Third Annual Social Networking Concert: Curated by Composer Douglas Townsend
Written in 2003, this work was written for Thomas Piercy and thereafter premiered by him and pianist Judith Olson at a Carnegie Hall concert to celebrate Ned Rorem's 80th birthday. The moods of the movements are strident, tuneful, blues, explosive.
Allegro moderato con spirito
Vivo e giocoso
NEW YORK PREMIERE. This work was written in 1995 as an entry in the New England Reed Trio's Annual Composition Competition. It won first prize and was premiered in Boston in 1996 by the New England Reed Trio. It was recorded commercially by the Moravian Chamber Players for the MMC label.
NEW YORK PREMIERE. This work was written in 2003 for the ensemble Trio Contraste, which premiered it in Austin, Texas in 2011. The work is in one movement and is romantic in nature. The composer states in the program note that her composition is traditional in the sense that it present ideas one by one, combines and develops them, and, by utilizing the individualities of the three instruments as well as their compatibilities, aims to create an integrated and expressive whole.
This work for string quartet was written in 2011 and is a WORLD PREMIERE. It was composed in memory of Daniel Pearl, a journalist killed by Al Qaeda in Pakistan. He was a violinist and singer, and also a student and friend of the composer. His story was told in the film "A Mighty Heart."
An empty chair with a violin on it (symbolizing Pearl) is on stage with the other four string players. The players also use their voices to sing some of the sustained string chords (a ghostly echo symbolizing Pearl).
Follow the Drinking Gourd
The New River Train
Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier
Two in One (Old Joe Clarke and Sourwood Mountain)
Written in 1956, this work premiered in Carnegie Recital Hall (now Weill Recital Hall) on Jan. 5, 1957, performed by Albert Kaine and Robert Abramson. It received favorable reviews the next day in the NY Times and in the Herald Tribune. It was published by C.F. Peters in 1960. In the 2/84 Keyboard the reviewer described the first fantasy (on the underground railroad song "Follow the Drinking Gourd") as "a dramatic, movie-overture-like epic, which develops the simple folk melody into anthem proportions. Octaves, marching rhythms, and shifting tonalities characterize this stirring fantasy." In his well-known reference guide to the Piano Duet Repertoire (1981, 2001) at p. 290, Cameron McGraw describes the fantasies as "freely set in a tidy, refined, traditional idiom; frequently modal with occasional complex rhythms. Ingenious, well balanced, and thoroughly enjoyable."
Townsend's folk song fantasies have been performed in their entirety many times all over the world since they were written 55 years ago. In the last five years alone, professional duos in New York (at least 4 different duos), New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, California, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Kansas, Spain (upcoming in 2012), and Japan have performed the work in concert settings. It has been recorded in full (2000) by the Oregon duo Ivory Crush (pianists Maria Choban and Kenn Willson); and broadcast many times in the last five years on Minnesota Public Radio, Australian Broadcasting (ABC) and WPRB, Princeton (Classical Discoveries with Marvin Rosen).
Townsend has also orchestrated the four fantasies. Score and parts are available on rental from C.F. Peters. They were most recently performed in 2008 in NYC by the Bronx Arts Ensemble Orchestra, David Gilbert conducting. They had their world broadcast premiere on public radio in 1962, with the Oklahoma City Symphony (now Philharmonic) Orchestra, Guy Frasier Harrison conducting.
1V. Rondo alla Moto Perpetuo
At the time it was written in 1943, this work was dedicated to the popular concert pianist, Ray Lev, who premiered the work in Carnegie Hall on November 9, 1945. Townsend had just turned 24 years of age the day before the premiere and had completed the work about a year earlier, when he was 22. It was his first major work and his first major public success as well. On the program with him on the second half of the program were works by then-contemporary composers Miriam Gideon and Louise Talma.
Townsend turned 90 years of age this season on November 8, 2011. Over 65 years have passed, and over a hundred works have been written by Townsend, since that first Carnegie Hall performance of SONATINA NO. 1 FOR PIANO. Philadelphia concert pianist Tim Ribchester is performing it here as a birthday present for Townsend as he embarks on a new decade of composing adventures as a nonagenarian.
I. Fixating on C#
II. Aggressive Slides
III. Studying Solfege
IV. New York at Night
Written in 2007, this work was commissioned by Gilda Lyons for the ensemble Seraphim, which premiered it in May 2009 in Manhattan. The five short movements are all based on the pitch C-sharp. There are no words or text in this work. The singers vocalize using vowels and consonants only, as indicated by the composer. In effect, the singers become instruments. NOTE: THE PERFORMANCE OF THIS WORK WAS CANCELLED 24 HRS. BEFORE THE CONCERT BECAUSE OF A SINGER'S ILLNESS.
This composition, styled as a short, dramatic virtuosic work for solo piano in the tradition of Liszt, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, or Prokofiev, was composed in 2005 for pianist Eliran Avni (Tel-Hai 1992) for its release on a Naxos recording. According to the composer, the work was inspired by a traditional Azerbaijani melody, which he restructured according to certain Turkish and Central Asian metric principles. The harmony and texture were influenced by contemporary jazz. In the mid-section of the work one can hear an imitation of such folk instruments as hand-bells, flutes and hand-drums, which utilize the extremes of the piano.
Avner Dorman has orchestrated this work, which had its U.S. premiere at Carnegie Hall on 2/22/11 by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Zubin Mehta conducting.
These two works are song cycles set to the poetry of Judson Evans. FOUR HAIKU POEMS was written in 2004. PANOPTICON was written in 2006, and has four short movements: Recitative, Aria, Intermezzo, and Barcarolle. Both works have been premiered in New York.
NEW YORK PREMIERE. This work was commissioned in 2008 by the ensemble Chamber Music Palisades and premiered by that group the same year in Pacific Palisades, California. The work is infused with jazzy elements, rock style beat, Boogie Woogie and Appalachian fiddle sounds. Dr. Cate Hummel plays the flute and alto flute in this performance.
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