November 17, 2004 at 7:30 PM
Selections from Sunday in the Park with George
Born March 22, 1930 in New York City where he currently resides
The selections are scored for flute, English horn, 2 clarinets,
bass clarinet, horn, harp, percussion, piano, synthesizer, and strings.
the Park with George (1984) marks a stylistic departure from
Stephen Sondheim’s previous Broadway shows. While 1979’s
Sweeney Todd is steeped in the operatic sensibilities of 19th-century
London and 1981’s Merrily We
Roll Along blares forth the Manhattanisms of musical comedy, Sunday
in the Park with George, with its Debussy-Stravinsky lineaments
as orchestrated by Michael Starobin, reaches into the rarefied world
of classical art music. No Broadway musical before or since sounds
anything like it.
Sunday imagines an identity behind many of the personages depicted in
Georges Seurat’s 1884 Parisian painting, A Sunday Afternoon
on the Island of La Grande Jatte. In the musical’s first
act, George completes the painting only by maintaining fragile relations
with these persons, including his mistress Dot, who feels shut out.
In “We Do Not Belong Together,” Dot is pregnant with George’s
child, but given George’s lack of attentions, she threatens to
run off to America with the baker Louis, who, in Dot’s earlier
words, “is not afraid to be gooey” and “sells what
he makes.” To George’s plea, “What I feel? …
Why do you insist you must hear the words when you
know I cannot give you words? Not the ones you need,” Dot responds,
“I have to move on.”
“Finishing the Hat” is George’s poignant explanation
of the actual and metaphoric window through which he watches society
pass by as he obsesses with his painting. Such brutally honest statements
as “the kind of woman willing to wait’s not the kind that
you want to find waiting” yield to the admission/realization that
an artist is always “finishing a hat.”
The second act whisks us a hundred years forward to a high-tech art
world governed by commissions, publicity, and incessant networking.
As the putative great-grandson of Act-I George, Act-II-George is an
inventorsculptor of a series of electrical machines called Chromolumes.
Feeling stagnated at Chromolume #7 and journeying to a possible site
of the 1884 painting, 19th-century Dot supernaturally appears to him,
urging him, in her familiar words, to “Move On.” The
music of the duet is largely taken from “We Do Not Belong Together,”
though the melodic climaxes are considerably more intense, the
key has changed to a more Debussyan B major, and impressionistic gurgles
suffuse the accompaniment more pervasively. Dot’s/Sondheim’s
messages are legendary: “Stop worrying where you’re going;
move on. If you can know where you’re going, you’ve gone.”
“I chose and my world was shaken; so what? The choice may have
been mistaken; the choosing was not.” “Stop worrying if
your vision is new. Let others make that decision; they usually do.”
De Kooning (1963)
Born on January 12, 1926, in New York, and died on September 3, 1987,
Buffalo, New York. He wrote De Kooning in 1963 for the documentary
Willem de Kooning, The Painter.
De Kooning is scored for horn, percussion, piano (doubling celeste),
violin and cello. Performance time is approximately 12 minutes.
Feldman studied composition with Wallingford Riegger and Stefan Wolpe,
but especially admired the music of Edgard Varèse. A residency
in Berlin (1971–72) generated commissions from European orchestras
and radio organizations, gaining
him wider attention and leading to compositions for larger ensembles.
From 1973 until his death, he taught composition as the Edgard Varèse
Professor of Music at SUNY, Buffalo. Feldman’s aesthetic
crystallized in the early 1950s when he became associated with John
Cage, Earle Brown, Christian Wolff, and David Tudor.
influence, however, came from New York abstract impressionist painters.
Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and especially Philip Guston
stimulated Feldman to imagine a sound world unlike any hehad ever heard.
Throughout his career, he adhered with remarkable consistency to a few
tenets learned from them: a dislike of intellectual systems and compositional
rhetoric, a hostility to past forms of expression, a preference for
abstract gestures set in flat “all-over” planes of time,
an obsession with the physical materials of art, a belief in handmade
methods, and a trust in instinct.
de Kooning’s work, Feldman noted, “It was fascinating to
watch de Kooning paint: When you look at his pictures, they all look
very, very fast, but he paints very slowly … in slow motion …
I just couldn’t believe it. Very slow, but it looked very fast.”
Feldman’s friendship and fascination with the painter led director
Hans Namuth to approach the composer to create the score for Willem
de Kooning, The Painter, a documentary Namuth completed in 1963.
