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Program: Virtual Concert begins Mar. 28, The 29th Annual Ussachevsky Memorial Festival of Electro Acoustic Music

Downloadable program

Pomona College Department of Music, Faculty and Guest Artist Recital
Initial Stream: Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 3:00 PM and subsequently on-demand
 

Concert Program

“A Retrospective”
interspersed with introductions from 2021

 

Mari Kimura (b. 1962):  Eigenspace (2011)
Mari Kimura, violin
~ recorded at the 2019 festival ~

 

Brendon Randall-Myers (b. 1986):  “Permission” (2016)
Invisible Anatomy: Ian Gottlieb, cello; Paul Kerekes, keyboards; Brendon Randall-Myers, guitar; Daniel Schlosberg, keyboards; Ben Wallace, percussion; Fay Wang, voice
~ recorded at the 2016 festival ~

 

Eric Moe (b. 1954):  The Sun Beats the Mountain Like a Drum (2004)
Eric Moe, synthesizer
~ recorded at the 2012 festival ~

 

Zeena Parkins (b. 1956):  Sistere (2017)
Maggie Parkins, cello
~ recorded at the 2018 festival ~

 

Luigi Nono (1924–1990):  “Ha venido” from Canciones para Silvia (1960)
Lucy Shelton, soprano
~ recorded at the 2008 festival ~

 

The Ussachevsky Memorial Festival is sponsored by The Marilyn Gaddis Fund, The William T. Rietkerk & Gordon J. Bird Fund,

The Elizabeth McLeod Geiger Memorial Fund and the Vladimir Ussachevsky Music Department Fund. Pomona College is grateful to alumni and friends whose continuing generosity makes the programs presented by the Department of Music possible.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Program Notes

 

Eigenspace
Eigenspace is a collaborative project with Japan’s leading visual artist in new media, Tomoyuki Kato (Dentsu Tech). As Japanese people, we were deeply touched by the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, one of the worst man-made catastrophes in the history of humankind. It is still not contained today, contaminating the globe. Eigenspace is about our love and prayer for humankind and our planet, and for the next generation. The title is also taken from the term eigenvalue, a function used in analyzing the bowing movement by Nicolas Rasamimanana, which interacts in real time with Mr. Kato’s software. The musical expression is extracted by MUGICTM motion sensor, and affects the real-time signal processing parameters. Eigenspace was commissioned by Harvestworks and premiered at Roulette in Brooklyn, 2011.  –MK

Mari Kimura is at the forefront of violinists who are extending the technical and expressive capabilities of the instrument. As a performer, composer, and researcher, she has opened up new sonic worlds for the violin. Notably, she has mastered the production of pitches that sound up to an octave below the violin’s lowest string without retuning. This technique, which she calls Subharmonics, has earned Mari considerable renown in the concert music world and beyond. She is also a pioneer in the field of interactive computer music. At the same time, she has earned international acclaim as a soloist and recitalist in both standard and contemporary repertoire.
     As a composer, Mari’s commissions include the International Computer Music Association, Harvestworks, Music from Japan, and others, supported by grants including New York Foundation for the Arts, Arts International, New Music USA/Meet The Composer, Japan Foundation, Argosy Foundation, and New York State Council on the Arts. In 2010, Mari won the Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition, and was invited to be composer in residence at IRCAM in Paris.
     In 2013, Mari inaugurated a new summer program as the Director of the Future Music Lab at the Atlantic Music Festival in collaboration with IRCAM. The program focuses on high-level performers using the latest technology. Since 2016, Mari is using MUGIC, a prototype motion sensor extracting her bowing movement and musical expressions.

 

Permission
I wrote “Permission” as part of a show by my group Invisible Anatomy called Dissections, which we created and premiered in 2016. Dissections explores intimacy and the potentially damaging experience of being vulnerable with others, and also the beautiful and unexpected results that can happen when that risk is taken. Each piece in the show fixates on one element of a musical phrase or text, repeating—or dissecting—it.
     I wrote two songs for Dissections, each focusing on aspects of opening up to someone—navigating difference and similarity, and the disconnect between who we imagine people to be and who they actually are. “Permission” in particular asks what is and isn’t okay between two people as they become close, and leans into the darker implications of this question. Musically, I split rock-derived phrases across multiple instruments playing at different tempos, trying to capture a feeling of discomfort as a kind of sensual experience.  –BRM

