February 23 at 8:00 PM
ROMERO Blanco, Azul, Rojo (2005)
Romero was born in 1966, in San Francisco, California.
He now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Blanco, Azul, Rojo is scored for 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo),
2 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets (3rd doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons,
contrabassoon, 4 French horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani,
percussion, harp, and strings. Performance time is approximately 17
Blanco, Azul, Rojo was commissioned by ACO with the support of the Helen
F. Whitaker Fund.
is the recipient of the Helen F. Whitaker Emerging Composer Commission.
He has served as associate artist with the San Francisco Symphony’s
Adventures in Music and Concerts for Kids programs. Among other honors,
he counts an Artist Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the
Arts, and grants from Meet the Composer and the American Music Center.
Romero’s one-act opera Dreaming of Wonderland (based
on the stories of Lewis Carroll) was presented as part of New York City
Opera’s Showcasing American Composers series in 2001. A recording
of his piano concerto Spirals can be found on the Klavier Gold
label. Mr. Romero is completing a doctorate in composition from the
University of Michigan.
Recent performances include The Rape of the Lock at Dixon Place
Festival (NYC), Snowfall on Long Island Sound by New Music Works, Spirals
by the Memphis Symphony, and Spring by the University of Michigan
About this piece the composer writes:
Blanco, Azul, Rojo describes attitudes I hold regarding heritage.
The title, Spanish renderings of the colors of the American flag, mirrors
my own mixed Latino/Caucasian background, in which the Latino culture
of my father’s lineage is subsumed within a greater American (English
speaking) culture. Blanco (white) represents purity, and, in this
work, an uneasy innocence; azul (blue) represents perseverence and the
heavens; rojo (red) represents hardiness and valor, blood, and conflict.
I. Bolero This movement is inspired by Trio
Los Panchos (the kings of the Mexican romanza from the late 30s to the
60s). I imagine a mariachi ensemble performing a romanza that nostalgically
tells of life on the hacienda. There is a subtle irony: life on the
hacienda would have been harder than the one the mariachis lead. The
idea is based on Pedro Infante’s (and others’) appearances
in Mexican films of the 30s and 40s in which exactly this paradox is
found. “Bolero” is a questioning of the sentimentality and
disproportionate value I am inclined to give the Latino side of my heritage—a
tendency that Blanco, Azul, Rojo demonstrates throughout via insistent
borrowing from Hispanic musical traditions.
II. El Gardín del Eden This movement
portrays a pastoral vision in which two sides of myself act in harmony,
like the two Biblical progenitors of mankind in Eden. There are also
references to the film El Gardín del Eden (directed by Maria
Novaro), in which individuals of different backgrounds travel to Tijuana,
Mexico, seeking in one case, a link with her past, and in another, a
connection to the exotic. Melodic ideas are drawn from Spanish zarzuela
repertoire and Flamenco. The third movement proceeds without pause.
III. Balajú (“Warrior”)
This movement comments on historically popular representations of individuals
of mixed heritage as being conflicted and weak—or as being extradurable
“cross-bred” specimens. “Balajú”
begins with a continuation of the harp solo from the previous movement,
as the harp launches into the repeating compás of the son
jarocho “Balajú,” a Mexican song probably dating
from the 18th century, about a warrior who sails to battle. I,
as composer, then don the garb of the conflicted, rapacious warrior
(of mixed heritage?), transforming the son, musically pulling it apart,
and thereby in a sense, enacting its destruction. But this act of destruction
is part of a larger form, as a forest fire is part of an ecological
cycle of life and death. The vitality of the opening son jarocho
is inextinguishable, and continues on in everchanging forms.
INGRAM MARSHALL Dark
Florescence: Variations for Two Guitars and Orchestra (2005)
Marshall was born in 1942, in Mount Vernon, New York.
He currrently resides in Hamden , CT.
Dark Florescence is scored for 2 flutes (doubling piccolo &
alto flute), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets
(2nd doubling piccolo trumpet), trombone, bass trombone, timpani, percussion,
piano, and strings.
Performance time is approximately 20 minutes.
Dark Florescence was commissioned by the Irving S. Gilmore Music
Library at Yale
University in celebration of the library's fifth anniversary.
As a student in the mid sixties, Ingram Marshall was attracted to the
possibilities of the electronic music studio. In 1968 he worked
as a member of the NYU Media Arts studio and studied with Morton Subotnick
at California Institute of the Arts. He became entranced with
the Javanese gamelan installed there and traveled to immerse himself
in both Javanese and Balinese modes of traditional gamelan music.
In the late seventies, Marshall began experimenting with combining live
instrumental work with tape and/or electronic processing. His
best known work, Fog Tropes, was premiered by John Adams and
the San Francisco New Music Ensemble in 1981. Marshall’s
first solo recording for Nonesuch was released in 1992, the result of
a commission for a work loosely connected to Eastern European themes.
Hidden Voices is paired on the recording with Three Penitential
Visions, which is actually Eberbach incognito.
In 1996, American Composers Orchestra commissioned Kingdom Come,
which combines orchestra and tape. Nonesuch recorded this along
with Hymnodic Delays and Fog Tropes II (a new string-quartet
version for the Kronos Quartet) in 2001. Ingram Marshall’s
music has received numerous awards, notably the Academy Award from the
American Academy of Arts and Letters; a Guggenheim fellowship; and grants
from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Aaron Copland Fund.
More recent works include Muddy Waters for the Bang on a Can
All- Stars; a new work for orchestra and tape, Bright Kingdoms,
for a consortium of California orchestras; and an amplified chamber
work for the Paul Dresher Ensemble.