The music is a study in contrasted, well-coordinated chords and a free
sequence of individual sounds, that works alone or in the context of
C. WALSH/MARY HARRON
Women at an Exhibition (2004)
Randall Woolf was born in 1959, in Detroit, Michigan. He now lives
in Brooklyn, New York.
The chamber orchestra version of Women at an Exhibition is scored for
flute, oboe (doubling English horn), clarinet (doubling bass clarinet),
saxophone (soprano/alto/tenor/baritone), horn, trumpet, bass trombone,
tuba, electric guitar, Hammond B3 organ, percussion, and strings with
video and electronic soundtrack. Performance time is approximately 20
Women at an Exhibition was commissioned by the Akron
Art Museum and the original version has premiered by the Akron Symphony
Orchestra with support from Continental Harmony, which links communities
with composers through the creation of original musical works. The program
is a partnership of American Composers Forum and The National Endowment
for the Arts, with funds provided by the John S. and James L. Knight
Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation and additional support from
the Target Foundation. The Akron Art Museum’s project was made
possible by the Mirapaul Foundation, the Akron Art Museum Acquisition
Fund, and Mrs. Cynthia Knight.
Woolf studied composition privately with David Del Tredici and Joseph
Maneri, and at Harvard, where he earned a PhD. He is a member of the
Common Sense Composers Collective.
In 1997 he composed a new ballet of Where the Wild Things Are,
in collaboration with Maurice Sendak and Septime Webre, which has since
been performed by the Washington, Colorado, Georgia, and Louisville
ballet companies. He works frequently with writer and director
Valeria Vasilevski, having composed six works with her over the past
His works have been performed by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln
Center Two, New Millennium Ensemble, EOS orchestra, Fulcrum Point, the
Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Seattle Symphony, the Paul Dresher Ensemble,
Bang on a Can/SPIT Orchestra, California EAR Unit, American Composers
Orchestra, twisted tutu, and others. CRI/Emergency Music has recorded
a CD of his works, entitled Rock Steady. Also on Emergency
Music: Dancétudes (Kathleen Supové), My Insect
Bride (Common Sense Ensemble), Your Name Backwards (twisted
tutu), and Where the Wild Things Are.
About this piece the composer writes:
My piece was commissioned by the Akron Art Museum and was to be inspired
by works of art from their collection. After I had chosen around
20 works of art, a friend pointed out that I had chosen mostly images
of women. I was intrigued by this, and decided to make women the
focus of the piece. As I composed the music, I kept viewing the
various images of women I had collected against different passages of
the music. It became very important to me that the piece not present
one idea of women but, rather, a constantly shifting, open-ended statement
about women ... how they are seen by men, by society, by each other,
and how they see themselves. The music and images together create
a collection of thoughts, feelings, and associations about women, always
being careful to avoid settling into one set point of view. In
addition to the orchestra, there is a digital audio soundtrack, made
of the sounds of women singing, in styles as diverse as country and
western, gospel, new wave rock, blues, and renaissance madrigals.
As the music has themes that disappear and return, in new juxtapositions,
so does the video with its images of women rendered as works of art.
I hope that this 20 minutes of musical and visual art serve to
extend, affirm, and challenge your views of women.
I am very grateful and fortunate to have had the team of Mary Harron
and John C. Walsh to create the video. They completely understood
my initial idea, and expanded and improved it beyond my imaginings.
Thanks to them, and to Barbara Tannenbaum, who initiated and conceived
of this project.
DAUGHERTY Fire and Blood (2003)
Born in 1954, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Fire and Blood is a concerto for violin and orchestra. It is scored
for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets
in C, timpani, percussion, harp, strings, and solo violin. It was commissioned
and premiered by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi, conductor
with Ida Kavafian as the violin soloist. It is 25 minutes in duration.
Daugherty is one of the most performed and commissioned American composers
of concert music of his generation. Daugherty’s music came to
international attention in 1995 when his Metropolis Symphony
(1988–93), a tribute to the Superman comics, was performed in
New York at Carnegie Hall by conductor David Zinman and the Baltimore
Symphony Orchestra. Recent orchestral works include the English
horn concerto Spaghetti Western (1998), Hell’s Angels
(1999) for bassoon quartet and orchestra, and Time Machine
(2004) for three conductors and orchestra.
