Connecticut Composers Inc.

CCI Member Concert

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click here for the program
Berkman Auditorium | The Hartt School

Works by CCI members will be performed by the 016 Ensemble and others.


Stephen GRYCTrombone Concerto, Mvt. 2
Juliana HALLDing Dong Bell
Alleng BRINGSChimeric Fantasy
David MACBRIDEA Letter to Bach
Elisabeth R. AUSTINCircling

Program Notes:

Trombone Concerto, Mvt. 2
Passaggi was commissioned by Joseph Alessi, principal trombonist of the New York Philharmonic. The concerto form is stereotyped, so I sought a means by which I could give the soloist something unique and personal. Each of the three movements is an evocation of a stage in a musician's development. The title Passaggi, the Italian word meaning "passages," has both musical and non-musical connotations. The piece is somewhat autobiographical; each of the three movements is dedicated to a different trombonist who has been influential in my musical life.

The second movement, Variazioni, is a set of variations on an odd little theme of my own composition. The theme has two parts, one playful and jaunty (played by the bassoons), the other ethereal and lyric (played by the trombone). Each successive variation has a strikingly different character and its own designation: Marziale (martial music), Tarantella (a frenzied Italian dance scored for woodwinds, percussion and trombone), Recitative (a short meditation with accompaniment by the percussion section), Cantilena (the lyric highpoint of the work), and Finale piccolo (a virtuosic "little ending"). The second movement ends with an abbreviated version of the theme. An academic form which I tried to enliven, the Variazioni represent a musician's years as a student and is dedicated to my composition teacher (and former trombonist) Leslie Bassett.

This version was transcribed by Jordan Jacobson.

Ding Dong Bell
The phrase "Ding Dong Bell" comes from a 16th-century nursery rhyme and appears in several of Shakespeare's plays. The original lyrics of "Ding Dong Bell" end with a cat being left to drown and in his play The Tempest, Shakespeare writes "sea nymphs hourly ring his knell, Hark! Now I hear them - Ding, dong, bell" (a knell being the sound made by a bell rung slowly, especially for a death or a funeral). Somewhere in time, the phrase became associated with the idea of death, so it seemed a perfect title for my collection of epitaphs for cello, which are based on epitaphs by the great English poet of the first half of the 20th century, Walter de la Mare, in his book of the same name. Each of the eight musical epitaphs of "Ding Dong Bell" present a brief, but vivid, remembrance of a human character.

Chimeric Fantasy
From the Classical period through the Romantic, the fantasy has increasingly relied less on an exclusively musical logic and more on composers' insights into human psychology. Freed from the constraints imposed by the expectations of classical forms, composers have introduced into these pieces unexpected juxtapositions of seemingly unrelated materials, often appearing in apparently unprovoked and unmotivated sequences. My Chimeric Fantasy contributes an additional element distinctly twentieth-century in origin, that of illusion: things are not always what they seem to be, and whatever one hears at one moment may unpredictably become something altogether different a moment later. The music may seem to progress willfully, even perversely at times. It is not so much the nature of the materials themselves but rather their bizarre treatment that one will notice. Because it is not intentionally Gothic, the character of this piece probably cannot be appreciated by a Western listener unable to place it in the context of the Western tradition. Ironically, it might more likely provide pleasure to a non-Western listener who is unacquainted with that tradition.

A Letter to Bach
A Letter to Bach was inspired by a performance of Bach's Chaconne from Partita #2 in D minor for solo violin. This response is a kind of homage, a way of more closely connecting to his piece. It is in three movements, the first evolves into a lullaby, the second a furious moto perpetuo, the third in the style of the Chinese two-stringed erhu. I want to thank Janet for her continued advocacy, and for her wonderful musicianship.

Icarus was written for and with the assistance of Joey Abad.

With a story about transformation, it seems fitting that this piece began as something else. Originally written for flute, Icarus was adapted, reworked, and reborn as an alto saxophone concerto. It uses much of the same source material from the original work, but scrambled together from three distinct movements into the single flowing movement presented here. The idea of flight and escape remains, and even though it starts fast and moving, the constant presence of gravity is never far behind, pulling the work down toward the abyss.

The work begins in flight, above the water soaring high. Slow reflection and the creep of mortality spin through the middle. The cadenza serves as a true moment of uninhibited freedom, but at a price. As Icarus fights fate the ground comes crashing from below, and the work ends with the swirling eddies of the rough sea.

The geometric patterns involving circles at the beginning of each of the four movements mirror a relationship between two people; the performers map out these interpersonal moods.

“NRG” takes its name from an abbreviation of the word "energy". Each movement (with the exception of the third, "Interlude") can be thought of as a different form of energy: the first one being an adrenaline rush as one is racing through an asteroid field (this image is sci-fi inspired); the second being a social energy or buzz felt when conversing with friends; and the third being a caffeinated, hyper excitement that ultimately crashes. However the movements were conceived as absolute music and the titles were fitted to them after they were composed. So, these titles don't, and aren't intended to, fit the music precisely, and the music is meant to be taken in any way that the audience or performers so choose, without respect to the movement titles.


016 New Music Ensemble (click the icon to be taken to their website)

Sheri Brown, saxophone
Rebekah Butler, violin
Patricia Guadagnoli, piano
Janet Jacobson, violin
Jordan Jacobson, trombone
Han-Wei Lu, cello
Murray Mast, percussion
Kum Jong You, viola

with special guests:
Joseph Abad, saxophone
David Sims, cello
Marko Stuparevic, piano

David Sims bio:

David Sims (cello) studied with Gary Hoffman, Fritz Magg and Janos Starker at the IU School of Music and with Aldo Parisot at the Yale School of Music, where he was chosen to receive the Alumni Association Prize for students "who have not only excelled in their respective fields, but have also made an important contribution to the general life of the School." He has performed at the Tanglewood and Waterloo festivals as well as the North American New Music Festival in Buffalo, where for several years he was a faculty performer at the June in Buffalo Composer Seminars. A new music enthusiast, he has performed works by composers Martin Bresnick, Earle Brown, Elliott Carter, Morton Feldman, Mauricio Kagel, Bernard Rands, Roger Reynolds, Stefan Wolpe, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann, among many others.

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