     “Permission”
     can we talk in secret codes / can we talk about our dads/ can you draw me a diagram /
     can i draw you into my maze / can i undress you without my hands / can i tie you down to the bed /
     can you show me where it hurts / can you let me in your head / you’re mine now / little boy
     can i take away everything you had / can you give me all your teeth / can i extract the sickness from your body /
     can i take it into me / you let me in / you must have wanted this

     can you tell me you love me / as i take off your skin / can you hold me close and comfort me /
     as i break all your fingers / and i look behind your eyes / can I take you apart /
     can i show you what’s inside you / open up your beating heart / you’re mine now / little boy

     you let me in / you must have wanted this / can i bury you under a bridge /

     can i leave you in an unmarked grave / can i pretend we never met
                                                                          – Brendon Randal-Myers

Brendon Randall-Myers ’09 is a Brooklyn-based composer and guitarist working at various intersections of rock, experimental, theater, and classical music. His work has received support from the Jerome Foundation, New Music USA, New York State Council for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and has been performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Omaha Symphony, Dither, and Friction Quartet. Brendon co-leads math rock band Marateck and multimedia avant-rock ensemble Invisible Anatomy, and is a member of the Glenn Branca Ensemble and absurdist art-rock band Ecce Shnak. He has performed in clubs, concert halls, and basements around the world, including the Barbican Theatre (London), the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), and the Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing).

 
The Sun Beats the Mountain Like a Drum
The pipa is characterized as an instrument by an extreme range of visceral performance gestures—notes bend like crazy, strings can be twisted together, machine-gun tremolos can strike at any moment. The wild physicality of the instrument is palpable, with an in-your-face presence. For the pipa’s electroacoustic partner, I looked for material that would emulate its hyper-expressive power. I enjoy the tension between digitally processed and raw sounds, and have a decided fondness for the latter. Often the rawness is as much the result of signal noise or the artifacts of digital processing as the hand-made or found-on-the-ground nature of the source. Such sounds sometimes have blemishes but are not bland, and are often hairy, not airbrushed. I have drawn from various musical traditions and sound worlds. Some of the high adventure of the piece lies in how traditions collide, rebound, and are transformed and convoluted by one another.
     The Sun Beats the Mountain Like a Drum was composed at the Montana Artists Refuge in July 2004, and was commissioned by the Fromm Foundation for pipa virtuoso Wu Man. I gratefully acknowledge the contributions of bluesman Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) and percussionist Michael Lipsey for samples that are essential to the piece.  –EM

[Note: when it proved difficult to engage a pipa player for tonight’s concert, the composer’s arm was twisted by the Ussachevsky organizers to perform the piece in this version for keyboard. Happily, Mr. Moe was convinced.  –TF]

Eric Moe, composer of what The New York Times has called “music of winning exuberance,” has received numerous grants and awards for his work, including the Lakond Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim Fellowship; commissions from the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, the Barlow Endowment, Meet-the-Composer USA, and New Music USA; fellowships and residencies from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Montalvo Arts Center, Yaddo, Bellagio, Camargo, VCCA, UCross, Aaron Copland House, Ragdale, Hambidge, and the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, among others.
     As a pianist, Moe has premiered and performed works by a wide variety of composers. He co-directs Pittsburgh’s Music on the Edge new music concert series, and is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh.

 

Sistere
Sistere is a work for solo cello and fixed media by composer Zeena Parkins, written for her sister, cellist Maggie Parkins. It is based on two pieces selected by the cellist that influenced her formative years: Eric Dolphy’s bass clarinet solo God Bless the Child (1961) and the cello movement from Olivier Messiaen’s masterwork Quartet for the End of Time (1940). The composer, in collaboration with programmer Matthew Ostrowski, created an electronic processor to enhance and play with the overtones and upper partials of the Dolphy solo performance. The newly generated material, a kind of ghostly presence sourced from the Dolphy recording, meshes with fragments of cello lines quoted directly from the Messiaen composition and reveals an intensely resonant new space for the performer to iterate sonic responses. With the cellist serving as a link between Dolphy, an African-American composer/performer, and Messiaen, a French prisoner-of-war camp survivor, Sistere’s eight short movements explore the intersections between compositions that together transcend their wide contextual differences.  –ZP

