NEC Wind Ensemble + Charles Peltz: Great Pens!
Tonight we celebrate three NEC composers with premieres of their work. The music of Pulitzer Prize-winner and former NEC President Gunther Schuller resonates still at NEC with the premiere of an arrangement of his monumental Organ Symphony. The next generation of creators is featured through premieres of works by Ian Wiese '21 DMA and alumnus Lior Navok '98 MM, '01 DMA.
This performance is open to in-person audiences, and can also be viewed below via livestream.
Watch livestream from Jordan Hall:
- NEC Wind Ensemble
Welcome to a special concert.
The NECWE takes some pride in an eclectic approach to programming, offering music from the late Renaissance to the freshest ink. New Music is thus part of our mission and tonight we are fully invested in that mission. After offering the Brant Angels and Devils (that still sounds as fresh as this morning’s croissant) we will offer not one, not two, but three world premieres. Ian Wiese’s piece was written during Covid as part of the WE’s program for soliciting works from NEC student composers who accepted the challenge of writing for the small forces and limited instrumentation compelled by the pandemic. The Navok is a gift of the highest order – Lior, housebound in Tel Aviv, had this work sketched and ready for completion if he could find a supportive ensemble able to take it on. This offer was the easiest “yes” one could imagine.
Gunther Schuller. The aura, the creativity, the standards, are in the very plaster and timbers of NEC. Students today hear from the teachers who knew him the aspirations to new thinking and the unyielding demands towards excellence that Gunther brought to NEC every day. The Symphony for Organ (for Wind Ensemble) is a monumental work for the “King of Instruments” composed in 1981. Those who heard it thought that it begged to be transcribed for musicians able to give the human element to the notes otherwise mechanically rendered. Joseph Bozich has done a masterful job – those who know GS’s orchestration will find Joseph’s choices to be clearly channeling Gunther. Powerful, evocative, dancing, declamatory, noble. Wonderful.
– Charles Peltz
Henry Brant | Angels and Devils: Concerto for Flute Solo with Flute Orchestra (1932)
Angels in the Mind: Lento
Elena Rubin, flute solo
Devils in the Mind: Capriccioso, ben ritmico
Chase McClung, flute solo
Angels and Devils: Allegro moderato e ben ritmico
Zoe Cagan, flute solo
Henry Brant, born in Montreal, composer, conductor, and performer on several instruments, is one of the most important innovators in American music in the past century, especially in the field of antiphonal music. Angels and Devils (1932, revised 1947), a concerto for solo flute with flute orchestra, is one of his signature pieces. The second of three movements was composed in 1956 and added in at that time. Its character of “serious whimsy” (à la Ives) is marked by vigorous rhythms, deft orchestration, and bold polytonality. Sudden changes of mood and dynamics abound, while the principal soloist and her co-soloist partner act as a foil to the orchestral textures. Toward the end there comes a culminating Grand Canon, with four paired-voices, which leads to the final unison-chords that sound like a 1940s big band of virtuoso flutists.
– John Heiss
Zoe Cagan is a flutist from Houston, Texas and is a current candidate for the Graduate Diploma at the New England Conservatory. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and a master’s degree from NEC. Zoe has had the honor of studying with Jennifer Keeney, Marianne Gedigian, Paula Robison, and Cynthia Meyers.
Chase McClung is a Graduate Diploma candidate at New England Conservatory, studying with Cynthia Meyers. He has performed in masterclasses led by Robert Langevin, Elizabeth Rowe, and Marina Piccinini and has attended summer festivals including Texas Music Festival, Orford Musique, and PRISMA. Chase holds a Master of Music degree from NEC and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Hartt School.
Elena Rubin is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree and a Graduate Diploma at NEC under the tutelage of Cynthia Meyers. Previously, she attended the Eastman School of Music where she received her bachelor’s degree. Her past teachers include Bonita Boyd, Anne Harrow, and Sue Ann Kahn.
Ian Wiese '21 DMA | Parallel and Perpendicular - world premiere
Parallel and Perpendicular was written for the Spring 2021 NEC Wind Ensemble reading sessions, focusing on a small ensemble of winds with one trumpet, horn, and percussion added. When writing this piece, I asked myself what constitutes a musical line. When discussing music, composers, theorists, and performers always discuss what constitutes a parallel line in music, usually meaning a melody or figure with harmony. But I thought to ask myself what might constitute a perpendicular line of music, an intersection rather than a perfect, non-intersecting material. Thinking back to Milton Babbitt and his coined phrase “the interpenetration of the horizontal and the vertical,” I sought to then take all the same material I had written horizontally, as melody, and then turn it vertically, as clusters or harmonies. That then became the idea of the perpendicular line in music, to varying effect. In composition, the musical idea came first, but the intent of making each line both parallel AND perpendicular is still embedded in the music.
