SAN FRANCISCO COMPOSERS CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
Mark Alburger, Music Director
Tenth Anniversary Gala
8pm, Saturday, June 9, 2012
Old First Church, San Francisco, CA
Mark Alburger and Martha Stoddard, conducting
Collage (2011) (Carla Brooke)
"Saga" Overture (2012)
Michael A. Kimbell
Concertino for C Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra (2012)
Andante un poco adagio
The Mystic Trumpeter (2009) (Walt Whitman)
Points of Reference (2012)
Greeting Prelude (1955)
Triple Concerto for Bassoon, Contrabassoon, and Harp
("Family"), Op. 201 (2012)
Solar Wind II (2011)
SAN FRANCISCO COMPOSERS CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
Mark Alburger - Music Director and Conductor
Erling Wold - Associate Music Director
John Kendall Bailey - Associate Conductor
Martha Stoddard - Associate Conductor
Piccolo, Alto Flute
MARK ALBURGER (b. April 2, 1957, Upper Darby, PA) studied with Gerald Levinson and Joan Panetti at Swarthmore College (B.A.), Karl Kohn at Pomona College, Jules Langert at Dominican University (M.A.), Tom Flaherty and Christopher Yavelow at Claremont Graduate University (Ph.D.), and Terry Riley. He is Founder and Music Director of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra, Conductor of San Francisco Cabaret Opera / Goat Hall Productions, and Instructor in Music Literature and Theory at Diablo Valley College. As Editor-Publisher of 21st-Century Music Monthly Journal (21st-centurymusic.com and 21st-centurymusic.blogspot.com), Alburger has interviewed many composers, including Charles Amirkhanian, Earle Brown, George Crumb, Alan Hovhaness, Steve Mackey, Meredith Monk, and Pauline Oliveros. He has recently updated and expanded the articles on John Adams and Philip Glass for Grove Online and The Grove Dictionary of American Music, Second Edition. Alburger has been the recipient of many honors, awards, and commissions -- including yearly ASCAP Awards; grants from Meet the Composer, the American Composers Forum, MetLife, and Theatre Bay Area; funding from the Marra, Zellerbach, Hewlett, and Getty Foundations; and performances by ensembles and orchestras throughout the United States. Alburger's concert and dramatic compositions combine atonal, collage, neoclassic, pop, and postminimal sensibilities -- often in overall frameworks troped on pre-existent material. His complete works (203 opus numbers to date, including 16 concerti, 20 operas, nine symphonies, 12-hours-and-counting opera-oratorio The Bible, and Boccaccio's The Decameron) are being issued on recordings from New Music. 500+ videos of his work may be found on the DrMarkAlburger YouTube channel, as well as on many other websites.
TRIPLE CONCERTO FOR BASSOON, CONTRABASSOON, AND HARP ("FAMILY"), Op. 201 (2012), was written for and is dedicated to Michael, Lori, and Samantha Garvey -- in thanks for their wonderful work with San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra and the Diablo Valley College Philharmonic over many years. The work is modally mapped over Ludwig van Beethoven's Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano, and takes its angular and contrapuntal sensibilities from Igor Stravinsky, Anton Webern, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Steve Reich.
JOHN BEEMAN studied with Peter Fricker and William Bergsma at the University of Washington where he received his Master’s degree. His first opera, The Great American Dinner Table was produced on National Public Radio. Orchestral works have been performed by the Fremont-Newark Philharmonic, Santa Rosa Symphony, and the Peninsula Symphony. Mr. Beeman has attended the Ernest Bloch Composers’ Symposium, the Bard Composer-Conductor program, the Oxford Summer Institutes, and the Oregon Bach Festival and has received awards through Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, and ASCAP. Compositions have been performed by Ensemble Sorelle, the Mission Chamber Orchestra, the Ives Quartet, Fireworks Ensemble, Paul Dresher, the Oregon Repertory Singers and Schola Cantorum of San Francisco.
