Notes (2005/01/21)

Friday, January 21, 2005 at 7:30 PM
“Orchestra Underground”

Algunas metáforas que aluden al tormento, a la angustia y a la guerra (2004)
Carlos Carillo was born in 1968, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
He currently resides in Greencastle, IN.

The piece is scored for flute/alto flute, oboe, clarinet/bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet,
trombone, piano, and percussion quartet. Performance time is approximately
15 minutes.
This piece was commissioned for ACO by the BMI Foundation, Inc./Carlos Surinach Fund.

Composer Carlos Carrillo holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Yale University, and
the University of Pennsylvania. His teachers have included Tania León, Joseph Schwantner,
Christopher Rouse, Jacob Druckman, Martin Bresnick, Roberto Sierra, George Crumb, James Primosch, Jay Reise, and Steve Mackey.  Mr. Carrillo is the recipient of numerous awards including the Bearns Prize, the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI and ASCAP awards, and he has been commissioned by Music and the Anthology for the Da Capo Chamber Players, the New York Youth Symphony, Concert Artists Guild, and the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association for their 2001 convention.  His music has been performed at the American Composers Orchestra’s Sonidos de las Americas Festival, Casals Festival, Young Musician Foundation’s Debut Orchestra, Puerto Rico Symphony
Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony, and by members of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

In 2002 his symphonic work Cantares was featured at the inaugural Synergy: Composer and Conductor program presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and American Symphony Orchestra League.  In 1998 he received one of the first Aaron Copland Awards from the
Copland Heritage Association and he was the 2001–03 Van Lier Emerging Composer Fellow with ACO. Last fall he joined the faculty of Indiana’s DePauw University as a post-doctoral fellow.  He lives in Indiana with his wife Kirsten and their three children.

About this work the composer writes:

A question that I have asked myself often is how to create art that reflects my heritage?  One of my answers has been to engage Puerto Rican literature as a basis for musical works.  Poetry, plays, and essays become central to my creative process.  The play La Pasion segun Antigona Perez by Luis Rafael Sanchez, an important figure in Puerto Rican literature, was, in the form of an opera, one of the first works in which I attempted this process.  In his book of essays No llores por nosotros, Puerto Rico, Mr. Sanchez says “Hablo del acto de escribir que, a falta de otras explicaciones coherentes y racionales, se intenta definir mediante algunas metáforas que aluden al tormento, a la angustia y a la guerra.  Como la metáfora de los demonios.  Como la metáfora de las obsesiones circulares. Como la metáfora de la batalla con el ángel.” The beauty and power of a work of art as a metaphor for things that otherwise would remain indescribable is central to my piece for So Percussion and the American Composers Orchestra.

I used these lines of Mr. Sanchez for the title of my work and for each one of its three movements.  Although first movement “Como la metáfora de la batalla con el angel” (“like the metaphor of the battle with the angel”) is “interrupted” by the second movement creating in effect only two sections.  The second movement “Como la metáfora de las obsesiones circulares” (“like the metaphor of the circular obsessions”) is like a thought that is always there, that dwells in us without resolution. The first movement returns precisely where it was interrupted followed by the final metaphor “La metáfora de los demonios” (“like the metaphor of the demons”) leading us at the end, perhaps back to the point where we began.

DAN TRUEMAN Traps Relaxed (2004)
Dan Trueman was born in 1968, in Port Jefferson, NY.
He now lives in Princeton, NJ.

Traps Relaxed is scored for strings, percussion, and electric violin/laptop. Performance time is
approximately 13 minutes.

Traps Relaxed was commissioned by ACO as part of its Orchestra Tech initiative.

Dan Trueman plays and composes for a variety of violins, including the 6-string electric violin, the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, and the Bowed- Sensor-Speaker-Array. His electronic improvisation ensemble “interface” has performed widely and recently released a DVD of improvisations and dance pieces with guest Pauline Oliveros. His duo Trollstilt released its first CD of original tunes in 2000 and has performed internationally at both contemporary music festivals and folk music festivals. As a composer of concert music, Dan recently completed commissions from the American Composers Forum (Hardanger fiddle and orchestra), the Society for New Music (electronic chamber ensemble), the Tarab Cello Ensemble (8 cellos), and is working on an evening-length multimedia work for Trollstilt, So Percussion, “performance weaving” by Tomie Hahn, and animated paintings by Judy Trueman, commissioned in part by the New Jersey Council for the Arts.  Bridge Records released a CD of his chamber works—titled Machine Language—this past summer.  He teaches composition and electronic music at Princeton University.

About this work the composer writes:

Traps Relaxed is an expanded version of Traps, which I composed for string quartet and electric violin/laptop in March 2003, as the Second Gulf War began. Traps Relaxed, composed during the run-up to the elections of 2004, follows a similar process as did Traps, so I’ll begin by including some notes from the original Traps:

“… I don’t usually get technical in program notes, but here goes… Traps is a delicate exploration of a simple process I call “traps.”  A trap is a way of forcing whatever note I play to be transposed to a single pitch (or set of pitches); while I play, the computer remembers that last couple seconds of what I have played and then, depending on the note that I play, transposes its memory to the “trap” pitch.   So, for instance, when the trap is a high F, if I play an A below that, the “trap” will, some short time later, transpose my remembered A up a minor-sixth, so it sounds a high F.  The only “problem” is that sometimes the trap’s memory might be long enough to remember other pitches I had played prior to the A, say, a low open D string, so that D will also get transposed up a minor-sixth,to B flat, yielding a not-quitesimultaneous sonority D–Bflat –A–F.   This is precisely how Traps begins, and it continues slowly through a series of ascending traps, some of which are single notes, others two-note traps.”

