Congratulations to Alonso Jose Restrepo Cardozo on his excellent Master's degree recital on March 29, 2021. In May he graduated with his Master of Music in Violoncello Performance from LSU School of Music studying with Dennis Parker. Alonso will be returning home to Cartagena, Columbia, where he accepted a fulltime position titled, Teacher of Violoncello, at the Escuela de Musica Ciudad Escolar Comfenalco Cartegena.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Alejandro Restrepo Cardozo graduated May 2021 with an Bachelor of Music in Violoncello Performance! Fall 2021, he will continue his studies at the University of Southern Mississippi as a graduate assistant to Dr. Alexander Russakovsky.
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Monday, April 5, 2021
April 8, 2021, at 7:30 pm
LUCIANO BERIO FESTIVAL
Adam Hudlow, trumpet • Paul Christopher, cello
Paul Forsyth, saxophone • Malena McLaren, clarinet
Justin Kujawski, double bass
Program Notes by Jackson Harmeyer, NSU Alumnus 2013
In 1957, in a lecture titled The Development of Serial Technique,the Italian composer Luigi Nono characterized himself, Bruno Maderna, Pierre Boulez, and Karlheinz Stockhausen as belonging to a so-called Darmstadt School whose role in history it was to extend the serial practices of Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern into an overarching compositional aesthetic. Whereas the serialization of pitch was Schoenberg’s main concern, Webern had envisioned bringing serial structure to other musical elements, like rhythm and instrumentation. Yet, according to Nono, it was his own generation (i.e. the Darmstadt School) who had finally accomplished this feat in what has become known as integral serialism. Throughout the 1950s, this was the unified mission of the composers who would gather each summer in the German city of Darmstadt to discuss and share ideas. There were of course others in attendance, but Nono considered these four to be leaders and proceeded to demonstrate their accomplishments through analyses of their scores. Interestingly Nono had previewed that he would also discuss Luciano Berio (1925-2003), the composer whose music tonight’s Festival honors. In no surviving version of the text, however, does Nono analyze the music of Berio. In a written exchange, Berio had apparently recommended, You should secure the fact that the series is dead and buried: it is used only to prepare the material from which the music is invented. This suggests that perhaps Berio did not see himself as part of the logical, historical progression Nono theorized; that his music was separate from theirs. Indeed, soon after Nono delivered his lecture, disputes would arise to divide the Darmstadt School, so that the common purpose of the 1950s was replaced by a much-fragmented avant-garde in the 1960s.
Luciano Berio was born in the town of Oneglia in northwestern Italy. At the conclusion of World War II, he entered the Milan Conservatory where he studied with Giorgio Ghedini, gaining his first exposure to Modernist music primarily through the guise of the various neo-tonalities. Serialism was not emphasized, so after graduation Berio applied for the 1952 Tanglewood summer festival in Massachusetts where he could study with Luigi Dallapiccola who was then considered the foremost Italian exponent of serialism. While in the United States, Berio also encountered electronic music for the first time, and upon his return to Milan found employment at the Italian radio corporation, RAI. There he proposed the creation of an electronic music studio; when this Studio di Fonologia opened in 1955, he was made its co-director alongside Maderna whom he had met two years earlier at a conference dedicated to electronic music. Berio and Maderna became fast friends, and this initial connection would over time lead to many others. In 1956 Berio attended the Darmstadt summer courses for the first time. He regardless maintained his aesthetic distance, perhaps because he arrived relatively late after his own idiom had already formed through experiences in Milan and at Tanglewood. Still there were many parallel developments between Berio and the Darmstadt elite, like his utilization of open form in his celebrated piece Circles. This composition was written in 1960 for his first wife, the American mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian, and it sets the poetry of e. e. cummings.
