Saturday, November 01, 2014

String Along with the Humboldt Symphony (and Guests)

 String along with the Humboldt Symphony string section and the Eureka High School String Orchestra in their shared concert with a combined finale on Saturday November 1 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 After the Eureka High players perform the first half of the concert, the Humboldt Symphony offers excerpts from three pieces for string orchestra. “Featuring our string section only is very unusual for us,” notes conductor Paul Cummings.

 “From Holberg’s Time” by 19th century Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg “is a famous work,” Cumming said. “In typical Grieg style, there is always something melodic happening. Melody really drives his music.”

 Grieg wrote this suite for strings to commemorate the bicentennial of Ludvig Holberg, a writer credited with pioneering modern Norwegian and Danish literature in the early 18th century.

 The Symphony also performs several movements of the best-known work for strings by Italian Baroque composer Archangelo Corelli, and a distinctly modern work by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Karel Husa. 

 “We’ll play the first movement of the Husa, which is a set of highly contrasting variations,” Cummings said. “Some are very tonal, very singable and others are abstract, so you may be surprised that the same composer could have written all of them. It’s really good music by a good composer.” 

 The combined concert ends with a collaboration by both string ensembles.

 The Humboldt Symphony and Eureka High School String Orchestra perform on Saturday November 1 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.

Humboldt Symphony November 1 Concert: Director's Notes

Excerpted from an interview with Paul Cummings

"We are we are collaborating with the Eureka High School String Orchestra. The high school students will perform the first part of the concert, we’ll do the second with Humboldt Symphony strings only, then some music combined with both groups.

 Featuring just the string section only is very unusual for us. In our portion of the concert we’ll perform excerpts from three pieces for string orchestra. Then in December we’ll play the complete works."

 Archangelo Corelli: Concerto Grosso #8

"Corelli is one of the great mid-Baroque period composers at the end of the 17th century. He was mainly active in Rome. This piece is probably his best- known work for strings. It might sound familiar from parts of it heard during the holiday season.

 Corelli 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. In most cases the concertino group is two violins and one cello.

 The concerto grosso is an historical form that was very important in the Baroque period. Most composers of the time wrote music in this form. It was the earliest form of what later became known simply as the concerto, with one soloist accompanied by the orchestra.

 In this piece the concertino group plays for awhile, then the ripeno comes in. Sometimes they play together, sometimes separately. We’ll be playing this piece with harpsichord and strings. It’s a chance to feature the stronger players as part of the concertino group. We’re going to feature three different soloists in each concert in November and December, so more of our students get the opportunity to experience the solo role without the music being really long, as in a nineteenth century concerto, or really really difficult."

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

" From mid-Baroque we jump over 250 years to a contemporary piece. 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.

This work is about as far removed from Archangelo Corelli as one can imagine. Husa uses modern harmonic language including atonal passages. There are two movements in this work that are atonal, meaning that there is no key center to the music.

 In this concert we’ll be playing the first movement, which is a set of variations. They are highly contrasted—some are very tonal, very singable, and others are harsh and abstract, so you find yourself surprised that the same composer could have written all of them. It’s really good music by a good composer."

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

 "This is a very famous work. In typical Grieg style, there is always something melodic happening. In the same vein as Franz Schubert, melody really drives his 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. We’ll do two or three of the five movements this time, and the complete suite in December."

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Jazz Orchestra and Symphonic Band Share A Homecoming Concert 

HSU Jazz Orchestra pays tribute to legendary composer and pianist Horace Silver, and the Symphonic Band plays lesser-known gems by classic 20th century composers in their shared concert on Saturday October 4 in Fulkerson Recital Hall. 

 Horace Silver, says Jazz Orchestra director Dan Aldag, “is one of the most influential composers in jazz history.” Many of his tunes are jazz standards, and the orchestra is playing seven of them.

 Silver’s status as a hard-bop pioneer is represented by “Sister Sadie,” “Filthy McNasty” and other tunes. “Nutville” and “Nica’s Dream” showcase his Latin rhythms. Silver also wrote beautiful ballads, particularly one on this program: “Peace.” 

 Silver’s very detailed works for small ensembles are easily adaptable to big band, Aldag said. “Fans of Silver’s original recordings will hear much that is familiar in the arrangements we’re playing.” 

 In their half of this shared concert, the HSU Symphonic Band performs shorter works by 20th century composers George Gershwin, R. Vaughan Williams and Alberto Ginastera, as well as Gustav Holst’s complete Second Suite for Military Band.

 George Gershwin’s second prelude has his characteristic jazz-inflected style, said Symphonic Band director Paul Cummings. “If listeners find it similar to Rhapsody in Blue, it’s no mistake.”

 “Sea Songs” is a march in the slower British style by Vaughan Williams, part of his English Folk Song Suite, which is “probably his best known work for wind band. It’s very tuneful music and fun to play.” 

“Danza Final” by Alberto Ginasera by contrast is very rhythmic and energetic. “It’s a rousing, exciting number.”

Holst’s second suite is also partly based on folk melodies. The most famous of the four movements is the rhythmic “Song of the Blacksmith.” “This is one of the earliest works written for wind band,” Cummings noted, “and it is considered one of the best band pieces ever.” 

HSU Jazz Orchestra and Symphonic Band perform on Saturday October 4 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus. Tickets are $8, $5 seniors and children, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Produced by HSU Music department.

Media: Eureka Times-Standard Urge, HSU Now

Jazz Orchestra: Director's Notes

The Jazz Orchestra is paying tribute to the legendary composer and pianist Horace Silver on our half of the October 4 concert. Silver passed away in June at the age of 85. He is one of the most influential composers in jazz history, having written a number of tunes that have become jazz standards, including the seven we will be playing: "Sister Sadie", "Nutville", "Song For My Father", "Filthy McNasty", "The Jody Grind", "Nica's Dream" and "Peace."

Silver was one of the originators of the hard bop style of jazz, which was distinguished in part by an earthiness that came from blues and gospel influences. This side of Silver's personality will be represented by "Sister Sadie", "Filthy McNasty", and "The Jody Grind."

Silver also made frequent use of Latin rhythms, particularly bossa nova, and this is heard in "Nutville", "Song For My Father", and "Nica's Dream". While not as well-known for it, Silver also wrote beautiful ballads, and "Peace" is probably the best-known of those.

 While Silver wrote almost exclusively for quintet or sextet, his compositions are filled with the kinds of details usually encountered in compositions for much bigger ensembles, so they're easily adaptable for big band, and fans of Silver's original recordings will hear much that's familiar in the arrangements were playing, which include the work of Cecil Bridgewater, John LaBarbera, John Clayton, David Berger, Ian McDougall, Dave Eshelman and Frank Mantooth.

--Dan Aldag

Symphonic Band: Director's Notes

From an interview with Symphonic Band director Paul Cummings

The pieces we are doing aren’t the best or the best known by these composers. Their best work is in forms other than for wind band. Still, this music is of high artistic merit. Some of these pieces are very short, but there is an art to composing a well-crafted piece that only last three minutes, and we have a couple of those.