Traps Relaxed opens like the original Traps, but gradually diverges, relaxing into new possibilities offered by the larger ensemble, and ending up half-again as long (about 13 minutes). In tonight’s performance, I am using eight hemispherical speakers to distribute the sounds of the “traps” throughout the ensemble. These speakers, which I designed with my father and Perry Cook, radiate sound more like conventional instruments and, if things go well, should help the electronic sounds emerge seamlessly from the acoustic ensemble.  I have used these speakers with smaller ensembles, but never on this scale before, and I can safely say that I would never have composed this piece without them; I simply can’t imagine this piece realized with a conventional PA system.

JASON FREEMAN Glimmer (2004)
Jason Freeman was born in 1977, in Miami, Florida.
He now lives in New York City

Glimmer is scored for flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion,
strings, and audience. Performance time is 10 minutes.

Glimmer was funded by ACO as part of its Orchestra Tech initiative and funded in part by the Composer Assistance Program of the American Music Center.

Jason Freeman’s works break down conventional barriers between composers, performers, and listeners, using cutting-edge technology and unconventional notation to turn audiences and musicians into compositional collaborators.  His music has been performed by Speculum
Musicae, So Percussion, the Nieuw Ensemble, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, and Evan Ziporyn; his interactive installations and software art have been exhibited at the Lincoln Center Festival, the Boston CyberArt Festival, and the Transmediale Festival and featured in the New York Times and on National Public Radio.  N.A.G. (Network Auralization for Gnutella) (2003), a
commission from, was described by Billboard as “…an example of the web’s mind-expanding possibilities.”  Freeman graduated summa cum laude from Yale University and is
currently a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, where he also teaches computer music.  He recently completed a year-long fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany, where he worked with a team led by sound artist Max Neuhaus to create
Auracle, a voice-controlled networked sound instrument.

About this work the composer writes:

Glimmer engages you not only as a listener, but also as a musical collaborator who actively shapes the performance.  As you switch a light stick on and off over the course of the ten-minute piece, computer software will interpret your actions by analyzing live video of the audience, and it will relay instructions to the orchestra by changing the colors of lights on each player’s stand. You are seated in one of seven audience groups, and your group controls a specific section of the orchestra.  The music played by that section depends on the percentage of people in your group whose light sticks are turned on.  The music also depends on how your group’s light-stick activity changes over time, and on how it compares to the activities of other groups.

I am grateful to the American Composers Orchestra for commissioning and producing
Glimmer, to Akademie Schloss Solitude for providing the perfect setting in which to write
it, and to the Columbia University Computer Music Center for their technical and logistical support.

EVE BEGLARIAN FlamingO, revised version (2004)
Eve Beglarian was born in 1958, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
She now lives in New York City.

FlamingO is scored for flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet/bass clarinet, bassoon, French horns, trumpet, trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion, piano, and synthesizers. Performance time is approximately 16 minutes.

Eve Beglarian’s chamber and orchestral music has been commissioned and performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the California EAR Unit, Relâche, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, the American Composers Orchestra, Sequitur, Dinosaur Annex, and the Robin Cox Ensemble, among many others.   Her experience in music theater includes music for Mabou Mines’ Obie-winning Dollhouse, Animal Magnetism, and Ecco Porco, directed by Lee Breuer; the collaboration Hildegurls’ Ordo Virtutum, directed by Grethe Barrett Holby, which premiered at the Lincoln Center Festival; twisted tutu, a performance project with Kathleen Supové; Forgiveness, a collaboration with Chen Shi-Zheng and Noh master Akira Matsui; and the China National Beijing Opera Theater’s production of The Bacchae, also directed by Chen Shi-Zheng. Current projects include Re-Thinking Mary, a performance project that will be developed at the Atlantic Center for the Arts; a Meet the Composer co-commission for The Bilitis Songbook, a song cycle/concept CD with boombox virtuoso and composer Phil Kline; a major piece for cellist Maya Beiser that will premiere at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall; and A Book of Days, a long-term project of 365 multimedia pieces for live performance as well as internet delivery. Recordings of Eve’s music are available on CRI Emergency Music, OO Discs, Canteloupe, Accurate Distortion, Atavistic, and Kill Rock Stars.

About this work the composer writes:

FlamingO is a sixteen-minute piece for three simultaneous bands: the first, on your left, is
the wolf chaser band, named after the whirling Inuit instrument (given to me by violinist
Robin Lorentz) played by the percussionist of that band at the beginning and end of the
piece. The wolf chaser has also been recorded and electronically transformed: slowed
way down in speed without changing the pitch, and then ring-modulated and otherwise
warped, to create a bed (played back on CD) for the whole piece. The remaining wolf chaser band members focus on arpeggiations, which are all melodic outgrowths of
the sound of the wolf chaser.  The flamingo band (center) similarly gets their music from a
sampled source: they are playing with flamingo calls (given to me by sound engineer Stephen Erickson), and their take on the flamingo tends to be a sort of honky homophonic hocketing.

In contrast to the arpeggiations and homophony of the other two bands, the “metalastic”
band (right) plays an oddly groovy Mozartean canon, taking as their primary starting point an unidentified birdcall sample (given to me by sound designer Marilyn Ries).

Each band has a solo section: first the metalastics with Bill Ware soloing on vibes, then
the flamingos, and finally the wolf chasers. These solo sections are framed by tutti sections when things are complicated in a way I find more fun than straight cacophony: you can still hear the characteristic musics of all three bands, and you can choose what to focus on. Depending on your choice, all the other bands seem to support you.  At the end of the piece, the wolf chaser band wins out, and the other two bands join their music.

FlamingO was originally commissioned by Eric Grunin for his ground-breaking and imaginative Crosstown Ensemble and premiered by them in 1995. Thanks to Derek Bermel and Aaron Kernis for their advice while I was revising the piece and to ACO for taking it on.