HASS Faculty Concert
A concert featuring compositions and performances by Rensselaer Arts Department faculty and alumni—
Ensemble Congeros Directed by Eddie Ade Knowles INTERMISSION Neil Rolnick Digits, for piano, soundtrack, and video Vicky Chow, piano Video by R. Luke DuBois Pauline Oliveros Tree/Peace Michael Century, piano Jonathan Chen, violin Sam Clapp, cello Michael Century Within and Without Michael Century, accordion with electronics Mary Simoni Eulogy Jeanine Tesori The Girl From 14G Kimberley Dolanski, soprano Mary Simoni, piano Curtis Bahn Improvisation Curtis Bahn, rikEsitar, E-sraj and laptop Seth Cluett, shruti box, laptop, and electronics Michael Bullock, analog & digital video instruments
About the Music
ENSEMBLE CONGEROS Founded in 2004, by Professor Eddie Ade Knowles, Ensemble Congeros is a group of Rensselaer alumni/ae and current students dedicated to the study and performance of Afro-Cuban, African, and New World Percussion. They will perform new work with special guest artists and music from their 2012 DVD, Ensemble Congeros: Chasing the Rhythms. NEIL ROLNICK Digits (2005) for piano, soundtrack, and video. Obviously, digits are what we use both to play the piano and to operate computers. This piece makes some fairly extreme demands on both types of digits. The piano part, written for Kathleen Supové, exploits her incredible technique to play a bit more than is humanly possible. The computer, which plays only sounds that originate from the piano, integrates with the live playing in a way which is seamless and, hopefully, a bit magical. Digits is a composition for solo piano and digital processing. The pianist must bring virtuoso technique to the performance, and the processing is designed to amplify the piano’s sound in ways that are both subtle and arresting. All the processed sound comes from the piano. There can also be a video component of the piece. Designed by R. Luke DuBois, using Jitter, the video track processes live images of the pianist’s fingers (her digits) as she performs the piece, and projects them on a screen inside or above the piano lid. The overall effect of the piece is of a classical, virtuoso piano sonata, in which the piano itself has been bent slightly out of shape, amplified, and multiplied, and the images of the player’s fingers are brought directly to the audience and manipulated to complement the music. PAULINE OLIVEROS Tree/Peace consists of seven sections: The Mystery of Propagation, The Growth of the Seedling, The Full Formation and Maturity of the Tree, The Action of the Seasons, The Magical Nature of the Tree, and The Death of the Tree, Contemplation. The composer notes: The tree metaphor is intended to influence the characteristic dynamics, articulations, and style of the smallest units of Tree/Peace as well as the phrases and sections…[It] is based on attentional strategies which involve listening and reacting acutely in specific ways while shaping the resulting musical performance in relation to the metaphor of an imaginary tree”. MICHAEL CENTURY Within and Without (2012) I began playing the accordion at the invitation of MFA alumna Ryder Cooley (2008) and then became a serious student of the instrument with the encouragement of Pauline Oliveros. Her pioneering work with electronic-processed accordion is part of the backdrop for this new piece of my own, and I dedicate its first performance tonight to her. Initially I only knew I wanted to use the rich timbral palette of the accordion to “drive” a music of rhythmic pulsation. So I used a common software environment for electronic dance music to begin my explorations, found the modules that fit my purposes and engaged MFA alumnus Holland Hopson (1998) to design a patch in Max/MSP that would boil down my musical ideas to a custom instrument I could program myself. The music is in a popular idiom, and its title refers to the Beatles’ song Within You and Without You, which provides some of the melodic motifs. The electronic modules are the classic filters and samplers that have been around since analogue days, and the central instrumental technique used in the piece is the tremolando effect – shaking the accordion in fast rhythmic repetition – usually synced tightly with the electronic pulsation. MARY SIMONI’s Eulogy is a musical interpretation of the eulogy that the children of Lewis E. Simoni, the composer's father, delivered at his funeral. JEANINE TESORI’s The Girl in 14G is a charming stand-alone piece which details the story of a girl moving into New York City and her experiences in her new apartment. The work contains three distinct musical styles; musical theater, opera (with quotes from Mozart’s The Queen of the Night and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.) and jazz. Jeanine Tesori is best known for the musicals Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline, Or Change and Shrek the Musical. CURTIS BAHN Improvisation—In the spirit of iEAR, Seth, Michael and Curtis will freely improvise using combinations of analog and digital tools for live video and sound. Having a history of performance together spanning over 20 years since the early 90's at Princeton where Curtis was a graduate student and Michael was an undergraduate student. The three improvised together using very different instruments and techniques for many years in Boston prior to Michael or Seth attending iEAR. After attending Rensselaer, Seth attended Princeton for his PhD where he again worked with Curtis through the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk), the two also performed in New York at ISSUE Project Room. Michael was Curtis' advisee as the first PhD awarded by the Arts Department. The three have not performed together before using the particular instruments heard tonight which reflect their current interests and research.