 Sea Songs by R. Vaughan Williams

This was the second movement of Williams’ English Folk Song Suite for wind ensemble from 1923, probably his best-known work for wind. But these days this is usually performed as a self-contained composition. It’s a simple march setting in the British style, with a tempo that’s slower than American marches.

 The folk songs that Williams quotes drive the melodic interest. Some of the songs are “Admiral Benboe,” “Princess Royal” and “Portsmouth.” It’s fun to play and very tuneful music to hear.

Second Prelude by George Gershwin. Arranged by John Krance. 

 This is the second of his three piano preludes, arranged for wind band by John Krance, one of the better known arrangers. He did a good job with this piece—it translates pretty well to wind band. As far as I know this is the only one of the three that has been arranged for band.

 This is the slow movement with a very strong blues feel to it. It certainly has the Gershwin style, the jazz-inflected writing of the 1920s and 30s. If listeners find it similar to Rhapsody in Blue, it’s no mistake. It’s a three minute piece with trumpet and alto sax solos.

 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

 This is considered one of the greatest band pieces ever. It’s also one of the earliest written expressly for wind band, in 1911. It’s very similar in style to his first suite of 1909: four movements—a march, then the Song Without Words which is based on a shepherd’s mournful song, played on clarinet.

 The Song of the Blacksmith is the famous movement. It evokes the blacksmith’s shop with sudden, sharp striking blows of the hammer on the anvil—a very rhythmic piece. There’s a melody but the emphasis is on the very pronounced rhythm.

 The fourth movement uses the melody of the English folk song “Greensleeves” in combination with other melodies. It demonstrates Holst’s craftsmanship as a young composer, in his ability to combine different thematic material.

Danza Final (Estancia) by Alberto Ginastera Arranged by David John 

 This is the last movement of a suite of dances that Ginastera pulled from his ballet, Estancia. Originally composed for orchestra, it’s been transcribed for band. Estancia is set in the open plains of Argentina, where the gauchos live on rancherias. The ballet has a love story. This final movement is a frenetic dance with a delirious quality—they are dancing so fast and so long that it’s intoxicating. This is part of the ritual of this Argentine gaucho lifestyle. We might think of it as an Argentine version of an American barn dance of 1880s Pennsylvania.

 There’s a very simple structure, very repetitive. It’s all about the dancing and the energy. It’s because of the unrelenting repetition and the very fast tempo that it is very difficult to play. But it’s a rousing, exciting number, and that’s our closer.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pianist Jeremy Samolesky in Guest Concert

 Pianist Jeremy Samolesky performs a Prokofiev sonata and works by Bach and Chopin in a Guest Artist concert at Humboldt State University on Saturday September 27.

 Dr. Samolesky was featured in a Canadian television documentary on 20th century Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. Among his many solo and chamber pianist performances in North America, Europe and Asia was a recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington, broadcast nationally on American Public Radio’s Performance Today program.  His debut solo CD will be released this fall.

 Originally from Canada, Dr. Samolesky holds two doctoral degrees from the Eastman School of Music, and is currently a professor of piano at Auburn University. He performs as a concerto soloist with orchestras throughout the U.S. and Canada, and is noted for working with living composers to present new works. 

 His program at HSU is scheduled to feature the sonata in A major by Prokofiev, also known as Piano Sonata No. 6, the first of Prokofiev’s three “war sonatas” composed in the 1940s. Other scheduled selections are an aria from Cantata No. 127 by Johann Sebastian Bach, a piano piece by Canadian composer Denis Gougeon, and two pieces by Frederic Chopin: Fantasie in F minor and Etude in B minor. 

 Pianist Jeremy Samolesky performs on Saturday September 27 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, HSU Now, Mad River Union

Guest Artist Jeremy Samolesky: The Program

Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen  from Cantata No. 127 by J.S. Bach/Harold Bauer

Piano-Soleil” from Six Thèmes Solaires (1992) by  Denis Gougeon

 Fantasie in F minor, Op. 49 by Frederic Chopin
 Etude in B minor, Op. 25 no. 10 by Frederic Chopin


Sonata in A major, Op. 82 by Sergei Prokofiev
 I Allegro moderato
 II Allegretto
 III Tempo di valzer lentissimo
 IV Vivace

Guest Artist Biography: Jeremy Samolesky

Jeremy Samolesky, a native of Manitoba, Canada, currently serves as Associate Professor of Piano at Auburn University, where he teaches piano performance majors and serves as Piano Area Coordinator.

Known for his passion for both solo and collaborative performances, Samolesky has appeared in concert as a soloist and chamber pianist throughout the U.S., Canada, Italy, Austria, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Serbia, including a full recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., which was broadcast nationally on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today.”

 As a concerto soloist, Samolesky performs regularly with orchestras throughout the U.S. and Canada, with concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms, and Rachmaninov. Festival appearances include the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Orford Arts Centre (Quebec), the Agassiz Music Festival (Winnipeg), the Courtenay Music Festival (B.C.), the Methow Music Festival (WA), the Adriatic Chamber Music Festival (Bonefro, Italy), and the Chigiana Music Academy in Siena. Broadcasts of his performances have been heard on Seattle’s KING FM, Canada’s CBC, CJOB, WDAZ (ND), and Troy Public Radio (AL). Dr. Samolesky was also featured in a documentary on the piano music of Sergei Prokofiev, produced by the Manitoba Television Network.

Samolesky enjoys maintaining a rigorous performance schedule, with recent concert tours of China and Hong Kong, along with over 75 recitals and masterclasses at universities spanning 15 different states throughout the U.S over the past five years. In the summer of 2013, he was featured as a lecturer and soloist at the World Piano Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia, and also made his third annual residency in Malaysia, sponsored by the Perak Society of Performing Arts.

 Dedicated to the promotion of new music, Samolesky often works directly with living composers in preparing performances of their works, having given recent premieres by composers such as David Maslanka David Plylar, and Carl Vollrath.
Samolesky’s debut solo CD will be released on the Centaur label in the fall of 2014.

 Dr. Samolesky achieved the rare distinction of graduating with two doctoral degrees from the Eastman School of Music: Piano Performance and Literature under the direction of Barry Snyder, and Accompanying and Chamber Music with Jean Barr. Eastman has permitted this double-doctorate just once before in the school’s history.

 In his four years at Eastman, Samolesky garnered many top honors, including the Barr Award, the Barbara M. King Scholarship, the Brooks Smith Scholarship, the “Excellence in Accompanying” award for three years in a row, 1st place in the Kneisel Lieder Competition, and was awarded the Performer’s Certificate for distinguished artistry in performance. He also holds the Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Washington and the Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Manitoba.