Even in his earliest works, Berio sought an approachability that the Darmstadt School stubbornly disavowed. His works accordingly won acclaim both in Europe and the United States, so that from the 1960s he was receiving prestigious commissions and teaching posts. The latter included stints at Mills College (as substitute for an ailing Darius Milhaud), Harvard, and Juilliard while his greatest compositional success came in 1968 with Sinfonia for eight amplified voices and orchestra. Commissioned by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic for the orchestra’s 125th anniversary, Sinfonia is one of very few works by an avant-garde composer to win popular approval. While its Second Movement honors the recently-assassinated Martin Luther King Jr., its Third Movement fully assimilates the Scherzo of Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony. With this familiar material as undercurrent, additional quotes and allusions to Debussy, Ravel, Strauss, Stravinsky, and even his colleague Boulez (to name only a few) are overlaid into the crowded texture. With contemporaneous works by Bernd Alois Zimmermann and Peter Maxwell Davies, Sinfonia is one of the defining works of polystylism and early Post-Modernism; it would also inspire the Russian composer Alfred Schnittke as he made polystylism his trademark idiom over the following decades. Aside from Sinfonia, the series of fourteen Sequenzas is probably Berio’s other major compositional accomplishment, but more on these momentarily. Before his death in 2003, Berio would serve as director of the electro-acoustic section of IRCAM in the 1970s, found his own electro-acoustic center at the Villa Strozzi in the 1980s, premiere two operas at La Scala, and deliver the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard. Evidently Berio was someone who could straddle the intellectual, cultural establishment and the fierce polemics of the mid-twentieth century avant-garde.
Our program tonight begins with Gute Nacht, a 1986 work for solo trumpet. This short piece, lasting only one minute, was Berio’s contribution to a volume entitled Fanfares: New Trumpet Pieces for Young Players released by Universal Edition. The volume was edited by Edward H. Tarr, the American trumpeter who did so much to revive the early trumpet repertoire, especially the works of Giuseppe Torelli, while also passionately advocating for Modern music. Aside from Berio, other composers who contributed to this volume included Morton Feldman, Mauricio Kagel, and Wolfgang Rihm. The clear model for Gute Nacht is Taps, the bugle call used by the United States military and at funerals. Berio’s version, however, contains some rhythmic hesitation and chromatic distortion as if the young player has not quite mastered the desired tune. Afterwards we hear Les mots sont allés which Berio subtitled a recitative for solo cello. This work was commissioned and premiered by the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich in honor of Paul Sacher, the Swiss conductor and music patron, in celebration of his seventieth birthday. Pieces were commissioned from twelve prominent composers, including Boulez, Benjamin Britten, Henri Dutilleux, and others. Most of these works were then premiered by Rostropovich at a special concert on May 2, 1976. Like others in this cycle, Berio’s piece translates Sacher’s name into pitch material, so that its letters are represented through the pitch classes, Eb-A-C-B-E-D. These six notes are played clearly and deliberately at the outset before variants on this theme begin. The texture becomes increasingly busier as the music proceeds. Only at the end does momentum slow as the first two pitches, Eb and A, are reiterated for tonal closure.
The majority of our program is dedicated to three Sequenzas. This series, begun in 1958, saw over the next forty-four years the completion of fourteen solo works for many of the instruments of the orchestra as well as a few outliers like piano, guitar, and accordion. They are at once virtuosic showpieces written for the premier players of their day and works concerned with the intelligent communication of musical ideas between composer, performer, and listener. They treat the solo instrument as cultural artifact and several explicitly engage with aspects of its performance and social history. Often this is done with humor and irony, challenging not only the performer’s technical ability but also their emotional resolve. We first hear Sequenza VIIb for soprano saxophone, an adaptation of the original work which was for oboe. Indeed several of the Sequenzas exist in multiple versions, and Berio sometimes integrated a Sequenza or its ideas into ensemble pieces. The oboist Heinz Holliger was the dedicatee and first performer of Sequenza VII at its completion in 1969. Berio maintained that all of his Sequenzas for monophonic instruments require a polyphonic listening. He commented of Sequenza VII, in particular, [Here] I carry on the research of a latent polyphony putting into perspective the complex sound structures of the instrument with an ever-present ‘tonic’: a B-natural that can be played pianissimo by any other instrument, behind the stage or in the audience. This drone provides a harmonic foundation from which sounds can emerge and against which the soloist can react. This remains true of the version for soprano saxophone, created by Claude Delangle in 1993 and premiered by him on May 20 of that year in Strasbourg. A second version for oboe, revised from this saxophone version, was created by Jacqueline Leclair in 2000 and termed Sequenza VIIa.
