Pomona College Department of Music, Faculty Recital
Initial Stream: Sunday, February 14, 2021 at 3:00 PM and subsequently on-demand
Recorded in Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music
“Dancing in Breathtaking Beats: Music for Two Pianos”
Jennie Jung and Genevieve Feiwen Lee, pianos
Mary Ellen Childs (b. 1957): Kilter (1992)
Robert Schumann (1810–1856): Six Canonic Etudes, Op. 56 for pedal piano
arr. for two pianos by Claude Debussy
Nicht zu schnell
Mit innigem Ausdruck
Andantino – Etwas schneller
Nicht zu schnell
John Adams (b. 1947): Hallelujah Junction (1998)
Astor Piazzolla (1921–1992): Milonga del ángel and Michelangelo 70
arr. for two pianos by Pablo Ziegler
This concert is generously supported by the Elizabeth McLeod Geiger 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.
The word kilter is rarely used except in the phrase that denotes its opposite, “out of kilter.” Kilter means good condition, proper form, or, by my extension, the state of being in balance. The title, then, refers to both the state of being in balance and the state of being out of balance, and to the fact that neither state could exist without the other being possible. Kilter was commissioned by Carleton College in Northfield, MN. —MEC
Minneapolis-based composer Mary Ellen Childs is a composer interested in all the senses. She has composed countless musical works for the concert hall—solo accordion to string quartet to concert band—and is especially known for her interdisciplinary compositions which may incorporate movement for the performers, or multi-image video, or special lighting, or even scents.
Her full-length works include Stone Steel Wood Glass Light, commissioned for the Chicago Architectural Biennial, drawing inspiration from the Farnsworth House, a glass house designed by Mies van der Rohe; Dream House for string quartet, based on themes of destruction and construction and accompanied by multi-image video; and Wreck, created for dance, for which she won a Sage Award.
She has been awarded fellowships from United States Artists, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and residencies from Bellagio Center, Bogliasco Foundation, Yaddo, the Emily Harvey Foundation (Venice, Italy), and the Arctic Circle Expedition in Svalbard, as well as grants from Creative Capital, Opera America, and MAP Fund.
Hallelujah Junction is a small truck stop on Highway 49 in the High Sierras on the California-Nevada border near where I have a small cabin. For years I would pass through in my car, wondering what piece of music might have a title like Hallelujah Junction. It was a case of a good title needing a piece, so I obliged by composing this work for two pianos.
Two pianos is a combination that has long intrigued me, and the pairing plays important roles in both Common Tones in Simple Time and Grand Pianola Music. What attracts me is the possibility of having similar or even identical material played at a very slight delay, thereby creating a kind of planned resonance as if the sonorities were being processed by a delay circuit. The brilliant attacks and rich ten-fingered chords of the grand pianos suggest endless possibilities for constructing an ecstatic, clangorous continuum, the effect of which could not be achieved with any other sonorous instrument.
I begin with only the “__lle-lu-jah” of the title (a Hebrew word), a three-syllable exclamation that bounces back and forth between the two instruments until it yields to a more relaxed and regular figuration of rolling 16ths. The harmonies are essentially modal, staying exclusively in the flat regions of the circle of fifths.
Eventually the rambling, busy patter of 16ths gives way to a passage of dry, secco chords that punctuate the musical surface like karate chops until they too give way, this time to the serene middle movement. Here the “__lle-lu-jah” motif of the opening is gently transformed and extended above a quiet fabric of repeated triplets. These triplets become the main event as the movement tightens up and energy increases, leading into the final section. Here I take advantage of the acoustically identical sounds of the two pianos to make constant shifts of pulse (Is it in two? Or is it in three?). This ambiguity produces a kind of giddy uncertainty as the music pings back and forth in bright clusters.
The final moments of Hallelujah Junction revel in the full onomatopoeic possibilities of the title. We get the full four syllables—the “Hallelujah”—as well as the “junction” of the by-now crazed pianists, both of them very likely in extremis of full-tilt boogie.
Hallelujah Junction was composed for my friends Grant Gershon and Gloria Cheng, who first performed it at the Getty Center in Brentwood, California in April of 1998. It was dedicated to Ernest Fleischmann, for many years the guiding light of musical culture in Los Angeles. —JA
Composer, conductor, and creative thinker John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of music. His works stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. Works spanning more than three decades are among the most performed of all contemporary classical music, among them Nixon in China, Harmonielehre, Doctor Atomic, Shaker Loops, El Niño, Short Ride in a Fast Machine and The Dharma at Big Sur.
His stage works, all in collaboration with director Peter Sellars, have transformed the genre of contemporary music theater. Nonesuch Records has recorded all of Adams’s music over the past three decades, with numerous Grammy® awards among them.
As conductor, Adams leads the world’s major orchestras in repertoire that spans from Beethoven and Mozart to Stravinsky, Ives, Carter, Zappa, Glass and Ellington. Born and raised in New England, Adams learned the clarinet from his father and played in marching bands and community orchestras during his formative years. He began composing at age ten and his first orchestral pieces were performed while just a teenager.
