Friday, April 18, 2014

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.”

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