February 23, 2005 at 8:00 pm
World Premiere Concert Features
American Composers Orchestra brings a concert of break-out symphonic adventure to Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 at 8:00pm, in a program of all world premieres that spotlights the new, the unexpected, and the eclectic. ACO will offer Serenada Schizophrana, the first-ever concert symphonic work by the eccentric Hollywood film composer Danny Elfman. The adventurous and experimental electric guitarist Andy Summers (from the legendary rock band The Police) pairs with classical guitarist Benjamin Verdery in a new double concerto, Dark Florescence, by composer Ingram Marshall. The program opens with Blanco, Azul, Rojo by Manly Romero, winner of ACO's annual Whitaker Emerging Composer Commission.
The concert provides a compelling look at the possibilities that exist when the concert experience celebrates musical individuality and embraces unorthodox affiliations. Each composer and performer has, in his own way, taken to task the notion that musical destiny is something fixed and determined by previous affinities.
Blanco, Azul, Rojo, Spanish renderings of the colors of the American flag, mirrors Mr. Romero's mixed Latino/Caucasian background, in which the Latino culture of his father's lineage is subsumed within a greater American (English-speaking) culture. Images of purity and innocence (white), perseverance and the heavens (blue), and hardiness, valor, blood, and conflict (red) depict the composer's struggle to simultaneously celebrate a mixed heritage yet question a sentimental point of view. The work is in three movements, Bolero; El Gardin del Eden; Balaju, with musical idioms borrowed from Trio Los Panchos, Flamenco, and Mexican son jarocho.
Manly Romero first came to ACO's attention as a participant in the orchestra's annual New Music Readings, which seek out talented young composers from around the country. Mr. Romero's work impressed ACO's judges as "lively, rhythmic, and punchy," with a "personal voice" that is "quirky and decidedly effective," and ACO offered him its Whitaker Emerging Composers Commission in 2003.
Mr. Romero's compositions are predominantly concerned with spirituality, self-knowledge, and with his paternal roots in Mexico and Spain. Mr. Romero is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Michigan. He has served as an associate artist with the San Francisco Symphony's "Adventures in Music" and "Concerts for Kids" programs, and has received numerous awards and commissions, including those from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and the American Music Center. Romero's one-act, Lewis Carroll-based opera, Dreaming of Wonderland, was presented as part of New York City Opera's Showcasing American Composers series in 2001.
In writing Dark Florescence (Variations for Two Guitars and Orchestra), his new concerto for electric and classical guitars featuring Andy Summers and guitarist Benjamin Verdery, Ingram Marshall recognized "the mismatch from the start. The electric guitar will have its brashness and rudeness, and wits wailing, singing flights; the classical will have its gentleness, its mellow sweetness, and its insouciance. They will trade roles at times and end up in some kind of harmony. The orchestra will provide a kind of landscape on which this concerted encounter will take place," says the composer.
Currently living in Connecticut, composer Ingram Marshall has lived and worked extensively in the San Francisco Bay Area. Educated at Lake Forest College, Columbia University, where he worked with Vladimir Ussachevsky, and California Institute of the Arts, where he worked with Morton Subotnick, Marshall went on to study gamelan music in Bali and Java in 1971. He has performed his own live electronic music in the U.S. and Europe. He has been the recipient of awards, grants and commissions from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fromm Foundation, California Arts Council, the Washington State Arts Commission and others. ACO commissioned, performed and recorded Marshall's Kingdom Come, a work that The New York Times called "some of the most stirring spiritual art to be found in America today."
Andy Summers is the guitarist from the legendary rock band The Police, a leading rock band of the late 1970s and early 80s, and one of the most significant rock groups of all time. Summers and The Police grew considerably more adventurous, experimenting with jazz and various world musics. Since the disbanding of The Police, Summers has furthered his work as a highly creative and experimental recording artist. He has recorded thirteen solo albums which include outings with the Kronos Quartet, CDs devoted entirely to the music of Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, performances with classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco, and two albums of Brazilian music with the guitar virtuoso Victor Biglione.
Benjamin Verdery has an exciting and varied musical life as a guitarist and composer. Several composers have written music for him, including Daniel Asia, John Anthony Lennon, Ingram Marshall, Anthony Newman, Roberto Sierra, Van Stiefel and Jack Vees. Also a composer, Verdery has turned his attention to crafting unique extended works for large guitar ensembles. His Pick and Roll was premiered in 2000 at the UC Santa Cruz Contemporary Festival, written for multiple guitars, saxophone, violin and basketball player. Mr. Verdery has chaired the guitar department at the Yale University School of Music since 1985.
For the second half of the concert, Danny Elfman has written his first major work for the concert hall, Serenada Schizophrana, a 30-minute symphonic tour-de-force bringing audiences into the composer's radical and highly anticipated compositional shift to a new musical realm. Elfman is one of Hollywood's most eccentric, self-styled composers, whose work has ranged from the frenetic theme from the TV show "The Simpsons" to such diverse Hollywood classics as "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," "Batman," and "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Elfman first came to prominence in 1980 after scoring the film "Forbidden Zone" for his band The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo. Oingo Boingo blossomed into a permanent group with a large cult following. Last year, Elfman was nominated for an Academy Award for his score to "Big Fish."
ACO music director Steven Sloane says, "America's greatest musical influence around the globe has been through the work of Hollywood composers. That was true during Hollywood's golden age and it remains so today. In the early 21st century, with the great breakdown of the walls that divide the musical landscape, it makes sense for us to do what we can to encourage film composers to stretch themselves musically, just as we do for all the composers we commission. I can think of nobody with a fresher musical imagination than Danny Elfman. I don't know what to expect, and I can't wait!"
Elfman's Serenada Schizophrana is scored for large orchestra, electronics, two pianos, and female voices. Joining ACO in the premiere are the ACO Singers, directed by Judith Clurman.
Tickets & Information
ACO performs at Carnegie Hall Wednesday, February 23, 2005 at 8PM. Tickets are $25 and $42, and may be purchased through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, by visiting Carnegie Hall's website at www.carnegiehall.org, or at the Carnegie Hall box office, 57th Street at 7th Ave.
Major support of American Composers Orchestra is from Alliance Capital Management, Amphion Foundation, Anncox Foundation, The Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, Arlington Associates, ASCAP, The Bagby Foundation for the Musical Arts, Bodman Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, BMI, BMI Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Citigroup Foundation, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Consolidated Edison, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, Jean and Louis Dreyfus Foundation, FerrellCalvillo Communications, Fidelity Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, The Estate of Francis Goelet, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation, The Hauser Foundation, Henfield Foundation, Victor Herbert Foundation, Christian Humann Foundation, Jephson Educational Trust, The Jerome Foundation, Helen Sperry Lea Foundation, Meet the Composer, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, JPMorganChase Foundation, Neil Family Fund, The New York Community Trust, The New York Times Co. Foundation, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation, The Rodgers Family Foundation, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Susan and Ford Schumann Foundation, Smith Barney, the Virgil Thomson Foundation, Oakleigh L. Thorne Foundation, Paul Underwood Charitable Trust, The Watchdog and Sonata Charitable Trust, and The Helen F. Whitaker Fund. ACO programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.