Sequenza IX for solo clarinet, composed in 1980, also exists in versions for alto saxophone and bass clarinet, although it is the original which we hear tonight. The clarinetist Michel Arrignon was the dedicatee and first performer, giving its premiere in Paris. According to Berio, Sequenza IX is concerned with melody and opposes a seven-note set whose register is largely fixed with a second five-note set which continues to change register. He wrote of the work, “It is essentially a long melody implying like almost every melody redundancy, symmetries, transformations, and returns. The contrast of the two sets forms the basis for melodic development. Our program concludes with Sequenza XIVb, an adaptation for double bass of the original for cello. Nevertheless in this case the two versions were only created two years apart: the original of 2002 was one of the final works Berio composed while its second version was an authorized adaptation by bassist Stefano Scodanibbio completed in 2004, a year after the composer’s death. Scodanibbio gave the premiere on June 15, 2004 in Stuttgart. The role played by the dedicatee of the cello version, Rohan de Saram, however, was crucial to the work’s composition and cannot be forgotten. This cellist of Sri Lankan origin introduced Berio to several instruments indigenous to this island nation in the Indian Ocean. The Kandyan drum, in particular, gave Berio the inspiration needed to approach the long history of the cello. Berio noted that All aspects of this piece live a double life, so that while the cello is often played in a traditional manner, the performer must also, for instance, tap the body of the instrument as if he were a percussionist. These aspects, as with previous Sequenzas, carry over into the version for double bass.
© Jackson Harmeyer 2021
About Jackson. Jackson Harmeyer is a freelance concert annotator based in Alexandria, Louisiana. He serves as Director of Scholarship to the Sugarmill Music Festival and as Marketing Chair to the Chamber Music Society of Louisville. A project he is developing for the 2021 Sugarmill Music Festival, A Scholarly Presentation in Lecture and Music: Solomon Northup in the Central Louisiana Sugarhouse, has been awarded a prestigious Rebirth Grant by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. In August 2020, Jackson began a Master’s of Library Science with a specialization in Music Librarianship at Indiana University where he is the recipient of a May Copeland Fellowship and serves as Secretary/Web Administrator to the Students of Music Librarianship Group. Previously Jackson earned an M.M. in Music History and Literature from the University of Louisville with a thesis entitled, Liminal Aesthetics: Perspectives on Harmony and Timbre in the Music of Olivier Messiaen, Tristan Murail, and Kaija Saariaho. There he was a recipient of the Gerhard Herz Music History Scholarship and was employed at the Anderson Music Library where he did archival work for the unique Grawemeyer Collection of Contemporary Music. Jackson has shared research at two meetings of the South-Central Chapter of the American Musicological Society; the University of Tennessee Contemporary Music Festival; the Music by Women Festival; and the University of Louisiana System Academic Summit. Aside from his studies, Jackson is a music blogger, composer, choral singer, CD collector, avid reader, and award-winning nature photographer.
Read additional program notes by Jackson at www.JacksonHarmeyer.com.
Friday, March 19, 2021
In the Shadows of World War II
An NSU Faculty Recital by Paul Christopher, cello
Program Notes by Jackson Harmeyer, NSU Alumnus 2013
Our present era is one of political tension, racial strife, and economic catastrophe, all intensified by the devastating COVID-19 global pandemic and a persistent crisis of disinformation. Over the past year, we have become accustomed to socially-distanced and virtual concerts where our separation from each other is reinforced by a facemask or computer screen. Even these, however, can be luxuries as our larger musical institutions—our orchestras and opera companies—have often been unable to muster concerts at all. The three composers whose music cellist Paul Christopher plays tonight knew their own share of crises. Their age was torn asunder by World War II, a conflict arising from economic collapse and racial prejudices stoked by false prophets who used fear as their greatest weapon. Our composers Hans Werner Henze, Ernst Krenek, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann, as Germans and an Austrian, had front-row seats to these calamities and each was forced to respond in a different way. While Henze and Krenek fled to countries they felt would be more hospitable to their music and ideas, Zimmermann ultimately committed suicide, after years of depression and physical illness. In their music, their recourse to neo-tonalities and then serialism represented efforts to attain a rationality absent from their chaotic era. Their interest in jazz and folk music, nevertheless, demonstrated a willingness to engage with the larger human community. As we begin to see some glimmers of hope in the vaccines and the promise of herd immunity, we also cannot forget the lasting consequences this moment will have on our art.
