Sat, Dec, 22, 2012
The new season of CONTACT! is back with new music from New York–based composers Andy Akiho, Andrew Norman, and Jude Vaclavik, and a rare performance of Jacob Druckman's Counterpoise with the acclaimed soprano Elizabeth Futral.
Akiho’s Oscillate is an homage to inventor Nikola Tesla, and Vaclavik’s SHOCK WAVES evokes a sonic boom “because it is a palpable effect of an invisible force.” Andrew Norman’s Try is about creativity, perfectionism, and trial-and-error.
Composers will be present to introduce their works and will join the audience and performers at the post-concert reception, with beer lovingly provided by the Brooklyn Brewery.
To view details on the December 21 concert, go to CONTACT!
(Click the red play button to listen)
Oscillate (World Premiere, New York Philharmonic commission)
Oscillate was composed in September–October 2012. It was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, which premieres it in these concerts. It is for orchestra, piano, and three percussionists, who play instruments ranging from traditional percussion to flower pot and wine glasses (which are broken during the performance). As its title suggests, the piece explores oscillations in pitch, rhythm, timbre, and dynamics. Mr. Akiho wrote to New York Philharmonic Program Annotator James M. Keller that the word “Oscillate” is an anagram for “Tesla coil,” named for Nikola Tesla, and added that that the work reflected how the scientist-inventor became a touchstone during composition. Like Tesla and his “sleepless persistence,” Mr. Akiho can stay awake several nights in a row, obsessed with pursuing an idea. The composer wrote: “Oscillate is an autobiographical composition divided into three continuous parts representing three continuous sleep-deprived days of inspiration, perseverance, and blissful confusion!
“I am a trial-and-error composer, an incurable reviser,” Andrew Norman told New York Philharmonic Program Annotator James M. Keller. When in 2011 Mr. Norman received a commission from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic for an orchestral work, his compulsion to get every detail “right” killed his creativity, he said. Months later he realized it would never be perfect, and that this was the wrong goal: “The best thing I could do was to try as many new things as I could, to embrace the risk and failure and serendipitous discovery implicit in the word ‘try.’ The piece I ended up writing is a lot like me. It’s messy. It’s fragmented. It does things over and over, trying them out in asmany different ways as it can. It circles back on itself again and again in search of any idea that will stick, that will lead the way forward to something new.” On May 24, 2011, Try was premiered at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, with John Adams conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group. Some of the unusual instrumentation includes kick drum (muffled with blanket), four log drums, four opera gongs, four small tom-toms, spring coil, and guiro.
SHOCK WAVES (World Premiere–New York Philharmonic Comission)
Mr. Vaclavik has said that in SHOCK WAVES, a symphonic brass and percussion work composed between June and October 2012, he wanted to exploit the New York Philharmonic’s heralded ability to play at both extremes of the dynamic spectrum, and to build or fade to these extremes. Its central and recurring theme is the sonic boom, an audible shock wave produced from collapsing air displaced by an object traveling beyond the speed of sound that, mysteriously, we neither see nor hear itself. SHOCK WAVES opens in a state of stasis, then explores multiple shifts in dynamics, texture, and tempo that are generated by “unseen forces.” Although sonic booms from supersonic aircraft are the most famous examples of shock waves, many shock waves in nature are not the result of fast or violent disruptions. The abstract interpretation of shock waves in the work reflects these “discontinuous disturbances,” as the composer described them. The largest shock waves depicted in the work evoke tectonic plates in their use of clashing masses of sound.
Counterpoise (ensemble version)
Jacob Druckman composed Counterpoise in its orchestral form in 1994 on commission from The Philadelphia Orchestra. The following year, he recast it for chamber ensemble, the version to be performed in these CONTACT! concerts. The chamber version was premiered in April 1997, with the composer conducting The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and soprano Susan Narucki. These are the New York Philharmonic’s first performances of the piece. As New York Philharmonic Program Annotator James M. Keller has noted, Mr. Druckman’s works often center on the interplay of conflict and balance, and Counterpoise is no exception. The piece includes two poems each by Emily Dickinson (“Nature” is what we see and I taste a liquor never brewed) and Guillaume Apollinaire (“Salomé” and “La Blanche neige”). “The musical development of Counterpoise,” Druckman wrote, “is strongly focused on, and colored by, the great contrast between the two poets: Emily Dickinson and Guillaume Apollinaire. The American poet’s giddy spiritual ecstasy and the French poet’s visions of sadness and dementia seem to pull in opposite directions at the ends of a single straight line. It is a strange symmetry indeed to have the Apollinaire poems from his early collection Alcools (strong drink) at one pole while, at the other pole, Dickinson sings ‘Inebriate of Air am I.’… I think of Emily Dickinson as being totally ‘airborne,’ and the Apollinaire is totally ‘rooted in the earth,’ almost subterranean.”
CONTACT! is made possible with major support from The Francis Goelet Fund and The Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. Additional support is provided by The Amphion Foundation, Inc., and The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University.