Please see the events listing for upcoming events.
Boston Conservatory Percussion Ensemble presents an evening of works highlighting composer Hiroya Miura.
Christopher Ceronne, Interlude 1: Wood from Goldbeater's Skin (2016)
Ashley Ridenour, Davis Nickles, Eric Puente, and Ming Yang
Hiroya Miura, Blow Out (2011)
IV. Shebam, Pow, and More Wizz
Christian Bartholomew, Linus Adler, April Ong, and Margot Takeda
John Luther Adams, Five Quartets from Coyote Builds North America (1990)
III. Giving Birth to Thunder
IV. Playing with Fire
Eric Puente, Chandler Beaugrand, Margot Takeda, and YueYang (William) Shi
Miura, Otik Trio (2004, rev. 2009)
Xingyue Xue, Ashley Ridenour, and Davis Nickles
Guo Wenjing, Parade (2004)
Christian Wiemer, Yun Hao (James) Koo, and April Ong
Miura, Diacritic (2016)
Harold Rivas, Xin Yi Chong, Ritvik Yaparpalvi, and Alexa Clawson
Christopher Cerrone (b.1984)
Interlude 1: Wood from Goldbeater’s Skin (2016)
This short Interlude is taken from a larger work for percussion quartet and Mezzo Soprano. Of the larger piece the composer writes:
I met the poet G.C. Waldrep at the MacDowell Colony in 2015 and was immediately drawn to him as both a poet and person—friendly, unique, and for a poet, deeply musical. In addition to his study of poetry, he was trained as a countertenor and professed his love for composers like Meredith Monk and David Lang. We bonded over our shared love for the books of Italo Calvino and the poetry of James Wright. So naturally I was curious about his work.
I tore through his many published volumes, and was drawn in particular to his first collection of poems, Goldbeater’s Skin, written twenty years ago, when he was about my age. I found it to be particularly pregnant with musical possibilities (actual musical allusions abound), so I decided to craft a new work for voice and percussion quartet around these poems. They are often deeply imagistic; the source of each reference would be impossible to trace; yet each poem leads inexorably to a potent and dramatic conclusion. I constructed music that functioned similarly—music that is billowing yet always headed towards some kind of denouement. As I sifted through the whole collection, I chose poems whose references overlapped to create connective tissue; some references are more specific than others, but almost all of them are concerned with companionship—whether deep friendship, or love.
The challenge of writing a work for voice and percussion quartet is obvious: four drummers are much louder than one voice, and I wanted the musicians in the quartet to have moments to shine as well. I constructed a series of interludes (two proper and one faux interlude), each focused on a single kind of idiophone—wood; metal; then, appropriately enough, skin.
CHRISTOPHER CERONNE (b. 1984) is internationally acclaimed for compositions characterized by a subtle handling of timbre and resonance, a deep literary fluency, and a flair for multimedia collaborations.
Recent commissions include In a Grove, a new opera co-produced by LA Opera and Pittsburgh Opera, a violin concerto for Jennifer Koh and the Detroit Symphony, an antiphonal brass concerto for the Cincinnati Symphony, a piano concerto for Shai Wosner and the Phoenix and Albany Symphonies; a percussion concerto for Third Coast Percussion; and three works for the LA Philharmonic. His first opera, Invisible Cities, based on Italo Calvino’s novel, was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and he is the recipient of multiple GRAMMY nominations. He is also the winner of the 2015-2016 Rome Prize.
Christopher Cerrone holds degrees from Yale and the Manhattan School of Music and is published by Schott NY. He is on the composition faculty at Mannes School of Music and lives in Brooklyn with his wife. christophercerrone.com.
Hiroya Miura (b. 1975)
Blowout was inspired by the English onomatopoeia used in the 1960’s Batman cartoons. I was aware that Japanese, my native language, has an unusually large inventory of onomatopoeia, during my early teenage years of learning English for the first time, I was delighted to see the old Batman TV cartoons with full of nonsensical words appearing in speech bubbles. In 2010, when I saw the wind-up monkeys playing drums at the close-out sale of a toy store in my hometown of Sendai, I thought about writing a piece which would pay an homage to the campy Japanese and American cartoons from the 60’s and 70’s. I made several trips to the party stores and collected some noise-making toys, and organized their sounds as I labeled them using the most commonly used onomatopoeia in these cartoons.
Blowout was written for the Carnegie Hall’s JapanNY Festival 2011, and premiered by Line C3 Percussion Group: John Ostrowski, Haruka Fujii, Chris Thompson, and Sam Solomon.
HIROYA MIURA, a native of Sendai, Japan, has been active as a composer and performer in North America. Acclaimed by Allan Kozinn of New York Times as “acidic and tactile,” Miura’s compositions explore “the continuous change of balance” amongst the traditions, players, instruments, and sound objects. He was awarded Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Arts and Literary Arts residency, la Napoule Art Foundation residency, HB Studio Residency, and Willapa Bay AiR residency, amongst others.
Miura composed works for Speculum Musicae, New York New Music Ensemble, American Composers Orchestra, Prague’s BERG Orchestra, Juilliard Percussion Ensemble, le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Momenta Quartet, and members of Reigakusha (gagaku ensemble based in Tokyo), Hidejiro Honjoh, and Yuji Takahashi, which were presented in venues and festivals such as Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, Yomiuri Hall, Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery, Tanglewood, Ostrava Days (Czech Republic), Vacances Percutantes (Marmande, France), and Havana Contemporary Music Festival (Cuba). He is also a founding member of the electronic improvisation unit, No One Receiving, whose debut album from the Grain of Sound has won critical acclaim in Europe and the United States. He holds D.M.A. degree from Columbia University, and he is Associate Professor of music at Bates College, where he teaches music theory and composition, and directs the college orchestra. He is Artistic Director of Columbia University’s IMJS/Japanese Cultural Heritage Initiatives, and serves on Advisory Board for the Composers Conference.
