Release Date: July 8, 2016
Catalog #: NV6050
Format: Digital
21st Century
Orchestral
Orchestra

Sparks

Miniature Works For Orchestra

Jay Anthony Gach composer
Rain Worthington composer
Marga Richter composer
Phillip Rhodes composer
George Gershwin composer
Steven Winteregg composer
Douglas Anderson composer
Bruce Babcock composer
Stephen Lias composer

SPARKS, a compilation of orchestral miniature works by several composers, offers a sampling of much of what post-modern, contemporary orchestral music has to offer, and is most interesting to consider in contrast to nineteenth century orchestral transitions. Miniatures, in their brevity, defy the conventional bias that orchestral music must conform to the characteristics of large symphonies. More generally, the works on this album suggest a wide range of influences unique to contemporary postmodernism. These include the aesthetics of midcentury composers, as well as film scores and non-classical genres.

These orchestral miniatures, because of their limited duration, all, in some way, focus on one specific idea, and play with that over the course of their structures. In works like Phillip Rhodes’ A Tango Fantasy and Bruce Babcock’s Event Horizon, this kernel is conceptual, whereas in works like Rain Worthington’s Still Motion, the piece develops a singular musical idea.

Richard Stoltzman’s performance of Summertime, composed by George Gershwin for the opera Porgy and Bess, shows how the colors of the clarinet can be used to create the wonderful feelings that singers achieve in the great arias of contemporary opera. Worthington’s energetic work explores rhythm and melody, developing a melodic idea that is introduced immediately in the vibraphone part. Babcock’s piece is the most abstract and dissonant of the album, using delicate and fluid orchestral textures to express momentum and arrival. Rhodes’ work’s allusions to tango are fascinatingly subtle, as the piece only expresses the essence of tango – its iconic rhythms, typifying harmonic motions, and slippery melodies – without making too obvious a connection to the well-known dance genre. Fragments, by Marga Richter, is based on one melodic idea, which it explores over its five brief movements in an astonishing array of orchestral textures and colors. Gangsta, by Jay Anthony Gach draws its title in reference to the popular 1940’s film noir gangster cinema – the work’s intensity and use of brass choirs seems to evoke the drama of today’s blockbuster film scores. Prelude for Charles, composed by Steven Winteregg, is a myriad of thematic materials based on the musical representations of the word, “Charles.” Stephen Lias’ Crown of the Continent is the result of an Artist-in-Residency at Glacier National Park in Montana, celebrating in music its beautiful and colorful “wild west” history. Douglas Anderson’s solemn and moving In Memoriam was written in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on 9/11/2001.

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Artist Information

Jay Anthony Gach

Jay Anthony Gach

Composer

Jay Anthony Gach's original concert music has been critically acclaimed as: “music [that] dances with charisma,” (Parterre Box), "a natural crowd pleaser," (NY Newsday), "vibrant textural transformations," (NY Times), "multi-layered, whirling and propulsive," (Minneapolis Star), "witty, virtuosic and accessible," (Clarinet & Saxophone Magazine, UK), "so exuberant [and] so full of character," (SPNM New Notes, UK). Summarized by the composer Lukas Foss during his tenureship as conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, "[Gach’s] writing for orchestra is brilliant beyond words." The composer Hugo Weisgall wrote of him, "a composer...of extraordinary technical command and intellectual grasp of what music is all about."

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Rain Worthington

Composer

Self-taught in composition, Rain Worthington’s catalog includes works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, duos, solos and miniatures. Inspirations for pieces have ranged from NYC trucks backing up late at night, to the two-note expression of a sigh, to a dream of a careening bike ride through dark fog.

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Marga Richter

Composer

A Midwest native (WI, MN), Marga Richter earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in composition from The Juilliard School. She has written over 150 works, encompassing virtually every genre. Her orchestral music has been performed by more than 50 orchestras including the Atlanta, Oklahoma, and Milwaukee Symphonies and the Minnesota Orchestra, and recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

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Phillip Rhodes

Composer

Phillip Rhodes was born in Forest City, North Carolina in 1940 and received degrees from Duke University and the Yale University School of Music. His principal teachers have been William Klenz, Iain Hamilton, Donald Martino, and Mel Powell.

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Bruce Babcock

Composer

Applauded by Aaron Copland, inspired by Desmond Tutu, and mentored by Hugo Friedhofer and Earle Hagen, Bruce Babcock has spent his working life composing music for the musicians of Los Angeles. Successful in both film and television, and the concert hall, he is known for vibrant, sonorous, expressive pieces that immerse audience and performers alike in an inclusive and exuberant celebration of the musical art.

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Stephen Lias

Composer

The music of adventurer-composer Lias is performed regularly around the world by soloists and ensembles including the Boulder Philharmonic, the Oasis Quartet, the Ensamble de Trompetas Simon Bolivar, and the Russian String Orchestra.

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