Gongan by Bill Kanengiser
Performers: Charlie Sleep, Justin Santos, Jason Hall, and Kris Lang.
World Music Primer by Dusan Bogdanovic
1. Balkanska Petica (Balkan Five)
Justin Santos and Rory Urquhart
3. Auld Lang Syne
4. Makedonsko Devojce (Macedonian Lass)
Rory Urquhart, Jake Masterson, Nick Hart
5. Hsiao Pai Ts'ai (Little Cabbage)
6. An African Puzzle
Justin Santos, Kris Lang, Rory Urquhart
Irish Dance-- Traditional Arr. by Jeremy Sparks
Kris Lang, Rory Urquhart, Greg Willis, Jake Masterson
Agua y Vinho by Egberto Gismonti Alex Diaz and Jake Masterson
Easy Winners by Scott Joplin
Greg Willis, Alex Diaz, Leonardo Simmons
Danza del Corregidor by Manuel de Falla
Jason Hall, Justin Santos, Charlie Sleep
Kris Lang and Jason Hall
Danza del Juego de Amor
Justin Santos, Charlie Sleep, and Nick Lambson
by Nicholas Lambson
This year, the HSU Guitar Ensemble will perform music from around the world. The guitar is a main element in so many musical styles and cultures, and our concerts will reflect that diversity.
There are also a few “non-Western” pieces arranged for guitar, including some short works based on music from Africa, China, and Japan. We are also doing another prepared guitar piece where we place various objects on the strings to change the sound of the instrument. Last year we performed a piece that imitated an African thumb piano, or mbira, and our new piece imitates Indonesian Gamelan orchestras.
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.
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, though the Balkan and Macedonian works in this collection are the most unique to him, being from that region. Those pieces feature odd rhythms (5/8 and 7/8), syncopations, and ornaments, traits were are often found in folk traditions of Eastern Europe.
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, and composed music for four guitars, which was virtually non-existent at that time..
Sparks was also mentor to several highly successful guitarists including Jason Vieaux who heads the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has toured the world, recorded multiple albums, and won the Guitar Foundation of America Competition, among others.
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.
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.
Joplin also penned the operas Guest of Honor and Treemonisha, the latter of which was given a full production treatment in the 1970s film, The Sting, which brought The Entertainer back to public awareness. Joplin was awarded a special posthumous Pulitzer Prize for “contributions to American music” in 1976.
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.
All of Falla’s works on our program are from ballets. Danza del Corregidor and the Miller’s Dance are both from The Three Cornered Hat, and Danza del Juego de Amor is from El Amor Brujo. Each work 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. Danza del Juego de Amor is an excellent example of this. Danza del Corregidor is perhaps more in line with the folk tradition, and the Miller’s Dance is notable for its clear references to flamenco guitar, and the use of rasgueado strumming techniques.