Friday, June 21
Limestone & Felt, Caroline Shaw
Limestone & Felt presents two kinds of surfaces – essentially hard and soft. These are materials that can suggest place (a cathedral apse, or the inside of a wool hat), stature, function, and – for me – sound (reverberant or muted). In limestone & felt, the hocketing pizzicato and pealing motivic canons are part of a whimsical, mystical, generous world of sounds echoing and colliding in the imagined eaves of a gothic chapel. These are contrasted with the delicate, meticulous, and almost reverent placing of chords that, to our ears today, sound ancient and precious, like an antique jewel box. Ultimately, felt and limestone may represent two opposing ways we experience history and design our own present.
Really Craft, Caroline Shaw; quilted by Andrew Yee
Really Craft When You was written for the Bang on a Can Allstars for their Field Recordings Project. In it, a recording plays that includes Library of Congress archival recordings from the 1970’s of quilters from North Carolina and Virginia. As the quilters discuss quilting patterns, the ensemble members play their own patterns. Shaw says in the performance notes that “You can stick to your pattern exactly, or you can change it up. Up to you.” Andrew took those words to heart…
love reacts only, inti figgis-vizueta
Inspired by many of the recent string quartets from composer Caroline Shaw, love reacts only uses simple materials, processes, and player cues to create emotive gesture, motion, and complexity while retaining the core expressivity and beauty of the medium.
Space, in Chains, Jessica Meyer
This set of three songs uses the text of acclaimed poet Laura Kasischke. The first poem, “Space, in Chains,” is a series of emotional snapshots of humanity, while “Rain” delves into the longing of what is not to be. The set culminates with “O elegant giant” – a passionate depiction of the unraveling of an unexpected relationship. My deepest thanks to Melissa Wimbish for making these come alive during her Carnegie Hall debut in October of 2016.
Sunday, June 23
Ring Out, Wild Bells, Jessica Meyer
I happened to be in Paris on an Easter Sunday morning, and while I was at a café three different churches within earshot started chiming to call everyone to mass. Amazing rhythms started to phase in and out of each other, so I ran outside with my phone and recorded it. This became the inspiration for "Ring Out,Wild Bells", which is also a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson (published in 1850, yet still very relevant today) that accurately sums up what I wish to see in the world.
For musical reasons, I have extracted the following text and sequenced it differently from the original poem. I have also extracted a section of my original recording of the bells and looped it. The ensemble should accompany this track for the middle section of the piece. It was an honor to have Roomful of Teeth bring this to life at the TANK's Summer Solstice concert in Rangely, CO in 2017.
In Manus Tuas, Caroline Shaw
In manus tuas is based on a 16th century motet by Thomas Tallis. While there are only a few slices of the piece that reflect exact harmonic changes in Tallis' setting, the motion (or lack of) is intended to capture the sensation of a single moment of hearing the motet in the particular and remarkable space of Christ Church in New Haven, Connecticut. In manus tuas was written in 2009 for cellist Hannah Collins, for a secular solo cello compline service held in the dark, candlelit nave.
16 Hits or Misses, Mazz Swift
American Breakfast, Saunder Choi
The function of American Breakfast is to reflect on the transformation of an abnormal occurrence into a daily one. The 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando would have, at one time, challenged the assumptions once held dear about America’s tolerance and relative security. But now, the basic assumption is this: an American day will include gun violence. This is a piece about accepting the parameters of a forced American ritual, one in which we must partake, even if we succumb to numbness or deny its reality.
The setting the text relies on color contrast and timbral dissonance rather than the "blend" that choirs traditionally go for, with particular interest in how these different ways of producing sound with the voice interact with each other. The combination represents the hybridity in today's culture, not only in art, but in the people around us. Constant globalization and immigration are issues that continually cause us to question what the true America is and challenge the deeply-held notions of many Americans.