As a teacher, Dr. Samolesky’s students are frequent competition winners and regularly receive prestigious scholarships and assistantships at renowned graduate music programs throughout the U.S. For his achievements, he was awarded the 2012 “Excellence in Teaching” award from Auburn University. Samolesky currently serves on the executive board of the Alabama Music Teachers’ Association and would like to thank the Manitoba Arts Council for their continued support throughout his career.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

A Musical Welcome to the New School Year

HSU Music faculty members perform in their annual Welcome Concert to celebrate the new school year on Saturday September 6 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 The planned program includes jazz, percussion, original compositions and a tango ballet as well as pieces by Bach, Brahms and Dvorak. This late afternoon event is followed by a reception in the Music Lobby. 

 This concert also welcomes two new Music faculty members: Daniel Colson (bass) and Joel Cohen (cello.) 

 “The opportunity to collaborate is particularly appealing for the performers,” said music professor Elisabeth Harrington. These collaborations begin with Howard Kaufman, Eugene Novotney and David Penalosa combining on a percussion trio by Penalosa. They include an unusual duo of Dan Aldag (trombone) and Gil Cline (trumpet) on the jazz piece “For Dancers Only” by Sy Oliver.

 Quintet in G Major by Antonin Dvorak is performed by Cindy Moyer and Karen Davy on violin, Sherry Hanson on viola, Kira Weiss on cello and Daniel Colson on bass. These five performers also combine on “Tango Ballet” by famed Argentine composer Astor Piazolla. 

 Virginia Ryder (clarinet) and Robin Miller (piano) join Cindy Moyer for a suite by Darius Milhaud. Joel Cohen (cello) and Elena Casanova (piano) perform music by J.S. Bach and Johannes Brahms.

 Vocalist Elisabeth Harrington and pianist John Chernoff combine on two parts of “Reflections in Time,” a composition by HSU Music professor Brian Post that incorporates poems by HSU faculty. Chernoff also plays two other pieces by Post. 

 The 2014 Welcome concert begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday September 6 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. 

Media: Mad River Union, Eureka Times Standard Urge, HSU Now.

Welcome Concert: The Program

These are the pieces scheduled to be played at the 2014 Welcome Concert on September 6, though not necessarily in performance order.  

Off/On 1 by David Peñalosa

 Howard Kaufman, Quinto, Tumba, and Bell
 Eugene Novotney, Timbales and Percussion
 David Peñalosa, Quinto and Conga

 “In Gratitude” by Brian Post
 John Chernoff, piano

Movements from “Reflections in Time” by  Brian Post
 The Way things work
 Elisabeth Harrington, soprano John Chernoff, piano

Quintet in G Major, Op. 77  by Antonin Dvorak
 Scherzo: Allegro vivace

Tango Ballet by Astor Piazolla (arr. by Jose Bragato)
 Tempo di Tango 
 La Calle Encuentro - Olvido

Cindy Moyer, violin
Karen Davy, violin
Sherry Hanson, viola
Kira Weiss, cello
Daniel Colson, bass

Suite for clarinet, violin, and piano, Op. 157b by Darius Milhaud
 Introduction et Final 

Virginia Ryder, clarinet
Cindy Moyer, violin
Robin Miller, piano

Allemande from Suite # 6 in D by J.S. Bach
Sonata in D major op 76 by Johannes Brahms
Vivace ma non troppo

Joel Cohen, cello
Elena Casanova, piano

"For Dancers Only" by Sy Oliver

 Dan Aldag, trombone
 Gil Cline, trumpet

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Welcome To 2014-15!

As students return to the Humboldt State campus, so does the music!

Check the column to the right for the September schedule, and watch this space for more information soon!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Trails! Humboldt Chorale & U Singers in Last Concert of the School Year 

 The Humboldt Chorale ends the final concert of this school year by singing cowboy songs, most with a Humboldt County connection, in their shared concert with HSU University Singers beginning at 8 p.m. on Sunday May 11.

 “We’re starting with ‘Home on the Range’ and ending with ‘Happy Trails,’” said Chorale director Carol Ryder. For her, it’s “happy trails” in more ways than one. “Since it is my last semester at HSU, I thought it would be a great time to celebrate Humboldt County and my own roots in music.”

 "Happy Trails" is of course the tune by Dale Evans Rogers that she sang with cowboy singer, movie and TV star Roy Rogers. But most of the Chorale’s set features cowboy songs with music composed by HSU professor emeritus Jim Standard and current staff pianist John Chernoff. The lyrics are by Gwen Peterson, rancher and cowboy poet. “Gwen is a friend of Jim’s in Montana,” said Ryder,” and a pretty funny woman.”

 In addition to the songs, Humboldt County rancher, designer and HSU professor emeritus Gerald Beck reads from his autobiographical book, To Be A Horseman.

 In their half of the concert, the HSU University Singers perform Gabriel Faure’s complete Requiem. “The singers would like to dedicate the performance of the Requiem to the memory of the young people who tragically lost their lives in a traffic accident in April,” said director Harley Muilenburg.

 The University Singers will also perform 20th century American composer Randall Thompson’s setting of a Robert Frost poem, “Choose Something Like A Star.” Muilenburg dedicates the performance to Carol Ryder, in recognition of her retirement from HSU.

 The University Singers and Humboldt Chorale perform on Sunday May 11 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door.  Produced by HSU Music Department.

2014 University Singers: (not in order pictured; click image to enlarge) Ana Ceja, Berenice Ceja, Hope Botelho, Cat Clark, Emily Cornelus, Kinara Erickson, Alia Fix, Linnea Hillo, Katie Jumper, Stevy Marquez, Danielle Murray, Gabriela Pelayo, Jessie Rawson, Kallie Sorenson, Jessica Golden, Greata Goshorn, Michelle Green, Erica Luna, Katherine McCall, Skyler McCormick, Eve Ellen Mejla, Andrea Ortiz, Eiko Ujifusa, Steven Flores, Nicholas Hart, Victor Guerrero, Bryant Kellison, Kyle McInnis, David Paden, John Pettlon, Leonardo Simmons, Raul Yepez, Alex Albin, Neil Bost, Cliff Bruhn, Braxton Corbin, Charles Hollowell, Kristofer Lang, Joseph Mayer, Alberto Rodriguez, Justin Santos, Eric Taite, Chris Werner, Clayton Willis.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

From the Duke to Britney with the Jazz Orchestra

 HSU Jazz Orchestra plays a Duke Ellington classic, a brand new arrangement of Horace Silver’s “Peace,” and a Britney Spears tango in Spanish. Sort of. It all happens on Saturday May 10 in Fulkerson Recital Hall. 

Duke Ellington’s Harlem was performed by the Jazz Orchestra in collaboration with the Humboldt Symphony in March, under the direction of Dan Aldag. “This time it’s just the band,” Aldag said, “with the version Ellington originally wrote for his own band.” 

Jazz pianist Horace Silver originally recorded his classic ballad “Peace” with a quartet. David Berger, arranger and conductor of his own jazz orchestra, did a band version. In March, Dan Aldag heard it played by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. “I liked it so much that I immediately contacted Berger and purchased.” The HSU Jazz Orchestra plays it for this concert. 