Adams is Creative Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The official John Adams website is www.earbox.com.
Milonga del ángel
Inspired by Piazzolla’s Tango del ángel (1957), playwright Albert Rodriguez Muñoz wrote a three-act stage play in 1962 bearing the same name. Piazzolla provided additional “angel” incidental music for the play including this milonga, a sentimental, cancíon-style of tango. The drama depicts an angel who appears to residents of a shabby neighborhood in Buenos Aires to purify their souls and is ultimately killed in a knife fight. The milonga is heard as the requiem for the angel killed in La muerte del ángel.
In 1969, a Buenos Aires night club, Michelangelo, moved into a seventeenth-century building in the San Telmo district. This charging, energetic work was written in honor of the new nightspot where Piazzolla’s quintet played regularly and in tribute to the great Michelangelo himself. The theme is centered on a repeated three-note motif F#-G#-A, which permeates throughout. —PZ
Composer and bandoneonist Astor Piazzolla transformed the national dance of Argentina, the tango, into an entirely new musical genre of concert music. Born to Italian immigrant parents in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Piazzolla grew up in New York City. At a young age, he was exposed to music of both classical and jazz styles and developed a remarkable talent for the bandoneon, the accordion-like instrument central to tango. At age 16 he returned to Argentina where he earned a place performing in the band of legendary tanguero Anibal Troilo and later formed his own group. He immersed himself in classical music, studying composition with Alberto Ginastera and analyzing the music of Bartók, Stravinsky, and Ravel. He later traveled to Paris to work with renowned composer/educator Nadia Boulanger, teacher of Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Quincy Jones, and many others. It was Boulanger who encouraged him to follow the path of his roots and to form his own voice.
Piazzolla left Paris and created nueva tango, a synthesis of tango fused with classical and jazz styles meant for listening, not dancing. His innovations were met with fierce resistance in the birthplace of tango, so in 1958 he left Argentina for New York City and Europe. New audiences enthusiastically embraced his music, and Piazzolla emerged as an international celebrity. In the following years, Piazzolla and his quintet collaborated with jazz greats and classical stars who performed and recorded his music worldwide. Since his death in 1992, his music has gained increasing popularity, and his work continues to inspire countless performers.
About the Artists
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. She enjoys finding music that challenges her to go outside of her comfort zone to sing, speak, act, and play new instruments. She has given solo recitals at Merkin Concert Hall in New York, and the Salle Gaveau in Paris. Since her first concerto engagement at age 12, she has appeared with the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, Brazil; the Vrazta State Philharmonic, Bulgaria; and The Orchestra of Northern New York. Her concerts in China appeared on Hunan State Television, and her performance from the Spiegelzaal at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam was broadcast on live radio.
Ms. Lee has premiered and commissioned numerous works, and she can be heard on the Innova, Albany, and Reference labels. She was nominated in the Best Chamber Music Performance category at the 58th Grammy® Awards for the recording of Tom Flaherty’s Airdancing. In the Los Angeles area, Ms. Lee has been a guest performer with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Chamber Music series at Disney Hall, Southwest Chamber Music, Jacaranda, Piano Spheres, and the Hear Now New Music Festival. She is a founding member of the Mojave Trio and was a member of the Garth Newel Piano Quartet when they performed in Carnegie Hall. Ms. Lee received her degrees from the Peabody Institute, École Normale de Musique de Paris, and the Yale School of Music. Having joined the Pomona College faculty in 1994, she is the first recipient of the Everett S. Olive Professorship, endowed by Yuk Mei Shim ’50.
Jennie Jung made her debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at the age of 11 and has since been active as both a soloist and collaborator in North America. She has performed with the Republic of Tatarstan Symphony, Korean Philharmonic, Taejon Symphony, and the Korean-Canadian, University of Toronto, Hart House, and Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestras, and has attended festivals including the Taubman Institute of Piano, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.
As a chamber musician, she has performed in North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe, and has been on staff at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, Aspen Summer Music Festival, Gregor Piatigorsky Seminar for Cellists, and the Banff Centre for the Arts. She was a member of the Jung Trio with her sisters Ellen (violin) and Julie (cello). The Jung Trio was the Grand Prize winner at the 2002 Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition and was awarded the Bronze Medal at the 2002 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. The Trio has attended numerous festivals and workshops, including the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Orford Arts Centre Festival, and the Banff Centre for the Arts. Past performances include recitals in Berlin, Salzburg, Seoul, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Toronto, and a concert tour of Kenya and Mauritius as representatives of the Korean Kumho Cultural Foundation. The Jung Trio performed Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with orchestras in Russia, Korea, Toronto, and Los Angeles. Their recording of Dvořák’s Piano Trio in F Minor was released on the Groovenote Label.
Dr. Jung received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Toronto, her Master of Music and Artist Diploma from Yale University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Juilliard School. She is a member of the faculty at Pomona College and Center Stage Strings, an Mpulse Institute at the University of Michigan School of Music, Ann Arbor.