Contemporary Masterwork to Headline Faculty Concert
Release Date: 10-14-2009
As if contemporary composers don't put enough demands on performers.
In addition to wresting beauty from angular melodies and chock-a-block chord clusters, the American composer George Crumb asks the two pianists performing his "Makrokosmos III, Music For A Summer Evening," to get under the hood and become piano mechanics.
The piece, which will be performed in a faculty recital on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. in the UVM Recital Hall, is written for two amplified pianos and percussion. The pianists are instructed to remove the lids from their instruments and mark various dampers associated with particular strings. During the performance, the pianists pluck, brush, scrape, and strum the marked strings, in addition to playing the keys. The sounds are amplified via microphones placed near the strings.
Along with the two pianos, the piece calls for African mbira, Appalachian jug, pitched antique cymbals, Japanese temple bells, an African log drum, marimba and timpani. Two percussionists are required to handle all the instruments.
According to lecturer Sylvia Parker, one of the two pianists performing the piece, the Crumb is "a knockout. It's stunning, one of the best pieces of the 20th century. Even people who go to classical concerts or don't like contemporary music" will enjoy it, she says.
The piece will also be performed by Xiudan Lin, piano, and percussionists Thomas Toner and Doug Perkins. The performance is meant to commemorates Crumb's 80th birthday this month. Crumb, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1968 for his orchestral work "Echoes of Time and the River" and a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition in 2001 for his work "Star-Child," is still actively composing.
The concert features an eclectic mix of other compositions performed by UVM faculty, including an arrangement of John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" for two pianos and eight hands, performed by David Feurzeig, David Neiweem, Wayne Schneider, and Parker; "Prayer of St. Gregory" by Alan Hovhaness, performed by Ray Vega, trumpet, and Parker; "Prelude and Fugue in D# minor" by J.S. Bach with Paul Orgel, piano; and three vocal pieces with Parker accompanying: "Homage to My Hip"s by Vermont composer Gynneth Walker, sung by Evelyn Kwanza, soprano; "Charlie Rutledge" by Charles Ives, sung by David Neiweem, baritone; and a duet from Show Boat by Jerome Kern, sung by Kwanza and Neiweem.
The concert is free and open to the public. Donations to the David Yandell Fund, which provides scholarships to talented music students, will be welcomed.