 Also on the bill is Chick Corea’s “Blue Miles” (arranged by Bob Washut) and “the rhythmically intricate” Alan Ferber track from his Grammy-nominated album March Sublime, called “Kopi Luwak.” 

“The second half of the concert features works by current and former students,” Aldag said. Current trumpeter McKenna Smith sings her original tune, “Be Like Ella,” with the band. She also contributes a spoken word piece to “Pink,” a tune first recorded by the Bobby Sanabria Big Band.

 But the big collaboration revolves around the 2004 global pop hit “Toxic” as recorded by Britney Spears. “Dan Fair, who graduated last year, wrote an arrangement which turns it into a tango,” Aldag said. “One of the band's trombonists, Spanish major Bret Johnson, translated the lyrics into Spanish, and the band's baritone saxophonist, Lauren Strella, sings them.” You'll just have to be there.

 HSU Jazz Orchestra performs on Saturday May 10 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by HSU Music Department.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Humboldt Symphony Features Concerto Competition Winner

 Humboldt Symphony performs Alexander Borodin’s most popular symphony, plus Grieg’s piano concerto and a festive work by Spanish composer Joaquin Turina in two concerts at HSU, Friday evening May 9 and Sunday afternoon May 11 in Fulkerson Recital Hall. 

 Nineteenth century Russian composer Alexander Borodin’s romantic and melodic works influenced later classical and stage musical composers. Humboldt Symphony performs his Symphony No. 2, which became his most popular “because of its vividly rugged harmonies, deft orchestration, and a seemingly inexhaustible fund of energetic, passionate, and above all, Russian themes,” according to former Washington Post classical music critic Andrew Lindemann Malone. 

 The Piano Concerto in A minor by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg begins with what has been called one of the most familiar openings in the concerto repertoire. Like Borodin, he employs folk themes from his native country. The Humboldt Symphony features piano soloist Ryan McGaughey, winner of this year’s Concerto Competition.

 La Procession du Rocio by 20th century Spanish composer Joaquin Turina celebrates a fiesta and ceremonial march. Compared favorably to similar works by Ravel and Debussy, it was so well received by its first audience in 1913 that Turina—who was also conducting it—had to immediately lead the orchestra in playing it again.

 Humboldt Symphony performs on Friday May 9 at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday May 11 at 3 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door.  Conducted by Kenneth Ayoob, produced by HSU Music Department.

Humboldt Symphony Additional Notes

Alexander Borodin Symphony No. 2
Notes by Andrew Lindemann Malone

"Symphony No. 2 in B minor took a long while to compose, as Borodin fit it in between labors on other works and his efforts as a scientist to ensure that women had access to chemistry courses. It was begun in 1869, but the piano score was not complete until 1875, and the orchestral version was not performed until 1877.

That version was revised in 1879 after a poorly received premiere. Yet posterity has made the Symphony No. 2 not only Borodin's most popular symphony, but the most popular symphony written by any member of the nationalist Mighty Handful (Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Mili Balakirev, and Borodin), because of its vividly rugged harmonies, deft orchestration, and a seemingly inexhaustible fund of energetic, passionate, and, above all, Russian themes.

 A program for all but the second movement of the symphony has survived, as Borodin told it to critic Vladimir Stassov. The sonata-form first movement depicts a gathering of Russian knights; it opens with a strong, noble theme played on unison strings, as brasses and winds provide dark color and essay a chivalric-sounding contrasting theme. After a few repetitions of the opening music, a second theme enters, based on motifs from the folk songs "The Terrible Tsar" and "The Nightingale" and distinguished by its easy lyricism.

The development section introduces a gallop rhythm that affects fragments of the themes and lends a knightly feel to the proceedings, leading into a recapitulation whose longer notes and thicker orchestration make it even more emphatic than the exposition. The Prestissimo scherzo that follows uses a sustained brass chord to modulate from B minor to F major (a remote key), and then launches into a succession of quick, bright, lightly scored melodies.

The Trio takes a graceful, winding theme (also derived from the abovementioned folk songs) and runs it through various keys. The Andante third-movement portrays a legendary minstrel named Bayan, and evokes the sound of his zither in the opening bars with harp and pizzicato strings. At first, a warm horn melody dominates, but soon a struggle develops between a nervous, minor-mode motive introduced on the woodwinds and the opening melody.

Finally, the opening melody enters triumphantly in the strings, and leads into a coda that brings back the minstrel evocation; this in turn leads directly into the Allegro finale. This finale depicts a jubilant crowd, using an appropriately buoyant main theme (decorated with generous percussion) and a second theme that begins as a quiet lyric, but soon expands into a celebration itself. A new development theme recalls the symphony's opening music, but this soon yields to a supremely joyous, unstoppable elaboration of the two main themes, whose momentum propels the music through the recapitulation and the coda. Borodin's Symphony No. 2 deserves its exalted position in the annals of the Mighty Handful's orchestral music."

Edvard Grieg Piano Concerto in A Minor First Movement
Note by Don Anderson © Copyright 2014 Toronto Symphony Orchestra

"The first movement boasts one of the most familiar openings in the entire concerto repertoire. Much of its memorability springs from its very simplicity. The movement proper wears a rather melancholy expression, although warmth is amply present as well. A long, taxing solo cadenza near the end says about all there is to say, so Grieg follows it with only the briefest of summings-up. Grieg tapped into the rich heritage of the folk song for much of his music and helped chart a path of Norwegian nationalism and a moving away from Germanic models."

Joaquin Turina – La Procession du Rocio
Note by Joseph Stevenson 

 "This was the first orchestral work by Joaquin Turina. At its premiere in Madrid under the baton of in March 1913, it proved so popular that it had to be repeated on the spot. It is an exotic and colorful portrait of a fiesta in the composer's native Seville, equal in brilliance and orchestral magic to similar works by Ravel or Debussy. The first movement quickly shows scenes from the festival, opening with a seguidilla, then a coplas (oboe) and soleares (viola), before closing with a rather tipsy fandango. The other movement is the religious procession itself, a ceremonial march with interruptions for religious hymns. At the end, church bells peal out and trumpets play the Spanish royal anthem."

Thursday, May 08, 2014

AM Jazz Band Gets Bluesy

 AM Jazz Band gets bluesy for their concert on Thursday May 8 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 On the blue side is “All Blues” by Miles Davis, as well as “Blues in the Closet” by jazz bassist and composer Oscar Pettiford, and “Blue Bossa” by trumpeter and composer Kenny Dorham. Dorham’s jazz standard was first recorded by Joe Henderson. 

 Also on the program are jazz standards by Sonny Rollins (“Doxy”) and hard bop trumpeter Lee Morgan (“The Sidewinder.”) “A Child Is Born” is the most famous tune by jazz trumpeter Thad Jones, known for his Count Basie Band arrangements as well as his own jazz orchestra. 

