Saturday, March 31, 2007

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Nicholas Lambson

Nicholas Lambson plays classical guitar, including selections from his forthcoming CD, in a Faculty Artists Series concert on Saturday March 31 at 8 PM in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. $8 general, $3 students and seniors. Tickets from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door.
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Nicholas Lambson Reconnects in First HSU Concert

In his first local concert, classical guitarist and HSU Music faculty newcomer Nicholas Lambson is reconnecting, especially to people who influenced him, even when he didn’t realize it.

“I wanted to pay homage to the teachers and influences in my musical development,” Lambson said. He will pay tribute to the first classical guitarist he saw play: the late Terry Graves, at the University of Redlands. But he will also play a composition by a man he never knew: his father.

Lambson’s parents divorced when he was two years old, and he didn’t see his father after he was about seven. “I knew he had something to do with music,” but Lambson had already himself begun playing classical guitar when he discovered that his father composed for the instrument and was himself a guitarist. “When I found out he was a guitar player it freaked me out,” Lambson recalls.

He reconnected with his father in 2000. “I called him out of the blue, and drove to Utah to see him. I hung out with him for a weekend, and we got acquainted, and have been in touch ever since.”

His father is composer Stanley Anthony Funicelli. “When I was there, and discovered what his career was all about, I wanted to see what he had written. So he gave me basically everything he’d written for the guitar, and I’ve been sifting through it ever since. There were a few pieces I immediately gravitated to, and I’m playing one of them in the program here. I may record it next year.” Funicelli has also begun composing pieces especially for his son.

In addition to the Funicelli piece, Etude No. 1, “Stormsong” in E, Lambson will play selections by Benjamin Britten, Dusan Bogdanovic, Fernando Sor, Moreno Torroba, Leo Brouwer, Manuel Maria Ponce, Phillip Houghton and Manuel DeFalla.

In addition to teaching in the HSU Music department and Music Academy, Nicholas Lambson performs throughout California. His first solo guitar album will be released later this year.

He recently completed his Masters at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under David Tanenbaum and Dusan Bogdanovic. He graduated with honors with a Bachelor degree in Guitar Performance and Recording Arts from Cal State San Bernardino.

Nicholas Lambson’s local debut is a Faculty Artist Series concert on Saturday, March 31 at 8 PM in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. $8 general, $3 students and seniors. Tickets from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door.

Media: Eureka Reporter "Spotlight."
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The Program

Six Airs, Op.19 from the Magic Flute (1824) by Fernando Sor

Nocturno in A minor (1926) by Moreno Torroba (1891 – 1982)

Nocturnal, Op.70 after John Dowland (1963)by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

Prelude 6 in A Major (1929) by Manuel Maria Ponce (1882 - 1948)

Mysterious Habitats (1994) by Dusan Bogdanovic (b.1955)

Paisaje Cubano con Campanas (1986) by Leo Brouwer (b.1939)
Homenaje (1920) by Manuel DeFalla (1876 - 1946)

Etude No. 1, “Stormsong” in E (1988) by Stan Funicelli (b.1948)

Stele (1989) by Phillip Houghton (b.1954)
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Notes on Composers

Fernando Sor (1778-1839)

One of the guitar’s greatest composers and performers, Fernando Sor was born Josesph Fernando Macari Sors in Barcelona, Spain in 1778. He received his first musical education in singing, harmony and counterpoint at the monastery Escolania at Montserrat. As a child, Sor had played his father’s guitar, and in the monastery he studied organ, violin and also singing.

At the age of 19, Sor presented his first opera in the Barcelona Theater. When the French invaded Spain, Sor came into contact with many French musicians in Madrid. In 1813, when the French left Spain after defeat, Sor left also and made his new home in Paris. After spending several years in London and Russia, Sor eventually returned to Paris where he died in 1839. Sor left a catalogue of over 400 pieces for the guitar including a method, studies, fantasies, themes with variations, and sonatas. Sor was also one of the few guitar-composers who was well-known in his lifetime for his non-guitar compositions including ballets, orchestral works, songs, piano works, and more. His ballet Cendrillon was performed with great success at the Kings Theatre in 1822, in Paris the following year, and then in Moscow.

In 1819, the first London performance of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute had created a sensation. Sor was in London at the time and seems to have been caught up in the enthusiasm. He composed his celebrated Op.9 Variations on “Oh caro armonia” around 1820-21 and performed them with some success. It is likely that Six Airs choisis de l’Opéra de Mozart: Il Flauto Magico, Op.19 were part of the phenomenon. The themes, not the best known in the opera, are Marche réligieuse, Fuggite o voi beltáfallace, Giú fan ritorno I Geny amici, O dolce armonia, Se potesse un suono, and the chorus Grand’ Isi, grand’ Osiri.

