Evan Chambers


Evan Chambers

Evan Chambers (b 1963, Alexandria, Louisiana) writes music of rare intensity and emotional depth—his haunting lyricism and explosive energy have moved audiences around the world. A traditional Irish fiddler as well as a composer, his music has deep roots in folk music and in the physicality of performance—he appears frequently as an interpreter of his own works, and serves as resident composer with the new-music ensemble Quorum. He is currently Assistant Professor of Composition and Director of Electronic Music Studios at the University of Michigan.

Chambers' compositions have been performed by the Cincinnati, Kansas City, Memphis, and Albany Symphonies; he won first prize in the Cincinnati Symphony Competition, and in 1998 was awarded the Walter Beeler Prize by Ithaca College. His work has been recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Luigi Russolo Competition, Vienna Modern Masters, NACUSA, the American Composers Forum, and the Tampa Bay Composers Forum. He has been a resident of the MacDowell Colony, and been awarded individual artist grants from Meet the Composer, the Arts Foundation of Michigan and ArtServe Michigan. His composition teachers include William Albright, Leslie Bassett, Nicholas Thorne, and Marilyn Shrude, with studies in electronic music with George Wilson and Burton Beerman. Recordings have been released by the Foundation Russolo-Pratella, Cambria, Albany Records, and Centaur. His solo CD Cold Water, Dry Stone is set to be released in winter 2001 by Albany records.

Notes on Concerto for Irish Fiddle and Violin and Orchestra
The Empty Chair/At the Fiddler's Wake
Remember the Dancing/In the Soft Days of Our Youth
Some Good Crack, (A Bit of Wildness)
And It's over the Rocky Hills--

II: (Air and Waltz)
To a Gentle Place

III: (Reels)
So Tear Into One/Every Day is Christmas
Let's Hit the Hard Studd/'Till the Stuff Hits Us Hard

This Concerto features two soloists playing the same instrument in two very different styles. Yet the piece does not pit them against each other in the kind of titanic struggle one often finds in many concertos. Rather, the fiddle player and the violinists are more like two complementary halves of a personality--they and the orchestra support each other and take the leading role in turn without conflict. At the center of the piece, however, lies an essential tension between the two brands of virtuosity; the work is founded on contrasts in inflection, timbre, rhythm, and articulation, that exists between traditional and classical music at the same time it strives to integrate them.

The First movement, a set of jigs, was inspired by the death and funeral of Mrris Furlong, a fiddler who I never met or heard play. His son described the events surrounding his wake with such emotion, though, that I wanted to write a piece for all the fiddlers like him who play for the sheer love of it, those who won't be seen in the record bins or on television, all the forgotten ones who live shyly, quietly, without celebriy, holding a musical center in their communities.

The Second movement is a lullaby for my daughter Elena, played as a slow air and as a gently rocking waltz. It was completed on the day after the death of my friend, mentor, and colleague, Bill Albright; asa result the final section of the piece also bears some of the grief I felt at his untimely passing. I once heard a story about the "gentle places" in Ireland: fairy mounds where magical beings are said to abide. As I contemplated my unborn child and the gentle place she inhabited in the months before her birth, I imagined a still point in the landscape where birth and death merge in enchantment.

The final movement is a set of four reels. The first, "So Tear Into One," takes its title and its character from an exhortation often heard at traditional music session. The almost goofyly cheery modd and expansive goodwill of the second tune gives way almost immediately to a more edgy pair of reels that begin to spiral out of control, as sessions somtimes do, getting wilder and wilder until the even the tune itself begins to go askew and get lost, taken over by frenetic driving rhythm. The titles of the tunes for all the movements, taken in sequence, form an exhortation in themselves--a recognition of loss and a celebration of life in peace and unrestrained good humor.

-Evan Chambers
2 flutes(player 2 doubling on piccolo)
2 oboes
2 clarinets in Bb
2 bassoons
2 horns in F
2 trumpets in C
1 percussion (suspended cymbal, hi hat, pang cymbal(dampened) or trash can lid(dampened), mounted tambourine, hand held tambourine, lg. woodblock, congas, timbale, snare, 4 toms(lo-hi), sm. bass drum(heavily dampened), large bass drum, triangle
violins solo
Irish Fiddle solo
Violin 1
Violin 2
String Basses

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