach (“Exult God in All Lands”) accompanied by 7 players: Gilbert Cline (trumpet), Cindy Moyer and Karen Davy (violin), Sherry Hanson (viola), Kira Weiss (cello), Daniel Colson (bass) and Gregory Granoff on harpsichord. 

 Davy, Moyer, Weiss and Colson are joined by pianist Daniela Mineva for the first movement of Franz Schubert’s Trout Quintet (Quintet in A Major.) “This is an unusual combination of instruments,” violinist Cindy Moyer observed. “Very few other works have been written for piano, violin, viola, cello and bass.”

 The duo of Brian Post on piano and Daniel Colson on bass perform two jazz oriented pieces: “A Foggy Day” by George Gershwin (first performed by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film Damsel in Distress) and “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis (from his best-selling jazz album A Kind of Blue.) 

 In 1886, French composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote Carnival of the Animals for fun, but didn’t permit it to be published in his lifetime in case its playful nature detracted from his reputation as a serious composer. It has since become one of his best-known works.

 Ogden Nash, probably the 20th century’s most famous poet of light verse, wrote a rhymed narration for a 1949 recording. In this concert it will be performed by Kevin Sharkey (whose predecessors include Noel Coward and Bugs Bunny). Though this version has become a children’s classic, the verse and music are also wickedly satirical.

 Instrumentalists for Carnival of the Animals are: Jill Petricca (flute), Virginia Ryder (clarinet), Eugene Novotney (xylophone), Howard Kaufmann (glockenspiel), Cindy Moyer and Karen Davy (violin), Sherry Hanson (viola), Kira Weiss (cello), Daniel Colson (bass), Daniela Mineva and Yumi Watanabe (piano.) 

 Why the larger ensembles this time? One reason, Cindy Moyers suggests, is visiting professor Daniel Colson, a composer and more to the point, a bassist. “It’s been many years since we’ve had the available personnel to do repertoire that requires both bass and cello,” she said. “I think everyone got excited to play music that includes bass. You’ll notice that Daniel is playing in every piece.” 

 The spring 2015 Welcome Concert is performed on Saturday February 7 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus. Tickets are $10 general/$5 seniors, children and students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. This Faculty Artist Series concert is produced by the HSU Music Department. 

Welcome Concert: The Program

Performers rehearse for Bach cantata: Elisabeth Harrington, Cindy Moyer, Karen Davy, Gregory Granoff, Gilbert Cline, Daniel Colson, Kira Weiss, Sherry Hanson.

Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51 by  Johann Sebastian Bach
 I. Aria: Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen
II. Recitative: Wir beten zu dem Tempel an
 III. Aria: Höchster, mache deine Güte
 IV. Chorale: Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren

 Elisabeth Harrington, soprano
 Gilbert Cline, trumpet
 Cindy Moyer, violin
 Karen Davy, violin
 Sherry Hanson, viola
 Kira Weiss, cello
 Daniel Colson, bass
 Gregory Granoff, harpsichord

Quintet in A Major, Op. 115, “The Trout”  by Franz Schubert
 I. Allegro vivace

 Cindy Moyer, violin
 Karen Davy, viola
 Kira Weiss, cello
 Daniel Colson, bass
 Daniela Mineva, piano

Blue in Green by Miles Davis 
A Foggy Day by George Gershwin 

 Daniel Colson, bass
 Brian Post, piano


 Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns 
 I. Introduction and Royal March of the Lion
II. Hens and Roosters
 III. Wild Asses
 IV. Tortoises
 V. The Elephant
 VI. Kangaroos
 VII. Aquarium
 VIII. People with Long Ears (Mules)
 IX. The Cuckoo in the Middle of the Wood
 X. Aviary
 XI. Pianists
 XII. Fossils
 XIII. The Swan
 XIV. Finale

 Kevin Sharkey, narrator
 Jill Petricca, flute
 Viginia Ryder, clarinet
 Eugene Novotney, xylophone
 Howard Kaufmann, glockenspiel
 Cindy Moyer, violin
 Karen Davy, violin
 Sherry Hanson, viola
 Kira Weiss, cello
 Daniel Colson, bass
 Daniela Mineva, piano
 Yumi Watanabe, piano

Friday, February 06, 2015

Honors Recital February 6

Twelve students chosen for excellence by the HSU Music Department faculty will perform in the annual Honors Recital on Friday February 6. 

 From performances after fall semester, a faculty jury selects the best among music students enrolled in studio lessons to represent each of the six areas: voice, piano, percussion, strings, brass and woodwinds. 

 This year’s performers are: singers Lorena Tamayo (mezzo-soprano) and Chris Parreira (baritone); Michael Donovan (violin), Andrew Heavelin (guitar), Craig Hull (trombone), Bret Johnson (trombone), Kyle McGinnis (alto saxophone), Niamh Mercer (Timpani), Rebeca Ramos (flute), Madeline Shapiro (piano), Vance Umphrey (snare drum) and Levi Walls (piano). 

Recital selections range from Bach and Mozart to Eliot Carter and Ryo Noda. Staff pianist John Chernoff accompanies several pieces. 

 The 2015 Honors Recital is presented on Friday, February 6 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Admission is free.