Moreno Torroba (1891 – 1982)

Among the many aspirations Andrés Segovia had for himself and the guitar was to create a modern repertoire in association with notable orchestral and instrumental composers. The first such composer to contribute to what is now referred to as the “Segovian repertoire” was a young Moreno Torroba. The Nocturno was one of the first pieces Torroba wrote for Segovia, featuring evanescent figurations in its outer sections and a somber central episode; it is deeply expressive. Almost all of his nearly one hundred works for guitar are short dance-like numbers, but there are also more ambitious works including his concertos. Torroba’s use of the Spanish musical language is often more in the spirit of fiesta than the fiery passion of flamenco or the soulful melancholy of the cante hondo (the “deep song” of the Gypsies).

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

The tenor, Peter Pears (1910-1986) was Britten’s loved companion, professionally and personally, for much of his mature life. Pears frequently collaborated with the illustrious Julian Bream on lute. This collaboration complimented Britten’s fondness for Elizabethan song, and Bream’s incessant pleas for a guitar work were eventually satisfied in this vein. Several other works by Britten can be traced to institutional and personal commissions and spontaneous expressions of friendship for other musicians. Julian Bream had to wait “a good ten years” for Nocturnal but the music came! The work was premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1963.

The Nocturnal is a cornerstone of the 20th century repertoire and yet Britten originally wanted to write a piece for lute. Thus, it is a series of seven variations and a passacaglia on the song Come, heavy sleep by John Dowland, a setting of which appears at the end of the cycle. It can be viewed as a reverse theme and variation form, and is not unlike his Lachrymae, Op.48 for viola and piano, also based on a Dowland song. In the Nocturnal, originally called Night Fancy, Britten is concerned with depicting the various psychological moods and qualities of sleep, a fascination that he held throughout much of his life. A strong parallel is suggested between sleep and death here and is immediately recognizable in the original Dowland song upon which the Nocturnal is based.

Each variation has a descriptive title, and the Passacaglia can be seen as the main element of the piece, building impetus with an obsessive reiteration of the bass theme, itself derived from an interior voice heard at the beginning of Dowland’s song. This is a seminal work for the guitar in many respects: in its dimensions and formal design, high intellectual content, in its notational, textural and formal innovations, and above all, its dramatic and expressive power.
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Notes on Composers Continued

Manuel Maria Ponce (1882 – 1948)

Ponce was a leading exponent of musical nationalism in Mexico, and it would not be unreasonable to proclaim him Mexico’s greatest composer.

Ponce labored several years on the set of Twenty-Four Preludes, completing them in 1929. Due to global economic depression, only the first twelve found their way into publication in 1930. Nearly half of a century later, the Mexican guitarist Miguel Alcázar found most of the remaining pieces among the composer’s manuscripts. The set appear to have included one piece in each major and minor key. Unable to find a prelude (No. 3) in G among Ponce’s manuscripts, Alcazar substituted a piece of variations on a theme by Cabezón. The prelude on this program (No. 6) is an inventive and lyrical piece evocative of Spain.

Leo Brouwer (b.1939)

The composer, guitarist and conductor Leo Brouwer Mezquida was born in Havana, Cuba in 1939 into a family of musicians. Brouwer went on to specialize in composition, studying at the Julliard School. It is possible to divide Brouwer’s compositional career into three periods. The first started in 1954 with a series of pieces that explored the resources of the guitar in works that combined traditional classical forms with Cuban nationalistic inspiration. In the 1960’s, after the Cuban revolution, he became familiar with the work of avant-garde composers such as Penderecki and Bussotti while attending the Warsaw Autumn Festival in 1961. Brouwer was the first Cuban composer to make use of various modern techniques including elements of post-serialism, aleatory, and open forms.

The late 1970’s brought a third period described by Brouwer as hyper-romanticism, a return to Afro-Cuban roots coupled with traditional technique and minimalism. Paisaje Cubano con Campanas is a fascinating piece from his third period and is in four parts. Brouwer uses repeated fragments, harmonics and some special effects, such as simultaneous tapping of the fingerboard with both the left and right hands, to create a unique atmosphere.

Manuel de Falla (1876 – 1946)

Manuel de Falla was a true Andalusian who was born in Cadiz and settled in Granada in 1919. While many of his pieces have been arranged for guitar, Homenaje is his only original guitar work.

