Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8 (1915), Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967)
Miniatures, Book 3: Koans (2015), Brent Miller
A Koan is a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment. Each miniature in this collection brings focus to the major influences on my compositional output, but through the lens of Zoltán Kodály’s Sonata for solo cello, Op. 8. Intuition was key in the creation of these pieces; feeling out the relationships between seemingly unrelated composers; sensing the direction of the material; sounding out the order of the movements. These pieces are a conversation between myself and Kodály, Ligeti, Schnittke, Crumb, Tenney, Xenakis, and Pärt. All the spoken text in Miniatures, Book 3: Koans is from The Gateless Gate, a collection of koans compiled in the early13th century by the Chinese Zen master Wumen Huikai. Translations were done by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki and are now public domain. This piece was commissioned and inspired by Hannah Addario-Berry.
Ekpyrotic: Layerings IV (2015), Eric Kenneth Malcolm Clark
Indeterminacy is a fascination of mine, but with certain planned elements involved. My Layerings series explores having a soloist record the same material multiple times, allowing natural human divergence to cause an overlapping of the musical material. I explore the use of miniature clothespins on the first, second and third strings (A, D, G). These preparations create bell tones, almost like a gamelan in timbre. Repetition is an important aspect of this section, as it allows the diverging lines to evolve more. The vocal element has rhythms but with suggested pitch; a midpoint line is used to suggest what part of the performer's register should be vocalized, so each recorded layer is different in pitch vocally as well. As for the title of the work, Ekpyrotic, I chose this as a form of a multiverse, where different realities may exist in an infinite number of different universes. From Wikipedia: “the ekpyrotic model of the universe is an alternative to the standard cosmic inflation model. The name comes from the Stoic term ekpyrosis meaning conflagration or in Stoic usage "conversion into fire"...(it) maintains that the universe did not start in a singularity, but came about from the collision of two branes...(it) is cyclic, though collisions between branes are rare on the time scale of the expansion of the universe to a nearly featureless flat expanse.”
Myth's Daughter (2015), Lisa Renée Coons
Myth’s Daughter was born of fairytales – those my mother read from a discolored and cracked hardcover edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. The book, its illustrations stark and colorless compared to contemporary children’s books, was my favorite for bedtime stories. Some were short and sad, some contained long quests drawn out by seemingly impossible challenges, but the best followed pious maidens faced with hardships intended to test their very goodness. My mother, concerned that my sister and I would grow up overvaluing beauty and romantic love, told us that we were strong and smart, rather than beautiful. She read us tragedies as well as those where all ended well. But the pull of the handsome prince and the happy ending were too strong; we were seduced.This work for cello and video was created in collaboration with Hannah Addario-Berry. She whispers fragments of the Grimm’s stories, which are interrupted by increasingly virtuosic melodic passages. The opening of the piece begins with an innocent and playful approach to the stories, a half-remembered child from the past playing in the video as the adult woman performs on stage. But the remembered self fades as the piece progresses, and the little girl disappears. Many thanks to Lyra Flamson for her talented on-screen performance and to Melissa Flamson for her help and support creating video.
Calor (2015), Jerry Liu
Calor is the Latin word for “heat.” Like heat of a flame, the music flickers between smoldering drowsiness and fiery momentum. Stemless noteheads and meterless measures give the performer freedom to linger or intensify as they see fit, with spacings between noteheads guiding the musician toward the composer’s intent.
Lands End (2015), Alisa Rose
Lands End is about traversing the Lands End trail, which is near my home and Hannah’s in the Richmond district of San Francisco. I mapped the tonality of the piece to the topography of a short section of the trail that leaves from the city, crosses the tops of cliffs and then descends to a rocky beach. The piece is about the physical feeling of walking this trail as well as the emotional feeling of this path that leaves from an urban setting and quickly takes one somewhere that feels natural and untamed. In old-time American fiddling there is a history of alternate tunings that give a different resonance and color of sound to the fiddle, and allow the fiddler to propel the rhythm by using many open strings as drones and drums. In Lands End I incorporated some of these rhythmic bowings to describe my physical feeling of traversing the trail - the buoyancy of walking down the dirt path, the different rhythms of one’s feet ascending or descending stairs, as well as pauses to overlook at the waves breaking far below or to look upward at the birds circling.