Multi-instrumentalist/composer/improviser Zeena Parkins, a pioneer of contemporary harp practice and performance, reimagines the instrument as a “sound machine of limitless capacity.” Parkins has built three versions of her one-of-a-kind electric harp and has extended the language of the acoustic harp with the inventive use of unusual playing techniques, preparations, and layers of electronic processing.
     Inspired and connected to visual arts, dance, film, and history, Zeena follows a unique path in creating her compositional works. Through blending and morphing of both real and imagined instruments, crafting, recombining, and layering mangled, sliced, massaged or possibly disengaged sounds, drawing from extra- musical sources for unusual scoring and formal constructions as well as utilizing multi-speaker environments, Zeena remains in process with sound as material and music, engaged in translations of sonic states in the concert hall, the black box theater, the dance studio, the recording studio, the classroom, the cinema, the skyscraper, the ocean and the gallery.

 

Ha venido
Luigi Nono’s “Ha venido” is the first movement from Canciones para Silvia. Written for his daughter’s first birthday in 1960, it is scored for solo soprano and an ensemble of six virtuoso sopranos. Known for his political, antifascist, and often dark music, Nono here sets a text celebrating rebirth in spring, with the sound of seven sopranos singing together, joyfully finishing each other’s words.
Several sopranos have released overdubbed recordings where they sing all parts, so it seemed appropriate to have Lucy Shelton sing a live performance accompanied by her own recording of the ensemble parts.  –TF

“Ha venido”

1.   La primavera ha venido.
      Nadie sabe como ha sido.

2.   La primavera ha venido.
     Aleluyas blancas
     de los zarzales floridos!

3.  Canta, canta en claro rimo,
     el almendro en verde rama
     y el doble sauce del rio.


     Canta de la parda encina
     la rama que el hacha corta,
     y la flor que nadie mira.


     De los perales des huerto
     la blanca flor, la rosada
     flor del melocotonero.


     Y este olor
     que arranca el viento mojado
     a los habares en flor.

4.  Si vivir es bueno
     es mejor sonar,
     y mejor que todo,
    madre, despertar.

                          – Antonio Machado

1. Spring has arrived.
    No one knows how.

2. Spring has arrived.
    White aleluyas
    of the blooming brambles.  

3. It sings, it sings the clear rhyme,
    the almond tree in green branch 
    and the double willow of the river.

    It sings of the brown oak
    of the branch that the axe cuts,
    and the flower that no one sees.

    Of the pear trees of the orchard,
    the white flower, the pink
    flower of the peach tree.

    And this scent
    that rips the wet wind  
    from the bean fields in blossom.

4. If living is good,
    it’s better to dream,
    and best of all
    mother, is to awaken.

                – translated by Milagro Vargas

 

Italian composer Luigi Nono wrote many instrumental, vocal, and electronic pieces, some of which were meant for theatrical production. He was prominent in the Darmstadt School of composers (with Boulez and Stockhausen, among others) and apparently coined the term. Like his colleagues who spent summers working with new music in Darmstadt, Germany, his music often used serial techniques, though his political convictions as an antifascist and member of the Italian Communist Party were as central to his output as his inventive serial manipulations.

 

About the Artists

Biographies are listed in performance order and pulled from earlier programs.
Composer biographies that are previously listed have been excluded.

 

Invisible Anatomy (IA), as a composer-performer ensemble, explores the human body as the most fundamental aspect of music creation and performance. Incorporating elements from classical, jazz, experimental rock, performance art, and theater, IA creates otherworldly performances that combine an omnivorous stylistic palate, virtuosic physicality, and dramatic visual presentation. IA’s inaugural show Body Parts dismembered, manipulated, and reanimated bodies in performance—creating a chattering chorus of woodblock teeth, wearing pop songs as a mask, and floating screaming eyes on TV screens. After the group’s 2015 debut concerts in New York City, IA was invited to China for three shows, including a featured solo concert at the Beijing Modern Music Festival. They have also performed at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles and Roulette in Brooklyn, New York.

Ian Gottlieb is a New York-based composer and cellist whose music grapples with nostalgia, psychedelia, eclecticism, and spirituality. His music has been performed by various ensembles and artists, notably Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble dal Niente, Sandbox Percussion, Triple Helix, Hilary Summers, and Antico Moderno. Recent commissions include works for Contemporaneous and cellist Rhonda Rider. Ian is an avid performer of new music and has also performed with numerous pop artists, including tours with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Air Traffic Controller at major venues such as the House of Blues (Los Angeles), the Coliseum (Hampton, VA), Mohegan Sun (CT), and the Verizon Arena (NH). A Los Angeles native, he holds degrees from the Yale School of Music, Boston University, and Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences.

