Notes

 

Margaret Brandman

Spirit Visions

 

   

 

Some key features of this work:

1) The expansive sound of the majestic opening section as the inspired theme is introduced

2) The often surprising changes of mood and orchestral texture including lush harmonies

3) The exciting syncopated dance-like rhythms played by the Marimba which create an irresistible urge to dance — at times you may think you are visiting Mexico or Cuba!

 

 

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Spirit Visions was composed following a professional meeting in 2002 between composer/performer Margaret Brandman and Sydney Town Hall organist Robert Goode, for whom Margaret had done a musical arrangement.

 

Through this fortuitous meeting, Margaret Brandman, also a professional pianist, was given an opportunity to improvise on the magnificent Sydney Town Hall pipe organ, during which time she channelled the inspirational theme for this piece.  A recording of the original version of this work for two pianos is included on her highly-acclaimed SENSATIONS album (nv6041) released in 2016.

 

Margaret Brandman’s 2019 orchestration of her expansive melody harmonised with resonant chords, was inspired by the tone colors of this grand pipe organ, which, with each change of organ stop, produced rich string, woodwind and brass sounds.

 

Spirit Visions is an all-encompassing eight-minute musical and spiritual journey which begins with the woodwind section presenting the composer’s majestic- maestoso- theme with sparkling highlights provided by the glockenspiel.   Underpinning and punctuating the opening statement of the theme are the organ pedal notes, which have been assigned to the lower strings and brass instruments.  As the theme is expanded and explored, conversations between the instruments and a variety of orchestral colors create interest and excitement.  My senses tingled many times throughout the work; for example when listening to the shimmering sounds around two minutes into the work and hearing the grand brass presentation of the theme towards the latter section of the work.


Throughout the work the shifts in tonality, tempo and rhythmic feel, often referencing the musical sounds of Latin-American cultures, combine to create a dynamic and thoroughly engaging listening experience. The joyous, uplifting ending in which every instrument in the orchestra takes part, is guaranteed to leave the listener elated!

— Sussane Towers

BMus(SIU-C), M Mus(UNI), DipOpArtMusThtre(Sydney Conservatorium)

Both the orchestral score and parts for Spirit Visions are available from the Australian Music Centre.

 

 

Beth Mehocic

Tango Concerto

After working with celebrated pianist, Charlene Farrugia on my Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, in 2018 we decided to do another collaboration and Charlene suggested that I might write a double concerto for her and her husband, the renown accordionist, Franko Bozac.  I was honored and excited about this possibility even though I have never written for accordion or bandoneon.  Since I have been the composer-in-residence for the Dance Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for over 30 years, I got the inspiration to write a tango concerto to be able to showcase both the accordion and bandoneon.

 

 When the concerto starts with the trills in the orchestra, you hear this wall of color and then around two minutes into it, you start to hear the tango rhythm quietly in the timpani as it eventually takes over.  There are three movements but they are attacca which means that there is no pause between them.

 

 I want to thank Charlene and Franko for their support on this project and especially to Franko for his invaluable help with his suggestions for the accordion/bandoneon technique.

— Beth Mehocic

 

 

Larry Wallach

Species of Motion

“Species of Motion,” a single-movement work for classical orchestra, is a study in the power and multifaceted nature of rhythm.  It offers diversity in continuity based on shifting relations between pulse, meter, and momentum. This generates a series of stages or images which coalesce, dissolve, and transform.  Influenced variously by the music of Sibelius and Elliott Carter (while sounding like neither of them), each phase of this composition develops out of a reorganization of pulses from the previous phase.

 

The form of this piece parallels my experience of the dream process:  vague or drifting thoughts begin to assume a more tangible (visual) form, and from there a narrative seems to develop, apparently guided or animated by the forms themselves.  Before long, however, the dream world becomes multi-dimensional and recognizable figures, places, and interactions appear, in ways that seem familiar in the moment but in retrospect are obviously strange and unlikely.

 

While rhythm and pulse are the generating forces, the harmonic language follows their fluid movements.  Pan-diatonic rustling and cluster harmonies evolve into neo-tonal and chorale-like formations, harsh dissonances, a flowing pastoral passage climaxing in a solo melody for mariachi trumpet echoed by massed strings.  This image reduces rapidly to a simple pulsation under the cantabile strings’ version of that melody, dissolving into a tremolo, out of which emerges a new meter to support another melody in the brass. The opening succession of images reappears in reverse order and the harmonies diverge and melt away.

 

These images were not pre-planned, and are not part of a specific program.  They grew out of the energy of the rhythmic materials and “species of motion” that were decided upon at the outset, and assumed tangible form during the composition process.  They appeared as gifts from the world of sound and color which exists outside of ourselves, and which is a source of endless inspiration.

 

This recording was supported by grants from the Professional Development Fund of Bard College at Simon’s Rock. — Larry Wallach

 

 

Kamala Sankaram

91919

This piece is dedicated to the memory of my sister, Sheela Sankaram. Writing 91919 was a way for me to process my grief in the weeks following her passing. The piece itself is a palindrome, leading inexorably to the sonic events at its center, and then receding away, changed but familiar, the world upside down and reversed. — Kamala Sankaram

 

 

Mel Mobley

Labored Breathing

Written for the Monroe Symphony Orchestra, Labored Breathing explores the concept of breath and its relationship to the life cycle. Though an unconscious reflex of the human body, breathing is impacted by every interaction and thought that makes us who we are. Perceived as a consistent, steady, and unchanging element of life, it is rarely that. Labored Breathing looks at the imbalance of the intake and output of breath through rhythm, timbre, and melodic structure. It follows an evolutionary cycle from the slow emergence of creation with low strings “breathing in and out,” through the jarring rhythms of struggle and the lyrical relaxation of contentment, to the fading tension of death as conflicting harmonies fade away. — Mel Mobley

 

 

Brian Latchem

Suffolk Variations

“Suffolk Variations for Viola and Strings” started life while I was at college during 1967 in the form of a string quartet. Only two pages from the original manuscript survived. This was the section which became the bars leading to the climax of the work. In 2011, BBC Radio Three held a musical competition for a work, written for Viola and Strings. Expanding and rearranging the fragment he entered the piece as “Suffolk Variations”. Although nothing came from the competition it was eventually performed in an Octet arrangement in 2017. The following year it was again performed by the same musicians at my 70th Birthday concert.

 

The work is in 6 sections with the opening involving the main theme on the solo viola underscored with the cellos. This is followed by fugue like entries from the other strings involving the viola and cello themes. A waltz section is the first variation. The third section is more solemn allowing the soloist to ornament the original theme above a counter melody from the 1st violinist. A lilting dance-like variation leads to a dialogue between the soloist and the upper strings. A more formal short fugue follows leading to the climax of the work. Finally, returning to the opening sequence the music ends as it began with a resounding pizzicato chord. — Brian Latchem

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