"Addario-Berry has mastered the art of getting every note to speak to the attentive listener... the freshness of her approach to the Opus 8 sonata not only deserves but also demands attention from anyone interested in this piece." -Examiner.com
Celebrating Zoltán Kodály's Sonata for Solo Cello
One hundred years ago, Zoltán Kodály composed his Sonata for Solo Cello, one of the most significant works written for the instrument since the Bach Suites. In celebration of this centenary, cellist Hannah Addario-Berry has created a program that showcases the 1915 Sonata with companion works created by the dynamic young composers Lisa Renée Coons, Brent Miller, Eric KM Clark, Alisa Rose, Jerry Liu, and Gloria Justen. Scordatura was presented in 2015 in a solo concert tour around the United States and Canada. Scordatura was released on the Aerocade Music label in May 2016, and is now available for purchase.
Zoltán Kodály is one of the most revered composers in the history of Hungary. Together with his friend and countryman Béla Bartok, he helped pioneer the field of ethnomusicology, traveling to remote villages and recording their songs as early as 1905. In addition, Kodály made significant contributions to the field of music education, to the extent of developing a unique approach known as the Kodály Method, still in use today. In 1915 he composed his Sonata for Solo Cello, Opus 8, and predicted that “In 25 years no cellist will be accepted who has not played it.” Indeed, by 1956 the Sonata had become an obligatory piece for the Casals Competition in Mexico City.
The work poses immense technical and musical challenges to the performer, using the extreme extent of the cello’s range and changing the tuning of the lower strings to deepen the tone. This deliberately altered tuning, or “scordatura”, enables rich harmonic possibilities. The piece is at times dramatic, melancholy, exuberant, and haunting. The cello often doubles as soloist and orchestra, bowing long melodic lines while simultaneously plucking rhythmical accompaniments. These technicalities are not an end unto themselves, simply the means for carrying the listener on a musical journey to the heart of historical Hungary.
Six talented composers have created short solo cello pieces inspired by the 1915 Kodály Sonata. The new works are scored for the same altered tuning used by Kodály.
Lisa Renée Coons is a composer/sound artist with a special affinity to collaboration and experimentation. Presently an assistant professor of composition at Western Michigan University, Lisa Renee received her Phd in Composition for Princeton University,with additional studies at SUNY Stony Brook and UMKC. Recent collaborators include the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the American Composers Orchestra, The California E.A.R. Unit, Iktus Percussion Ensemble, and Dither Quartet. She is a member of the composers collective called, simply, The Collected.
Los Angeles-based violinist and composer Eric KM Clark is a specialist in new and experimental music. He has recorded and performed an eclectic range of music around the world, while his compositions have been noted as “an exhilarating and occasionally confounding exercise in divergence (and) confluence...” (Signal to Noise). Eric's compositions have been featured at many venues and festivals, including Western Front, REDCAT and the Bang On A Can Marathon. He co-founded and co-directs the experimental music ensemble Southland Ensemble; and co-founded the wulf, a successful arts venue located in downtown Los Angeles.
Composer, violinist, and improviser Alisa Rose is a modern musician who easily navigates between many musical styles. With roots in classical music as well as American traditional music, Alisa is a member of the genre-bending Real Vocal String Quartet, funk/bluegrass band Supermule, and the silent film scoring Club Foot Orchestra. Alisa studies with San Francisco Conservatory of Music composer David Garner, and her compositions have been performed by Quartet San Francisco, 49 Special, and San Francisco City Church in addition to her current groups, as well as published by String Letter Publishing, and recently recorded by Sqwonk.
Brent Miller is a composer, performer, and arts administrator based in San Francisco, CA. He studied composition at the University of Arkansas and University of Missouri-Kansas City. Recent projects include works for Rova Saxophone Quartet, violinist Eric KM Clark (EAR Unit), Dither Electric Guitar Quartet, and Sqwonk. Brent has been the featured guest composer at the Cape Fear New Music Festival and a guest lecturer at Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University. He is the Co-founder and Managing Director of San Francisco's Center for New Music.
Jerry Liu is a classically trained cellist and composer based in San Francisco. Utilizing his experience and knowledge of the instrument, he composes exclusively for the cello. His composition style is reflected by a quirky and rebellious personality. Liu hopes to expand the cello repertoire and create music that is accessible to players, audience, and various venues. He founded JGC Publishing Company in 2013, and has been distributing his works worldwide.
Gloria Justen is a versatile violinist and composer who works and plays in solo, chamber, symphonic and electronic settings. As a violinist she has performed and toured internationally with The Philadelphia Orchestra and The San Francisco Symphony, as well as touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble and playing works by many other contemporary composers. She has also contributed to numerous albums by popular artists. Her compositions have been performed by chamber orchestras in Philadelphia and San Francisco, and she has released a CD called Four-Stringed Voice: music for solo violin. On the digital side, Gloria has created surround sound collages and pieces for electric violin. Gloria performs and composes using traditional instruments and methods side by side with computer audio techniques and electric instruments.