June brings us CE first selection of works by Daniele Venturi, plus works for voice, instrument, and a selection of songs from Jack Van Zandt’s Jazz Opera The New Frontier.
for chamber orchestra
Lebenslieder is a song-symphony for orchestra or large ensemble with electronics. The vocal part consists of extracts from recorded interviews with people with dementia and their partners who care for them. Their voices are translated directly into musical material, bringing the experience of living with dementia into the concert hall, breaking the silence that often surrounds the topic, and giving voice to the real-life, day-to-day experience of what is fast becoming the defining medical condition of our age.
a graphic score
Hermetic Study is notated purely using graphic shapes, without any reference to common practice music notation. They may be freely interpreted, optimally by a small ensemble of instruments who between them have the capacity to resonate, sustain, and articulate percussively. Incorporated into the design are fragments of text in Latin, drawn from the corpus of Hermetic philosophy (hence the title). These could be realised by a vocalist, or one or more of the instrumentalists.
Traces is the first of three pieces for solo flute (the other two being Traces B and Traces C) which together comprise the ‘Traces’ Cycle. The cycle has its origin in a memory dating from my late teens. During a walking holiday in the Lake District, I came across what my Ordnance Survey map told me was the track of a Roman road.
In Traces, the fragile consensus of the musical landscape is threatened in the final third of the piece by the introduction of a new type of material, characterised by repeated notes and a use of the flute’s lower register. Previously encountered material types begin to reappear, but the new material obdurately resists being subsumed by them and, to the end, the sense of an uneasy coexistence is maintained.
Jack Van Zandt
for bass clarinet
Tōgaku is a very old form of Japanese music that inspired this piece. Another inspiration was a piece of Ukiyo-e art from the 18th century of a sleeping tiger that the composer saw in an exhibition. The piece is an etude for the performer as well as being an etude for the composer, who improvised the tiger’s “dream.”
an Atomic Age Jazz Opera for soprano, vibraphone, piano and double bass
“The New Frontier,” is an operatic music theater monodramedy that is inspired by Van Zandt’s and Freeman’s California school years of 1950s and 60s against the background of the threat of nuclear annihilation and how it affected our everyday lives, and those of everyone in our families and communities, as well as North American culture. The characters portrayed in the two songs here are the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg and a home fallout shelter salesperson in a version arranged for a trio of piano, vibes and bass.
for baritone with three instrumentalists
A Brother Abroad was commissioned for the 2021 Pinner Music Festival to mark the 700th anniversary of the dedication of Pinner Parish Church in Greater London.
The text, by Anthony Pinching, celebrates Bishop Peter of Corbavia who performed the dedication. A Benedictine, Peter grew up in Italy and worked at the Papal Court before coming to England. In England he worked on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury amongst other bishops, as a suffragan. As well as church affairs he experienced many adventures, sent to negotiate with Robert the Bruce in Scotland and being captured by outlaws on the journey. Yet at heart, and foremost in the piece, Bishop Peter demonstrated an intense spirituality.
How does a 14th century bishop speak to us today? What traits of his might we reflect? Overwhelmingly the emphasis is on integrity and inner peace.
for violin, horn, piano and strings
Concerto Grosso is freely inspired by the four elements (water, air, earth and fire) is divided in three movements. As the title suggests, the piece refers to the Baroque Italian form of Concert of group. Here we have three soloists (violin, horn and piano) that dialog strongly with a String orchestra (and Timpani). Each soloist is valorized as solo and as part of the concertino and contributes to create many different orchestral colors and musical situations.
version for 22 players
‘the unimportance of events’ for 22-players uses a new polytemporal composition and performance approach called timecode-supported polytemporal music. Using this approach, each player is treated as a soloist performing in their own simultaneous independent speed, enjoying unique temporal, expressive and interpretive freedoms. No conductor is used to hold the performance together and the music is not written in a score. It is, however, performed from through-composed, fully notated instrumental parts. It uses a system of organisation that holds instrumentalists and structure together using timecode (minutes and seconds printed above every bar in all instrumental parts that mark the passage of time throughout the piece) read in conjunction with the rolling timecode displayed on each players’ loosely synchronised mobile phone stopwatch. Players mediate their performances so that both timecodes approximately match up when playing to create renditions that though similar, will never be exactly the same twice.
Composed for the BBC Symphony Orchestra as part of Tectonics Glasgow 2021.
for medium high or medium low voice and piano
The idea for Arie Nuove came from working with singing students who wanted to sing in Italian but with a familiar text. The Arie Antiche are the mainstay of a conservatoire singer’s first year. This familiarity of text therefore lends itself to new settings. My brief was that the vocal line must provide an ergonomic workout for the voice, be easy to learn and enjoyable to sing. I have designed the piano accompaniments to be playable by teacher or student for self-accompaniment. The work is dedicated to all the beautiful singers that I have sung with on stage who also teach.
for flute, piano, two violins, viola, violoncello and double bass
Somnus is inspired by the science of sleep and polysomnographic recordings of brain waves, eye movements and neck muscle tension. The ten-minute duration of the piece mimics the cyclic staged of an 8-hour night for each of the performers.
for piano and orchestra
Written at the request of the Venezuelan pianist and composer Marianela Arocha, it is an elaborate work, specially designed for the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar. It also has an educational purpose, that is, to bring a youth orchestra closer to contemporary art music. Although the writing entrusted to the orchestral mass is very varied and articulated, it generally tends to envelop or illuminate the more lyrical one of the piano.
for alto flute
Inspired by a beautiful popular song from the Aosta Valley, this substantial work involves the use of specifically created mutes and extended techniques and voice to evocative psychoacoustic effect. Featured on the latest album of Venturi’s music this work
for saxophone quartet
A work in which compositional techniques borrowed from the numerous studies and specific research carried out by the composer, primarily on phonetics, merge. The distinctive feature of this composition is the various musical parameters derived and organized following two technical processes present in electronic music, that is additive synthesis and subtractive synthesis.
Tags: A Brother Abroad, Achernar, Admar, Andrew Lewis, Ara, Brian Inglis, Catherine Kontz, Circus Sounds, Concerto Grosso, D'emblée, Daniele Venturi, Feel the sea, flight, Francis Pott, Hermetic Study, jack van zandt, James Erber, Lebenslieder, Marc Yeats, Mario Pagotto, Martin Bussey, Mary Bellamy, Origami E, Pilgrim, Prelude in D minor, Rachmaninoff, Richard Birchall, Studio 19, Susannah Self, The New Frontier, the unimportance of events, Togaru, Traces, Two Character Songs, Vic Hoyland