John Luther Adams (b. 1953)
Five Percussion Quartets from Coyote Builds North America (1990)
III. Giving Birth to Thunder
IV. Playing with Fire
These pieces are drawn from the music-theater work Coyote Builds North America, a collaboration with writer Barry Lopez based on traditional Native American stories. The poems are from Coyote’s Bones and Indian Tales by Jaime de Angulo, and are used by permission of Gui de Angulo.
—John Luther Adams
Giving Birth to Thunder
Coyote, my power, come.
Through the wind I call you.
Through the rain, in the storm,
I, a young man, am calling you.
Answer what’s in my heart.
Playing with Fire
I am old, twisted, dry. I’m cold.
Build the fire.
Heh! Heeh-heh…he-he-he…feel good.
Let the chief call the dancers.
For JOHN LUTHER ADAMS, music is a lifelong search for home—an invitation to slow down, pay attention, and remember our place within the larger community of life on earth.
Living for almost 40 years in northern Alaska, JLA discovered a unique musical world grounded in space, stillness, and elemental forces. In the 1970s and into the ’80s, he worked full time as an environmental activist. But the time came when he felt compelled to dedicate himself entirely to music. He made this choice with the belief that, ultimately, music can do more than politics to change the world. Since that time, he has become one of the most widely admired composers in the world, receiving the Pulitzer Prize, a Grammy Award, and many other honors.
In works such as Become Ocean, In the White Silence, and Canticles of the Holy Wind, Adams brings the sense of wonder that we feel outdoors into the concert hall. And in outdoor works such as Inuksuit and Sila: The Breath of the World, he employs music as a way to reclaim our connections with place, wherever we may be.
A deep concern for the state of the earth and the future of humanity drives Adams to continue composing. As he puts it: “If we can imagine a culture and a society in which we each feel more deeply responsible for our own place in the world, then we just may be able to bring that culture and that society into being.”
Since leaving Alaska, JLA and his wife Cynthia have made their home in the deserts of Mexico, Chile, and the southwestern United States.
Otik Trio (2004, rev. 2009)
Otik Trio is the trio version of my solo marimba piece, Chromatograph, which was inspired by Jan Švankmajier’s film, Little Otik. Švankmajier is a Czech master of stop motion animation, and his meticulous assemblage of frame-by-frame shots breathes life into various inanimate objects, in this case, an anthropomophous tree stump, which becomes a baby with an insatiable appetite for a childless couple. Rooted in the early 20th century tradition of surrealism, Švankmajier creates a unique sense of tactility through manipulating the sequence of shots at 24 frames per second, the standard frame rate in film production. Based on how much his object is displaced in one frame to the next---just like a flipbook animation--- the perceived movement of the object can be from smooth and organic, to disturbingly jagged and mechanical.
The mallet instruments create an illusion of sustained tone through tremolo technique, which, in a way, is an auditory equivalent of stop-motion animation. By varying the rate of tremolo and other repeated phrases, I had hoped to create a similar contrast between organic and mechanical, in the way Švankmajier was able to create an animistic alchemy from his material objects.
Otik Trio was written for Matt Ward, Matt Gold, and Joseph Tompkins.
Guo Wenjing (b. 1956)
Scored for six Beijing opera gongs laid flat on a table, Parade is an exhilarating work that amazes both with its sheer difficulty to perform and with the incredible array of different sounds that can be coaxed from what would seem to be a monochromatic selection of instruments. Guo cleverly announces both of these aspects, explaining that the work’s Chinese title (Xuan) trans- lates as both “glitter, as in shiny metals... and also display, as in performers showing off their talent.” With heroic feats of choreography and musicianship, the piece requires three percussionists to coordinate and interweave their movements as they share the six instruments, which must be played with a variety of sticks and mallets and manipulated and muffled by fingers and hands.
GUO WENJING was born in Chongqing (February 1, 1956) an ancient city of China’s mountainous Sichuan province. In 1978, he was one of a hundred students admitted out of 17,000 applicants to Beijing’s re-opened Central Conservatory of Music. Unlike many colleagues from this acclaimed class (Tan Dun, Chen Yi, Zhou Long), Guo remained in China after graduation except for a short stay in New York (on an Asian Cultural Council grant). The New York Times praised him the only Chinese composer who has never lived abroad but established an international reputation. At home, Guo Wenjing has been honored among the Top China Hundred Outstanding Artists.
The former head of the composition department of the Central Conservatory, where he still remains on the faculty, Guo maintains a busy schedule as composer and educator.
The material for Diacritic comes from a sheet of logarithmic graph paper I found lying around, which made me think of an accelerating rhythm. As my interests grew on the effect different notations has on the musicians, I decided to the same musical idea using two ways of notations within a same piece. I first mapped a logarithmic graph onto a five-line staff and created the first version, where the dots (notes) are laid out in visual space, leaving the specific timing between the notes to the performer's "translation" of the visual space into time. I then created the second version using the same graph, but this time, I approximated the visual space of the graph into stemmed notes, assigning specific note values as one does in the standard Western notation. I thought of these two different versions as different manifestations of a word with an identical spelling, but with two different sets of diacritics, like "špéllíńg" and "śpêlling." Large portions of the piece come from the layered cycles of accelerating rhythms placed in varying time frames. The opening of the piece is notated proportionally, followed by the remainder of the piece written in a standard rhythmic notation. The work is composed in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, where I first started learning how to spell out my own music more than twenty years ago.
Special thanks to all audience members for viewing this program information online. Viewing this information digitally has saved 200 sheets of paper—that's 21 gallons of water preserved and 18 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions eliminated.