Partita Op. 103
Partita Op. 103 was commissioned in 1989 by Jeani Muhonen and Nicholas Goluses and premiered in Asia and Europe by Duo Sequenza in 1990. Its four movements are reminiscent of Baroque dance forms, capturing their rustic charm in a reimagined context that makes use of fully chromatic harmonic and lyric melodic materials. The result is the sharp contrast between chromatically dissonant and diatonically tonal music, a distinctive stylistic trait that often characterizes David Noon’s work.
David Noon is one of the country's most played and prolific composers. He has written 232 chamber music, orchestral, and choral compositions, including 11 string quartets, 3 piano concertos, the opera R.S.V.P., and many works featuring percussion. He has also written two books of poetry and three Nadia Boulanger mysteries. David Noon resides in New York City and on the Greek island of Crete.
Meshquanowat’ (pronounced mesh-quan-o-wát-eh) is the word for the Red-Tailed Hawk in the Native American Mesquakie language. Commissioned by Jan Boland and John Dowdall in 1995, this singing, dancing, soaring work takes its inspiration from the majestic, eagle-sized bird and the Mesquakie tribe who are close relatives of the Potawatomi tribe of the Midwest.
Born in Gary IN, Jerry Owen grew up near Miller Beach, on the South Shore of Lake Michigan. His numerous achievements include two Pulitzer Prize nominations, two Grawemeyer Prize nominations, two full-length Iowa Public Television specials devoted to his work, many performances of his compositions at internationally acclaimed venues, and four previously released compact discs of his music.
Two Pieces for Flute and Guitar
Marc Mellits is one of the leading American composers of his generation. With hundreds of performances throughout the world every year, he is one of the most performed and recorded living composers in the United States.
Written in 2000, his Two Pieces for Flute and Guitar possess a title distinctly understated and humble. “Fast” exploits changing meters and rhythmic minimalism in a way that is uniquely Mellits, while his highly contrasting “Elegy for Lefty; Expressive,” written for Marc’s father the day after his passing, is compellingly poignant and haunting.
Mellits started composing at very young age and went on to study at the Eastman School of Music, Yale School of Music, Cornell University, and Tanglewood. He is most often a miniaturist, composing works comprised of short, contrasting movements or sections. Winner of the coveted 2004 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award, Mellits is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He lives in that city with his wife and two daughters and spends significant time in Romania.
Like many artists, composer Amin Sharifi is deeply moved by all forms of artistic expression. About Duets Exhibition, the composer writes, “I have not been inspired by text or paintings during the composition process, nor is the music about these particular art works and quotes. In a way, one may correctly realize that these paintings, texts, and music are not directly related to one other. My artistic idea was to present a package of my thoughts as they were during a singular moment when I simply looked at a painting, read a text, and listened to music all at once. I chose these elements as a ‘composer’ in the broadest, non-musical sense of the word. You cannot listen to music and see nothing; even if you close your eyes, you see blackness. Our human condition is such that we always are touching, smelling, tasting, seeing, and hearing something. Finally, we cannot merely ‘listen’ to music; we will always ‘feel’ it. Many factors not directly related to the sound impact how we experience the music, which explains why we continue to enjoy listening to music we have heard before. With this work, I have set out to ‘compose’ and ‘direct’ a certain condition designed to put listeners inside an experience in which all their senses will be engaged beyond mere listening, and their minds transported to different existential and aesthetic places.”
“Seven Color Tile”
Jorge Luis Borges begins his ‘El Aleph’ by quoting Francis Bacon's Essays, LVIII: "Salomon saith, There is no new thing upon the earth. So that as Plato had an imagination, that all knowledge was but remembrance; so Salomon giveth his sentence, that all novelty is but oblivion."
“But they will teach us that Eternity is the Standing still of the PresentTime, a Nunc-stans (as the schools call it); which neither they, nor any else understand, no more than they would a Hic-stans for an Infinite greatness of Place.” —Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, IV, 46
“The Game” purposely includes neither artwork nor a literature quote.