Paul Kerekes is a New York-based pianist and composer whose music has been described as “gently poetic” (The New York Times), “striking” (WQXR), and “highly eloquent” (New Haven Advocate). He has had the privilege of hearing his pieces performed by many outstanding ensembles, some of which include the American Composers Orchestra, Da Capo Chamber Players, and New Morse Code, in such venues as Merkin Hall, Le Poussin Rouge, and The Winter Garden. He has also attended notable programs such as the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and the Young Artists Piano Program at Tanglewood. Paul is also a member of Grand Band, a six piano ensemble that has been featured in such events as the Bang on a Can Marathon and the Gilmore Keyboard Festival. He has received awards from ASCAP and the Academy of Arts and Letters, and was the recipient of the 2015 JFund award from the American Composer’s Forum. He is a graduate of Queens College and the Yale School of Music and currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

The music of composer and pianist Daniel Schlosberg has been performed by the Dover Quartet, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Amphion Quartet, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Antico Moderno, and Lorelei Ensemble at Carnegie Hall, Victoria and Albert Museum (London), St. John’s Cathedral (Hong Kong), and Melbourne Recital Centre (Melbourne). Recent work includes an adaptation of Lorca’s Once Five Years Pass at the Williamstown Theatre Festival; music for BodyVox Dance Company’s production Cosmosis; and commissions for Chamber Music Northwest, Simon Carrington and the Norfolk Music Festival, and the Mousai Ensemble. Schlosberg continues to perform around the world, collaborating with such luminaries as David Shifrin, Peter Wiley, and Ani Kavafian. He directed the music and performed in Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 2015, premiering a new score by David Lang. He is a core member of the chamber ensemble Cantata Profana and co-Music Director of Heartbeat Opera, both based in New York. Schlosberg received a 2014 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and 2014 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s from the Yale School of Music. His work has been described as “witty” by the Wall Street Journal.

Described as “Brilliant, humorous, and rhythmically complex,” (Tacoma Symphony Blog), Ben Wallace is a composer, percussionist, and keyboard player hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ben’s music spans a wide range of styles from chamber and orchestral to disco and samba, and occasionally into the video game remix world. He has worked with organizations such as Musical Theatre Southwest, The Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Grand Band, and Music & Cocktails, hearing his works performed in New York, Tacoma, Utah, New Mexico, New Haven, San Francisco, Switzerland, and Beijing. He is a founding member of DiscoCactus, a VGM remix band. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati in both composition and percussion, studying primarily with Allen Otte and Joel Hoffman. He then received his Master of Muisc degree from the Yale School of Music in composition, where he studied with David Lang, Chris Theofanidis, Martin Bresnick, and Aaron Kernis. He is currently pursuing a DMA in composition at the Yale School of Music.

Fay Wang (also known as Wang Feinan or Fay Kueen) has been hailed as “rebellious” and “creative” by China Daily. Her music is performed throughout Asia, Europe and the United States in such venues as the Berliner Philharmonie, Musikverein, Oper Graz, Arnold Schoenberg Center, National Centre for the Performing Arts Beijing, Yun Isang Memorial Hall, Shanghai Concert Hall, Merkin Hall, and Lincoln Center. She has been commissioned by Bang on a Can’s PCF, the Roger Shapiro Fund for New Music, the Hopkins Center for Arts, the Classic Euro Young Festival, the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival, the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, and the Beijing Modern Music Festival. She has worked with ensembles including China Philharmonic Orchestra, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, the RIAS Youth Orchestra, Dinosaur Annex, Shanghai Quartet, Sinfonia Iuventus, and China Youth Symphony Orchestra, and with individuals like Danish percussionist Gert Mortensen and All-Stars’ cellist Ashley Bathgate. Wang’s work draws from and spans a variety of genres, including avant-garde concert music, theater, film, electronic music, Chinese folk music, and experimental pop. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the Central Conservatory of Music and master’s and doctorate degrees from the Yale School of Music.
 

