Are You Brave ? Festival V.5.0  10.26.02

 Brave New Works


Britten Recital Hall
U of M school of Music








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October 24, 2002
8 pm concert

The Art of the Fugue Project

John Berners
john Berner's picture

Tom Schnauber
Tom Schnauber's picture
Die schwersten Fesseln
"Heaviest Chains"

John McDonald
john McDonald's Picture
Inventious Network

Thomas Gregory
Thomas Gregory's picture
Prelude and Scherzo

Christos Hatzis
Christos Hatzis' picture

Forrest Pierce
Forrest Pierce's Picture
Broken Teeth

Art of the Fugue arranged by Thomas Gregory.

The Art of the Fugue begins with a fugue in D minor. What follows is a series of variations on this fugue, exploring many permutations of the subject. The theme appears upside down, backwards and in different rhythmic guises, resulting in very different fugues of differing lengths and speeds. This extraordinary example of Bach's technique, is the culmination of a lifetime's dedication to the art of contrapuntal music. This monumental work was written with no particular instrumentation in mind, and as a result, has been heard in many shapes and forms. It seems only natural that there should be one for Brave New Works. The Art of the Fugue Project was Chris Kim's brainchild. I was delighted when he asked me to arrange a number of the fugues for Brave New Works. I chose five contrasting fugues and arranged them simply, making use of the variety of colours and sounds available from the Brave New Works ensemble.-Notes by the composer

Thomas Gregory was born in Denmark in 1973. Soon after, his family settled in his father's homeland, England. He studied cello performance at the Guildhall School of Music in London, before receiving a fellowship to study further at the University of Michigan and the Aspen Music Festival. Having returned to London, Thomas divides his time between performing, teaching and composing. Thomas is closely associated with Brave New Works contemporary ensemble based in Ann Arbor, for whom he has written and arranged various works. Future projects include incidental music for a production of Coriolanus in London.

Variation on a Fugue by Thomas Gregory

Variation on a Fugue is based on the first of Bach's fugues. Whilst the fugue's structure stays close to Bach's original, the piece contrasts tonally, and has a slightly quirkier edge to it.-Notes by the composer

Praeludium by John Berners

I was delighted when Chris Kim asked me to write a piece for the Brave New Works Art of Fugue Project. My first thought was, with all those fugues, why not a prelude? I began composing Praeludium with the idea of a serene, major-key prelude like some found in the WTC. After a few pages, however, the mood of the piece took a definite turn for the worse. A short quote from Bach's Contrapunctus IX leads the music in a darker direction. Eventually, the fragments of Baroque-style figures are left to fend for themselves in increasingly bleak surroundings. -Notes by John Berners

John Berners (b.1961, Milwaukee) began composing at an early age and studied trombone at Northwestern University with Frank Crisafulli, earning a B.M in performance and a B.A. in Mathematics. Composition studies began privately with C. Curtis-Smith in Kalamazoo, MI and continued at the University of Michigan under William Albright, Evan Chambers, Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty and William Bolcom. Currently a Ph.D. candidate, John Berners lives in Silver Spring MD, and is Assistant Professor of Music at American University in Washington, D.C. His works have been played by the Detroit Symphony, the Boston Symphony brass section, the Tanglewood Festival Brass, Kalamazoo Symphony, Brave New Works, the Michigan Chamber Brass and many college ensembles. His music has been recorded by pianist Alan Huckleberry, the Millar Brass Ensemble, and Boston's Old South Brass.

Die schwersten Fesser "Heaviest Chains" by Tom Schnauber

This work is a five-part ensemble piece written in the spirit of the 16th-century motet. It is also an homage to a later composer, J.S. Bach. The Cantus Firmus quotes the subject of his Kunst der Fuge, and the text (translation: "The heaviest chains have become flower garlands.") is a sentence with which Phillip Spitta has described the composer's handling of canonic composition. Although all the parts are texted, this piece is designed to be performable by a wide variety of instrumental/vocal combinations, as were most Renaissance motets. It is also based on a single mode (for the theoretically minded: E-Phrygian plus D-sharp) and uses some of the compositional devices found in many of those earlier works. It is my first real attempt at putting what I have learned from my love of "early" music to practical use.-Notes by the composer

German-American composer Tom Schnauber completed his bachelor of music in composition as well as an advanced studies degree in scoring for motion pictures at the University of Southern California. On a scholarship from the German government, he then went to Berlin to study ethnomusicology as well as to continue his studies in composition. After his return to the US a year later, he did a small stint in Hollywood scoring films no one will ever see. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in composition and theory at the University of Michigan where he also earned a master of music in composition. His major teachers have included Donald Crockett, Stephen Hartke, Paul-Heinz Dittrich, William Albright, Michael Daugherty, Bright Sheng, Evan Chambers, and William Bolcom. Schnauber has received commissions for orchestral, chamber, and vocal works from ensembles such as Brave New Works, the Dexter String Quartet, the Valhalla Band (St. Olaf College), and the Falls Church Chamber Orchestra. He has also written music for stage productions by Toledo University, Coe College, and Ann Arbor's Wild Swan Theater. He lives in Northfield, MN, and has taught composition and theory at St. Olaf College.

