Pomona College Department of Music
Initial Stream: Sunday, October 11, 2020 at 3:00 PM and available on-demand
Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music
Celliola - Cynthia Fogg, viola and Tom Flaherty, cello
Melissa Givens, soprano; Scott Graff, baritone
Joti Rockwell, mandola and mandolin; and Genevieve Feiwen Lee, piano
Tom Flaherty (b. 1950):
Mandolin Songs (2014)
“Orpheus with his lute”
“I give thee all”
“The girl in the room beneath”
Ms. Givens and Mr. Rockwell
Karl Kohn (b. 1926):
Soliloquy II (1991)
Eric Moe (b. 1954):
Uncanny Affable Machines (2014)
Oliver Dubon (b. 1997):
Untitled (2020; world premiere)
Tom Flaherty (b. 1950):
Dear Lieder (2020; world premiere)
“Second Term Plans”
“The Ballad of Doonbeg”
Ms. Givens, Mr. Graff, Mr. Rockwell, Ms. Fogg, Mr. Flaherty and Ms. Lee
This concert is generously supported by the Robert C. Mitchell ’26 Memorial Fund. Pomona College is grateful to its alumni and friends whose continuing generosity makes this and other programs presented by the Department of Music possible.
In this time dominated by a pandemic, social isolation, increasing economic turmoil, and unparalleled national and international political tensions, we have put together a concert intended to help the audience and ourselves get through all this, with some sense of human connection.
Mandolin Songs are straightforward settings of three short poems featuring plucked instruments. The two solo cello pieces were written by the oldest and youngest of our composers: dear friend and colleague Emeritus Professor Karl Kohn and 2020 Pomona College graduate Oliver Dubon. Our friend Eric Moe’s piece portrays humanity coming to terms with machinery in at least a draw, if not a win. Dear Lieder is the fourth and, we dearly hope, last installment of our annual series of Trump songs.
We are, as always, grateful to our fine musician friends who have collaborated with us in easier times and have gone the extra mile or twelve to make music under the current circumstances, with social distancing, masks, and very limited time to rehearse and record together. Thanks also to Barry Werger, without whose technical assistance and heavy investment of time this concert would not have been possible.
From three different centuries, these texts share a strikingly similar perspective on the mysterious power of the plucked string. In the words of William Shakespeare, Thomas Moore, and Conrad Aiken, the mandolin and lute reach into the depths of our souls, alter our perspectives on the world around us, and, most importantly, inspire song.
Mandolin Songs is dedicated to Joti Rockwell and the late Gwendolyn Lytle, whose music making has always been as inspiring as the poetry. –TF
I. “Orpheus with his lute”
Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain tops that freeze,
Bow themselves when he did sing:
To his music plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.
Every thing that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or hearing, die.
– William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
2. “I give thee all”
I give thee all—I can no more—
Tho’ poor the offering be;
My heart and lute are all the store
That I can bring to thee.
A lute whose gentle song reveals
The soul of love full well;
And, better far, a heart that feels
Much more than lute could tell.
Tho’ love and song may fail, alas!
To keep life’s clouds away,
At least ’twill make them lighter pass,
Or gild them if they stay.
And even if Care at moments flings
A discord o’er life’s happy strain,
Let Love but gently touch the strings,
’Twill all be sweet again!
– Thomas Moore (1779–1852)
3. “The girl in the room beneath”
The girl in the room beneath
Before going to bed
Strums on a mandolin
The three simple tunes she knows.
How inadequate they are to tell how her heart feels!
When she has finished them several times
She thrums the strings aimlessly with her finger-nails
And smiles, and thinks happily of many things.
– Conrad Aiken (1889–1973)
Karl Kohn wrote Soliloquy II in the summer of 1991, with an inscribed completion date of the 3rd of June. I had the pleasure of working on it on the 4th, with the ink barely dry, and presented its premiere in Austria at the Viktorsberg International Composers Workshop.