Maggie Parkins is equally at home performing chamber music, orchestral music and the avant-garde, and has concertized throughout the Americas and Europe. She is the cellist of the Los Angeles-based Mojave Piano Trio and has performed with Todd Sickafoose, the Jazz Passengers, the Anthony Braxton Tri Centric Ensemble, percussionist Alex Cline and the Phantom Orchard Orchestra. As an orchestral performer, Parkins has performed under the batons of Seiji Ozawa, Leonard Bernstein, Simon Rattle, and André Previn. An active recording artist as well, she has recorded extensively with harpist Zeena Parkins and with accordionist Guy Klucevsek on the Tzadik, Avan, and Victo labels. She attended the Eastman School of Music and has a doctorate from SUNY at Stony Brook. She is on the faculty at Pomona College.
 

The “mellifluous, creamy phrasing and breathtaking virtuosity” (London Sunday Times) of soprano Lucy Shelton ’65 has captivated audiences worldwide. Ms. Shelton demonstrates her exceptional artistry in an extensive repertoire ranging from the Baroque to the Contemporary. She is one of the foremost interpreters of today’s composers, having premiered over 100 works, more than 60 of which have been written for her. Some highlights of Ms. Shelton’s career to date include staged performances of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (‘Moondrunk’) on tour with Da Camera of Houston and Berio’s Passaggio with the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris; the role of Jenifer in Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage for Thames Television; her BBC Proms debut in Dallapiccola’s Il Prigioniero; and her Vienna and Berlin debuts singing Kurtág’s The Sayings of Peter Bornemisza with pianist Andras Schiff. Her most recent solo recordings (on the KOCH International label) are Songs of Love and Death (Messiaen’s Harawi) and Of Challenge and Of Love (the complete songs with piano of Stravinsky and Carter—including Carter’s 1995 song cycle written for Ms. Shelton).
      A native Californian, Ms. Shelton’s musical training began early with the study of both piano and flute. After graduating from Pomona College, she pursued singing at the New England Conservatory and at the Aspen Music School where she was privileged to work with Jan de Gaetani. Ms. Shelton is currently on the faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center.


The Ussachevsky Memorial Festival
of Electro Acoustic M
usic

 

Vladimir Ussachevsky (1911–1990), Pomona ’35, was a pioneer in the field of electronic music and co-founder of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York. Among his early compositions was Jubilee Cantata (1937), performed by the Pomona College Choir and Orchestra to celebrate the College’s 50th anniversary. In 1988 he was commissioned to write To the Young in commemoration of Pomona’s 100th anniversary. He left a bequest to the college to support activities in the field of electronic music, which funded much of our equipment and the founding of this series. For the past several years the series and ongoing equipment needs have been supported by the generosity of Marilyn Gaddis ’50, who established a fund to support Pomona’s Electronic Studio.
     Welcome to the 29th Annual Ussachevsky Memorial Festival of Electro Acoustic Music! Since 1993, we’ve invited out-of-town guests whom we might not often see in Los Angeles as composers, performers, or inventors who have made significant contributions to the world of new music with electronics. In light of COVID, rather than present a live concert, we are taking the opportunity to present a retrospective selection of a few of those guests.
     Composer and violinist Mari Kimura plays her Eigenspace. Invisible Anatomy performs Brendon Randall-Myers’s “Permission.” Composer/pianist Eric Moe performs his The Sun Beats the Mountain Like a Drum. Cellist Maggie Parkins plays her sister Zeena’s Sistere. And soprano Lucy Shelton performs Luigi Nono’s “Ha venido,” a piece originally for solo soprano and six “ensemble” sopranos, here, with the magic of technology, presented with Lucy Shelton performing all seven parts.
     As I do every year, I want to acknowledge some of the people behind the scenes, without whom nothing good would ever happen. In particular this year I must thank Barry Werger, whose technical wizardry has made every Ussachevsky Festival run like clockwork, and whose videography has captured every concert for more than a decade.
     Other people behind the scenes include Elizabeth Champion, who makes us all look better than we deserve, in print and in online presentations. Cathy Endress has been in the Command Center of the Music Department Office for decades, steering the ship through stormy weather and calm seas. Sherrill Herring is General Manager of music facilities, a position for years held by recently retired Graydon Beeks. David Vanderlip has expertly tended our pianos, and patiently dealt with Ussachevsky-related unusual tunings. The faculty, both part-time and full, have humored my every request and helped pull together a successful weekend of events every year. I am grateful to all of them for making the last 29 years of Ussachevsky Festivals fascinating, exciting, and fun.   –TF