2015 Honors Recital: The Program

Sonata for Bass Trombone and Piano by Alec Wilder
 IV. Expressivo
 V. Swinging
 Bret Johnson, trombone
 John Chernoff, piano

 "Intorno all’idol mio" from Orontea by Antonio Cesti
 Lorena Tamayo, mezzo-soprano
 John Chernoff, piano

 "La vallée des cloches" from Mirroirs by Maurice Ravel
 Levi Walls, piano

 Concerto in C Major, Op. 48 by Dmitri Kabalevsky
 Allegro molto e con brio
 Michael Donovan, violin
 Levi Walls, piano

 Der Nachtgang (text by Otto Julius Bierbaum) by Richard Strauss
 Evening (text by Thomas Marten) by John Jacob Niles
 Chris Parreira, baritone
 John Chernoff, piano

 Piece Concertante, op. 27 by Carlos Salzedo
 Craig Hull, trombone
 John Chernoff, piano


 Prim for Solo Snare Drum (1984) by Askell Masson
 Vance Umphrey, Snare Drum

 Recitative for Solo Timpani (1950) by Elliot Carter
 Niamh Mercer, Timpani

 “Allemande” from Solo Partita in A minor by Johann Sebastian Bach
 Rebeca Ramos, flute

 Usher Waltz by Nikita Koshkin
 Andrew Heavelin, guitar

 Improvisation #1 by Ryo Noda
 Kyle McGinnis, alto saxophone

 Concerto in C minor, K. 491 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
 III. Allegretto
 Madeline Shapiro, piano
John Chernoff, piano

Saturday, January 24, 2015

An Adventurous Program by Guest Pianist Sang Woo Kang

Internationally renowned pianist Sang Woo Kang performs a concert of contrasts: works by contemporary American composer John Corigliano introducing a Mozart sonata and pieces by Chopin, in an HSU Guest Artist recital on Saturday January 24 at Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 Sang Woo Kang has performed throughout Europe, Asia and South America as well as in New York’s Carnegie Hall. The Los Angeles Times called him a “prodigiously talented pianist with great technical virtuosity and interpretive gifts.” His latest solo album, “Mozart Piano Music: Fugues, Rondos and Fantasias,” was released last month. With degrees from Juilliard and the Eastman School of Music, he currently chairs the Music Department at Providence College.

 At Fulkerson Recital Hall he will perform what Daniela Mineva, HSU professor of piano calls an “adventurous and truly wonderful program.”

 It begins with “Fantasia on an Ostinato” by John Corigliano, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, four Grammy awards and an Oscar for “The Red Violin.” “Ostinato” is a term for an obstinately repeated motif or phrase—in this case, from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. 

 Reviewing a prior Sang Woo Kang performance of this same program, Rorianne Schrade wrote in New York Concert Reviews that he made “sensitive choices” in this “haunting, almost post-apocalyptic” opening piece. 

 Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C major, she wrote, was “dramatic and effective, “ and Sang Woo Kang’s approach to Etude Fantasy, a second Corigliano piece, “was fearless and solid,” while Chopin’s Noctune in D-flat major was “deeply stirring,” and Chopin’s Polanaise-Fantaisie “concluded the program with sweep.”

 Schrade also praised the structure of the program as a whole for the illuminating relationships produced by Sang Woo Kang’s performance of these very different selections.

 “Through these sharp juxtapositions,” Sang Woo notes, “this program also offers an exploration of the range and capabilities of the instrument."

 Pianist Sang Woo Kang performs on Saturday January 24 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $10 general/$5 seniors, children and students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. This Guest Artist Series concert is produced by the HSU Music Department. 

Media: Times-Standard Urge, North Coast Journal, Humboldt State Now

Sang Woo Kang: Biography

Cited by the Los Angeles Times as a “prodigiously talented pianist with great technical virtuosity and interpretive gifts,” Sang Woo Kang is an active performer and educator who has presented master classes and recitals in Asia, Central and South America, and Europe. He successfully balances his performance career with teaching at Providence College, where he is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Music.

 Sang Woo’s recent international performances include the Auditorio Piazzolla in Argentina, Bari International Festival in Italy, Sehjong Cultural Center in Korea, multiple venues in Japan and Thailand, the Moulin d’Ande Festival in France, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, and Steinway Hall in NY, to name a few. Upcoming events include chamber, solo, and orchestral concerts in New York, Providence, Chicago, and Boston.

 Sang Woo recorded the Brahms Clarinet Sonatas on the EMI Korea label in 2007 and his performances has been featured on various programs in the US and abroad, including the WXXI, WGBH, and MPBN classical music stations. Sang Woo’s latest solo album, “Mozart Piano Music: Fugues, Rondos and Fantasias,” was released on the NAXOS label in December 2014.

Over the summer, he directs the Piano Institute and Seminar at the Atlantic Music Festival at Colby College, an annual intensive four-week series of concerts and events focused on promotion and performance of new music.

 In addition to his other activities, Sang Woo writes for publications such as the American Record Guide and Clavier Companion.

 Sang Woo is a graduate of Juilliard School and the Eastman School of Music, where he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree.

Sang Woo Kang: Concert Program and Notes

The Program

Fantasia on an Ostinato by John Corigliano

 Piano Sonata in C major, K. 330  by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I. Allegro Moderato
 II. Andante Cantabile
 III. Allegretto


 Etude Fantasy by  John Corigliano
I. Left Hand Alone
 II. Legato
 III. Fifths and Thirds
 IV. Ornaments
V. Melody

 Nocturne in D-flat major, Op. 27 No. 2 by Frederic Chopin

 Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major, Op. 61 by Frederic Chopin

Program Notes by Performer, Sang Woo Kang

 This program is a study in contrasts: dynamic contrasts, contrasts of character, and contrasts of texture. Corigliano’s Fantasia on an Ostinato and Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C major may seem like polar opposites, but through their dissimilarity offer productive resonances. The obsessive rhythms and relentless ostinato of Fantasia on an Ostinato throws Mozart’s lyricism into relief. In the latter half of the program, the extroversion of the Etude Fantasy further serves to emphasize the intimacy and delicacy of the Nocturne in D-flat major. Through these sharp juxtapositions, this program also offers an exploration of the range and capabilities of the instrument.