The Random House Dictionary defines soliloquy as “an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present.” In moods ranging from brooding and pensive to light and playful to passionate and singing, Soliloquy II sustains a sense of private rumination and improvisation on motivic cells that appear in the first few lines. –TF
Karl Kohn was born in Vienna in 1926, and was educated in New York and at Harvard. He was a Fulbright Research Scholar in Helsinki, Finland, and has held fellowship grants from the Guggenheim, Howard, and Mellon Foundations, as well as four fellowship-grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. He taught several summers on the faculty of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. With his wife Margaret, he has performed music for two pianos and for piano, four hands, with emphasis on the twentieth-century repertoire both in this country and abroad. He taught at Pomona College from 1950 to 1994, and is Professor of Music and Composer in Residence, Emeritus. Kohn’s principal publishers are Carl Fischer, Inc., G. Schirmer/AMP, and Edition ContempArt, Vienna.
Uncanny Affable Machines
John Henry, the legendary steel-driving hero of “The Ballad of John Henry,” pits himself against a machine—and wins, at the cost of his life. I offer a less fraught scenario, with a non-tragic outcome, of human/machine interaction in Uncanny Affable Machines. To be sure, the fixed electroacoustic part begins with an uncanny rhythmic precision, but this is soon undercut by the nature of the manipulated sampled sounds, most of which have human-performed, bird-performed, or chaotic rhythms as part of their fabric. On the other side, the heroic human performer can be seen herself as a “soft machine,” to use William Burroughs’ phrase, wielding a low-tech but incredibly sophisticated, powerful machine. The relationship between human and machine, high-tech and low-tech, biology and silicon, is a close and cordial one. In fact, performer and sound file ultimately get crazy together. Uncanny Affable Machines is dedicated to the virtuosic violist Jessica Meyer, who instigated it. Deep thanks to the Ucross Foundation for the residency where most of the piece was composed in fall 2014. –EM
Eric Moe’s music has been variously described as “maximal minimalism,” “Rachmaninoff in Hell,” and “music of winning exuberance.” The New York Times said Moe “subversively inscribe[s] classical music into pop culture.” Although the surfaces and genres are varied, his works share a concern for rhythmic propulsion and a disregard for stylistic orthodoxies. Sometimes tonal, sometimes not, harmony (generally crunchy) and melody (often angular) play privileged roles in his work. Active as a pianist and keyboard player, Moe writes music he enjoys playing, and otherwise plays music he wishes he’d written. He is represented by Howard Stokar Management.
This work was written as a musical response to Agnes Martin’s painting Untitled No. 6, which I had the fortune of viewing in person during my residency at the Atlantic Music Festival. I was already aware of Martin as an artist who spent most of her life disconnected from society, or, as she put it, “with my back to the world,” and was amazed at how that sensation of isolation and disconnect from society showed in her work. As I myself have been wholly disconnected from social interactions during the past six months because of the COVID pandemic, I have frequently reflected about the experience of seeing Martin’s work in person. The more I thought back to the subtlety and meditative nature of the painting, the circumstances it was painted in, and its relation to the current moment we are living in, the more I understood what it must have been like to paint something that so strongly resists being named. I responded to this by resisting planning out motifs, textures, or really even trying to give the work any solid sense of form and narrative. I simply wrote in a stream-of-consciousness manner, allowing my own state of mind to map itself onto the work as freely and uninhibitedly as possible, creating an abstract representation of my state of being while cut off from the tangible world. –OD
Oliver Dubon ’20, is a musician hailing from rural central Virginia. His compositions take inspiration from such sources as modernist literature, philosophy, and the rural countryside. They have been performed at the Atlantic and highSCORE Music Festivals, and by such ensembles as the Eclipse Quartet, Quartetto Indaco, Charlottesville Municipal Band, and the Pomona College Band. Oliver was recently selected as a 2020–21 Fulbright Scholar to Estonia. There, he will study music composition under Toivo Tulev and teach composition at the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn.