 The AM Jazz Band performs on Thursday May 8 at 8:30 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by HSU Music Department.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Madrigal and MRT Singers: From Dowland to a cappella Jazz

 Madrigal Singers highlight songs of John Dowland and Mad River Transit adds a cappella jazz to its offerings in a shared spring concert on Sunday May 4 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 John Dowland is perhaps the most famous of the madrigal era composers, especially after Sting recorded an album of his songs. The Madrigal Singers perform solo selections accompanied by HSU alumnus Jason Hall on guitar. “Jason’s superb guitar playing will provide an insight into the Elizabethan Madrigal style of music,” said director Harley Muilenburg.

 In various combinations, the Madrigal Singers perform other Renaissance era songs, including Peter Warlock’s “Pretty Ring Time” and settings by Henry Purcell, Gabriel Faure and Benjamin Britten, with John Chernoff accompanying on keyboards.

 The Mad River Transit singers perform their program of ballads, blues and swing accompanied by a three-piece rhythm section, ranging from Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen to James Taylor and Theolonius Monk. New this year is a student-led a cappella group called Syncopations, which performs two songs recorded by Take Six: “Gold Mine"and "Get Away Jordan.”

The MRT rhythm section is John Chernoff (piano), Ian Taylor (bass) and Thatcher Holvick-Norton (drums.)
Madrigal Singers and Mad River Transit perform on Sunday May 4 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Harley Muilenburg, produced by HSU Music Department.

Madrigal & MRT Singers: Additional Notes

John Dowland was above all the composer of lute songs, publishing his first collection of airs in 1597, followed by a second in 1600 and a third in 1603. He left over 80 secular songs of moving intensity.

 Melancholy was all the rage in Elizabethan England, and John Dowland was the most stylish composer of sad-themed music of his time. "Semper Dowland, semper dolens" was his motto, and much of his music is indeed exquisitely dolorous. Although he was a talented singer, Dowland mainly followed a dual career as a composer and lutenist. He was the period's most renowned and significant composer of lute solos, and ayres and was a gifted writer of consort music. —‘Dowland, semper dolens’ (‘Dowland, always grieving’)—Dowland had a reputation as being a cheerful man, despite his reputation for composing exquisitely melancholy music.

The Madrigal Singers (not in order pictured; click photo to enlarge) are: Tiffany Casparis, Ana Ceja, Stevy Marquez, Linnea Hill, Robyn Strong, Elena Tessler, Kellie Ventura, Erin Corrigan, Danielle Dias, Jessical Golden, Hannah Kelly, Rebeca Ramos, Rosemary Torres, Rae Marcum, Fidel Garcia, Evan Goldsborough, Victor Guerrero, JoeBoy Kitzerow, John Pettlon, Raul Yepez. Dylan Kinser, Jason Hall, Edrees Nassir and Jeremy Rodda.

 Mad River Transit (not in order pictured; click image to enlarge):Hannah Fels, Trina Garrett, Sandy Lindop, Laura Doughty, Kelsey Goldstein, Danielle Murray, Lorena Tamayo, Olivia Bright, Jo Kuzelka, Jessie Rawson, Michelle Green, Kenneth Bridges, Steven Eitzen, Jason Garza, Kyle McInnis, Kobe Thompson, Raymond Alvarez, Dolan Leckliter, Christopher Parreira, Alberto Rodriguez, Corey Tamondong and Braxton Corbin.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Calypso Band and Percussion Ensemble Present Rhythmic Premieres

 The Humboldt State Calypso Band has been around for 28 years, but has never performed a full-length panorama piece composed by one of its own members. At least not until Saturday May 3 at the Van Duzer Theatre. 

 Matt Norman’s “Pandemic,” composed in the classic Panorama style, will premiere that night. That’s in addition to the usual high-energy dance music the Calypso Band always provides. 

 Earlier in the evening, the HSU Percussion Ensemble performs another world premiere: a work by HSU alum Dante De Silva called “Engine Room,” commissioned to celebrate the HSU centennial.

 Director of both ensembles Eugene Novotney calls it “an epic work. Almost every percussion instrument that HSU has in its inventory will be on stage for this performance.” 

 “The piece is both beautiful in its melodic approach, and at times, barbaric in its rhythmic interplay,” Novotney said. “It is a true masterwork for percussion instruments in both its concept and in its vast scope, and it is destined to be a major addition to the repertoire for percussion.”

 The Ensemble also performs “Piru Bole,” a classic composition by John Bergamo, the American percussionist and composer from California Institute of the Arts who died in October. In 1987 he performed this piece on the Fulkerson Recital Hall stage with the HSU Percussion Ensemble. 

 A suite of traditional Mandeng drumming from West Africa and a special presentation of Brazilian samba by the HSU World Percussion Group completes the first half of the concert. 

 In addition to “Pandemic,” the Calypso Band selections in the second half include “Fire Down Below” by Boogsie Sharpe and two pieces by steelband legend Ray Holman: “If We Really Want” and “We Just Can’t Go On Like This.”

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

Friday, May 02, 2014

From the Renaissance to the Blues with the Symphonic Band

 The HSU Symphonic Band follows the centuries from the Renaissance to the blues in its spring concert on Friday May 2 in Fulkerson Recital Hall. 

 “This program is designed to show the full breadth and depth of the wind band,” said Symphonic Band director Kenneth Ayoob.

 It begins with a Renaissance keyboard piece (“Ballo de Granducca” by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck) given the wind band treatment, and makes it way to “Blue Shades” by contemporary American composer Frank Ticheli. “While not a strict blues, this work is heavily influenced by the blues in harmony and melody,” Ayoob said. “Many shades of blue are depicted as well—from bright blue, to dark, to dirty, to hot blue.”

 In between are works by John Phillip Sousa (“Fairest of the Fair”), Percy Grainger (“Children’s March”) and Richard Strauss (“Allerseelen.”) 

 The centerpiece is the Morceau Symphonique by 19th century French composer Alexandre Guilmant which features trombone soloist and HSU music major Craig Hull, winner of this year’s wind instrument concerto competition. 

 The Symphonic Band performs on Friday May 2 in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. An HSU Music Department production.

Symphonic Band Concert Additional Notes

Felix Alexandre Guilmant (1837- 1911)
According to a website dedicated to his memory which includes a list of recordings, he was "one of the greatest organists in the late nineteenth century...  Guilmant was world famous in his day and made three concert trips to the United States of America... Guilmant was a great improviser and a well-known teacher. .. His own oeuvre [as a composer] is large: 94 opus numbers and many unpublished or unnumbered works."

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562 -1621)
According to Classical Net, "he is widely considered to be the greatest of Dutch composers" and "one of the major figures in the transition from Renaissance to Baroque compositional styles."   "Sweelinck was one of the great transitional figures in Western music, known for his formal rigor and theoretical knowledge of the most influential compositional schools of the time."

The piece "Ballo del granduca" refers to an Italian dance composed by Emilio de Cavalieri to be performed at the marriage of Grand Duke Ferdinand of Tuscany.  Other composers did their versions of this dance.

Percy Grainger (1882 –1961)
Grainger was a composer, arranger and a popular pianist of his day.  Born in Australia, he relocated to the United States in 1914.

