The Viola In My Life:
The Influence of Morton Feldman
Monday, February 27th, 2012 at 8pm
The Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space ($15 / $12 students and seniors)
"The composer makes plans, music laughs." – Morton Feldman
The enterprising composer collective new music ensemble and concert series RED LIGHT NEW MUSIC presents its second main-stage concert of the season
THE VIOLA IN MY LIFE: THE INFLUENCE OF MORTON FELDMAN
Scott Wollschleger: Brontal No. 3 (world premiere, RLNM commission)
Morton Feldman: The Viola in My Life I
Ted Hearne: Crispy Gentlemen (world premiere, RLNM commission)
Feldman: The Viola in My Life II
Keeril Makan: Mercury Songbirds
Curated by the co-directors of Red Light New Music, Scott Wollschleger, Liam Robinson, Vincent Raikhel and Christopher Cerrone, led by resident conductor Ted Hearne, and featuring long-time Red Light violist Erin Wight as the soloist , THE VIOLA IN MY LIFE: THE INFLUENCE OF MORTON FELDMAN explores various aspects of the continuing impact of New York City based composer Morton Feldman’s life, works and musical philosophy on a growing number of composers writing in a wide breadth of styles.
Each of the new and recent compositions on this program carries Feldman’s influence in a unique and perhaps not obvious way, and Feldman’s works The Viola in My Life I and II act as connective tissue, allowing each listener to discover and draw out then musical relationships on their own.
Composer Nils Vigeland, chair of composition at the Manhattan School of Music and a former Feldman student, will moderate a preconcert discussion, beginning at 7:20pm, with the featured composers and Red Light directors.
About the Composers:
Morton Feldman (born January 12, 1926, died September 3, 1987) was an American composer. He is best known for his mature instrumental pieces which are frequently written for unusual groups of instruments, feature isolated, carefully chosen, predominantly quiet sounds, and are often very long. Feldman was born in New York City. He studied piano with Madame Maurina-Press, a pupil of Ferruccio Busoni, and later composition with Wallingford Riegger and Stefan Wolpe. He did not agree with many of the views of these composition teachers, and he spent much of his time simply arguing with them. Feldman was composing at this time, but in a style very different to that he would later be associated with. In 1950, Feldman went to hear the New York Philharmonic give a performance of Anton Webern's Symphony. At the concert, he met John Cage, and the two became good friends. Under Cage's influence, Feldman began to write pieces which had no relation to compositional systems of the past, such as the constraints of traditional harmony or the serial technique. He experimented with non-standard systems of musical notation, often using grids in his scores, and specifying how many notes should be played at a certain time, but not which ones. Feldman's experiments with the use of chance in his composition in turn inspired John Cage to write pieces like the Music of Changes, where the notes to be played are determined by consulting the I Ching. Through Cage, Feldman met many other prominent figures in the New York arts scene, among them Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston and Frank O'Hara. He found inspiration in the paintings of the abstract expressionists, and though the 1970s wrote a number of pieces around twenty-minutes in length, including Rothko Chapel (1971, written for the building of the same name which houses paintings by Mark Rothko) and For Frank O'Hara (1973). Later, he began to produce his very long works, often in one continuous movement, rarely shorter than half an hour in length and often much longer. These works include Piano and String Quartet (1985, around eighty minutes), For Philip Guston (1984, around four hours) and, most extreme, the String Quartet II (1983), which is over five hours long without a break. It was given its first complete performance at Cooper Union, New York City in 1999 by the FLUX Quartet, who issued a recording in 2003 (at 6 hours and 7 minutes). Typically, these pieces do not change in mood throughout and tend to be made up of mostly very quiet sounds. Feldman said himself that quiet sounds had begun to be the only ones that interested him. Feldman married the composer Barbara Monk shortly before his death in 1987 at his home in Buffalo, New York.