The text for “Second Term Plans” is taken directly from a recent Hannity/Trump “interview.” “The Ballad of Doonbeg” is the true story Trump’s golf club in Ireland, whose endangerment by climate change prompted Trump to sue County Clare. “Greta Speaks” pits Trump’s lazy vitriol against sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg’s insightful and passionate outcry. “November Premembrance” is speculative time-scrambling travel to post-election November, with encouragement to have voted. Dear Lieder is gratefully dedicated to the memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. –TF
I. “Second Term Plans”
Sean Hannity: What’s at stake in this election as you compare and contrast, and what is one of your top priority items for a second term?
Donald Trump: Well, one of the things that will be really great . . . You know, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I’ve always said that, but the word experience is a very important word. It’s a very important meaning. I never did this before. I never slept over in Washington.
I was in Washington, I think, 17 times. All of a sudden, I’m President of the United States. You know the story. I’m riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with our First Lady and I say, “This is great.”
But I didn’t know many people in Washington, it wasn’t my thing. I was from Manhattan, from New York. Now I know everybody, and I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes. An idiot like Bolton, all he wanted to do is drop bombs on everybody. You don't have to drop bombs on everybody.
– Sean Hannity and Donald Trump
II. “The Ballad of Doonbeg”
Let me tell about a story ’bout a man named Don,
Love those girls, barely kept his britches on.
He loved playing golf, but even more fun
He loved buying property to make a buck from.
CHORUS: . . . buying property to make a buck from.
Well, in Twenty Fourteen, Donny found him some land
A golf course he was wild to expand.
A struggling golf club in Ireland.
A place named Doonbeg, in Ireland.
CHORUS: A place named Doonbeg.
This place was just about under water
With storms doing way more damage than they oughter.
Two days before the deal was beyond doubt,
Well along came a storm and washed things out.
Eight miles of coast all eroded.
I reckon that Trump, he just exploded!
The worst thing of all, so I’ve been told
Was the damage done to three golf holes.
CHORUS: The damage done to three golf holes!
Three holes, three holes! The storm washed out the three holes!
And Donny he saw with bigly pain
Trawls of dollars, flowing down the drain.
And Trump you know loves walls and all
And we all know he’s never lacked for gall.
Not just one wall—he wanted two!
Too bad for neighbors if it ruined the view.
Three thousand feet of wall, dear souls,
All to protect them three golf holes.
CHORUS: Two hundred thousand tons of rock, I’m told to protect them three golf holes!
So Donny, he sued to determine who’d
Put up that wall to protect it all.
Against—this may seem a bit deranged—
Yessiree, against climate change.
CHORUS: What, climate change? Yes, climate change!
Trump’s lawyers said, “The sea water is clearly rising. Mr. Trump’s
property stands to be forever damaged without the wall.”
“In our view, it could be reasonably expected that the rate of
sea level rise might become twice of that presently occurring.”
“So get this straight:” Trump said, irate,
“As the climate warms, we’ll have more storms
From sea level rise, it’s no surprise
Effects could double before your eyes.”
This is the guy who yanked us out
Of the Paris Accord without a doubt.
The Irish government said flat no,
But Trump was determined to get some dough!
So he moved to see if he could snare
Some bucks for a wall from the County of Clare.
The County of Clare said, “Soak your head.”
That’s mild, compared to what environmentalists said!
“Walls could cause water to cause harm
To beaches, dunes, and neighboring farms.”
“Walls are ugly, and walls aren’t green!
You just can’t put a wall between
The water and holes 1, 9, and 18.”
“If you can’t take the storms, then move those holes.”
But Trump, he said, “There’s nothing doin’.”
When the going gets tough, the Trumps get suin’.
“No one’s going to mess with my bankrolls,
There’s no way I’m going to move those holes.”
So this transpired in Two Thousand Sixteen
And it’s still going on, from the last that I’ve seen.
He fights for the wall, and fights again.
The people say no and they won’t give in.
But if there’s one thing about this guy we’ve discovered:
He says one thing and means another.
So the next time Donny starts to talk like this:
“Fiction! Fake News! A con job! A myth!
Stupid madness! Fortune tellers! Prophets of doom!
