As Far As Possible Karen Keyhani
As Far As Possible (for Santour and Ensemble) is composed during the artist residency of composer Karen Keyhani in EOFA (Embassy Of Foreign Artists), Geneva. The final date of the composition is October 2013. It is written in four movements, inspired by the tragedy of Broad Peak. In July 2013, a group of three Iranian climbers attempted to conquer Broad Peak (Himalaya) via a new route from Southwest Face. The three of them ascended successfully, however all three of them were lost during descent, and soon were declared dead. Mojtaba Jarahi (1986 – 2013), one of the three mountaineers, was a friend of the composer.
The structure of the piece follows the map of the Persian Route project, which was suggested and taken by the three mountaineers. It begins with an abrupt climax (as if on the top of the Broad Peak), followed by the progression and flashbacks of descent. Santour** appears only in the final section of the first movement, depicting feelings of loneliness and lost through the piece. The last movement is a dream dance: a dance which is formed in a dream. It embeds rhythmic patterns of Reng (a Persian dance). A dance impossible to be shaped... Modal elements have been used from Dastgah Persian musical system. They belong retrospectively to Segah, Bayat-e tork, and Mahur.
As Far As Possible was premiered by Ensemble MATKA, November 2013, Usine Kugler, Geneva, Switzerland. It was recorded by the same ensemble June 2014, studio Ernest-Ansermet, Geneva. It is dedicated to the memory of the three Iranian mountaineers (Aidin Bozorgi, Pouya Keivan, and Mojtaba Jarahi).
Santour is a Persian instrument similar to the Dulcimer, originated from Iranian poet and musician Amir Khosro Dehlavi (1253-1325).
Valence III Robert A. Baker
Valence III for oboe, cello, and percussion (composed August 2010), is the third in a cycle of chamber pieces that explore notions of musical energy, timbral mixture and contrast, and the dichotomous relationship between continuity and discontinuity. Similar to its predecessor, Valence III continues to play with fluctuations in timbre (or instrumental tone), and combinations of micro-tonal and tempered pitches. But unlike Valence II, this piece focuses less on homophonic textures, favoring at times a dense heterophony of high melodies shared by the oboe, cello, and vibraphone.
The piece is divided into four brief parts, however one might listen for a simpler two-part form. Parts one and two are comprised of persistent bursts of energetic material in what I consider to be generally forward moving, or directed, musical phrases that lead to a climactic gesture at approximately the halfway point in the piece. Following this peak in energy, parts three and four suggest an extended contrasting passage of catharsis or dénouement. By placing this peak in formal energy around the halfway mark, a greater than usual amount of time is provided for more relaxed contemplation after the final burst of energy. Thus, what might typically be considered mere catharsis, this post-climactic section is raised in its status to be something closer to an equal partner in the overall formal design.
Princess Ka‘iulani (he mele ho‘oipoipo) Nolan Stolz
Princess Ka‘iulani (1875-99) was the last Princess of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i before it was overthrown. This work was not intended to posthumously honor Hawai‘i’s last princess in the manner of a mele inoa (“name chant”); it is, however, a post-modernistic attempt to reflect on her love for her land and people. Princess Ka‘iulani requires the performer to sing, speak, and whisper into the flute. This was not only an artistic choice, but a historically-informed one as well (the Princess composed music and was said to have had a “sweet soprano voice”). The text for the work is not a poem, but a series of Hawaiian words, and fragments thereof, that evoke feelings and emotions of love, anxiety, and uncertainty (hopohopo). The Princess loved her land (‘āina) and people (kānaka), and she must have had feelings of anxiety and uncertainty when her kingdom was being overtaken. The text also represents the feelings of love (and the anxiety and uncertainty that comes with it) that she may have experienced as a young woman. The Princess’s story aside, the text may also be understood as a general expression of love or longing (nipo) and the emotions that sometimes coincide. Thus, it is subtitled “a love song” (he mele ho‘oipoipo).
Five Songs of Love Arthur Gottschalk
This song cycle was written for Syzygy, Rice University's long-standing series for the presentation of contemporary music, and more specifically for its Pierrot 2000 Project. It is dedicated to its first performers - Karol Bennett and the Gotham String Quartet. The song cycle examines a few of the complexities of intergender relationships. The first song, "Daybreak in Alabama" (Langston Hughes), serves as a celebratory paean to the act of creation. The second, Shel Silverstein's "The One Who Stayed", serves as a reminder of the consequences one may suffer if one elects to avoid natural instincts. The "Sun Song" of Malcolm Brodwick attempts to portray the emotional whirlwind that often accompanies the beginning of relationships. "An Aged Woman" (Mina Loy) studies the jagged and unintended consequences of love, seen from the distance of many years. "Hemos Perdido Aun" (We Have Even Lost) by Pablo Neruda portrays mature passions and lost love, remembered through the faint fire of twilight.
The shape of the cycle is projected through tempo (slow, medium, fast, medium, slow) and tonal center (G, F#, G/C#/F#/C, C, and C#). Linear and vertical leitmotifs carried through the cycle lend cohesiveness. The soprano is integrated into the quartet as part of an ensemble - each of the five act as soloists, and though attention is often necessarily focused upon the voice as the primary purveyor of text, the strings most often act as the interpreters of meaning. The semitone, used as the main structural device of the cycle, represents the dichotomy of the sexes, two sides of the same burning coin.
Melodía sin melodía (stereo mix) Benjamin D. Whiting
This piece, originally intended for eight-channel surround sound playback, was born out of an inspiration of mine to blend sounds of found household objects, a staple of electroacoustic fixed-media composition, with those of an instrument associated with conventional means of Western music production, the transverse flute. Both sonic groupings carry with them certain implications that are challenged in this piece; at the start, the found objects and flute behave as they "should," but their respective roles blur as the piece progresses, eventually reaching a kind of cooperative unity by the end.
I wish to extend my sincerest gratitude to Melody Chua, whose contribution of samples of her brilliant playing formed the backbone of this piece.
A Mournful Cry Yip Ho Kwen Austin
In ancient China, the zither instrument Guzheng has often been regarded as one of the most expressive instruments. This piece, calling for a guzheng performer to play and chant at the same time, portrays the loneliness and sorrow of the poet in the time of chaos with successive wars. The poem incorporated, A Mournful Cry, was written by Li Qing-zhao during the South Song Dynasty (1127-1279) of China.
Acoustic Field Chin Ting Chan
The harmonic language of Acoustic Field is derived from, but not limited to Olivier Messiaen’s Modes of Limited Transposition. The chord structures are usually dense and complex – they explore the upper partials of the harmonic series. By stretching the harmony through time, it allows the acoustic space to develop and resonate, thus creating a colorful acoustic field.
The piece is divided into three major sections. The first section explores the timbral variety of individual instruments. Thematic materials are often presented by solo or duet combinations with accompaniments. The middle section is marked with a metrically active rhythm, and is thematically developmental. The last section derives the harmony from the first section, but almost completely dissolves the other elements such as rhythm, texture, and themes. The thematic materials are presented in fragments; the texture becomes denser and resembles that of the middle section; the stretching of the harmony is maximized, therefore creating a static acoustic field that serves to dissolve the complex harmony.
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