"Children's March (Over the Hills and Far Away)"demonstrates Grainger's"thorough understanding and effective scoring for wind band... obviously influenced by his period of service in the U.S. Army between 1917/19, having enlisted as a bandsman (2nd Class) in the Coast Artillery Band. A brilliant and extravagant example of this ability is embodied in the Children's March 'especially written to use all the forces of the Coast Artillery Band which I was serving in 1918.' This is one of his earliest wind compositions which required a piano as a n integral part of the ensemble."--Eric Banks. "Children's March is considered to be one of Grainger's most memorable contributions to the band literature."--Dana Perna.

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) 
While Sousa "wrote an incredible number of marches, the one I love is The Fairest of the Fair. He wrote it in 1908 – the only work he composed that year. He wrote this for the Boston Food Fair, and the story goes that he was inspired by a lovely lass he saw, but never met."--Lori Sutherland

Richard Strauss (June 1864 – 1949)

Strauss is considered a leading exponent of late German Romanticism.  In 1962 pianist Glenn Gould called him "the greatest musical figure who has lived in this century."  "Allerseelen " is a love song he composed in 1885, which remains "among the most popular he wrote."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Composers Centennial Concert Celebrates Century of Creativity

 HSU Music Department celebrates 100 years of the university as crucible of creativity with compositions by HSU faculty, staff and alumni in the Composers Centennial Concert on Friday April 25. 

 The premiere of Reflections In Time combines the words of HSU poets Jim Dodge, Eric Barker, Jorie Grahm and Reg White with the music of HSU composition professor Brian Post. It is performed by soprano Elisabeth Harrington and pianist John Chernoff.

 Daniela Mineva performs another Post piece written specifically for a miniature carillon built by HSU music technicians according to a design by John Cage.

 The Vipisa Trio (Cindy Moyer on violin, John Chernoff on piano and Virginia Ryder on saxophone and clarinet) perform music by HSU staff pianist Chernoff and HSU alumni Halim Beere and Dante De Silva.

 Alumnus Ryan MacEvoy-McCullough contributes a four-channel recorded piece called Crossing. Members of the Humboldt Bay Brass Band perform two pieces by its director and HSU professor Gil Cline, including Three Dot Flourish.

 Music professor Eugene Novotny’s Intentions for Percussion Trio is performed by HSU students Neil Bost, Tyler Burkhart and Hector Diaz. 

 Composers Centennial Concert is performed on Friday April 25 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus. Tickets are $10, $5 seniors and students from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door.  Produced by HSU Music department.

Media: Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now

Composers Centennial Concert: Program Notes

The following are notes on some of the selections.

Crossing by Ryan MacEvoy-McCullough
Ryan MacEvoy-McCullough
A 4-channel piece utilizing sounds that are either pre-recorded samples from a piano (playing anything but the keys), a mason jar, a mason jar used on the piano, and a simulated analog synthesizer. All the material has been digitally edited as if I were writing this using tape reels.

Reflections in Time (2013/14) by Brian Post
performed by Elisabeth Harrington (voice) and John Chernoff (piano.)

 1. Trees - Poetry by Eric Barker
 2. Blue Heron - Poetry by Reg White
 3. Revenant – Poetry by Reg White
 4. A Firmer Grasp Of The Obvious - Poetry by Jim Dodge
 5. The Way Things Work - Poetry by Jorie Graham

Composed to commemorate the Humboldt State Centennial. The poems were chosen to reflect elements of Humboldt State University and Humboldt County that were important to many people who have lived here for the last century and will continue to be drawn here in the future.

Caged Bells #2 (2013/14) by J. Brian Post
performed by Daniela Mineva (carillon)
 Written specifically for a miniature carillon designed by John Cage and built by HSU music technicians, this piece is performed with an electronically enhanced recording of chanting Tibetan monks. The recordings represent the pursuit of enlightenment and the carillon represents the achievement of enlightenment.

Piano Rhubarb for violin, alto saxophone and piano by Halim Beere
Mr. Distinguished for violin, alto saxophone, piano and pre-recorded electronics by Dante De Silva
Nocturne by John Chernoff. 

Vipisa Trio
These three pieces will be performed by the Vipisa Trio: Cindy Moyers (violin), Virginia Ryder (saxophone and clarinet) and John Chernoff (piano.)

Halim Beere is an HSU graduate in violin performance and composition.  He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois.
John Chernoff is the staff accompanist at HSU.
Dante De Silva studied composition at HSU for his B.A., UC Santa Cruz for his M.A. and UCLA for his Ph.D. He was the composer-in-residence with the Definiens Project (2005-2007) and the Tonoi Ensemble (2006-2007).

Three Dot Flourish (2002) by Gil Cline
performed by members of the Humboldt Bay Brass Band.
 “Everyone knows the genre “fanfare” so I’ve had some fun devising my own “mini-genre,” the “Flourish.” Whereas a fanfare usually kicks off some event, a flourish has potential not only for that but also for ending some segment, or even as an encore. The short, snappy Three Dot Flourish was written and performed by Brass Consort von Humboldt in 2003 in San Francisco at Grace Cathedral for Herb Caen Days. BCvH specialized in the early brass, including the true natural trumpet of the baroque. We have acquired a set of copies of the 1667 London trumpet by Simon Beale, which we use tonight. Using modern quartal/quintal tones, the music includes a three-dot motif inspired by Caen’s musings in his weekly columns.

 Clok Tok (2007) by Gil Cline
 “Clok Tok” was written for The HSU Commencement Brass Choir, responding to the need for “stretch / filler” while waiting to play the processional Pomp & Circumstance. We accomplish that via improvised, jazz soloing over a straight-beat groove, while using the performance technique, so well-suited to brass, called “bell tones.” The clock reference is partly to passing the time, and also to the talking of the crowd; but mainly to the HSU Quad clock chimes. Everyone on campus knows the hourly clock bell tower theme, that of Big Ben, sounded throughout the day!

INTENTIONS for Percussion Trio (1983/1990) by Eugene Novotney
 Mvt. I. Assumption
 Mvt. II. Proposal
 Mvt. III. Function
Mvt. IV. Design
Performed by Neil Bost, Tyler Burkhart, Hector Diaz.

Composed in 1983 at the University of Illinois while I was a composition student of Ben Johnston, and dedicated to the Percussion Group of Cincinnati. The skills demanded by this composition require the performers to spend many hours expanding their technique on auxiliary percussion instruments that are often considered to be only instruments of coloration. The composition was intended to defy the pre-conceived limits and expose the extended techniques and timbral possibilities of three of my favorite instruments - the triangle, the tambourine, and the piatti.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

   Quintet Tarantino: Ian Taylor, Aaron Laughlin, Thatcher Norton, Alex Espe

Jazz Combos: Traditional and Unusual 

 With instrumental lineups both traditional and unusual, four HSU Jazz Combos perform classic and contemporary tunes plus their own originals on Saturday April 19 at the earlier time of 7 p.m. 