“Murdered in His Labyrinth”
“...Id just go to her and ask her do you love him and look her square in the eyes she couldnt fool me but he might imagine he was and make a declaration with his plabbery kind of a manner to her like he did to me though I had the devils own job to get it out of him though I liked him for that it showed he could hold in and wasnt to be got for the asking he was on the pop of asking me too the night in the kitchen I was rolling the potato cake theres something I want to say to you only for I put him off letting on I was in a temper with my hands and arms full of pastry flour in any case I let out too much the night before talking of dreams so I didnt want to let him know more than was good for him she used to be always embracing me Josie whenever he was there meaning him of course glauming me over and when I said I washed up and down as far as possible asking me did you wash possible the women are always egging on to that putting it on thick when hes there they know by his sly eye...” — James Joyce, Ulysses, 10 consecutive sentences of the 18th episode, ‘Penelope’
A native of Iran, Sharifi studied composition at the Art University of Tehran and at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington where he received his Master of Music in Composition in 2018. His recent works have been performed in the United States, France, Germany, Greece, and his native Iran. Sharifi has served as assistant conductor to Nader Mashayekhi with the Tehran Cultural Philharmonic Orchestra and has conducted the Pierrot-Tehran New Music Ensemble in the First Tehran Contemporary Music Festival.
Hailed as "...creative, individualistic, artistic..." by the critic of The Juilliard School of Music with his work "...[the] product of an unbridled imagination..." (Memphis Daily News), Sharifi won the Artistic Excellence Award from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music as the Assistant Director to Dr. David Dzubay of the IU New Music Ensemble. His TrombionOphone or Riders in the Field of Hope, Triple Concerto for Saxophone, Accordion and Trombone, won First Prize in the XXIII Edition Concorso 2 Agosto in 2017. Duets Exhibition was selected as a winning composition in Duo Sequenza’s 2016 Call for Scores. Sharifi is presently pursuing his PhD in Music Composition at Duke University.
South Shore Suite
South Shore Suite, a collection of “musical postcards” about Lake Michigan’s South Shore region, was commissioned in 2016 by Duo Sequenza in celebration of Indiana’s Bicentennial. In writing this work, composer Jorge Muñiz draws upon diverse musical elements from the Midwest and Indiana vernacular: jazz, blues, country, R&B, and even rock. The composer explains, “I wrote this work as a metaphor for a journey on the South Shore Rail Line. This train is our nation’s last remaining electric interurban commuter railroad. Opened in 1903, it runs all the way from South Bend to Chicago, for a total of 90 miles, and transports more than 3 million people annually. It just so happened that as I was imagining an overall theme for this music about the Lake Michigan South Shore region, I was riding the South Shore Line regularly between South Bend and Chicago!”
Quite unexpectedly, South Shore Suite became the basis of Duo Sequenza’s dynamic “Journey Beyond the Notes,” their popular audience interactive concert, developed with the financial support of the Indiana Arts Commission, and touring to enthusiastic audiences since 2017.
“Prologue: South Bend, Indiana”
South Shore Suite’s first movement establishes the train metaphor as a rhythmic ostinato with unexpected meter changes.
This movement pays homage to the daughter of the Shawnee Native American Tribal Leader, Chief Elkhart. Legend has it that in 1801, Chief Elkhart attacked the Potawatomi tribe whose leader was Chief Pokagon. The Shawnees drove the Potawatomis away from the St. Joseph Valley, which encompasses the eastern region of what is called the ‘South Shore,” pushing them northward into Michigan. In retaliation for the attack, Grey Wolfe, a Potawatomi tribesman, abducted Shawnee Chief Elkhart's daughter, Princess Mishawaka. The ensuing battle drove Chief Elkhart's tribe southward toward the Wabash Valley. Princess Mishawaka, who was only 15 years old at the time, was caught in the middle of these warring tribes with her kidnapper Grey Wolfe. She was rescued by a white trapper known as ‘Dead Shot’ for his amazing skill with a rifle. Once freed of her captor, this beautiful, courageous Shawnee maiden, who was loved by all who knew her, chose to stay in the South Shore area, rather than follow her tribe southward into the Wabash Valley. She married her rescuer, Dead Shot, to the dismay of her kidnapper Grey Wolfe, who had hoped to win her love along with his tribe’s admiration. Princess Mishawaka died in 1818 at 32 years of age, and was buried along the St. Joseph River, just west of the City of Mishawaka, Indiana, which was named for her in 1833. In the Potawatomi language, “Mishawaka” means "swift water" or "thick woods rapids." A native boulder marks her gravesite and a statue of her likeness is in Mishawaka where composer Jorge Muñiz makes his home with his pianist wife Jennifer and their two children.