Mr. Marshall has been a guest teacher in composition at Yale School
of Music and the Hartt
School, where he currently is an adjunct professor.
About this piece the composer writes:
Dark Florescence was commissioned by the Irving S. Gilmore
Music Library at Yale University in celebration of the library’s
fifth anniversary. This unusual commission came about through the offices
of Benjamin Verdery, long-time professor of guitar at Yale, and Kendall
Crilly, the Music Librarian.
Ben, for whom I had written SOE-PA for solo guitar with electronic
processing, is not one to shy away from overstepping boundaries and
conventions. His idea that I should write a double concerto for
both classical and electric guitars was happily embraced by Ken Crilly,
and the commission was proffered, even though I had my doubts about
the combination. That the other guitarist would be the well-known Andy
Summers (formerly of the band The Police) made the offer tempting but
a little scary as, after all, I wasn’t familiar with his prowess
as a soloist. Yet upon hearing Ben and Andy improvise together and work
out their own collaborative pieces, I was convinced of the rightness
of the partnering. I also looked forward to giving them a relatively
free hand in an improvisatory section.
At first I imagined the music as a kind of concerto, a pitting of the
two dissimilar entities against each other and the orchestra, with moments
of contrast and coming together—the true concertante style—but
as I worked on it, the concerto idea never really took hold. Instead,
a kind of variations idea came to permeate the music. It wasn’t
a theme on which the variations were based, but a series of hemitonic
modes derived from Balinese gamelan music.
I spend part of each summer in the Sierra Nevada of California. It was
there, last July, that I sketched out the first ideas for the piece.
That year the wildflower bloom was particularly effusive, and it was
a memorable delight to take it all in, this savage, montane florescence.
But I didn’t realize until later, when I was thinking of possible
titles, how influenced my composing had been by that abundance of bloom.
The name “Sierra Florescence” worked for a while, but I
saw it as too particular as to place, so opted for the more mysterious
“Dark Florescence,” because, after all, the music is not
all about bright, shining meadows.
As in much of my music, there is a darkness or twilight that prevails.
And in the sad, tragic environment of the present world wherein a senseless
war has cast a pall over our country, there is little excuse for boundless
optimism and joy. But darkness is balanced by light, and I see
much of my music as being a kind of sonic chiaroscuro.
The piece is continuous with no breaks, although there are distinct
sections which could
have names, in which case the last one might be called “Bagdhad
DANNY ELFMAN Serenada Schizophrana
Elfman was born in 1953, in Los Angeles, California, where he currently
Serenada Schizophrana is scored for 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo),
3 oboes (3rd doubling English horn), 3 clarinets (doubling E-flat, bass
clarinet and alto saxophone), 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon),
6 French horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones (3rd doubling bass trombone),
bass/contrabass trombone, tuba (doubling cimbassa), timpani, percussion,
2 pianos, synthesizers, harps, strings and small female chorus.
Performance time is approximately 37 minutes. Orchestrations by Steve
Bartek and Edgardo Simone. Spanish lyrics by Claudia Brant.
last 20 years, Danny Elfman has established himself as one of Hollywood’s
leading film composers and has written close to 50 film scores including
Batman, Spider-man, Men in Black, Beetlejuice,
Edward Scissorhands, and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.
His range has covered such diverse scores as Big Fish, Good Will
Hunting, Dolores Claiborne, Midnight Run, To Die For, Dead Presidents,
Sommersby, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Chicago.
For television he has created the themes to The Simpsons and
Desperate Housewives. He has been nominated for three Academy
Awards and has won a Grammy.
Elfman’s first performing and composing was for a French theatrical
troupe, “Le Grand Magic Circus,” at the age of 18.
He continued a year later in California in collaboration with his brother
Richard doing musical street theater until finally moving indoors doing
a “surrealistic musical cabaret” for another six years.
It was during this time Elfman began exploring different musical genres.
He then formed a rock band, Oingo Boingo, for which he wrote and performed
for almost 17 years with such hits as “Weird Science” and
“Dead Man’s Party.”
Elfman is currently working with longtime collaborator Tim Burton on
the highly anticipated Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well as
the stop-motion animated musical, Corpse Bride. Elfman will also be
scoring the Disney CGI animated feature, A Day in the Life of Wilbur
Robinson as well as Paramount’s adaptation of Charlotte’s
Web. He is creating the music for a full-scale ballet of Edward Scissorhands
for the director/choreographer Matthew Bourne.
Elfman is self-taught and has had no formal musical training. This is
his first orchestral composition written specifically for the concert
About this work the composer writes:
Serenada Schizophrana is a completely new experience for me.
Except for my early music/theater work, I’ve always had visuals
to drive my orchestral music. Beginning was quite daunting. I began
composing several dozen short, freeform compositions, none of them related.
Some of them began to develop themselves until I had six separate movements
that, in some abstract, absurd way, felt connected. I really let
myself wander into a musical stream of consciousness, which, in my case,
is the way my brain works. It is not necessarily a very smooth ride.
Many of my musical influences come from mid-century film composers such
as Bernard Herrmann, Nino Rota, and Alex North. In terms of classical
music, I was hugely influenced by Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Orff, and Bartók.
Early Duke Ellington also had a major role. I consider myself to be
a musical throwback. With the exception of a few more recent influences
like Harry Partch and Philip Glass, I am forever attached to the music
of the early 20th century when, for me, orchestral music flourished
alongside the creation of jazz in a unique and remarkable way. I suppose
this piece mixes up all my influences in a kind of musical “gumbo.”
I hope it’s interesting
and perhaps even entertaining.