December 3, 2010
Charles Ives evokes "the sounds of nature and of happenings that men would hear... sitting on a bench in Central Park on a hot summer night… " The heat gets turned up with the premiere of Jerome Kitzke's The Fire at 4 a.m. Influenced by Native American song, Beat poetry and jazz, Kitzke is a musical story-teller recalling metaphysical and literal fires, including the ceremonial ones the composer tended in the early morning hours. Douglas Cuomo (whose film and TV credits include Sex and the City) dials-up the heat to “fire and brimstone" in his new piece featuring cello sensation Maya Beiser, and an electronic sample of a depression-era sermon. Christopher Trapani tricks-out his “hexaphonic” electric guitar with the latest technologies in a premiere incorporating Country & Western, West African balafon, California surf and psychedelic rock, and west coast experimentalism. Ryan Francis, a young composer who writes "shimmering" and "rhythmically sharp-edged" music (The New York Times) brings us the debut of High Line, capturing the spirit and energy of NYC’s new post-industrial park.
Francis: High Line
Ryan Francis (b. 1981) is the only composer to twice receive The Juilliard School’s top compositional honor, the Palmer-Dixon Prize (2005, 2008). His music has been described variously as “shimmering,” “focused,” and “rhythmically sharp-edged,” by The New York Times. In addition to writing for ACO, Francis has been commissioned by the Metropolis Ensemble, Wordless Music, Axiom, and the New York Youth Symphony. His collaboration with Ricardo Romaneiro (ACO’s 2010 Underwood New Music Readings Audience Choice Award winner), an electro-acoustic remix of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, was performed last year on the outdoor concert series Celebrate Brooklyn and broadcast by NPR. Francis’ complete works for piano, recorded by Vicky Chow, will be released by Tzadik this year. His new piece for ACO, High Line, is inspired by New York’s new park built on abandoned elevated train tracks on the west side of Manhattan, which, as Francis says, “points to a future that reaches equilibrium between our city’s industrial past and a more environmentally sustainable future.” Francis was chosen for this commission as the result of a competitive process, which asked composers to submit applications outlining their ideas for musically realizing the theme, “A Greener New York City,” as part of a partnership between ACO and leading luxury goods group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. For more information visit: www.ryananthonyfrancis.com.
Charles Ives (1874-1954) pursued what is perhaps one of the most extraordinary and paradoxical careers in American music history. Businessman by day and composer by night, Ives's vast output has gradually brought him recognition as the most original and significant American composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the composers’ words, Central Park in the Dark is a depiction “of the sounds of nature and of happenings that men would hear some thirty or so years ago (before the combustion engine and radio monopolized the earth and air), when sitting on a bench in Central Park on a hot summer night.” In addition to depicting nature, Ives incorporated popular tunes of the day into the work.
Doug Cuomo (b. 1958) became a professional guitarist while still in his teens, alternating years of college with years on the road. His numerous film and television credits include the themes for Sex and the City and NOW with Bill Moyers, but whether writing for film or the concert hall, Cuomo often conceives music for the idiosyncratic voices of specific players. He told New York magazine, “If I hadn’t done all this film and television work, I’d be a much less interesting composer.” Cuomo’s Black Diamond Express Train to Hell is based on a 1927 recording of a sermon by the African-American Reverend A.W. Nix of Chicago, which contains allusions to life in America during the Depression, the history of commercial recordings, and the place of music and religion in the African-American experience. The piece is a double concerto for two soloists: one is a sampled and electronically manipulated recording (performed by Cuomo) and the other is amplified cellist Maya Beiser. For more information visit www.douglasjcuomo.com.
Cellist Maya Beiser has captivated audiences worldwide with her virtuosity, eclectic repertoire, and relentless quest to redefine her instrument’s boundaries. Over the past decade, she has created new repertoire for the cello, commissioning and performing many works written for her by today’s leading composers. She has collaborated with composers Tan Dun, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Steve Reich, Louis Andriessen, and Mark O’Connor, among many others. Beiser is a graduate of Yale University. She was the founding cellist of the Bang on a Can All-Stars. For more information, visit www.mayabeiser.com.