Program Notes by Composer John Corigliano

Fantasia on an Ostinato (1985)

“The first half of my Fantasia On An Ostinato develops the obsessive rhythm of the Beethoven [Symphony No. 7] and the simple harmonies implicit in the first half of his melody. Its second part launches those interlocking repetitions and reworks the strange major-minor descending chords of the latter part of the Beethoven into a chain of harmonies over which the performer-repeated patterns grown continually more ornate. This climaxes in a return of the original rhythm and, finally, the reappearance of the theme itself.”

 Etude Fantasy (1976)
 My Etude Fantasy is actually a set of five studies combined into the episodic form and character of a fantasy...

The first etude is for the left hand alone—a bold, often ferocious statement which introduces both an opening six-note row (the first notes of the work) and a melodic germs which follows the initial outburst. This etude reaches a climax in which both the row and the thematic germ are heard together, and ends as the right hand enters playing a slow chromatic descent which introduces the next etude: a study of legato playing.

 In the short second etude both hands slowly float downward as a constant cross of contrapuntal lines provides melodic interest. The sustaining of sound as well as the clarity of the crossing voices is important here.

 The third etude, a study on a two-note figure, follows—a fleet development on the simple pattern of a fifth contracting to a third. In this section there is much crossing of hands; during the process a melody emerges in the top voices. A buildup leads to a highly chromatic middle section, with sudden virtuosic outbursts, after which the melody returns to end the etude as it began.

The fourth etude is a study of ornaments. Trills, grace notes, tremolos, glissandos and roulades ornament the opening material (Etude 1) and then develop the first four notes of the third etude into a frenetically charged scherzando where the four fingers of the left hand softly play a low cluster of notes (like a distant drum) as the thumb alternates with the right hand in rapid barbaric thrusts. This leads to a restatement of the opening 6-note row of the fantasy in a highly ornamental fashion.
 After a sonorous climax comes the final etude, a study of melody. In it, the player is required to isolate the melodic line, projecting it through the filigree which surrounds it; here the atmosphere is desolate and non-climactic, and the material is based entirely on the melodic implications on the left hand etude, with slight references to the second (legato) study. The work ends quietly with the opening motto heard in retrograde accompanying a mournful two-note ostinato.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ensembles Combine for Holiday Concert

 Schubert’s Magnificat, Corelli’s Christmas Concerto and sacred music of the season highlight a combined holiday concert by the Humboldt Symphony, University Singers and Humboldt Chorale on Friday December 12 and Sunday December 14 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 The concert’s climax is Franz Schubert’s “Magnificat,” performed by all three ensembles. Also known as the song of Mary and taken from the Gospel of Luke, the Magnificat has been set to music by many composers, from Bach and Vivaldi to Rachmaninoff and John Rutter.  One version or another is often performed in the Christmas season.

 “The string section carries the orchestral part,” said Humboldt Symphony conductor Paul Cummings. “The piece is almost all full ensemble choral singing, though there’s a lovely passage for solo voices that’s very melodic, typical of Schubert.”

 On its own the Symphony performs the Christmas Concerto by Baroque composer Arcangelo Corelli. It is Corelli’s best-known work for strings, which he requested be played on Christmas Eve. “Parts of the melody may be familiar,” Cummings said, “since it is heard at this time of year. Besides strings, it is scored for harpsichord, and we’re using a real one, not a synthesizer.”

 The orchestra also performs the fast-changing “Four Little Pieces” by contemporary composer Karel Husa, and the melodic Holberg Suite by Edvard Grieg.

 The Humboldt Chorale begins the concert with sacred music by 20th century French composer Gabriel Faure and contemporary American composer James Kantor, as well as a traditional American Christmas spiritual. The Chorale is a community group directed for the first time by Elisabeth Harrington.

 The University Singers, directed by Harley Muilenburg, perform contemporary British composer John Rutter’s “Gloria,” a celebratory section of the Mass based on Gregorian chant.

 The three ensembles also collaborate on two carols to end the concert: “How far is it to Bethlehem?” and “Still, still, still,” both originally arranged for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The combined holiday concert by Humboldt Symphony, University Singers and Humboldt Chorale is performed on Friday December 12 and Sunday December 14 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors and children, and free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door.  Concert produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now

Holiday Concert Notes

Humboldt Chorale director Elisabeth Harrington:

James Kantor
Beati in domo Domini" by James G. Kantor, arranged for 3-part choir (SAB) and flute, and also featuring percussive sounds from the singers.

 "Sanctus" from Requiem in D minor by Gabriel Faure, arranged for 3-part choir (SAB) by Jill Gallina.

 "Rise Up , Shepherd, and Follow," a traditional American Negro Spiritual Christmas Carol, arranged for 4-part choir and tenor and soprano soloists by Nathaniel Berle Garris.