COLLAGE is a set of poems written by Carla Brooke that has been transformed into a song cycle for soprano, clarinet, violin, and cello. In 2011 the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra premiered the first two songs, Phoenix and The Other Side. Brooke notes, "Poems often come to me through visual images that I cut and paste into collage artwork. The two poems performed tonight embrace elements of air and fire. GARDEN offers a delicate floating perspective from a butterfly or bird’s eye view. Finally, a full circle reunion with creation’s fiery origins is expressed in FIRE RIBBON.
I float with silver wings
glistening each time a flower opens.
One and another cradled inside fallen petals
reaching out, no longer alone.
Leaves become rose petals,
cocoons grow wings,
all of us joined in a seamless sky full of freedom.
Moon-sized flowers grow from teardrops
no longer held back.
Fear dissolves with my first step
along this well lit path
Nothing left to do but open
wide as the sun
above my bowed head.
I trace a steamy map with my fingertips,
so long ago before there were names for life.
Just one fiery ribbon,
we felt or way through.
From clouds to rain, to flowers
that grew from snow melt.
So long ago there was no me,
there was no you between the spaces,
only nature’s endless melody.
Heartache comes when I pretend
I am anything more than this.
Just one fiery ribbon of life
dissolves into the next.
One more teardrop fades
into the endless tide of creation.
JOHN [MILTON] CAGE [JR.] (September 5, 1912 - August 12, 1992) was an American composer, music theorist, writer, and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was Cage's partner for most of their lives.
Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4′33″, which is performed in the absence of deliberate sound; musicians who present the work do nothing aside from being present for the duration specified by the title. The content of the composition is not "four minutes and 33 seconds of silence," as is sometimes assumed, but rather the sounds of the environment heard by the audience during performance. The work's challenge to assumed definitions about musicianship and musical experience made it a popular and controversial topic both in musicology and the broader aesthetics of art and performance... San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra presents the first movement of 4'33'' in this the centenary year of the Cage's birth.
MICHAEL A. KIMBELL studied clarinet with Donald Montanaro of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He took composition with John Davison, Alfred Swan, Robert Palmer and Karel Husa and received his DMA in the subject from Cornell University in 1973. Ten of his orchestral works have been performed by San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra and the San Francisco Sinfonietta. His Arcadian Symphony won the 1998 Southern Arizona Symphony Competition and was also performed by the San Jose Mission Chamber Orchestra. Poème for violin and harp has been performed in Austria and Germany and at the 2011 World Harp Congress in Vancouver. Other chamber compositions as well as songs and the short opera The Hot Iron have received numerous performances.
CONCERTINO FOR C CLARINET AND CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, based on the composer's Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano, explores classical forms and means of expression with a modern sensibility. The three movements of the original version have been combined into a continuous whole with additional material. Although equally performable on the standard Bb instrument, the work was written to exploit the youthful and lyrical character of the slightly smaller C clarinet, which is rarely encountered today and has a very limited solo repertory.
SHELI NAN is a Berkeley composer, musician, arts educator, and performer whose life’s work focuses on the creation, performance, distribution, and teaching of music. She has been professionally involved in the musical landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area for more than three decades. The Music Studio is an umbrella for her various musicals enterprises, including composition, performance, recording and teaching, privately and in school programs, as well as written publications. Sheli is the author of two books, many articles on music and has had 20 editions of music published and performed including her symphony, Signatures in Time and Place. Her latest large scale musical work is Saga: Portrait of a 21st Century Child, an opera for our time, with a libretto by the composer. She is a member of ASCAP and the consistent recipient of the Standard Awards Panel. She is also a member of the New York Composers Circle, The Western Early Keyboard Society, Early Music America, The San Francisco Early Music Society, The Society of Composers International, and the American Composers Forum.