 Quintet Tarantino has a weird name (especially since there are four of them) but a normal combo instrumental array: Aaron Laughlin on guitar, Alex Espy on keyboards, Ian Taylor on bass and and Thatcher Norton on drums. Among their offerings are “Actual Proof” by Herbie Hancock, “Stadium Jazz” by Donny McCaslin and “Space Revealed,” an original tune by Espe. 
Jessica Lurie

But with a unique all-reed instrument lineup, the Meantones do “La Lucce Azura” by Jessica Lurie, “Bugalu Monko” by Enrique Fernandez and Duke Ellington’s classic “Mood Indigo.” The Meantones are Kyle McInnis (alto sax), Abraham Loaiza (alto and tenor saxes), Nick Durant (tenor sax and clarinet) and Lauren Strella (baritone sax.) Kelsey Goldstein is guest vocalist. 

 Five Way Street is Alan Spencer (tenor sax), Josh Foster (trombone), Ryan Woempner (bass) and Kevin Amos (drums.) They play Stevie Wonder’s “Superstititon,” a tune by Alan Spencer and an original by bassist Woempner called “Fire Crayon Drawing.” 
Cab Calloway

 The Jazzmanian Devils play Cab Calloway’s most famous tune, “Minnie the Moocher,” as well as “Mr. PC” by John Coltrane, “Hold On Me” by Esperanza Spalding and “Zoot’s Ms. Manifesto (A Medley.)” The group’s lineup is Jessie Burns on trumpet, Craig Hull on trombone, Colten Sanchez on guitar, Bret Johnson on bass and Forrest Smith on drums. Once again Kelsey Goldstein does guest vocals. 

 HSU Jazz Combos perform Saturday April 19 at 7 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door.  Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by HSU Music Department.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Guitar Ensemble Stringing the Continents Together 

 HSU Guitar Ensemble continues its world music tour with tunes from all seven continents (sort of) in their spring concert on Friday April 18 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 “We will perform famous compositions, modern works by living composers, arrangements of folk music, and do a little improvising as well,” said Guitar Ensemble director and HSU Music professor Nicholas Lambson. “Students took the initiative to put together several of the pieces, including arrangements of jazz, blues and metal pieces.” 

 In various combinations, members of the Guitar Ensemble perform two pieces representing North America (a blues and a Broadway tune), three from South America (from Brazil, Peru and Argentina), and five pieces from western and eastern Europe (including dances from Ireland, Spain and Romania.) 

Philip Houghton’s “Lament” represents Australia, while works from Japan and Indonesia illustrate different styles of Asian music. “An African Puzzle” from Dusan Bogdanovic’s World Music Primer represents that continent. As for the seventh... “To Live is to Die” is a tune by Metallica, an American band that played a concert in Antarctica.

 One piece (“Cote Sud” by contemporary French composer Roland Dyens) features eight guitarists. “This is one of the largest groups we have had involved in one piece,” notes Lambson. “Putting it all together with the big group has been challenging but also a lot of fun. This may also be the last concert for this talented group of guitarists, since several will be graduating, and a few of the alumni performing with us may be moving on as well. I think this piece is a great way to culminate their time here as a part of the HSU Guitar Ensemble and studio, and I am really looking forward to sharing the stage with them for that.” 

The Guitar Ensemble includes Kenneth Bozanich, Sandee Castaneda, Alex Diaz, Jason Hall, Nick Hart, Allen Hernandez, Bryant Kellison, Nicholas Lambson, Kris Lang, Alex Lopez, Jake Masterson, Leo Plummer, Justin Santos, Leonardo Simmons, Charlie Sleep, Rory Urquhart and Greg Willis. 

The HSU Guitar Ensemble performs on Friday April 18 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door.  An HSU Music Department production.

Guitar Ensemble: Director's Preview

This year, the HSU Guitar Ensemble has been focusing on world music. The guitar is a main element in so many musical styles and cultures, and we will actually be representing all seven continents in this concert in one way or another (the pieces representing Antarctica were actually written by a famous American band who played a concert there, but it’s as close as we’re going to get!) We will perform famous compositions, modern works by living composers, arrangements of folk music, and do a little improvising as well.

Students took the initiative to put together a few of the pieces on their own, including arrangements of Jazz, Blues, and Metal pieces. The concert will also feature an octet by the contemporary French composer, Roland Dyens, which incorporates a wide range of styles. This is one of the largest groups we have had involved in one piece, and it has been a major undertaking; each player’s part is on the technical and musical level of a big solo piece, and putting it all together with the big group has been challenging but also a lot of fun. This may also be the last concert for this talented group of guitarists since several will be graduating, and a few of the alumni performing with us may be moving on as well. I think this piece is a great way to culminate their time here as a part of the HSU Guitar Ensemble and studio, and I am really looking forward to sharing the stage with them for that.

There are also a few “non-Western” pieces on the program. The piece based on African music was written by an Eastern European composer who is heavily involved with World Music; he is also one of my old guitar teachers from my years at the SF Conservatory of Music. There are two pieces from Asia – one is a fusion of Japanese folk songs and Western compositional practices, and the other imitates Indonesian Gamelan percussion orchestras both in terms of the actual music and by creating a surprisingly similar timbre using prepared guitar techniques.

--Nicholas Lambson

Guitar Ensemble: Program and Notes

[Names of performers are in bold]

 My Favorite Things – Rogers and Hammerstein, Arranged by Jason Hall
Jason Hall, Kris Lang, Rory Urquhart, Kenneth Bozanich

Jelly Roll Morton
Jelly Blues
– Jelly Roll Morton, Arranged by Greg Willis
 Blues Medley – Arranged by Greg Willis
Greg Willis, Leonardo Simmons, Alex Diaz 


 Brazil: Agua y Vinho by Egberto Gismonti
 Alex Diaz and Jake Masterson
 Xote – Celso Machado
Greg Willis, Leo Plummer, Bryant Kellison, Leonardo Simmons 

Astor Piazzolla
Argentina Tango Suite – Astor Piazzolla
 Justin Santos and Charlie Sleep 

Peru:  Two Andean Folk Songs, Arranged by Maldonado
 Leo Plummer, Sandee Castaneda, Kenneth Bozanich, Alex Lopez, Nick Hart


 Ireland:  Irish Dance – Arranged by Jeremy Sparks
 Kris Lang, Rory Urquhart, Jason Hall, Jake Masterson 

Spain:  Miller’s Dance – Manuel de Falla
 Kris Lang and Jason Hall
Roland Dyens

France:  Cote Sud – Roland Dyens
Nick Lambson, Justin Santos, Jason Hall, Kris Lang, Charlie Sleep, Rory Urquhart, Alex Diaz, Jake Mast 


 Russia:  Andante and Allegro – Igor Stravinsky, Arranged by Theodore Norman Greg Willis and Bryant Kellison

Romania: Romanian Dance – Anton Dvorak, Arranged by Jeremy Sparks
 Kris Lang, Justin Santos, Rory Urquhart, Jason Hall


