Ming Dynasty portrait of Cao Cao
Tuesday Night New Music is a student-run, faculty-supervised concert series that offers the opportunity to hear music by the next generation of composers: current NEC composition students. The series is directed by Katherine Balch '14 Tufts/NEC, under the supervision of composition chair Michael Gandolfi.
The notes on these works were written by the respective composers.
Chuchu Wen Trio in the Rain
Benjamin Marks Woo, piano
Sara Kantor, harp
Harrison Honor, glasses
Delong Wang Four-Character Poetry
Yinzi Zhou, flute
Taeguk Mun, cello
Nicholas Myers, double bass
During the summer of 2013, I read a vast amount of Chinese traditional poetries with great interest. Among the ancient literature works, the Four-Character Poetry is the most fascinating poetic form that attracts me. The essence of Four-Character Poetry centers on the idea of using the most concise structure to present the most profound significance. In my opinion, “Four” is the symbol for “the Four-Character Poetry.” Numerically, “Four Characters” has more meanings than “Two Characters” but less vapidity than “Six Characters;” it contains a unique beauty of symmetry. Therefore, I decided to compose a work based around this unique number.
Another inspiration of this work comes from the two verses that were composed by the famous Chinese historical figure Cao Cao, who fantasizes his mood for love and his experiences on the battlefield. In the first section of “Impressions,” I tried to use numerous perfect fourths, the pivotal interval in this piece, to express the rosy feelings of love. In the second section, the unusual instrumental techniques and shifting dynamic rhythm patterns represent the tense atmosphere of the battlefield. In the third, I developed the main materials from the first section to signify the desolated emotions after warfare. It is worthy to mention that in order to maximize the combination of perfect fourth intervals and the characteristics of Four-Character Poetry, I did not restrain the work to traditional Chinese sounds. On the contrary, I experimented in the piece beyond the restricted modes of the Chinese pentatonic scale to express my beliefs about the Four-Character Poetry’s purpose: romantic fantasy can break down the boundaries of restrictions.
Robert Burdick Two Movements from a Yet Untitled Work
David Horton, piano
This is a composition still in progress with two final movements being finalized and as yet without title.
Stephanie Ann Boyd Fantasia Olora
Alan Toda-Ambaras, cello
Benjamin Marks Woo, piano
Fantasia Olora is a piece that I wrote at age 17 for a friend in early 2008. I wrote it in the dark contemplation of winter, and I hope it speaks to the ideas that drove its creation: longing, frustration, joy.
Jeremiah Klarman The Best Answer is a Good Question
Katherine Arndt, Linnaea Brophy, violin
Linda Numagami, viola
Jonah Ellsworth, cello
Edward Kass, double bass
There’s a Jewish joke about a little boy who wanders into the kitchen and asks his grandmother, “Grandma, why do Jewish people always answer a question with another question?” and she replies, “Why? Who wants to know?”
While I can see how this joke relates to Judaism in particular, I think it also speaks for humanity at a broader level. There are many times when the answers to even the most seemingly simple questions bring up more and more questions until the questions becomes very complex and profound.
It was in that spirit that I wrote this piece. I based the music around a Hebrew text called V’eizehu Chacham from a section of the Talmud called Pirkei Avot, which deals with morals and ethics. The text translates to:
“Who is wise? Those who learn from everyone.
Who is strong? Those who control their negative impulses.
Who is rich? Those who are happy with what they have.”
I love this text because of its simple and profound meaning and how it can speak to many people, regardless of religion or faith.
I originally wanted to address these questions individually in my piece, but later decided just to explore the idea of question-answer-question in a more general way. To do this, I opened the piece with a “question motif;” a series of repeating five-note scales and dotted rhythms over slightly eccentric harmonies. As the piece progresses, the answers generally evolve from the questions; one answer is a series of downward scales, another is a syncopated rhythm in the lower strings which sounds like it could be a bass line for a perfect authentic cadence, except it doesn’t have the proper harmony. I wanted to show how answers can create more questions.
In the middle of the piece, a slow, almost mournful section, centered around f minor, emerges from these motifs. This section serves as a dedication to the Boston Marathon Bombings, which occurred a month after I began writing this piece. The bombings are one of many historical examples of inexplicable atrocities; something that we could never find adequate words to explain. This mournful section helps deepen the idea of unanswerable questions, before the piece returns to the joyful, inquisitive nature reminiscent of the opening.
Writing this piece was a learning process for me, in which I started out trying to answer my questions and ended up questioning my answers. I shaped the piece in a similar way in order to suggest that perhaps the best answer really is a good question. I’ve learned that there are times when it may be wiser to inquire into our answers, rather than accept them as facts; and I’ve also learned that sometimes the best thing you can do, when you have absolutely no answers, no conclusions, and no resolutions, is to ask.
Ethan D’Ver The Lonely Cactus
Allison Poh, flute
Hunter Bennett, clarinet
Eileen Coyne, horn
Maria van der Sloot, violin
Chris McCarthy, piano
"The Lonely Cactus” was a story my dad wrote for me when I was little. This relic from my childhood is very close to my heart. Using my emotional connection to this story as inspiration, I composed this sextet for modified Pierrot instrumentation.
The piece has two main sections: a serenade and a fugue. The serenade is a flowing, lyrical set of variations with a solo French horn part, which I composed to be like a voice part. There are generally two textures in this section: “vocal” passages in which the horn is accompanied by the rest of the ensemble in the manner of a song or aria; and “instrumental” interludes while the horn is resting. There is a cadenza for the horn, after which the fugue starts. The fugue is very energetic and angular, and the horn does not play, thus providing a contrast to the previous section.
The piece incorporates a variety of harmonic styles in the attempt to achieve a singular expressive sound world. The basic harmonic structure is firmly tonal, but over this framework I utilize techniques such as polytonality, free chromaticism, and serialism to create the harmonic tension that characterizes this piece.
Julian Korzeniowsky That Time I Fell Off the Swing Once
Luke Park, clarinet
Nash Tomey, double bass
Sean Van Winkle, percussion
The things a child dreams about when he does not have a readily accessible swing set at his local, urban, park while growing up.