In the spirit of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, SAGA: PORTRAIT OF A 21ST-CENTURY CHILD, is social commentary through a musical lens. In this tragedy our heroine becomes the sacrifice that society demands. No-one needs her, wants her, has time for her. As a result, she is energy run wild, with no moral compass, bereft of compassion except for herself. The music is achingly beautiful and allows the listener to digest the harsh truth of the underbelly of the very greedy who pursue their own ends to the detriment of their offspring and society. She sings,... "How did I find myself alone, so full of toys without a home..." and we travel with her on her tortuous journey toward self definition and violence both coming toward her and emanating from her. The OVERTURE is a combination of themes from the opera that at once disarm and place the listener on guard. For reviews and more information please visit www.shelinan.com and click on Saga.
SAMUEL OSTROFF is a Bay Area composer. His debut work Before You Read, was performed last year by the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra. His ventures into other forms of music include his role as singer songwriter in The Lysdexics, and attending Stanford Jazz Workshop. Ostroff currently studies classical piano and composition with Lisa Scola Prosek.
ACADEMY was originally written at the piano with the intention of creating a piece that could be related to by many. It is meant to describe the emotion that we as humans feel during our moments of malaise. To a child, it might be reminiscent of the dark: not an evil thing, but strange and unlikable. To a teenager, it might represent the feeling that school often evokes, hence the name.
WILLIAM SEVERSON is a Bay Area composer who has been featured with San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra and Irregular Resolutions.
Severson writes, "I've been working on setting Walt Whitman's THE MYSTIC TRUMPETER for several years, having completed five sections of the eight-section 87-line poem. The text for the second movement is the third section, as the initial two were combined in the first setting, which was premiered on October 3, 2009, at San Francisco Community Music Center. While the forces required for the complete work are clarinet, piano, and a solo quartet (SATB), the second movement is an alto solo. I use a clarinet as a mystic trumpet, and this is the world premiere."
Blow trumpeter free and clear, I follow thee,
While at thy liquid prelude, glad, serene,
The fretting world, the streets, the noisy hours of day withdraw,
A holy calm descends like dew upon me,
I walk in cool refreshing night the walks of Paradise,
I scent the grass, the moist air and the roses;
Thy song expands my numb'd imbonded spirit, thou freest, launchest me,
Floating and basking upon heaven's lake.
MARTHA STODDARD earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Humboldt State University and Master of Music from San Francisco State University, where she studied flute, conducting, and composition. She was recently named Program Director of the John Adams Young Composers Program at the Crowden Music Center and has held the position of Artistic Director of the Oakland Civic Orchestra since 1997. Stoddard is Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra and Director of Instrumental Music at Lick-Wilmerding High School. Other activities include engagements as Musical Director for Lisa Scola Prosek's Belfagor and Trap Door, John Bilotta's Trifles, Mark Alburger's Job: A Masque, and the Erling Wold / Davide Verotta / Scola Prosek / Stoddard Dieci Giorni, premiered in San Francisco in 2010. In October 2012, she will conduct the premiere of Scola Prosek's The Daughter o the Red Tsar, featuring tenor John Duykers. A 2009 and 2010 recipient of AscapPlus Awards, her music has been performed in San Francisco through the American Composer’s Forum, by the Sierra Ensemble, Avenue Winds and in the UK by flutists Carla Rees and Lisa Bost. She has had performances by the San Francisco Choral Artists, Schwungvoll!, the Community Women’s Orchestra, Oakland Civic Orchestra, Womensing, Bakersfield Symphony New Directions Series, in the Trinity Chamber Concert Series and the New Music Forum Festival of Contemporary Music. Recent commissions include Points of Reference, Outbursts: an Homage to Brahms, Orchestral Suite for the Young of all Ages, and the Trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano.
POINTS OF REFERENCE was commissioned by violist Ayako English for members of the Oakland Civic Orchestra and premiered on June 3, 2012. The work focuses on the development and variation of motific material in a series of melodic episodes derived from a simple chorale. At the heart of the work is the conversational interplay between instruments and the spinning out of thematic material. Scant musical references may suggest strains of Debussy and Copland, the irony of Shostakovich, the wit of Stravinsky and jazz harmony. The composer would like to thank Allan Crossman for his remarkable insights on multiple drafts of the work.