Scored for the alto flute and guitar, this movement musically describes what is essentially a very big pile of sand! Mount Baldy towers an impressive 126 feet above the southern shore of Lake Michigan, formed slowly and steadily through the action of wind moving sand over thousands of years. It is designated as a “living” or “wandering” dune because it continues to shift about four feet annually whenever the prevailing northwest wind exceeds 7 mph. Mount Baldy received much press in 2013, becoming known as ‘dangerous’ when it swallowed a 6-year-old boy that summer in a previously unknown "dune decomposition chimney." Such chimneys were created by the sandy burial of enormous oak trees as the dune journeyed inland. Those trees eventually decayed, causing chimney-like voids. The boy was recovered safely and is in good health today.
This movement evokes images of a carefree, sunny, summer day being enjoyed by all kinds of people having all kinds of fun.
“Diana of the Dunes”
“Diana of the Dunes” is one of Indiana’s best-loved legends about a woman who spent the last decade of her short life in an abandoned cottage near the beach at the Indiana Dunes. In 1915, Alice Gray turned her back on the work-weary material world, leaving her career in Chicago to come live in the woods, swim in the lake, run along the beach, and live a simpler life amidst the flora and fauna she loved. She was a brilliant, highly educated woman of 34, an early feminist, whose dream was cut short by her painful, perhaps violent, death. Interviewed by the press in 1916, she explained, “I wanted to live my own life, a free life. The life of a salary-earner in the cities is slavery, a constant fight for the means of living. Here it is so different.” Alice Gray’s desire to escape the conventional world was inspired by one of Lord Byron's poems called 'Solitude,' which contained the line, "In solitude, when we are least alone." Nicknamed "Diana" by the press, after the Roman goddess, Alice Gray’s ghost is believed to haunt the Dunes shores, running nude along the sand before disappearing into the waters. “Some have seen her swimming naked far off shore, while others have seen her crashing through the woods, scaring them half to death. There are those who claim they have caught her dozing on the beach,” said the composer. “Perhaps she returns to the Dunes because she longs for the idyllic place where she was spiritually reborn. My idea in writing this movement was to portray how deeply this very accomplished, sensitive woman yearned to commune with and embrace nature.”
In this movement, we are transported back to 1934 when public enemy number one, John Dillinger, made his famous break from the Crown Point IN jail. The movement gives a definite sense of Dillinger’s being “on the lam,” sneaking about, and hiding. In “Epilogue: Chicago,” played attacca, the sense of the motion of riding the train is more and more apparent as the train gets closer to the Millennium Station Terminal in Chicago.
Jorge Muñiz has had his music performed by chamber ensembles, chorales, and orchestras throughout Europe, Singapore, Australia, and the United States. He has won several international awards. Most recently, Opera Oviedo commissioned Muñiz to compose a three-act opera, Fuenteovejuna (based on the play by Lope de Vega with a new libretto by Javier Almuzara) for the opening of the opera house's 71st anniversary season in 2018-2019. This opera was the first mainstage production commissioned by the company in its long history. Presently, Jorge Muñiz is Professor of Music in Composition and Theory at the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts at Indiana University in South Bend where he serves as Chair of the Department of Music. — Debra Silvert
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