They flush the toilets fifteen times! Windmills cause fumes!
They took away my hairspray! They’ll take anything that’s fun!
They’ll take away your oil, your gas, your religion, and your guns!”
Next time he calls it Total Fiction, Fake News, a Chinese hoax!
Step back and just recall the tale of Doonbeg, folks!
– Cynthia Fogg
III. “Greta Speaks”
Trump: The whole climate crisis is not only Fake News, it’s Fake Science. There is no climate crisis, there’s weather and climate all around the world, and carbon dioxide is the main building block of all life.
Greta: You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones.
Trump: She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!
Greta: People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.
Trump: With 2.5 MILLION jobs added in May, we’re on the way to an incredible period of growth!
Greta: We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
Trump: Don’t let the dollar-sucking wise guys fool you. The climate changes, but it’s back and forth, back and forth. If something’s changing, it will change back.
Greta: You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children.
Trump: I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.
Greta: I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists. For more than thirty years, the science has been crystal clear.
Trump: Right now we’re the cleanest we’ve ever been. China and India and Russia do absolutely nothing.
Greta: You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.
– Greta Thunberg and Donald Trump
IV. “November Premembrance”
Dear November, especially three,
I have a favor to ask of thee.
Dear November, especially third,
Just wandering, wondering, what will have occurred?
Can you give us a hint, can you give us a clue?
What will have happened when we will have gotten to you?
(Past November two?)
The present is here, but the future is there.
Can you pull the past from the future, out of thin air?
Can you just give a glint, or a hint, of what will have been?
Can we just start again, and wipe the slate clean?
If “it is what it is,” as a great statesman once said,
Will it be what it might have been? And how many dead?
Will those who keep mum have stopped covering their butts?
Will the dumb have been empowered to speak up with guts?
Will those who have cowered, yet speak truth to power?
Will they finally have soured, and told him he’s nuts?
And what of COVID, our virulent friend,
What is going to have been destined to have been that plague’s end?
Sink back, with soft breezes, perhaps that soothe,
Slink back to us with whispers of comforting truth.
Will reluctant Republicans somehow have dared
To have done something positive, causative,
Not just have stared?
Will relief have had a chance?
Will truth have had a prayer?
If it hasn’t, then, what will have been our defense???
Let’s all have stopped this nonsense!!!
Let’s all have used comMON sense!
Have spoken out! Have risen up!!!
Have joined the Resistance!
Have broken out of imprisoned thought!
Have quashed mere indifference!!!!
And in November, premember:
If you don’t like the way things might surely be going to have been,
and you’re tired of having dealt with an administration that only is going to have cared about nothing except about how to have saved its own skin—
If you will have wanted to have been someone who might have stepped up and have answered the call,
and you’re soon to have been tired of watching the lying, the economy, the disease rate, the state of our democracy, our standing in the world, and our self-respect as a nation all in free fall—
If we were not to have been going to be sure to have been certain to have been driven to be inspired to be unflaggingly unflinchingly unswervingly determined to have been
hellbent on having gotten our vote cast—
Some beautiful day, when the inscrutable future will have become the past,
Despite the worst voting scams ever promoted,
Someday with our last breath we’ll look back to looking forward to having voted.
– Cynthia Fogg
About the Artists
As the duo Celliola, Cindy and Tom have been playing music together for more than 40 years. In that time, they have had more than 30 pieces written for them: duos as Celliola, solos for one or the other, and chamber music for larger forces. Celliola has played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Orchestra Hall in Detroit, universities and conservatories across the United States, and in music festivals in Romania and Austria. Celliola’s recordings have been released on Naxos and Bridge Records.
Cynthia Fogg has performed extensively on both viola and violin. In Boston, she played for many years with Emmanuel Music and the Monadnock Festival. Since settling in California, she has played with a variety of organizations including the Pasadena Symphony and Monday Evening Concerts, and has appeared as guest violist with the acclaimed Kronos and Alexander quartets. Ms. Fogg has recorded chamber music for Naxos, Bridge, Opus One, Cambria, Klavier and Innova, as well as soundtracks for motion pictures and television. She currently teaches at Pomona College and Pasadena Conservatory of Music. The daughter of an English teacher, she has an obsession with language and considers herself a student of W. S. Gilbert, Ogden Nash, Tom Lehrer, Anna Russell and Randy Rainbow.
