February 3, 2002 at 3pm
65th Birthday Concert
was a collaboration composed with Ravi Shankar in 1989. We had met
years before in Paris in 1965, when as a young composer, I had been
hired to be his assistant on the film score Chappaqua. This encounter
had a tremendous impact on my own music leading to many visits to
India, profound changes in my music, and a lifelong friendship with Ravi.
Private Music's Peter Baumann invited Ravi and I to do a record
project together. We met in Los Angeles in the spring of 1989 to try
out a few ideas. I arrived with my long time music producer Kurt
Munkacsi and met with Ravi and a small group of Indian musicians
including his son Shubhandra Shankar. We spent the next several weeks
together conceptualizing and partly composing a six-part work that we
later named Passages.
Our plan was
to compose music themes for each other which would then be completed
in new compositions. I gave Ravi two themes for his compositions
"Ragas in Minor Scale" and "Sadhanipa." Ravi gave
me two themes for my compositions "Offering" and
"Meetings Along the Edge." In addition we each contributed
compositions entirely our own, mine being "Channels and
Winds" and Ravi's "Prashanti."
The music in
today's concert-"Offering," "Meetings Along the
Edge," and "Channels and Winds"-represents about half
of the music recorded the following year. The music for this premiere
was arranged for the American Composers Orchestra and the
Raschèr Quartet by Dennis Russell Davies.
6, "Plutonian Ode"
Text by Allen Ginsberg
last ten years of Allen's life we had performed frequently together
in poetry/music collaborations. Allen was a superb reader of his own
work and I was often inspired to compose new piano music for these
occasional collaborations. In the case of Hydrogen Jukebox, we
developed an evening length "opera" which was designed by
Jerome Sirlin and directed by Ann Carlson. We presented that work in
over 30 cities as part of an international tour.
It had been
our plan to make a new, major collaboration based on his epic poem
Plutonium Ode (1978). Before he died in 1997, Allen had made several
recordings for me of the poem in preparation for the new work. At
that time I had in mind simply an extended piano work to accompany
Allen in live performance. I put aside the project in 1997, feeling
that I wouldn't want to go ahead without Allen. A few years past and
the commission of a new symphony from Carnegie Hall and the
Brucknerhaus Linz reawakened my interest in the project. I felt,
then, that Plutonium Ode was unfinished business between Allen and
myself and this would be the opportunity to complete it. By then, the
piano music I had originally imagined had grown to a full orchestra
and Allen's resonant speaking voice to a lyric soprano.
movements of the symphony follow the three parts of the poem, and
follow, also, the passage of the poem-the first movement a passionate
outcry against nuclear contamination and pollution, the second a turn
towards healing, and the final movement an epiphany arrived at
through personal transformation.