WHO: San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
WHAT: Zone 2: in which an indispensable morphology is identified
WHEN: Monday, November 14, 2011, 8:00 p.m. (Pre-concert talk at 7:15 p.m.)
James Tenney, "Critical Band" (1988)
Martin Bresnick, "Songs of the Mouse People" (1999)
- Stephen Harrison, cello; Daniel Kennedy, vibraphone
Frederic Rzewski, "Bring Them Home!" (2004)
David Lang, "Illumination Rounds" (1982)
- Roy Malan, violin; Julie Steinberg, piano
John Cage, "Credo in Us" (1942)
Artistic Director Steven Schick designed this program in collaboration with the musicians of the ensemble, and he describes it as a study in the facets of community – from works by James Tenney and Martin Bresnick in which community is built around musical interactions rooted in common cause, to the opposite end of that spectrum with two songs of war by Frederic Rzewski and David Lang. The concert concludes with music by John Cage that makes a satirical statement on the American cultural landscape of the early World War II era.
Composer and theorist James Tenney’s "Critical Band" explores the physiological effects of sound within the human ear itself – specifically upon the membrane which gives the piece its title. A student of Cage, Varèse, and others, Tenney’s work included early computer music development at Bell Labs in the 1960s, and an extensive writing and teaching career. Augmented with tape delay effects as indicated in the score, our rendition will feature an octet of winds, strings, vibraphone and electric guitar.
Martin Bresnick’s "Songs of the Mouse People" is based on the last short story by Franz Kafka, “Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse People,” which portrays the curious role of the performing artist from the point of view of a lowly mouse. This duo for cello and vibraphone will be performed by ensemble members Stephen Harrison and Daniel Kennedy.
Frederic Rzewski’s "Bring Them Home!", performed here in a version for two pianos and two percussion, is a set of variations on the traditional Irish anti-war song, “Siúil a Rúin.” Political themes began to appear in Rzewski’s music during the late 1960s and have remained a key component ever since. The ensemble’s presentation of this piece alongside others by Lang and Cage will give Bay Area audiences an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between new music and the military conflicts of our time.
"Illumination Rounds", for violin and piano, is by Pulitzer Prize-winner and Bang on a Can co-founder David Lang. Named for the slow-burning artillery shells used to cast light over a nighttime battle, it is one of Lang’s earliest works, but one that is still as affecting today as when it was first written. The virtuosic, ten-minute piece will be performed by violinist Roy Malan and pianist Julie Steinberg.
John Cage’s "Credo in Us" was premiered at Bennington College in 1942. The piece will be performed by a pianist (Julie Steinberg) and two percussionists (William Winant and Daniel Kennedy), accompanied by a fourth musician (Steven Schick) who operates a radio – an early instance of the chance procedures that Cage famously incorporated into music in various ways throughout his life.
This concert is sponsored in part by a grant from The Ross McKee Foundation.
The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players’ concert season is funded in part by: San Francisco Hotel Tax/Grants for the Arts Program; Aaron Copland Fund for Music; Alice M. Ditson Fund at Columbia University; Fromm Music Foundation; Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation; Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Ross McKee Foundation; Bernard Osher Foundation; Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council; Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco; The San Francisco Foundation; Zellerbach Family Foundation and many individual donors.
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The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, an ensemble of highly skilled musicians, has performed, commissioned and recorded innovative new music of exceptional interest since 1971.