The Humboldt Chorale will be collaborating with the University Singers and the Humboldt Symphony to perform the Schubert Magnificat and two additional holiday carols arranged by Mack Wilberg: "Still, still, still" (traditional Austrian; sung in English) "How far is it to Bethlehem?" (English carol) Both of these carols were composed for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

University Singers director Harley Muilenburg:

John Rutter
John Rutter's “Gloria” was commissioned by the Voices of Mel Olson, Omaha, Nebraska. The [British] composer directed the first performance on the occasion of his first visit to the United States in May, 1974. Rutter writes that “Gloria” is “based mainly on one of the Gregorian chants associated with the text.” The music is festive and celebratory.

The practice of subdividing sections of the mass, such as the Gloria and the Credo, into separate movements as stand-alone compositions dates from the time of JS Bach. John Rutter based his setting of the “Gloria” on one of many Gregorian chants which utilized the Gloria text. Rutter says, "The accompaniment makes quite a joyful noise unto the Lord.” Rutter’s “Gloria” has become a favorite for its “freshness, dramatic impact, and its sheer beauty.”

Humboldt Symphony conductor Paul Cummings:

Franz Schubert
This is our traditional every-other-year concert with combined orchestra and choruses.  Our combined piece at the end of the concert is Schubert's Magnificat for orchestra, choir and four soloists.

In terms of the orchestra part, most of the heavy lifting is done by the strings.  The piece has the typical fast-slow-fast series of movements: the first movement is allegro Maestoso, the second is andante, the third is allegro vivace. There's very little counterpoint, especially for a German composer.

 For the voices, the piece is almost all ensemble choral singing, though in the second movement there's a lovely passage for soloists--a typical Schubert passage that's very melodic.  We have four wonderful students who auditioned for those parts--soprano, alto, tenor, bass--and they're doing a great job.

Schubert wrote this in 1816, a fairly early work.  It tells the Magnificat story as derived from the Gospel of Luke.  It's in Latin, as is most sacred music of this period.

Arcangelo Corelli
The orchestra on its own performs three works.  We did parts of these three in our last concert.  For this concert we perform the complete work.

Corelli's Christmas Concerto, the Concerto Grosso #8, is probably his best-known work for strings.  Parts of it are familiar from the holiday season.  Corelli was one of the great mid-Baroque composers at the end of the 17th century, active mostly in Rome.  He wrote quite a few pieces in this form of the concerto grosso, which features two main groups: the concertino group, which is a group of soloists, and the ripeno, which is everybody else.  We have three student soloists as part of the concertino group--there will be three different soloists each night.  There's also a nice harpsichord part, which we perform on a real harpsichord, not a synthesizer.

Karel Husa: Four Little Pieces (Vier kleine Stucke) 1955

Karel Husa
This is a very nice contemporary piece, atonal  but rather accessible.  It has a lot of material that's repeated and a lot of variety.  In some parts you can hear a melody, while other parts have no melodic material whatsoever.  We did the outer two of the four movements last time.  This time we perform the inner two movements as well.

 Karel Husa was born in 1921 in Czechoslovakia. He emigrated to the United States and began teaching at Cornell University in 1954. He published this work the next year.

Edvard Grieg
Edvard Grieg: From Holberg’s Time, Suite for Strings op. 40 #168

This is one of the classic pieces for string orchestra, so it's always nice to have our students doing core repertoire.  We did the first three movements last time--now we're doing all five.

 In the same vein as Franz Schubert, melody really drives Grieg's music. That’s very apparent in this piece, where there’s always melodic material that’s the basis of the development of the music.

 Grieg is considered Norway’s greatest composer. He wrote this in 1884 to honor Ludvig Holberg, a writer of the early 18th century who is considered the founder of modern Norwegian and Danish literature. He was called “the Moliere of Scandanavia.” So Grieg is capturing the spirit embodied in his literature and that earlier time.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jazz Orchestra: From Grunge to Big Band 

The HSU Jazz Orchestra turns grunge and steel pan sounds into jazz, then gets back to early 60s big band basics in its December 13 concert at Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 “’Black Hole Sun’ was a hit for the seminal grunge band Soundgarden in 1994,” said director Dan Aldag, “but arranger James Miley radically reworked it into a contemporary jazz piece.”

 A transformation closer to home comes from HSU alum Dan Fair, who turned “Summer Song” by Trinidad composer and steel pan player Cliff Alexis into a tune especially for the Jazz Orchestra. 

Current band members Kyle McInnis (alto sax) and Ryan Woempner (bass) contribute originals, called “Schnell!” and “Fire Crayon Drawing.” 

Get frustrated with endless menus instead of a human on the other end of the phone? So did jazz composer Bill Holman, whose “Press One” is on the Jazz Orchestra playlist.

 Big band roots also get explored with early 60s arrangements from Charles Mingus, Count Basie and the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band. Lauren Strella and Tyler Martin solo on the Mulligan tunes, each on baritone saxophone.

 HSU Jazz Orchestra performs on Saturday December 13 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors and children, and free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: North Coast Journal, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now

Jazz Orchestra Concert: Director's Notes

Notes by Jazz Orchestra Director Dan Aldag:

The Jazz Orchestra is playing original works by two student composers: "Schnell!", by alto saxophonist Kyle McInnis and "Fire Crayon Drawing" by bassist Ryan Woempner.

Recent HSU grad Dan Fair wrote for us an arrangement of "Summer Song" by the Trinidadian composer and steel pan player Cliff Alexis, who composed the piece for steelband.

"Black Hole Sun" was a hit for the seminal grunge band Soundgarden in 1994, but arranger James Miley radically reworked it into a contemporary jazz piece.

 The great jazz composer Bill Holman was inspired to write "Press One" by the seemingly endless phone trees too often encountered when calling a business. It's not strictly programmatic, but the basic elements of the piece were clearly inspired by various facets of the phone tree experience.