Tom Flaherty, John P. and Magdalena R. Dexter Professor of Music, has received grants, prizes, awards, and residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Music Center, the Pasadena Arts Council, “Meet the Composer,” and Yaddo. He earned a B.A. from Brandeis University, an M.A. and M.M. from SUNY Stony Brook, and a D.M.A. from the University of Southern California. Published by American Composers Editions and G. Schirmer, his music has been performed throughout Europe and North America and is recorded on the Albany, Klavier, Bridge, Capstone, SEAMUS, Reference, and Advance labels. Recent pieces include music for ensembles Volti, Speculum Musicae, Mojave Trio, Eclipse Quartet, and Quartet Euphoria; pianists Genevieve Feiwen Lee, Nadia Shpachenko, and Aron Kallay; organist William Peterson; guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan; and singers Gwendolyn Lytle, Lucy Shelton, Melissa Givens, Scott Lehmkuhl and Scott Graff.
Soprano Melissa Givens moves and excites audiences and critics alike with a rich, powerful tone, crystalline clarity, and intelligent musical interpretations. She is also an extremely versatile artist, regularly performing repertoire from the Baroque era through music of the twenty-first century. A champion of collaborative musical endeavors, Givens performs with various chamber music groups including Conspirare: A Company of Voices, the 2015 Grammy® winner for Best Choral Performance. A featured artist in Conspirare’s ongoing tours of Johnson’s groundbreaking oratorio Considering Matthew Shepard, recent performances also include George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children, and the world premiere of Die Schöne Muellerin Report by Tom Flaherty with Pomona College faculty and guest artists, as well as Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 (chamber version) with the Greenbriar Consortium. Givens is Assistant Professor of Music at Pomona College.
A versatile performer of music spanning five centuries, Grammy®-nominated Genevieve Feiwen Lee has thrilled audiences on the piano, harpsichord, toy piano, keyboard, and electronics. Ms. Lee received her degrees from the Peabody Institute, École Normale de Musique de Paris, and the Yale School of Music, where she studied with Boris Berman. She has taught at Yale, Bucknell University, and SUNY Potsdam. Ms. Lee has recorded solo piano and chamber music for Innova and Albany Records. She is the Everett S. Olive Professor of Music at Pomona College, where she teaches piano, chamber music, ear-training, and theory.
Joti Rockwell, Associate Professor of Music, joined the Pomona College faculty in fall of 2007. He has taught courses on music theory, American popular music, music and mathematics, and rhythm, and he is a previous recipient of the Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching. His scholarly work has centered around American roots music and music theory, and his writings have appeared in publications including Journal of Music Theory, Ethnomusicology, and Popular Music. He received a B.S. in physics and music from Haverford College and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Prior to his graduate work, he performed full time as one half of an acoustic duo, touring extensively across the United States and recording five albums, one of which was for the Nashville label Compass Records. He plays roots music, bluegrass, and contemporary concert music on the acoustic guitar, mandolin, and banjo, and he also performs in and coordinates Pomona’s Balinese gamelan ensemble: Giri Kusuma.
Bass/baritone Scott Graff has appeared throughout the U.S. as a soloist and chamber musician. As a soloist, he has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Musica Angelica, Catacoustic Consort, the Carmel Bach Festival, California Bach Society, and Synchromy. He has premiered roles in four new operas, including Posterity in The Person of Leibnitz, the world-premiere performances of Louis Andriessen’s Theatre of the World with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and most recently, The Wolf in Jason Barabba’s micro-opera Any Excuse Will Serve a Tyrant. Scott is also an active studio singer, lending his voice to numerous film and television soundtrack recordings. He is a member of the voice faculty at Pomona College.