Keys to the Future is an annual festival of contemporary music for solo piano here in New York City.  This year’s event will take place November 7-9 (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) at Greenwich House’s Renee Weiler Concert Hall. If you’re interested in checking out pertinent information, the website is http://www.keystothefuture.org/ or you can contact me directly at joe@keystothefuture.org.

The six pianists participating this year are: Lisa Moore, Blair McMillen, Tatjana Rankovich, Lora Tchekoratova, Polly Ferman, and myself. I thought I’d talk briefly here about the Festival and then focus on one piece from each of the three programs.

My goal as Artistic Director of Keys is to get listeners up to speed on what’s been happening in recent years with solo piano music. This season, the Festival has opened up a bit to include a handful of pieces from the 1970s and 80s. Keys to the Future has embraced the stylistic diversity of the contemporary scene, and you will hear pieces on the same evening of a type that are rarely if ever performed on the same program (for example, a short work by Berio followed by an arrangement of a Radiohead tune on 11/8).

Here’s a look at three of the pieces:

On the first night (Tuesday, 11/7), the brilliant pianist Lisa Moore will perform Henri Dutilleux’s Le Jeu des Contraires (Prelude No. 3) (1989). Here are some notes on the work by Etienne Moreau:

“The piano has been—and continues to be, at age 90—a source of inspiration to Dutilleux, his piano works providing a significant key to the evolution of his aesthetic beliefs. The possibilities in terms of sound offered by its harmonic richness and the diversity of its timbres attract Dutilleux to the instrument.

In Le Jeu the composer has concentrated all his harmonic, rhythmic and acoustic ability, displaying a remarkable mastery of ‘mirror’ writing. This piece seems to represent the very culmination of the musical and sound world of Henri Dutilleux, exemplifying the merging of intelligence and instinct inherent in all his compositions.”

On the second evening (Wednesday, 11/8), I will perform Arvo Pärt’s “Für Alina.”

Pärt composed “Für Alina” in 1976, and this little piece announced – quietly, thoughtfully – the arrival of his “tintinnabuli style.” The music is reminiscent of ringing bells, hence the name. Tintinnabuli works are rhythmically simple, and do not change tempo. It was written originally as a gift for an Estonian girl on her own in London.

On the third evening (Thursday, 11/9), virtuoso Tatjana Rankovich will play Bruce Stark’s “Winged.” Here are some comments on the work by the composer:

“The notion of angels has been a source of musical inspiration to me for years. Often the mere thought of other-worldly, high-energy beings in unseen dimensions brings forth a rush of ideas, as though they were eager to share their cosmic music if only I would turn them a listening ear. Winged is in one movement containing essentially two parts. The first and largest part represents a visitation by angels from invisible worlds, depicted in materials ranging from swirling figures to gentle melodic passages to ecstatic outpourings. After their disappearance, the last part (introduced by a low drone in the bass) represents a reminiscence from the human perspective on having witnessed these wondrous creatures. Here I quote the famous Christmas song Angels We Have Heard On High in fragments, with a slight reference to its “Gloria” section as the work closes.”

I hope you come to one or more of the evenings. It should be fun. Please take a look on Sequenza21.com next Friday for my third and final post.

 

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