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Radford University, 4/1/10
Covington Center for the Performing Arts
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Music by Tom Flaherty, Pauline Oliveros, Bruce Mahin and Michael Gatonska
Threnody by TOM FLAHERTY
Portrait of Jeffrey by PAULINE OLIVEROS
Waves of Amber by BRUCE MAHIN
On Connecticut Naturalism by MICHAEL GATONSKA
Threnody, composed in late 2003, is partly about war and what is lost in its name. “Threnody,” which means "song of mourning," is probably best known to musical enthusiasts as the title given by Penderecki to his string orchestra piece named for the victims of Hiroshima. Like Penderecki in that piece, I composed the piece thinking I was working in purely musical terms; only afterwards did the tone and shape of the piece bring to mind the extra-musical resonance and title. Nonetheless, I was surely influenced by the daily news at the time, as the piece has come to seem inextricably connected to the war time loss of lives in my own mind.
In this piece the computer records, manipulates, and plays back the sound of the cello (and only the cello), beginning and ending with the simple and harmonious overtones of the open A string.
In Portraits the performer receives sets of pitches from the composer generated by various algorithms derived from the time, date, place of birth and name. The performer then renders a self portrait using the given pitches guided by a mandala score (included) and instructions. An interactive computer program was created in the software program MAX/MSP by the performer which includes the mandala image. The work was completed in 1988 with funding from the Composers’ Program of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Waves of Amber (2009) continues a series of works inspired by colors, as explorations on the premise that all color vibrates at a periodic frequency not unlike sound. Like sound, color has the potential for emotive impact and can be used to express ideas. Amber may bring many images to mind: amber waves of grain, the international color for danger, fossilized resin of tree sap, warmth, the virtuosic effort required to play this piece, the fire created when bow rubs across strings. Some may hear the piece and think about green things. That works well too. But I hear amber. (BPM)
On Connecticut Naturalism (2003) was composed for Mr. Krieger. Ideas and constructive musical elements for the work originated from notes taken by the composer while "in the field" visiting various places in Connecticut. While carrying a notebook when hiking or bicycling trails in the state, many observations, drawings, natural and unnatural effects, etc., form key points or centers which create the whole of the score and its flow. These centers fan or sonorically bleed into each other creating sound combinations, connections, and impetus from one sound center to the next. The work was made possible in part by the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.
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