IGOR [FYODORVICH] STRAVINSKY (June 17 [O.S. June 5] 1882 - April 6, 1971) was a Russian, and later French and American composer, pianist, and conductor. He is acknowledged by many as one of [and by some as] the most important and influential composer[s] of the 20th Century.
Stravinsky relates, "I gave the downbeat to begin a rehearsal of Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony in Aspen one day in the summer of 1950, when instead of the doleful opening chord, out came this ridiculously gay little tune. I was very surprised, of course, and quite failed to 'get it,' as Americans say -- the 'it' being that one of the orchestra players had just become a father. I confess that the shock of the substituted music and the change of emotions piqued me, and that for some time I considered myself the victim of a practical joke." Pursuing the jest, however, the composer worked out a series of canons on Mildred J. Hill's Happy Birthday to You in 1951, then laid the tune aside as he began experimenting with serialism in the Cantata (1952), Septet (1953), and Three Songs from Shakespeare (1953). By the time he returned to the melody in 1955, the first of his truly serial (In Memoriam Dylan Thomas, 1954) and 12-tone works (a movement from Canticum Sacrum) had appeared. With this background, GREETING PRELUDE bursts forth, as an ingenious little energetic trope for the 80th birthday of Pierre Monteux, who conducted The Rite of Spring premiere in 1913. The theme is subjected to offbeat accentuation, octave displacements, contrary articulations (simultaneous staccatos and legatos, a Stravinskian decades-old technique), free counterpoint, augmentation, diminution, inversion, and retrograde. And through 1991 (assuming death in 1916 + 75), the estate of Mildred Hill received a royalty cut for each performance... San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra performs this work on the occasion of its tenth anniversary, and Stravinsky's 130th. If the reader has perused these notes during the performance, the brevity of the piece (c. 52'') is such that it is now over.
DAVIDE VEROTTA was born in a boring Italian town close to Milano and moved to the very much more exciting San Francisco in his late 20's. He studied piano at Milano Conservatory and piano and composition at the San Francisco Conservatory and State University, and at the University of California at Davis. He holds a MA in composition, is an active solo and ensemble piano player, actively involved in the new-music composition scene in the Bay Area. Recent performances of his compositions have included works for orchestra, chamber opera, string quartet, and piano solo. For more information please visit www.davideverotta.com.
SOLAR WIND II is an orchestral version of Solar Wind I (a quintet) and Solar Wind (a trio originally written as a dance piece). The composition takes inspiration from a YouTube video of the Sichuan Dance Academy and the movie Sunshine. The YouTube video provides the theme of the piece, and Sunshine the idea of the solar wind, an overwhelming force of nature that wipes you away. These elements are put together in a dream like narrative, where we wake up into an alternate reality and proceed to an encounter with the Sun. This is necessarily more imagined than real, and we re-enter ordinary reality at the end of the piece by falling back asleep. Compositionally the piece is inspired by Igor Stravinsky, with an oblique reference to The Rite of Spring, and the consistent use of a compositional technique (rotational sequencing of a series of pitches, in this case the pitches making up the theme of the piece) that can be found in his late works. Different from Solar Wind and Solar Wind I, orchestral harmonies are derived using a number of spectral techniques. In addition Solar Wind II has grown in length due to the presence of the full orchestra.
(Contributing $1000 +)
Lisa Scola Prosek
Michael & Lisa Cooke
David & Joyce Graves
Christopher & Sue Bancroft Kenneth & Ruth Baumann
Susan M. Barnes
Marina Berlin & Anthony Parisi
Bruce & Betsy Carlson
Patrick & Linda Condry
Connie & George Cooke
John Hiss & Nancy Katz
Ken & Jan Milnes
Paul & Barbara Boniker
Donna & Joseph Lanam
Harriet March Page
Barbara & Mark Stefik
(Contributing up to $49)
Hannes & Linda Lamprecht
To make a tax-deductible donation, please send a check made out to:
Erling Wold's Fabrications
629 Wisconsin Street
San Francisco CA 94107
Please include a note saying you want the money to go to the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra.
Special thanks to Lick-Wilmerding High School, for providing rehearsal space.