The program began with San Martin’s we turn in the night in a circle of fire. It is a four-movement double concerto for chamber ensemble and two exceptional violinists: Gabriela Diaz and Hrabba Atladottir. Steven Schick, the conductor and artistic director of SFCMP, describes the piece in terms of “textural and virtuosic rapport” between the violinists. Meanwhile, the composer herself explained that the title is a translation of a Latin palindrome.
Fitting a squeeze-box Argentinian bandoneón – an essential element of tango dance-hall bands – into a classical-music milieu is a bit of a stretch. The two sound-worlds are so fundamentally different that it’s hard to imagine how they could intersect. Nonetheless, star Argentinian bandoneónist J.P. Jofre and the Santa Rosa Symphony gave it a whirl on Sunday at Weill Hall in Rohnert Park, premiering a concerto for bandoneón and orchestra by Pablo Ortiz, an Argentinian professor of composition at UC Davis.
During a performance of Thierry de Mey’s “Musique de tables” for percussion trio (1987), Ian David Rosenbaum, Christopher Froh and Ayano Kataoka sat at a table on the stage of Alice Tully Hall like three somber-faced magicians, their athletically choreographed tap-dancing hands eliciting a remarkable array of tones and timbres from the pieces of wood laid flat in front of them.
The second gem of the evening was composer Dan VanHassel’s fzzl, written for snare drum with transducer. Percussionist Megan Shieh was a dynamic presence in a work informed by African drumming. Van Hassel’s score makes ample use of all sides of the snare drum.
Composer Pablo Ortiz will have his Bandoneon Concerto premiered by the Santa Rosa Symphony, with J.P. Jofre, for whom the work was written, on February 7th at the Weill Concert Hall at the Green Music Center.
Baritone Mischa Bouvier was vocally and dramatically larger than life as the bumbling giant and murderous monstrosity that Polyphemus is. His gruesome act of crushing Acis under a stone leads to one of the baroque’s saddest musical moments, in which the chorus sings, unaccompanied, “Ah, the gentle Acis is no more,” and the members of the excellent ABS chorus, for just a moment, managed to bring time to a standstill.
Composer Sam Nichols had a first performance of his things that had no opposites—fragments from Tim Horvath for soprano, flute, guitar, and harp—with the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, on their December 7 and 8 “Sung and Strummed” concerts (2014). Nichols received a Fromm Foundation award and commission for the piece. As reviewed by Benjamin Frandzel of San Francisco Classical Voice:
The three bits of text for that piece come from contemporary fiction writer Tim Horvath, a friend of the composer, and they enigmatically skirt in and around the consciousness of characters speaking in a mode somewhere between prose and poetry. Nichols responded empathetically, with a composition in which instrumental lines and the voice overlap and coincide with each other like different aspects of a single mind.
On November 25, 2014, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University announced Sam Nichols as one of twelve composers to receive commissions for a work to be performed in 2015–16. Kurt Rohde won a Fromm commission in 2013, and Laurie San Martin in 2011. According to the Fromm Foundation’s press release:
The Japan/Korea Music Symposium will explore interconnections in Korean and Japanese popular music in the latter half of the 20th century. This symposium is the first in what will be a series of events at Columbia over the next several years aimed at exploring connections in scholarly work on Korea and Japan. The symposium will feature introductory and concluding remarks by Michael Bourdaghs and three panels, each composed of two scholars working on music and sound in Korea/Japan.
Professor Anna Maria Busse Berger has earned two national awards for her article, “Spreading the Gospel of Singbewegung: An Ethnomusicologist Missionary in Tanganyika of the 1930s,” which appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, (University of California Press, Vol. 66, No. 2, pp. 475–522). With these two awards and her 2006 award from the Society for Music Theory, Busse Berger has been given the top scholarly prize from all three major music societies in the United States.
Chris Reynolds, faculty in the Music department and recipient of the 2013 UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Research, is featured on the One World, One UC Davis page. Professor Reynolds is recognized for his impact on students, teaching them how to develop and apply critical thinking skills using a subject that inspires and engages them — great music.
The American Musicological Society and the Music Division of the Library of Congress are pleased to present a series of lectures highlighting musicological research conducted in the division’s collections.
Pete Nowlen, artistic adviser for Music in the Mountains, is featured in this half-hour River Music documentary, which premiered on KVIE. It documents the Music in the Mountains 2013–14 Young Composers Program. With funding from the Getty and Volgenau Foundations, the 24 teenage student composers studied a science curriculum with the Sierra Streams Institute focusing on the Yuba River and the restoration of its salmon run. The student composers then wrote music with this inspiration.
Assistant Professor Katherine In-Young Lee received a 2014–15 Hellman Fund Fellowship at UC Davis.
The Hellman Family Foundation contributed funds to establish the UC Davis Hellman Fellows Program to provide support and encouragement for the research of promising assistant professors who exhibit potential for great distinction in their research.
Assistant Professor Katherine In-Young Lee was awarded a Davis Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellowship Award for 2014–2015. Her project title is “Dynamic Korea, Dynamic Samulnori: An Ethnography of a Transnational Percussion Genre.”
The purpose of the fellowship is to further the research or creative work of faculty in the humanities and humanistic social sciences and allow them to meet and work with colleagues in other disciplines and departments. The fellowship will provide recipients with a single quarter research leave in spring 2015.
Professor Carol Hess was one of this year’s NEH Summer Stipend recipients. Her project is titled “Aaron Copland, Cultural Diplomacy, and Latin America.” In late March, NEH announced $18.2 million in awards and offers for 208 humanities projects.
“Earth, Water, Science, and Song,” a Science and Society course, is described in a California Aggie article on March 13. The class connects the arts with the sciences, teaching students environmental science while they also learn how to write music and create songs. Ethnomusicology graduate student Sarah Messbauer was the Teaching Assistant for SAS 42 during Winter Quarter 2014.