After the death of Claude Debussy in 1918, Falla was asked to write an article for the memorial issue of Revue musical. He did so and added a piece of music, the Homenaje, which simultaneously satisfied guitarist Miguel Llobet’s earlier request for a work. Falla had no detailed knowledge of the workings of the guitar but he borrowed one and, after only two weeks, he produced this work. While brief, this habanera, as guitarist Julian Bream has said, gives the feeling of being much longer than it is, such is the spell it casts. Near the end, Falla inserts a quotation from Debussy’s Soirée dans Grenade, a memory of his evening meeting with its composer in that city. Homenaje is a landmark of 20th century guitar repertoire not only due to its musical integrity, but also due to the fact that nearly every note in the score has a particular articulation or effect placed upon it.

Stan Funicelli

At present Funicelli’s catalogue numbers over 500 original works, including 6 Symphonies, 7 Sonatas for Unaccompanied violin, 5 Sonatas and 7 Sonatinas, 14 String quartets as well as numerous other works for solo guitar.

During a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, I had a chance to catch up with my father in 2000 for the first time in over a decade. During this trip, as a young guitarist, I discovered the vast musical career he had achieved. Prior to this meeting, the subject and scope of his musical endeavors were somewhat unclear to me. I discovered that his native instrument was the guitar, and that he had composed a wealth of great music for it. I have played a number of his works, all indelibly stamped with his artistic voice and technical knowledge of the instrument. This particular Etude has obvious merit for a concert setting. While exploring arpeggio technique and exploiting the textural resources of the instrument, it also programmatically invokes the imagery of a storm in terms of color and power.

Dusan Bogdanovic (born 1955)

Born in Yugoslavia, he completed his studies of composition and orchestration at the Geneva Conservatory with P. Wissmer and A. Ginastera, and in guitar performance with M.L.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 Geneva Conservatory and the University of Southern California and is presently engaged by the San Francisco Conservatory.

A richly gifted composer, improviser and guitarist, Dusan Bogdanovic has explored musical languages that are reflected in his style today- a unique synthesis of classical, jazz and ethnic music. . He has over fifty published compositions ranging from guitar and piano solo works to chamber and orchestral ensembles, as well as close to twenty recordings ranging from Bach Trio Sonatas to contemporary works. His theoretical work for guitar, at Berben Editions, includes Polyrhythmic and Polymetric Studies, as well as a bilingual publication covering three- voice counterpoint and Renaissance improvisation with a structural analysis of motivic metamorphoses in composition and improvisation.

Phillip Houghton (b.1954)

Originally trained as an artist, Houghton began music studies at the age of 20. As a guitarist Phillip toured extensively and was recorded by the ABC before deciding in 1980 to leave performance and concentrate on composition.

As a composer Phillip is self taught and his compositions reflect the influence of many styles: classical, jazz, rock, ambient and world music. His early influences include the music of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Gryphon, Gong, Miles Davis, Satie, Debussy, Ravel, Riley, Crumb and Eno, while his work continues to reflect a strong interest in art, mythology and the environment.

At the 1990 Adelaide Festival, John Williams premiered Houghton's work for guitar solo 'Stele'. This performance was recorded and televised by ABC Tv. This piece appears on the John Williams CD 'The Guitarist'. Stele is inspired by the Grecian landscape and Greek mythology and in particular by various forms of classical sculpture.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Robert Elfline
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Robert Elfline

Solo piano from Bach to the avant-garde performed by Robert Elfline in an HSU Faculty Artist Series concert on Saturday March 24 at 8 PM in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. $8 general, $3 students and seniors. Tickets from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door.
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Time Curves on—and in—the piano with Robert Elfline in concert

“The Time Curve Preludes” is one of the unusual piano pieces HSU Music instructor Robert Elfline will play in concert at Fulkerson Hall, but it turns out to be only one of the ways time curves during this program.

The evening begins with pieces by familiar names—a prelude from The Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach, early pieces by Johannes Brahms and a Beethoven sonata.

But after intermission, Elfline does not immediately return to the keyboard. Instead he goes “under the hood,” inside the piano to manipulate strings directly to perform two works by modern American composers.

These “Two Pieces for String Piano” are by American composer Henry Cowell. “He experimented with what’s called ‘extended technique,’” Elfline explained, which can produce very different musical effects. “The Banshee,” the first Elfline will play, “has this really eerie ghostlike quality.” For “Aeolean Harp,” “I silently depress keys on the keyboard but strum the strings on the inside of the piano. It creates a harp-like sound.”

