Thrilled to be taking part in the 175th Anniversary celebration today at Grace Church in Newark. Their music director, Joe Arndt, commissioned a motet for the service: the choir will be premiering my “Ascendit Deus” setting.
Princeton Symphony Orchestra
Richardson Auditorium, Princeton, NJ
May 13, 2012
PRINCETON – The Princeton Symphony’s final concert of its classical season included two repertory staples – Brahms’s Fourth Symphony and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major – as well a revised version of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s sole work to date for orchestra, Disquiet. Although Snider is a rising star in the world of contemporary music, she has thus far made her name as a formidable composer of vocal works, notably the song cycle Penelope, as well as theatre music and chamber compositions for groups such as yMusic and NOW Ensemble.
She first conceived some of the material for Disquiet back in 2000, and the original version of the piece was premiered at Yale while she was a graduate student there in 2004. The revised version given by the Princeton Symphony, conducted by Rossen Milanov, is a single movement tone poem around a quarter of an hour long. Rather than depicting “disquiet” primarily via its pitch or rhythmic language, creating abundant dissonances or angularity, Snider takes another approach: uneasiness is primarily delineated by the work’s formal design. Thus, one may at first be surprised to hear the its often lush harmonies and strong melodic thrust. But as Disquiet unfolds, a labyrinth of disparate gestures and contrasting sections, often supplied in quick succession, imparts the title’s requisite restive sensibility.
Milanov brought out the piece’s wide dynamic shifts, exhorting brash tutti and hushed sustained chords from the orchestra. The piece’s quick sectional shifts allowed several performers brief turns in the spotlight: concertmaster Basia Danilow, clarinetist William Ansel, and flutist Jayn Rosenfeld noteworthy among them.
One hopes that, with this performance under her belt, Snider will get the opportunity to create more works for orchestra. Given Disquiet’s colorfully cinematic use of motives, one also wonders whether she might try her hand at film-scoring.
Here’s a Soundcloud demo of my latest choral piece, a motet setting of “Alleluiai, Ascendit Deus” (Psalm 47:5). Instead of those beastly MIDI ooh’s and ah’s, I’ve used a sample of an organ flute stop as the sound palette. Please feel free to download, share, embed, etc.
The piece will be premiered as part of the 175th Anniversary celebration of Grace Church Newark, a service commemorating the Feast of the Ascension (May 19,2012 at noon).
I’ve been asked by organist Joe Arndt to write a motet for Grace Church Newark’s 175th Anniversary, celebrated on the Feast of Ascension (May 19 2012 at noon). The church has requested a setting of “Alleluia, Ascendit Deus,” a text most famously set by William Byrd. I’m keeping Byrd’s vocal divisi – SSATB (during his time, probably AATbB), but emending the text used in his version.
Instead of blending words from two psalms as Byrd did (fusspot that I am, I don’t like liturgical mixing and matching), I’m setting the verse below.
Ascendit Deus in iubilatione,
et Dominus in vocae tubae. Alleluia.
Dominus in caelo paravit sedem suam. Alleluia.
Psalm 46 (47): 5
God has ascended with jubilation,
and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet. Alleluia.
The Lord has prepared his seat in heaven. Alleluia.
Once Copernicus got Westerners to realize that heaven might not be “up there,” and Sputnik gave us an even greater reality check, the Ascension of Christ has been one of the passages in the Bible that most vexes literal-minded readers.
I love what Anglican theologian N.T. Wright has to say about this. In the book The Resurrection of Jesus (coauthored as a dialogue with John Dominic Crossan), he rhetorically poses the “laws of physics” question about the Ascension. Wright doesn’t to dodge the issue. He responds that Christ didn’t need to ascend all the way to heaven to present a miracle to the disciples, he only needed to get past the first clouds to demonstrate a transfiguration!
A rebuttal such as this certainly helps an ecumenically minded composer to set to work. If all goes well, the music will reach that first layer of cumulus handily!
Out on 2/13 in the UK (and everywhere else on 3/6/12), “Jerk Driver” is the lead off single from Gabriel Prokofiev’s Cello Multitracks, a CD that is his latest genre-bending release for the Nonclassical imprint. It features cellist Peter Gregson, a noteworthy genre bender in his own right, playing all nine cello parts, creating a swath of overdubbed strings that is then subjected to remixes by Paul Miller (DJ Spooky), musician/producer MaJiKer, and composer Marcas Lancaster. Check out a sample embedded below.
As Jerry Bowles points out on the homepage, Gregson and Prokofiev will be presenting the piece at Joe’s Pub in New York on 2/10. More US events are listed below: some of them include Prokofiev’s concert music; others, his work as a DJ!
Nonclassical US tour
9th February: Gabriel Prokofiev Bass Drum Concerto (World premiere) w/ Princeton Symphony – Richardson Auditorium, Princeton, NJ
10th February: Peter Gregson & Todd Reynolds (+ Gabriel Prokofiev DJ sets) – Joe’s Pub, NYC
11th February: Peter Gregson w/ Joby Burgess ( + Gabriel Prokofiev DJ sets) – Terrace Club, Princeton, NJ
15th February: Peter Gregson w/ DJ Madhatter, Joby Burgess ( + Gabriel Prokofiev DJ sets) – MOCT, Wilwaukee, WI
16th February: Peter Gregson w/ Joby Burgess ( + Gabriel Prokofiev DJ sets) – Brink Lounge, Madison, WI
18th February: Peter Gregson w/ Joby Burgess ( + Gabriel Prokofiev DJ sets) – Chicago, IL (Venue TBC)
21st February: Gabriel Prokofiev Bass Drum Concerto w/ Chicago Composers Orchestra – Ruth Page Theater, Chicago,IL
New Jersey’s own Seth Haley records electronica under the moniker Com Truise. With a name that tropes on an eighties icon, it’s not too surprising that his source material reference dystopian sci-fi soundtracks, early synth pop, and a splash of trippy dark wave for good measure. Now, I know that, at this point, some readers might be warily edging their mitts towards the mouse. After all, this referential material is potent stuff to overuse: weaponized in the hands of the wrong creator. Fear not.
Thankfully, Haley keeps the various reference points in balance on Galactic Melt, his latest full length for the Ghostly imprint. Unlike the film actor whose name just might be morphed into Haley’s audio incarnation, Galactic Melt doesn’t seem overexposed. Haley provides enough thoughtfully mediated distance between the source material and its current day handling that the music (happily) never lapses into nostalgia nor stoops to broad parody. Recommended.
Check out a stream of the new single “Ether Drift” on the File Under ? Tumblr page.
Plus, courtesy of our friends at RCRDLBL, grab a download of album track “Brokendate” below.
On Sunday October 16 at 3 PM, the National Chamber Choir of Ireland will give a concert at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ (ticket information here). Led by the esteemed conductor, scholar, and vocalist Paul Hillier, the choir’s program spotlights the work of British composer Tarik O’Regan, including the regional premiere of his Acallam na Senórach: “An Irish Colloquy.” Afterwards, O’Regan and Hillier will be on hand for a talkback.