Lament – Philip Houghton
Jake Masterson and Alex Diaz


 Rhapsody Japan – Shingo Fujii
Shingo Fujii
 Jason Hall and Kris Lang

Indonesia:  Gongan by Bill Kanengiser
 Charlie Sleep, Justin Santos, Jason Hall and Kris Lang


World Music Primer:An African Puzzle by Dusan Bogdanovic
  Justin Santos, Kris Lang, Rory Urquhart


 To Live is to Die – Metallica, Arranged by Jake Masterson
 Bryant Kellison, Jake Masterson, Allen Hernandez


William Kanengiser is an extraordinary guitar soloist, member of the Grammy-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, pedagogue, and professor at the Thornton School of Music at USC. While he is not known for his compositions, these works are sophisticated, highly effective, and exciting pieces. Gongan utilizes prepared guitar techniques, requiring us to alter the sound of the instrument by placing foreign objects on the strings. We are using screws, bolts, washers, foam, and alligator clips for this one, and the effect is truly amazing! Musically, the pentatonic pitch collection is a clear representation of gamelan, and the rhythmic organization does this as well. Different “instruments” will be playing rhythmic cycles of various lengths, and gongs mark important moments where everything aligns. Kanengiser’s work is extremely unique, and a major contribution to the guitar repertoire.

Dusan Bogdanovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1955. He completed his studies in composition and orchestration at the Geneva Conservatory with Pierre Wissmer and Alberto Ginastera, and in guitar performance with Maria Livia São Marcos. Early in his career, he received the only First Prize at the Geneva Competition, and gave a highly acclaimed debut recital in Carnegie Hall in 1977. He has taught at the University of Southern California, San Francisco Conservatory and is currently at the Geneva Conservatory. His performing and recording activities include work with chamber ensembles of diverse stylistic orientations: the De Falla Guitar Trio; a harpsichord and guitar duo with Elaine Comparone; and jazz collaborations with Anthony Cox, Charlie Haden, Milcho Leviev, James Newton, Arto Tuncbayaci, and others.

 Dusan Bogdanovic has recorded nearly 20 albums, and over 70 works have been published. His theoretical work includes polyrhythmic and polymetric studies, as well as a bilingual publication covering three-voice counterpoint and Renaissance improvisation for guitar and Ex Ovo: a guide for perplexed composers and improvisers. He has also collaborated on multi-disciplinary projects involving music, psychology, philosophy and fine arts. World Music Primer clearly displays Bogdanovic’s connection with world music in general. The African Puzzle utilizes three against two cross rhythms, heavy syncopations, and an improvisatory feel, which are all regularly used in that culture. The piece is arranged in small repeated sections which the performers are playing as written all the way through before jumbling the puzzle by improvising which cells they play next.

 Jeremy Sparks was born in London, England. He began his guitar studies under Oswald Rantucci at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Upon receiving his performance degree in 1976 he formed the Buffalo Guitar Quartet. At that time, published music for four guitars was virtually non-existent. To help fill this void, Jeremy Sparks has composed pieces for guitar quartet and has transcribed more than fifty works. He was also mentor to several highly successful guitarists including Jason Vieaux who heads the Cleveland Institute of Music, has toured to world, has recorded multiple albums, and has won extremely competitive competitions including the Guitar Foundation of America Competition. Irish Medley is perhaps his most performed work, which is popular due to the very colorful and effective arrangement. Sparks employs harmonics and percussive effects along with thoughtful placement of voices in terms of range and color; and he does so in service to the music and not for its own sake which makes it all the more effective.

Egberto Amin Gismonti began his formal music studies at the age of six on piano. After studying classical music for 15 years, he went to Paris to study orchestration and analysis with Nadia Boulanger and the composer Jean Barraqué, a disciple of Schoenberg and Webern. After his return to Brazil, Gismonti began to explore other musical genres. He was attracted by Ravel's approach to orchestration and chord voicings, as well as by "choro", a Brazilian instrumental popular music featuring various types of guitars. In order to play this music he learned to play guitar, beginning on the 6-string classical instrument and switching to a ten-stringed guitar in 1973. He spent two years experimenting with different tunings and searching for new sounds. This exploration of timbre is further reflected in his use of kalimbas, Shō, voice, bells, etc.

 By the early '70s, he had laid the groundwork for his current style which incorporated elements drawn from musicians as wide-ranging as Django Reinhardt and Jimi Hendrix. Agua y Vinho translates to “Water and Wine.” It features some very interesting harmonies with an extremely expressive melody, which also ends in an unorthodox whole-tone scale. The arrangement of this work was done for two guitars by Spanish guitar professor, Jesus Saiz-Huedo.

Regarded as the greatest Spanish composer of the twentieth century, Manuel de Falla developed an interest in native Spanish music - in particular Andalusian flamenco - while studying with Felipe Pedrell in Madrid in the late 1890s. From 1907 to 1914 he lived in Paris where he met, and was influenced by, Ravel, Debussy and Dukas. Works such as the ballet El amor brujo and the one-act opera La vida breve are notably nationalistic in character, though a Stravinskian neo-classicism can be heard in works such as the Harpsichord Concerto, composed when he lived in Granada from 1921 to 1939.

Homenaje is his only original guitar work and it is a landmark of 20th century guitar repertoire. However, his works are very frequently performed as arrangements on the guitar. The music is so inspired by the instrument, and by the flamenco tradition, that even his orchestral works suggest strumming, and the voicings of chords are similar to how they would be playing on guitar. In fact, Falla later arranged Homenaje for orchestra and he needed to change very little. The transference or these ballets to the guitar is so easily done, and so convincing, that it is hard to imagine the originals. The Miller’s Dance is from his ballet, The Three Cornered Hat, which features typical Spanish traits such as hemiola, the use of Phrygian and Phrygian Dominant modes, and a heavy emphasis on rhythm. However, Falla blends these traditional traits with contemporary harmonies. The Miller’s Dance is also notable for its clear references to flamenco guitar, and the use of rasgueado strumming techniques.

Melbourne-born composer Phillip Houghton was a relative latecomer to classical music. He spent a year studying painting at Prahran Technical College in 1972, breaking off his fine arts studies to concentrate on music. Houghton studied guitar at the Melba Conservatorium of Music for a year, then privately with noted classical guitarist and teacher Sebastian Jorgenson at the Montsalvat Artists Colony in Eltham, Victoria. Houghton’s compositions reflect the influence of many styles: classical, jazz, rock, ambient and world music, and his work continues to reflect a strong interest in art, mythology and the environment.

Phillip Houghton has written music for both acoustic and electronic media, for theatre, film and dance. He was appointed artist-in-residence at Montsalvat in 1977 and retained that appointment until 1981, the year in which he gave up his career as a guitar recitalist to concentrate on composition. Lament is the second of three pieces for two guitars. Houghton has synesthesia, a condition where sight and sound are intertwined. His scores often have interesting indications, such as including “green” and in this piece, “begin like firmly but gently pushing big doors open, into a world of light.”