Jerome Kitzke’s (b. 1955) music thrives on the spirit of driving jazz, American Indian song, and Beat Generation poetry, where freedom and ritual converge. It is direct, dramatic, and visceral — always with an ear to the sacred ground. Since his first work in 1970, he has thought of himself as a storyteller as well as a composer. The Fire at 4 a.m. is a piece about metaphorical and literal fires. Kitzke says, “One is the creative fire I had to tap for a few years in the early 90’s when the only time of day I could compose was 4 a.m., to accommodate a day job. The literal and more relevant meaning connects to the hundreds of ceremonial fires I have built and tended, usually at 4 a.m.” The three sections of the work (Mato Tipi, Pepper Creek, and Fort Robinson) are each about a place where Kitzke built and tended fires. More information at: peermusicclassical.com
Christopher Trapani (b. 1980) was born in New Orleans, and has lived and studied in London, Paris, and Istanbul. He moved to New York in September, after a year-long residency at IRCAM, to pursue doctoral studies at Columbia University. According to Trapani, his formative musical encounters include trumpet lessons at age nine, a guitar purchased from a pawn shop at 12, and piano lessons from age 14. In 2004, Trapani was a participant in ACO’s New Music Readings. His new work, Westering, is inspired by music associated with the concept of “the west”—country and western guitar timbres, West African balafon music, and above all music from California: the just intonation ratios and plucked-string instruments of Harry Partch, Los Angeles folk/rock (Joni Mitchell’s chains of consonant harmonies, Jeff Lynne’s superimposed layers of strummed guitars), as well as psychedelic rock from San Francisco. The composer-soloist plays a hexaphonic guitar—an electric guitar fitted with a hexaphonic pickup that sends out a separate signal for each string to a computer for live processing. More information at: www.christophertrapani.com.
George Manahan has had an unusually wide-ranging career, embracing everything from opera to the concert stage, the traditional to the contemporary. He conducted his first concert as ACO music director in October 2010 at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, commencing his tenure with “vibrant, polished, playing” (The New York Times) in a program that included premieres by John Luther Adams and Wang Jie. His previous appearances with ACO include the 19th Annual Underwood New Music Readings at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre in May 2010. In February 2009 at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, Manahan led a concert of world premieres, which included the much-praised multimedia works BREAKDOWN! by Margaret Brouwer and Kasumi, Rand Steiger’s Cryosphere. In addition to his work with ACO, this fall, he furthers his commitment to working with young musicians by joining the Manhattan School of Music faculty as Director of Orchestral Studies.
Manahan has been Music Director at New York City Opera for twelve seasons. There he helped envision the organization’s groundbreaking VOX program, a series of workshops and readings that have provided unique opportunities for numerous composers to hear their new concepts realized, and introduced audiences to exciting new compositional voices. In addition to established composers such as Mark Adamo, David Del Tredici, Lewis Spratlan, Robert X. Rodriguez, Lou Harrison, Bernard Rands, and Richard Danielpour, through VOX, Manahan has introduced works by composers on the rise including Adam Silverman, Elodie Lauten, Mason Bates, and David T. Little.
George Manahan’s wide-ranging recording activities include the premiere recording of Steve Reich’s Tehillim for ECM; recordings of Edward Thomas’s Desire Under the Elms, which was nominated for a Grammy; Joe Jackson’s Will Power; and Tobias Picker’s Emmeline. His enthusiasm for contemporary music continues today; he has conducted numerous world premieres, including Charles Wuorinen’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, David Lang’s Modern Painters, and the New York premiere of Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner. As music director of the Richmond Symphony (VA) for twelve years, he was honored four times by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) for his commitment to 20th century music.
Tickets & Info
ACO performs at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall Friday, December 3, 2010, at 7:30pm. Tickets are $40 and $50, 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.