Prelude and Scherzo by Thomas Gregory

Prelude and Scherzo was written in London between August 2001 and May 2002. I worked on the two movements simultaneously, each exploring different, yet complimentary tonalities. The two movements use quite conventional structures, i.e. sonata form and scherzo respectively. Although neither is modeled on any pieces by Bach, his influence is present in both with respect to contrapuntal and sometimes fugal writing.-Notes by the composer

See above for Thomas Gregory's biography

Stylus by Christos Hatzis

Stylus is the third piece in an ongoing series of compositions based on Johann Sebastian Bach's The Art of the Fugue. It is a palimpsest on Contrapunctus VII. As the title suggests, my only means of acting upon the Bach original was the compositional equivalent of the effect of a skipping phonograph stylus. I was intrigued by the possibility of changing the semantic continuity of Bach's music by means of strategically placed asymmetrical repetitions. By using (1) repetitions within repetitions, (2) phasing repetitions (the left or right bracket advances or retreats by a sixteenth-note after each iteration) and (3) by occasionally choosing similar beginning and end points which result in continuous melodic and contrapuntal flow within a loop, I sought to create a composition which parallels that of Bach, but has, never-the-less, a character and style of its own. With regards to instrumentation, Stylus was originally composed for tenor recorder, viola and accordion for recordist Peter Hannan, violist Douglas Perry and accordionist Joseph Petric. A subsequent version for string quartet also exists. To date neither version has been performed in public.-Notes by the composer

Born in Greece, educated in the United States and a Canadian citizen since 1985, award winning composer Christos Hatzis is "one of the most important composers in Canada" (International Musician) and is recently enjoying international recognition for his work. He is the recipient of the 1998 Jean A. Chalmers National Music Award, the 1996 (Governor General) Jules Legér Prize, the 1996 Prix Italia Special Prize, the 1998 Prix Bohemia Special Prize and the 2002 New Pioneer Award. He has composed major works for all media and is the recipient of numerous commissions from some of the best-known artists in Canada and abroad. Christos' works are "brilliant, complex, and intellectually and emotionally challenging but [they] touch the heart of the average listener" (Paul Pedersen). His music has been featured in many international festivals, is being broadcast regularly by CBC and foreign networks and is frequently performed worldwide. In addition to composing, Christos teaches composition full-time as an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Toronto. In addition to composing and teaching, Christos writes about music and particularly about the role of contemporary classical music within our present and future societies. Christos is now married to percussionist Beverley Johnston and they live together at their rural home outside of Uxbridge, Ontario.

Inventious Network (2002) [A Trope on Contrapunctus XIII from J.S. Bach's "The Art of Fugue" for Flute, Clarinet, String Quartet, Piano, Harp, Guitar, and Percussion) by John McDonald

This short piece composed for the Brave New Works "Art of Fugue" project pays homage to Bach's "Canon per Augmentationem in contrario motu" by creating four overlapping "networks" or short pieces (one for piano/harp/guitar, a second for flute/clarinet/percussion, a third for piano and string quartet, and a fourth for clarinet and string quartet) made from chunks of Bach's ever unfolding model. Two of the "networks" return and are varied, and two occur only once, before a string of four duets (harp and guitar, cello and harp, clarinet and viola, flute and violins) takes over and thins the textures of the preceding "network" section. A final appearance of the opening piano/harp/guitar material yields a ringing, chordal closing section. Inventious Network attempts to accomplish much in a short space of time, and exists in unabashed gratitude for the existence of the canons found within Bach's unfinished work (I can get my hands on them and play them often!). If it amplifies or refracts some of the light cast by its formidable model, it will have one count of success. Inventious Network" is dedicated to Chris Younghoon Kim with gratitude and admiration.-Notes by the composer

A "fresh, inventive, urbane, and keen-witted young composer" (Boston Globe) and "a splendid pianist" "with a born pianist's command of colors, textures, dynamics" (Boston Globe), John McDonald has earned international acclaim as a musician. His compositions have been performed on four continents, and his work is frequently featured in the U.S.A. by such ensembles as Alea III, Arden Quartet, Boston Composers String Quartet, Hartt Contemporary Players, Marimolin, Rivers Trio, and Duo 101. Recently, McDonald served as Cultural Specialist in Mongolia, where he premiered his "Music for Piano and String Orchestra". In his performing capacity, recent honors include a Duo Recitalists Grant from the NEA, an Artistic Ambassadorship to Asia, and an Artists' Residency at M.I.T. McDonald's solo piano recital of "Common Injustices" by twenty-five living composers given in September of 2001 prompted Richard Dyer of The Boston Globe to write "one can hardly imagine anyone else undertaking such a program, or playing it with such modest and unobtrusive but total musical and pianistic mastery." Currently Associate Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Tufts University, McDonald's recent accomplishments have included commissions from American Composers Forum and the Harvard Musical Association, and First Prize in the Leo M. Traynor Composition Competition for music for viol consort.

Broken Teeth, op. 4 by Forrest Pierce

The texts of Broken Teeth reflect the medieval animal manifestations of the four evangelists, as portrayed in the Eusebian Canons of such ancient texts as the Book of Kells. The subject matter is apocalyptic, the intent bleak and at times gruesome. The loss of great beauty is here not merely potential, but inevitable. Perhaps the broken ending of the Bach masterwork upon which Broken Teeth is based was likewise a certainty. When does such a project as the Art of the Fugue end? When the maker ends.-Notes by the composer

See p. ? for Forrest Pierce's biography

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