For the German composer Hans Werner Henze (1926-2012), the rise of Nazism was a personal story. As a boy, he watched as his father, a school teacher, embraced Nazism and how fascist, anti-Semitic, and anti-communist books gradually replaced those by banned authors. As for himself, Henze was enrolled in the Hitler Youth. Music was an escape for him, and in 1942 he entered the Brunswick State Music School where the operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart became a lifelong passion. Although two years later he was conscripted into military service, his internment at a British prisoner of war camp allowed him to hear Modernist music for the first time via BBC radio broadcasts. Henze would later reflect, “Everything that the fascists persecute and hate is beautiful to me.” These early experiences led Henze to embrace communism and construct a politically-engaged music as he began composing in the post-war years. Encouraged by his mentor Wolfgang Fortner, Henze attended the Darmstadt summer courses in 1946, their first year. Although this annual meeting of the avant-garde introduced him to twelve-tone serialism, Henze rejected its subsequent transformation into integral serialism under classmates like Karlheinz Stockhausen as another dangerous regime to be resisted. Instead Henze employed twelve-tone materials non-dogmatically and often created a tonal scaffolding around them. By 1953, he had resettled to Italy as his Marxist views and homosexuality proved obstacles to his building a career in Germany. He created works honoring Hô Chí Minh and Che Guevara; he also taught in Fidel Castro’s Cuba for a year. Nevertheless Henze is well-regarded for his operas and other theatre works, including Boulevard Solitude, The Bassarids, El Cimarrón, and We Come to the River as well as his cycle of ten symphonies, several of which have literary associations of their own.
Krenek’s Cello Suite is in five movements and lasts approximately ten minutes. The First Movement, marked Andante affettuoso, is characterized by motivic transformation. Gradually it intensifies from a tentative opening populated with isolated rhythmic figures into faster, more resolute material. Although there is at first an aspect of Webern’s pointillism, Krenek opposes and expands his motives so that they radiate energy and keep the music moving. There is further expansion in the Second Movement, Adagio, which now segregates its materials into several melodic lines identified by their timbre (arco or pizzicato) and range (low, middle, or high). The Third Movement, Allegretto, takes this yet a step further in its simulation of polyphonic writing. Motives here suggest fugal entrances and episodes, creating more of a collage of discarded archetypes than the implied counterpoint of Johann Sebastian Bach in his solo writing. The Fourth Movement, Andantino scherzando, at its outset alludes to the waltz with its characteristic steps captured in pizzicato. As the movement progresses, these steps grow increasingly distant as the bowed line seems too emotionally distracted to keep up. Especially in these two central movements, there are autobiographical elements as the intellectual rigor of Bach and a shared German past unravels in the Third Movement and the waltz with its strong Viennese associations becomes painfully undanceable in the Fourth. This fragmentation persists in the Fifth Movement, Andante, molto liberamente, which comes across as brittle and exhausted. Only near the end, at the marking Tempo I, does the music gain more resolve and fervor. Still there is no sense of resolution when the music finally terminates into silence.
Our final composer, Bernd Alois Zimmermann (1918-1970), was the most tragic and his aesthetic, the most complex. Like Henze, compulsory military service in World War II exposed him to music which had been banned by the Nazi regime. In his case, a posting in occupied France gave him his initial acquaintance with the scores of Igor Stravinsky and Darius Milhaud. It also left him with a severe skin disease for which he was discharged in 1942. Formal musical studies in Cologne, begun before the war, now continued followed by three summers at Darmstadt from 1948 to 1950. Zimmermann too embraced basic serial techniques, although his primary expansion came in the temporal realm where he posited a “spherical shape of time.” By this he meant that time is perceived as a unity of past, present, and future where one is not separate from any other. In other words, the past coexists within the present and together they determine the future, so that collage and the simultaneous stratification of distinct elements become essential musical features. In his single opera, Die Soldaten (The Soldiers), composed from 1957 to 1964, Zimmermann demonstrates this pluralist vision by constructing scenes around Baroque genres, including the ciaccona, ricercar, and toccata; incorporating a wide array of musical idioms from jazz to Gregorian chant into his aural fabric; and staging multiple actions simultaneously, conveying some on film and pumping others through loudspeakers. Furthermore Zimmermann in his writings positions Die Soldaten as the inevitable descendent to Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and Alban Berg’s Wozzeck—a present to their past as well as a vision of opera’s future, especially in its multimedia exploits.