Ted Hearne (b. 1982, Chicago) is a dynamic composer, conductor and performer with polyglot sensibilities in new and traditional classical music. As comfortable in operatic and orchestral works as in rock and choral music, Hearne’s compositions are socially engaging, exploring the complexity of contemporary experience with visceral power and raw emotional beauty. His Katrina Ballads, a modern-day oratorio with a primary source libretto, offers a searing portrayal of the media’s take on Hurricane Katrina. Katrina Ballads was awarded the 2009 Gaudeamus International Composers Award from Music Center the Netherlands, and the recording, on New Amsterdam Records, was named one of the best classical albums of 2010 by Time Out Chicago and The Washington Post. Ted's music has been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Calder Quartet, The Knights, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Transit Ensemble, and New York City Opera; heard at the MATA Festival, Bang on a Can Marathon, Carlsbad Music Festival, and New York City’s (le) Poisson Rouge; and commissioned by Chicago's Third Coast Percussion, San Francisco's Volti Choral Arts Laboratory, Charleston's New Music Collective, Newspeak, Huntsville Symphony, Albany Symphony and Ensemble ACJW, among others. Partition was commissioned by the Yale Glee Club for its 150th Anniversary Gala at Carnegie Hall, with the Yale Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming commissions include works for DITHER Electric Guitar Quartet, Toomai Quintet, and a new work for Ensemble Klang, to be premiered in Utrecht at the Gaudeamus Week 2011. Volti records his unaccompanied choral work Privilege for its next commercial release. Ted is the artistic director of Yes is a World, resident conductor of Red Light New Music, and was for five years composer-in-residence of the Chicago Children's Choir. He served as music director for the world premiere productions of works by David Lang Michael Gordon, and Bryan Senti, as well as the American premieres of works by Constantine Koukias and Beat Furrer. Ted received a 2008 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was an artist in residence at the MacDowell Colony in Fall 2009, and has recently completed collaborations with composer J.G. Thirlwell and renowned filmmaker Bill Morrison. Ted attended Manhattan School of Music and Yale School of Music, and has studied with Martin Bresnick, Aaron Jay Kernis, Ezra Laderman, David Lang, Nils Vigeland and Julia Wolfe. His work is available exclusively through Good Child Music.
Recipient of the 2008 Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, Keeril Makan has also received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm Foundation, the Gerbode Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, Meet the Composer, and ASCAP. His commissions include ones from the Bang on a Can All-Stars, American Composers Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall. Makan's work has been featured at the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco and the MATA Festival in New York, and internationally at the Gaudeamus Festival in the Netherlands, Le Domaine Forget in Canada, and Voix Nouvelles in France. His baritone saxophone solo Voice within Voice appears on Brian Sacawa's CD American Voices on Innova. The first CD of his music, In Sound, was released on the Tzadik label in June 2008 with performances by the Kronos Quartet and Paul Dresher Ensemble. Trained as a violinist, Makan received degrees in composition and religion from Oberlin. He completed his PhD in composition at the University of California–Berkeley. Outside the US, he spent a year in Helsinki, Finland, at the Sibelius Academy on a Fulbright grant. Having been awarded the George Ladd Prix de Paris from the University of California, he also lived for two years in Paris, France. Makan is Assistant Professor of Music at MIT and makes his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Scott Wollschleger (b. 1980, Erie, PA) received his Masters of Music in composition from Manhattan School of Music in 2005, where he studied with Nils Vigeland. An avid supporter of collaboration and experimental creativity, Mr. Wollschleger co-founded and co-directs Red Light New Music, a 501©(3) non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and crafting contemporary music. He currently is the Senior Production Manager at Schott Music New York and is the Associate Director of New Publications for Project Schott New York.
Mr. Wollschleger’s music has been widely performed in the United States and around the world, with recent performances throughout Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, in addition to performances in San Diego, Los Angeles, Charlotte, and the greater New York City and Brooklyn areas. With a strong emphasis on solo and chamber works, his musical ideas often explore an acute sense of synesthesia and color in sound, in addition to the a-temporal and discontinuous nature of experience. He has received support from a variety of organizations including Meet The Composer, the American Music Center, and the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music. In addition to his musical ideas, Mr. Wollschleger frequently delves into the philosophical writings of Deleuze, Guattari, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and maintains an ongoing collaboration with Deleuzian scholar Corry Shores. Their recently co-authored thesis, Rhythm without Time, was successfully presented at the London Graduate School’s academic conference, “Rhythm and Event,” at the end of October 2011. He currently resides in Brooklyn, and his music can be heard regularly in New York City through Red Light New Music. www.scottwollschleger.com