Famed composer Virgil Thompson praised Henry Cowell’s work by noting that “No other composer of our time has produced a body of works so radical and so normal.”

Then back to the keyboard for The Time Curve Preludes by contemporary American composer William Duckworth. “These are neat little pieces based on a Fibonacci sequence,” Elfline said. Math literates as well as fans of The Da Vinci Code will know that in a Fibonacci sequence, each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. “In these pieces, the structures gradually compress or gradually expand, creating this funny sensation that time is bending.” The Time Curve Preludes is considered the first “post-minimalist” work. They typically combine the minimalist procedures of addition and subtraction with influences from world music.

Then time curves back again as Elfline returns to the keyboard to perform an early twentieth century sonata by Czech composer Leos Janacek. It tells the story of a worker who was killed during a political demonstration supporting a Czech university.

“All of the pieces have a sense of going on a journey,” Elfline said of his concert program. “They all have a narrative quality. The first Brahms piece is from a narrative poem. The Beethoven sonata is thought by many to represent the journey of his recent long illness and then his recovery. There’s even a narrative quality in the shorter journeys in the pieces by Cowell and Duckworth. And then the last piece deals with the ultimate journey we all must take.”

Though the program appears to be chronological, there are some time curves within it. “It starts with Bach in about 1750, then to Brahms in about 1870, but then back to Beethoven in the 1820s. The second half begins in 1905, then 1977, then back to 1905 in a very different style.”

The Robert Elfline concert begins at 8 PM on Saturday March 24 is in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door are $8 general, $3 students/seniors. This is a Faculty Artist Series concert, with proceeds to help fund scholarships for HSU music students.
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The Program

From The Well-Tempered Clavier, vol. II by Johann Sebastian Bach:
Prelude and Fugue in E-Flat Major, BWV 876.

From Four Ballades, op. 10 by Johannes Brahms
I. Andante (After the Scottish Ballad “Edward”)
II. Andante – Allegro ma non troppo – Molto Staccato e leggiero

Sonata no. 31 in A-Flat Major, op. 110 by Ludwig van Beethoven


Two Pieces for String Piano by Henry Cowell:
The Banshee
Aeolean Harp

From The Time Curve Preludes by William Duckworth:

Sonata (“1.X.1905”) by Leos Janacek
I. The Presentiment
II. The Death

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Josh Nelson rehearses his woodwind quintet for the Composers Concert.
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Composers Concert

“Rites of Passage,” chamber works composed by HSU alumnus Dante De Silva and graduating HSU student composers will be presented on Saturday, March 3 at 8 PM in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. $6 general, $2 students and seniors, free to HSU students with ID. Tickets from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. An HSU Dept. of Music performance, directed by Brian Post.

For computer generated electronic works like those of Composer
Concert composer Dante De Silva, this is what the "instrument"
looks like.
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Creativity Abounds with HSU student composers’” Rites of Passage”

The Composers Concert is a showcase each semester for original music written by students studying composition in the HSU Music Department, as well as by faculty and alumni. But this one is a little different.

“It’s called ‘Rites of Passage’ because for five of the six students, it will be their last group recital here,” said HSU Music professor J. Brian Post. “They’re graduating this spring, and after this concert they’ll have only individual recitals. For me as their composition instructor, this event is very exciting. I’ve worked with each of these students for two years now, and it’s great to see their development and how they’ve found their voices as composers.”

Among the new works being played at Fulkerson Recital Hall on March 3 is a saxophone duet by student Jeannette Kyle. “Her plan of departure for this piece was to use both jazz and classical styles,” Post said. “At first the two styles are separate within the piece, but eventually they meld together.”

Graduating senior Josh Nelson will premiere a woodwind quintet called “The Nixie of the Mill Pond,” which will be conducted by Paul Cummings of the HSU Music Department faculty “It’s a multi-movement piece based on one of the Grimm fairy tales that Josh read to his daughter,” Post said.

Other students whose work will be performed are Youn Joo Sim, Danny Brown, Jon Walton and Mark Jensen.

The featured composer for the recital is HSU alumnus Dante De Silva, who is currently completing his doctorate in composition at UCLA. Two arias composed by Brian Post will also be performed.

That these new works are being presented together for the first and last time makes this a special experience for the audience. “Most of the pieces are chamber works, including string quartets, but there will also be some electronic music,” Post said. “There’s an eclectic blend of compositional styles and instrumentation that adds to this unique event. ”