Because we're lucky enough to have two baritone saxophonists in the band this semester, we're able to perform two charts from Gerry Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band of the early 1960s. "Sweet and Slow" is an Al Cohn arrangement and will feature Lauren Strella. "Little Rock Getaway" was first arranged by Cohn, and then Mulligan revised it. Our performance will feature Tyler Martin.

"Song With Orange" is a Charles Mingus tune. We're playing the arrangement that John Stubblefield wrote for the Mingus Big Band. "Nice 'n' Easy" comes from the Count Basie library of the early 1960s.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sky Diving with the AM Jazz Band

On Thursday December 11,The AM Jazz Band plays arrangements of the jazz classics "Scrapple From The Apple" by Charlie Parker, "Sticks" by Nat Adderley, Freddie Hubbard's "Sky Dive", and Duke Ellington's "Across The Track Blues" in the same version his band recorded in 1940, plus the standards "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise" and "My Funny Valentine."

AM Jazz Band performs on Thursday December 11 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors and children, and free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by the HSU Music Department.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Holidays Start with Madrigals and MRT 

 HSU Madrigal Singers in costume jump-start the holiday season with their traditional program of madrigals and English folk songs, plus the Mad River Transit Singers perform jazz, be-bop and blues with a four piece backing band on Sunday December 7. 

 The Madrigal Singers feature songs of young love by Robert Jones and Orlando di Lasso, composers of the Elizabethan age in England. But the best-known writer of that era will also make an appearance, with the final three madrigals set to the words of William Shakespeare.

 “Lord” Clint Rebik and “Lady” Kristen Mack will present news of the day (the 1500s), another traditional part of the program. 

 Then the Mad River Transit Singers take over with their program of ballads and up-tempo numbers that include arrangements ranging from “God Bless the Child” and “O Mary, Don’t You Weep” to “Ray’s Rockhouse” and “Route 66.” MRT is backed by John Chernoff on piano, Ryan Woempner on bass, Thatcher Holvik-Norton on drums and Kyle McInnis on alto saxophone.

HSU Madrigal and MRT Singers perform on Sunday December 7 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets are $8, $5 seniors & children, HSU students free with ID, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Harley Muilenburg, produced by HSU Music department.

 This year’s MRT Singers (not in order pictured; click photo to enlarge): Ian Alexander, Laura Doughty, Hannah Fels, Trina Garrett, Melody Gonzalez, Christian Lesko, Kyle McInnis, Danielle Murray, Christopher Parreira, Corey Tamondong, Rilo Wade, and Alberto Zamora.

 Madrigal Singers (not in order pictured; click photo to enlarge) Tiffany Casparis, Ana Ceja, Erin Corrigan, Victor Guerrero, Jessica Golden, David Howard, Charles Hollowell, Jordan Kramlich, Rich Macey, Kristen Mack, Megan McCaffrey, Edrees Nassir, Matthew Nelson, Nicholas Notthoff, John Pettlon, Linh Phom, Rosemary Torres, Rebeca Ramos, Clint Rebik, Catherine Rippetoe, Shay Singh and Kellie Ventura.

Media: North Coast Journal, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Calypso Band Dance Rhythms, Percussion Ensemble’s Metallic Rainforest 

 HSU Calypso Band plays high-energy dance music from Trinidad, the World Percussion Group explores dance drumming from Ghana and the Percussion Ensemble performs two percussive classics, all on Saturday December 6 in the Van Duzer Theatre. 

 “The First Construction in Metal” is a 1939 John Cage composition that Percussion Ensemble director Eugene Novotney calls “brash, creative and a vital example of the American avant-garde style.” It employs 58 metal instruments to produce what New Music writer Alexandra Gardner calls “a metallic rainforest.”

 “Many consider it to be Cage’s finest early work,” Novotney said, “and this is an excellent opportunity to hear and experience this classic piece.” 

 The Percussion Ensemble also plays “Concertino for 12 Percussionists and 2 Pianos” by Czech composer Vaclev Nelhybel.

 “Nehlybel uses different combinations of membranes, woods, and metals to create fascinating textures and soundscapes that surround the listener with pulsating rhythmic variety,” Novotney said. The result is “an immense piece” that is “highly rhythmic and extremely exciting.” 

 Then the World Percussion Group explores dance drumming from the Ewe people of Ghana, aided by dancers from the HSU World Dance Expressions class performing traditional choreography. 

 The Calypso Band takes over for the second half of the concert with authentic dance rhythms from Trinidad, including two modern Panorama classics: “Misbehave” by Lennox “Boogsie” Sharpe, and “We Just Can’t Go On Like This” by Ray Holman

HSU Calypso Band, World Percussion Group and Percussion Ensemble perform on Saturday December 6 at 8 p.m. in the Van Duzer Theatre on the HSU campus. Tickets are $10/$5 seniors & children/$3 HSU students from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Eugene Novotney and Howard Kaufman, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: North Coast Journal, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now

Friday, December 05, 2014

Symphonic Band Rides the Range with John Williams

The HSU Symphonic Band rides the range with John Williams’ movie music for The Cowboys, plus music based on English and Korean folk melodies, and three works featuring some unusual percussion, on Friday December 5. 

The Cowboys was a 1972 film starring John Wayne. Although written early in Williams' film career and overshadowed by his better-known scores such as Star Wars, the American Film Institute considers it one of his ten best.