This spherical time also factors into a purely instrumental work like the Sonata for solo cello of 1960. Zimmermann subtitles his Sonata, et suis spatiis transeunt universa sub caelo—the familiar line from Ecclesiastes which in English reads, “…and a time to every purpose under Heaven.” The poem offers certainty in uncertain times in its reassurance that everything has a purpose and a natural consequent. Past experience assures us that present struggles resolve as time ticks toward the future. Zimmermann represents this cycle in a score where smaller time events like individual rhythms, meters, and tempi are fixed, but where overarching structure is left indeterminate. Staves are not linked as in a conventional score, but instead measures are grouped together individually and assigned numbers. Each group contains distinct musical ideas which can still be heard distinctively when played. In effect, particulars are deprived of larger meaning, so only the present is known while the context of past and future must be negotiated by performer and listener alike. Yet Zimmermann, as stand-in for God and the universe, assures his audience through his Biblical inscription that every particular has its purpose even if not presently or immediately known. Furthermore collage happens through the diversity of the materials, but without the actual stratification that the soloist instrument necessitates; materials must be and will be reassembled mentally. The Sonata lasts about sixteen minutes and is in five movements, each with a poetic title in Italian—Rappresentazione, Fase, Tropi, Spazi, and Versetto. The cellist Siegfried Palm, who was responsible for commissioning and premiering so many avant-garde works for cello in the second half of the twentieth century, premiered the Sonata on April 24, 1960 at the Stuttgart Days for Contemporary Music.
© Jackson Harmeyer 2021
About Jackson. Jackson Harmeyer is a freelance concert annotator based in Alexandria, Louisiana. He serves as Director of Scholarship to the Sugarmill Music Festival and as Marketing Chair to the Chamber Music Society of Louisville. A project he is developing for the 2021 Sugarmill Music Festival, “A Scholarly Presentation in Lecture and Music: Solomon Northup in the Central Louisiana Sugarhouse,” has been awarded a prestigious Rebirth Grant by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. In August 2020, Jackson began a Master’s of Library Science with a specialization in Music Librarianship at Indiana University where he is the recipient of a May Copeland Fellowship and serves as Secretary/Web Administrator to the Students of Music Librarianship Group. Previously Jackson earned an M.M. in Music History and Literature from the University of Louisville with a thesis entitled, “Liminal Aesthetics: Perspectives on Harmony and Timbre in the Music of Olivier Messiaen, Tristan Murail, and Kaija Saariaho.” There he was a recipient of the Gerhard Herz Music History Scholarship and was employed at the Anderson Music Library where he did archival work for the unique Grawemeyer Collection of Contemporary Music. Jackson has shared research at two meetings of the South-Central Chapter of the American Musicological Society; the University of Tennessee Contemporary Music Festival; the Music by Women Festival; and the University of Louisiana System Academic Summit. Aside from his studies, Jackson is a music blogger, composer, choral singer, CD collector, avid reader, and award-winning nature photographer.
Read additional program notes by Jackson at www.JacksonHarmeyer.com.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Monday, March 8, 2021
|Michele Gunn, viola & Robert Cruz, piano|
Saturday, February 13, 2021
Friday, February 5, 2021
Christopher Adkins, Principal Cellist
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 7:30 pm
Magale Recital Hall
|L to R: J. Price & C. Adkins|
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Monday, February 8, 2021, at 7:30 pm for NSU students, faculty, and staff
Tuesday, February 9, 2021, at 7:30 pm for community members
Live Stream: https://capa.nsula.edu/livestream/
Magale Recital Hall