Currently Daugherty is composing Brooklyn Bridge, a clarinet concerto
commissioned by the International Clarinet Society, which well be premiered
at Carnegie Hall on February 25, 2005, by the University of Michigan
Symphony Band, as well as Ghost Ranch, an orchestral work inspired
by the paintings of Georgia O’Keefe commissioned by the BBC for
the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Naxos has just released a CD of
two recent Daugherty orchestral works: Philadelphia Stories
and the percussion concerto UFO, featuring Evelyn Glennie as
soloist with Marin Alsop conducting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.
Daugherty received his doctorate in composition from Yale University
in 1986, where his teachers included Jacob Druckman, Roger Reynolds,
and Earle Brown. During this time he also collaborated with jazz arranger
Gil Evans in New York. Daugherty pursued further studies with
composer Gyorgy Ligeti in Hamburg, Germany (1982-84). After teaching
music composition several years at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music
in Ohio, Daugherty joined the music composition faculty at the University
of Michigan (Ann Arbor) in 1991, where he is Professor of Composition.
He was composer-inresidence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, 1999–2003.
work the composer writes:
In 1932, Edsel Ford commissioned the Mexican modernist artist Diego
Rivera (1886–1957) to paint a mural representing the automobile
industry of Detroit. Rivera came to Detroit and worked over the next
two years to paint four large walls of
the inner courtyard at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Considered
among his best
work, Rivera’s extraordinary Detroit Industry murals have inspired
me to create my own musical fresco for violin and orchestra. It
was Rivera himself who predicted the possibility of turning his murals
into music, after returning from a tour of the Ford factories: “In
my ears, I heard the wonderful symphony which came from his factories
where metals were shaped into tools for men’s service. It was
a new music, waiting for the composer … to give it communicable
Before coming to Detroit, Rivera lived in Mexico City, surrounded by
volcanoes. Fire is an important element in his murals, which depict
the blaze of factory furnaces like erupting volcanoes. Volcanic fire
was also associated with revolution by Rivera, an ardent member of the
Mexican Communist party. He saw the creation of the
Detroit murals as a way to further his revolutionary ideas.
of the first movement responds to the fiery furnaces of Rivera’s
imagination. The violinist plays virtuosic triple stops, while the orchestra
explodes with pulsating energy. The composition alternates between repeated
patterns in 7/4 time and polytonal passages that occur simultaneously
in different tempos. It concludes with an extended violin cadenza accompanied
by marimba and maracas.
II. River Rouge
At the Ford River Rouge Automobile Complex, located next to the Detroit
Rivera spent many months creating sketches of workers and machinery
in action. He was accompanied by his young wife, the remarkable Mexican
painter Frida Kahlo
(1906–1954). During her time with Rivera in Detroit, Kahlo nearly
died from a miscarriage, as depicted in paintings such as Henry
Ford Hospital and My Birth.
The color of blood is everywhere in these works. She also had a passionate
and playful side: she loved wearing colorful traditional Mexican dresses
and jewelry, drinking tequila and singing at parties. Kahlo’s
labors, grief, and zeal for life
added another perspective to Rivera’s industry.
This movement is dedicated to Frida Kahlo’s spirit. The solo violin
introduces two main themes. The first theme is dissonant and chromatic,
flowing like a red river of blood. The second is a haunting melody that
Kahlo herself might have sung, longing to return to her native Mexico.
The orchestra resonates with floating marimbas
and string tremolo, echoing like a mariachi band in the distance. The
orchestration is colorful, like the bright tapestries of her dress.
While death and suffering haunt the music, there is an echo of hope.
III. Assembly Line
Rivera described his murals as a depiction of “towering blast
furnaces, serpentine conveyor belts, impressive scientific laboratories,
busy assembly rooms; and all the men who worked them all.” Rather
than pitting man against machine, Rivera thought the collaboration of
man and machine would bring liberation for the worker. The violin
soloist in this final movement is like the worker, surrounded by a mechanical
orchestra. The music is a roller coaster ride on a conveyor belt,
moving rapidly in 7/8 time. This perpetual motion is punctuated
by pizzicato strings, percussive whips, and brassy cluster chords. The
percussion section plays factory noises on metal instruments like brake
drums and triangles, and a ratchet turns like the wheels of the machinery.
In addition to this acceleration of multiple mechanical rhythms, the
musical phrasing recalls the undulating wave pattern that moves from
panel to panel in Rivera’s mural.