 This arrangement by Jim Curnow preserves the variety of the film score that accompanied scenes of riding and roping, of cowboys around the campfire and the vastness of the open range. “It’s very exciting music,” said Symphonic Band conductor Paul Cummings. “It’s very tuneful, as is all of John Williams’ film music.” 

 Earlier in the evening the Band performs the entire Second Suite for Military Band by Gustav Holst. “Holst’s First Suite is often described as being a folk music suite but it isn’t based on any actual folk songs,” Cummings commented.

 “The second suite is based on folk songs like 'Greensleeves' and others that would have been familiar to Holst’s first audiences in 1911. So we’re going to present a small group of singers performing several of those songs before we play the suite, to give the audience a sense of what inspired the composer.” 

 The band moves from English folk music to Asia with Variations on a Korean Folk Song by contemporary American composer John Barnes Chance. The composer uses unusual percussion instruments such as the temple block as well as different rhythms to explore the song “Arirang.” “This is really a masterwork,” Cummings said, "and enjoyable to listen to, because it’s got that unifying element of the folk song.” 

 Two other pieces by contemporary American composers also prominently employ unusual percussion instruments to create a variety of musical effects: Shadow Rituals by Robert Markowski and Night Dances by Bruce Yurko. In its faster section the Yurko piece also features brass instruments. “We have a terrific brass section this semester,” Cummings said, “so it’s fun for them to really show what they can do.” 

 HSU Symphonic Band performs on Friday December 5 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors and children, free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Conducted by Paul Cummings, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: North Coast Journal, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now

Symphonic Band:Conductor's Notes

Edited from interviews with conductor Paul Cummings

The Cowboys (1972) by John Williams

John Williams is a great film composer, as exemplified in this piece.  This is music for a movie called The Cowboys with John Wayne, arranged for band by Jim Curnow.  It's a very good arrangement, very challenging, probably the hardest piece we'll be playing, and the longest.

The music gives you a sense of the film's story--life on the ranch, the wide open plains, horses galloping, the cattle drive.  There are a couple of reflective passages that suggest night, with the cowboys sitting around the fire.  Mostly it's very exciting and very tuneful, as is all of John Williams' film music.

Second Suite for Military Band op 28 no. 2 by Gustav Holst 
 1. March: Morris Dance, Swansea Town, Claudy Banks
 2. Song Without Words: "I'll Love My Love"
 3. Song of the Blacksmith
4. Fantasia on the Dargason

We did part of this in our first concert this semester--now we're doing the entire suite. A unique feature of this performance is that we are going to include a small group of singers performing five or six of the folk songs that Holst used in composing the suite.  The idea is to give the audience a sense of what inspired him in writing this suite.

His First Suite for Military Band is sometimes referred to as a folk song type of suite but in fact it is not based on any real folk songs.  But in this Second Suite he used pre-existing sources: established folk songs familiar to everyone in 1911, when he wrote this piece.

This is considered one of the greatest band pieces ever. It’s also one of the earliest written expressly for wind band.

Variations on a Korean Folk Song (1965) by John Barnes Chance

This classic work is based on a very well-known Korean folk song, "Arirang."  John Barnes Chance didn't live long enough to write very much music, but he wrote several pieces that made significant contributions to the wind band repertoire: Incantations and Dance, Elegy and these variations.

This piece has several unique qualities.  Chance makes extensive use of percussion, and uses unusual percussion instruments, particularly the temple blocks.  They are prominently featured.  Even though the temple blocks do not have definite pitches, Chance treats the instrument like a melodic instrument.

These variations cast the original folk song in many different guises, sort of like a character being dressed up in several different costumes in the same play.  So we think we understand the tune when we hear the slow version of it played in the extreme low register by the clarinets at the beginning.  But we find it has a whole different character when lots of brass and percussion are involved, and the tempo gets very fast.  It's really a masterwork, and enjoyable to listen to because it has that unifying element of the folk song.

Shadow Rituals (2006) by Robert Markowski

This is a very exciting piece, and another one that uses an array of percussion.  This piece includes tam tam, suspended cymbals, slapstick, tambourines, bongos, glockenspiel, sleigh bells, cabasa, tom-tom, wind chimes, as well as snare drum and bass drum.  So he's really striving for lots of different colors and textures.

This is a prize-winning composition--it took first place in the Frank Ticheli Composition Contest.  Markowski is a very young composer, and surprisingly does not have a composition degree, does not even have a music degree, but he’s very facile writer, he understands how to write for the instruments.  He writes about this piece: "Shadow Rituals is rhythmic, energetic and challenges the performer to constantly stay engaged in the music.  This piece is a dark and mystical dance, a reflection of something primitive or ancient."

Night Dances (1995) by Bruce Yurko

This piece has a mysterious quality.  It eventually gets very fast and spirited--there's a marking used several times, con spirito, used for the fast-accented passages--but there are also some very reflective sections.  One of these is at the very beginning.  The music seems to grow out of nowhere, with only the percussion playing.  There are two tympani, tenor and bass drums and other, mostly mallet percussion that play this very mysterious kind of melody.  Then the woodwinds come in very softly, echoing the same melody initiated by the mallet instruments.

Then suddenly it's con spirito, very exciting passages featuring the brass.  We have a terrific brass section this semester, so it's fun for them to really show what they can do.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

                Bobolink: Tyler Martin, Alex Espe, Aaron Katz, Bret Johnson.

  Jazz Combos Accent Originals

 The accent is on originality as four Jazz Combos perform at HSU on Sunday November 16, but jazz classics aren’t neglected.

