5 Pieces for Orchestra by Arnold Schoenberg

October 15th, 2015
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This week we are featuring a record with the talent of Arnold Schoenberg conducted by Robert Craft. Craft was an avid fan of Schoenberg’s, and was encouraged by the composer to continue in his bid to be a conductor.

From the cover:

“His outstanding conduction career was launched in New York with the Chamber Art Society which, with Igor Stravinsky and Serge Koussevitsky as sponsors, gave many important concerts at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall.”

Come visit the AMC to hear this record, and many more!

Creation–Prologue by Vladimir Ussachevsky

April 13th, 2015
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“Born in China and educated in the United States, [Ussachevsky] composed a number of compositions for conventional instruments before beginning his pioneering work with tape at Columbia University in 1951. Since then, he has done many compositions for tape either along, or in collaboration with Otto Luening. Together they furnished tape music for New York productions of King Lear and Back to Methuselah, and works for tape recorder and orchestra.” –Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center

The piece pulls inspiration from the middle east, where the composer uses a form of Babylonian language to begin the piece.

 

Come down to the AMC and hear this vinyl sing!

Facsimile by Leonard Bernstein

February 24th, 2015
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After Bernstein’s success with his ballet Fancy Free in 1944, the Ballet Theatre commissioned another work from Bernstein. What came of it was Facsimile. The work was completed by Bernstein and Jerome Robbins in only 3 weeks. It premiered on October 24th, 1946 at the Broadway Theater with Bernstein conducting. Later, Bernstein would create a “Choreographic Essay” for orchestra by itself. The four movements flow into each other without pause just like the stage production version.

The link below is for the orchestra version of the piece.

Come on down to the AMC and check out the vinyl version!

“Octet” by Steven Reich

February 17th, 2015
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Steven Reich is a composer we’ve featured before for his imaginative use of odd ensembles. In “Octet” we hear an optional technological element and the use of acoustic instruments. He uses a string quartet, two pianos, bass clarinet, and flute, among other instruments. He uses some melodies inspired by old Hebrew chants.

Come down to the AMC and check it out!

 

Charles Ives: Symphony No. 4, Movement I

February 5th, 2015
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Charles Ives experimented with different layouts for his orchestras. In his Symphony No. 4, he uses a full orchestra along with an ethereal chamber ensemble made up of harp and bowed strings. Each movement is distinct in style and stands in stark contrast to the very subtle prelude.

Interested in hearing this piece on vinyl? Stop by the AMC and we’ll be happy to play it for you!

“Quartet Romantic” by Henry Cowell

January 27th, 2015
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The Quartet Romantic by Henry Cowell features and odd assortment of instruments. The ensemble consists of two flutes, a violin, and a viola.  “Unlike the other works on this record, Henry Cowell’s Quartet Romantic is essentially a demonstration of theoretical principles, and some inkling of these principles is essential to under standing the music.” Using the lighter sounds of flute and high strings, he creates an ethereal piece that is sure to entertain.

“Vermont Counterpoint” by Steven Reich

December 10th, 2014
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“Vermont Counterpoint was composed in 1982 for flutist Ransom Wilson, initiating a series of pieces for live performers playing against taped performances (including New York Counterpoint for clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and Electric Counterpoint for guitarist Pat Metheny). The tape part has ten parts, to which the live performer adds an eleventh, playing alto flute and piccolo as well as the standard flute. “The compositional techniques used are primarily building up canons between short repeating melodic patterns by substituting notes for rests and then playing melodies that result from their combination,” Reich writes. “These resulting melodies or melodic patterns then become the basis for the following section as the other surrounding parts in the contrapuntal web fade out.””

 

Program notes courtesy the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Thanks to Megan O’Connell for doing the research for us!

“Suite Francaise” by Darius Milhaud

December 2nd, 2014
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Darius Milhaud was born September 4th, 1892 and grew up in the town of Aix-en-Provence, near Marseilles, France. From an early age, he was exposed to songs that his father’s almond-sorting employees would sing while they worked. His parents were both musically gifted: his father was a pianist and his mother was a well-known contralto. Milhaud took to music like a duck to water and began taking harmony lessons in 1905. As he developed as a composer, Milhaud began to incorporate elements of jazz, atonality, polytonality, and new percussion techniques into his music. Among his more notable students were jazz pianist Dave Brubeck and songwriter Burt Bacharach.

Milhaud wrote his Suite Francaise in 1944 as World War II raged on in Europe. Milhaud sought to represent five different provinces, one in each movement of the work:

I. Normandie

II. Bretagne

3. Ile de France

4. Alsace-Lorraine

5. Provence

The work was later arranged by Milhaud for orchestra in 1945. The UW-Whitewater Concert Band, under direction of Dr. Tuinstra, performed Milhaud’s work as a part of their concert saluting veterans in the spring of 2014.

“Symphony of Overtures” by Donald Erb

November 24th, 2014
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Donald Erb was born in 1927 and is known for his contemporary pieces for traditional symphony orchestra. Erb’s Symphony of Overtures features four movements based upon plays: “The Blacks” by Jean Genet, “Endgame” by Samuel Beckett, “The Maids” by Jean Genet, and “Rhinoceros” by Eugene Ionesco. Each overture-like movement introduces the main feelings of each play, but follows traditional symphony forms.

“Breakin’ Old Habits” by The Rock Horn Project

November 17th, 2014
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The Rock Horn Project is the brainchild of horn player Adam Wolf. Along with friends, he created the group to bring together both people who love the sound of a horn in an orchestra, and those who attend rock concerts. Wolf wishes to introduce listeners to new ways of utilizing horn in every genre of music, not only orchestral or film scoring. Instead of burying the horn in complex textures, Wolf brings the sound of the horn to the front of the band and plays in innovative ways to form the horn’s sound to the rock genre.

The piece we’ve decided to include is titled “Lex” and is from their first album. In the piece featured here, Wolf uses a special mute that allows his horn’s sound to be run through a computer and create a solo that sounds like an electric guitar. In the genre, Wolf demonstrates the flexibility of the horn’s range and playing styles.