Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Cleveland Rocks

It's not often you get asked to do a residency where they are doing six premieres of your work, but it happened to me. Once. Keith Fitch, who is all the composition all the time at Cleveland Institute of Music, invited me to do so (he had also invited me in 2009, at which time I also said yes), and he scoured my list of works for stuff they could do.

The quality of playing for mod music there ratcheted up quite a bit in the intervening time, so all the performances are stupendous. And did I mention six premieres? Well, read further, or eat a mushroom, or both.

Maria Paola Parrini chose five préludes from my list of unperformed ones, and did a spectacular job. I especially like Bump, though I don't remember writing it, and it's a dumb title. The sketch is here. Click on "YouTube" to watch on YouTube, and then click on SHOW MORE for a list of titles and clickable links to navigate from one prélude to another.

Then was the premiere of Breakdown, a piano quartet that had been commissioned by the Verge Ensemble just before they folded. There is dreamed music in this one — it's the heavy glissandi in the middle — and that dreamed music sort of takes over. The commission had been set up by Dan Visconti, who subsequently titled a piece Breakdown, and my jazziferous breakdowns are what give the piece its title.

Finally, Arabesques I Have Known, which was not a premiere, was something I wrote in order to use two toy wind keyboards at the same time. There's the green Andes keyboard, and yes, the cadenza in the third movement is improvised, as well as the melodica, which tends to do little canons with the clarinet. Because Davy. At the premiere by Boston Musica Viva, one audience member spontaneously applauded after the second movement, but that's okay. The third movement reminds Gusty Thomas somewhat of Hyperblue — all those manic unisons — and she's right. Click on YouTube to watch on YouTube, and then click on SHOW MORE for the movement list and timings.

This is the finale of Arabesques I Have Known, which has the two toy wind pianos in it, and makes me laugh every time.