 All four members of the 12:00 Quartet—Trevor Kumec (guitar), Alan Spencer (tenor sax), Ryan Woempner (bass) and Eric Tolfa (drummer)-- contribute an original composition to their set.

 The quartet called Bobolink plays two originals along with “Seattle” by Avishai Cohen and a jazz rendition of the Beatles tune, “Because.” Tyler Martin plays alto sax, Alex Espe piano, Bret Johnson bass and Aaron Katz drums.

 Business Casual is the largest combo, with two saxophones, flute, violin, piano, guitar, bass, drums and percussion. They play originals by alto sax player Kyle McInnis, guitarist Kenneth Bozanich and violinist Michael Donovan, as well as “Mambo Inn” by famed Latin jazz trumpeter Mario Bauza.

 The 1:00 Quintet performs a classic Duke Ellington tune as well as “Kite” from the band Snarky Puppy and “The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers” by Steve Kuhn. Lauren Strella and Olivia Bright handle vocals. Strella also plays sax and clarinet, and Bright plays piano. Thatcher Holvick-Norton plays bass and Courtney Abajian drums.

 HSU Jazz Combos perform on Sunday November 16 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door: $8 general, $5 seniors and children, HSU students with ID admitted free. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Humboldt State Now

Jazz Combos: The Program

The 12:00 Quartet 

Bumpas Hell by Trevor Kumec
Thoughts of Tomorrow by Alan Spencer
El Guapo by Ryan Woempner
11 1/2 by Eric Tolfa

 Business Casual

Party on Endor by Kyle McKinnis
Ain't Never Too Late by Kenneth Bozanich
Boogy Time by Michael Donovan
Mambo Inn by Mario Bauza for Machito and His Afro-Cubans

 The 1:00 Quintet

Kite by the band Snarky Puppy
Heaven by Duke Ellington from his Second Sacred Concert
The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers by Steven Kuhn


Seattle by Avishai Cohen
Because by Lennon-McCartney
two untitled originals by Alex Espe and Tyler Martin

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sail Away with Humboldt Bay Brass Band

 Sail away with the Humboldt Bay Brass Band in its 10th anniversary concert on November 15, featuring music with a watery theme, and a Veterans Day segment that includes an unusual version of the Star Spangled Banner. A splendid maritime is guaranteed for all! 

 The concert begins with three works featured in the very first HBBB performance in 2004: the British symphonic overture “Prelude for an Occasion” by Edward Gregson, and two watery-themed pieces, the lush “Moon River” and the lively “Fantasy on British Sea Songs.” 

 The band then performs one of its unique numbers: “Sunken Rock,” a lost 1865 piano composition commemorating the sinking of the coastal steamer Brother Jonathan off the coast of Crescent City, in HBBB director Gil Cline’s band arrangement. “It features the singing voice of our solo cornetist, Molly Harvis,” Cline said, “accompanied by a small brass band of the sort that would have been heard in that era.” 

 Along with Irish and British melodies, the concert includes several characteristically American works, some with a military theme to commemorate Veteran’s Day, highlighted by an unusual but historically based rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Using the original introduction and transition by composer John Stafford Smith, the band presents three seldom-heard verses by Francis Scott Key.

 Humboldt Bay Brass Band players are HSU advanced music students plus recent graduates, community musicians and music teachers. It is northwest California’s only all-brass band in the traditional British format. “One of our slogans is ‘25 brass plus three percussion equal sustained intensity,’” said director Cline. “And that equals ecstasy!” This is the band’s only HSU concert until next fall. 

The Humboldt Bay Brass Band performs on Saturday November 15 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door: $8 general, $5 seniors and children, HSU students with ID admitted free. Directed by Gilbert Cline, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Mad River Union, North Coast Journal The Setlist, Humboldt State Now, Times-Standard Urge

HBBB: Program and Notes

Humboldt Bay Brass Band musicians in Fall 2014 (not in order pictured; click on photo to enlarge): on Cornet: Molly Harvis, Ari Davie, Ryan Brown, Matt Scott, Jesse Burns, Monica Dekat, Leon Hamilton, Melissa Gussin, Tom Cover, & Gary Ross; Flügelhorn: Lauren Strella; Tenor Horn: Matt Morgan, Anwyn Halliday, & Hannah Lambrecht; Baritone Horn: Toshi Noguchi & Chris Joe; Trombone: George Epperson, Matthew Brown, & Corey Tamondong; Euphonium: Phil Sams & Bret Johnson; Basses (Tubas): Audrey McCombs, Jerry Carter, Ryan Egan, & Charles Hollowell; Percussion: Grace Kerr, Nev Mattinson, Kevin Amos, & Niamh Mercer. Music Director & Conductor: Dr. Gilbert Cline; Assistant Conductor: Audrey McCombs.

with notes by Gilbert Cline

 HBBB repeats the very first three concert works from our very first concert, of April 2, 2004. (and we thought it wouldn’t last!) Those three are:

 1- Prelude for an Occasion (1972) by Edward Gregson
 This is a British symphonic overture, with cornets and trombones sounding as if they were in the Chicago Symphony. The tones are 20th century vertical harmonies, including pyramids and polychords. After an classic overture-type slow beginning, the music really takes off -- even the basses getting to saw away at fast-moving 16th notes; timpani and the other percussion brighten the total effect.

 2- Moon River (1961) by Henry Mancini
 We’ve always enjoyed this arrangement of the film score, and the music is extremely tender and expressive. First heard in the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the theme and underlying chords are so very American -- for HBBB’s director, his earliest and most impressionable sounds of major- seven chords and flatted-fifths -- all under a completely gorgeous melody.

 3- Fantasy on British Sea Songs:traditional arranged by Gordon Langford
 This one begins as if on a genuine tall ship like a British Man ‘o War, with truly heroic sounds. The tunes in this music, essentially a medley, are classic, and even partly comical; the trombones shine in a distinctive interpretation of “Who’s Afraid of a Drunken Sailor?” (! not our trombonists!)

4- Sunken Rock (1865) by E. Russell / P. R. Nicholls, arranged by Gil Cline.    Here is a rarity, and “proprietary” so far to HBBB. Recorded on our 2005 CD, this arrangement is based on piano sheet music published in San Francisco composed to commemorate the tragic loss of life resulting from the sinking of the large coastal steamer Brother Jonathan which struck the sunken rocks of St. George Reef off the coast of Crescent City.

  The HBBB arrangement of the music, somewhat Gilbert & Sullivan in nature, features the singing voice of Miss Molly Harvis (HBBB’s solo cornetist), accompanied by a small brass band of the sort which would have been hear in San Francisco during that year, and includes an historic circa 1865 E-flat rotary valve cornet of the very type in use then. We also use an 1895 tuba (the “Bayside Bombardon”) once owned by Leonard Yocum, Humboldt County bandsman, County Supervisor, and one of the founders of HSU.

 5- O.R.B. (contest march) by Charles Anderson
 O.R.B. stands for Oldham Rifles Brigade, which existed in Manchester, England from the 1860s to perhaps the 1930s. A civilian band, they served local volunteer military units, regiments and battalions; the sense of national defense in a small island nation is strong beyond the belief of those in the United States. Anderson was one of the original directors of the band and is best known for this particular march, serving to this day as a required test piece contest march in the UK. Musically it is distinctive for the flurry of chromatic 16th notes heard at the very beginning, followed by a serious sounding melody in minor. We use the proper British stride-tempo of 112 beats per minute. Assistant conductor Audrey McCombs takes the baton for this one.

 6- Gaelforce (2000) by Peter Graham Quite popular with bands in Great Britain these days, this music uses folk tunes of the Irish type -- with a lilting, almost Riverdance effect. Included are “The Rocky Road to Dublin”, then “The Minstrel Boy,” and as a finale “Tossing the Feathers.” Featured along the way are the cornets as a section, and a very sweet trombone solo, a virtuoso euphonium solo -- along with force-of- a-Gale percussion.

7- Post Horn Galop (1928) by Koening
 In the band world, these are at “Quick Step” tempo--160 beats per minute! This  march is “The Post Horn Gallop,” the first time HBBB has performed this famous work. Genius in simplicity and concept (even Mozart wrote a “Posthorn Serenade”), the instrument intended is the straight, short, 30-inch posthorn. For this performance, Gil Cline has the privilege of playing “the Genuine Article,” on loan directly from London and trumpet-maker David Edwards, former trumpeter and soloist with the Queen’s Life Guard Band.

 8- Shenandoah (ca. 1870)  arranged by Matthew Morgan
 One of the great songs in Americana, the various lyrics and usages reference a variety of settings including not only the Shenandoah Valley but also the Missouri River, river boatmen, clipper ship sailors, westward-bound settlers, and even escaped slaves. In this arrangement, the melody is taken not only by tenor horn, but also by the combined HBBB bass and baritone elements.

The next works pertain to the Veterans Day and in recognition of those among us, as well as family members and others before us, who have served in the various branches of military service.

 9- Images for Brass (2001)by Stephen Bulla
 Excellent brass band writing is not confined to the UK only. American composer Stephen Bulla for almost 30 years has served as Chief Arranger for “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band and White House Orchestra. This particular work was written upon the 50th Anniversary of the very important, and deadly, World War II battle of Iwo Jima, a seaborne landing invasion of an island crucial to ending the war in the Pacific against Japan. According to the composer's notes, the four movements depict “the quiet anticipation before conflict, the arduous journey into the scene of the battle, a time of introspection and prayer (the hymn tune “Melita” is featured), and finally the hostile confrontation.”

 Taps (1864)
In recent years of research and performance on natural trumpet (baroque and renaissance trumpets), Professor Cline has come to the conclusion that what we term “bugle” is actually a natural trumpet which gradually became shorter and shorter for various reasons. Each year, an example from his personal, modest collection is employed for the playing of Taps; this year it’s an unmarked low F trumpet/bugle of the sort favored by cavalry units of the 1880s and also by John Philip Sousa.

 11- The Star Spangled Banner (1814 / 2014)
This presentation is the result of some research and some creative activity here at HSU. We know the words, so famously penned by Francis Scott Key; fewer know that the music is by John Stafford Smith. But how many people these days know, or have ever heard, all FOUR verses?! HBBB’s Director first saw them on a statue in Golden Gate Park. After some research at a band music archive in Minnesota and some further digging at the Smithsonian, it was decided to present the singing of three verses (in reverse order) so seldom heard, and based on the original 1814 published music.

 12- U.S. Service Songs. Arranged by Gilbert Cline.
We offer our custom arrangement of US Service Songs, with not only Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, but also Coast Guard --and-- the forgotten personnel in harms way, the U.S. Merchant Marine. We invite audience members to elect the option to stand at the appropriate time (for the music of that particular branch of service) if you are a veteran, or if you are family, or even relative in any generation. We do this out of respect to the considerable sacrifices made in service.