– Ian Wiese
A “captivating mix of busy and sparse” according to Boston Musical Intelligencer, Ian Wiese is a multi-faceted composer based out of Quincy, MA. Performers including loadbang, Imani Winds, Box Not Found, Kalliope Reed Quintet, Jamaica Plain Saxophone Quartet, and Dinosaur Annex, to name several, have played his music. Recently, Wiese was awarded prizes in the 2021 American Prize, the 2021 NEC Merz Trio Competition, the Nightingale Ensemble Young Composers Commissioning Program, the 2020 Mu Phi Epsilon International Convention Call for Scores, the 2020 Mu Phi Epsilon Musicological Research Competition, the 2021 and 2019 Mu Phi Epsilon Original Composition Competition, the Ball State University Xenharmonic Music Alliance Call for Scores, and the Ithaca College Jack Downey Vocal Composition Prize, among others. He is currently working on commissions and collaborations with Avimimus Duo and trumpeter Daniel Venglar. Some of his music has been heard in unusual venues, including EPCOT Center at The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. Works of his are published by Radnofsky-Couper Editions, TrevCo Music Publishing, and North Star Music Publishing. He is a DMA candidate in Composition at NEC where he studies with John Heiss. https://www.ianwiese.com/
Gunther Schuller (arr. Joseph Bozich) | Symphony for Organ (for Wind Ensemble) (1981)
Finale - Toccata
Premiere performance of this arrangement
In 1979, the House of Hope Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, became home to a newly designed and built organ by Charles Fisk. Declared his “magnum opus,” Fisk’s Op. 78 Organ reflected the height of organ manufacturing at the time of its construction and was built to substantial specifications: a look at the technical details for the instrument lists 4 manuals, 97 ranks, 63 stops and 4,568 pipes (for reference, the Foley-Baker at Boston’s Symphony Hall is 3 manuals, 75 ranks, 58 stops, and 4,314 pipes).
In celebration of this new instrument, Gunther Schuller completed his Symphony for Organ in 1981. Labelled following the convention of Vierne, Widor, and Dupré, in which an organ “symphony” is an entirely solo work, the composition is a tour-de-force demanding not only virtuosic finger and foot technique, but almost inhuman dexterity of stop- and manual switching. To use a low-hanging metaphor: Schuller “pulled out all the stops!” Indeed, the work is so complicated and difficult that it was quickly declared unplayable by more than one organist. Only four of the five movements were premiered in 1981, then by organist Clyde Holloway; not until 2015 did the work receive its “complete” premiere, this time by Aaron Sunstein at the keyboards of the 3-manual Aeolian-Skinner Op. 940 organ at Boston’s Church of the Advent.
Given that the symphony stretches the reasonable limits of what a single human can do (or pair of humans, assuming the inclusion of an assistant to help with the stops), it was at the suggestion of Charles Peltz, Kenneth Radnofsky, and the Gunther Schuller Society that this transcription for wind ensemble be made so that this otherwise excellent piece can be performed and heard more readily. While trying to observe and honor Schuller’s fastidious notes on which stops to pull when, I have erred on the side of imagination rather than imitation when it comes to the various colors, following my own instinct rather than the imagined organ or a Schuller-mimetic orchestration. What emerges is almost less a “symphony” for winds and more a large ensemble “concerto”, as the virtuosity of the original, even dissipated to the nth degree, is still so entrenched that it cannot help but demand a great technical display from its players.
The Symphony is cast as five movements. The aptly named “Meditation” that begins establishes many of the sonorities to be used in the piece, including the core serial material (from Gunther Schuller’s “magic row,” used since 1976). The second movement, the “Scherzo,” is perhaps the most outrageously demanding of the five in its original form, featuring a fast-moving perpetuum mobile texture built on a scaffolding that clearly follows and alludes to Chopin’s first piano scherzo in B minor. While the title may suggest lightness, the affect is acid intensity right up to the last few bars, where it humorously collapses on itself to end unexpectedly soft and disjointed. On the flipside, the third movement features a similarly metered but much more amiable “Valse,” which while possessing clear nods to Ravel’s La valse also displays some of the clearest moments in the symphony of Schuller’s patented “Third Stream” style (here the inclusion of percussion in orchestration allowed me to suggest the jazz influence more explicitly). Any light-footedness in this movement is completely obliterated in the last bars as we are met with a slow-moving apotheosis of dissonance, forecasting the violent chromaticism of the final bars of the symphony. The fourth movement, “Fantasie Mystique,” is certainly the simplest in technical difficulty but the vaguest in terms of material and form. Despite this, it forms the emotional core to the Symphony, belonging to a tradition of Nachtmusik that includes both Bartók and Mahler (nods underlined by my inclusion of xylophone, celesta, and harp). The “Finale-Toccata” that closes the piece bears some similarities in texture with Dupré’s “Preludio” from his Symphony No. 2; in material, however, its close-knit, thorny harmonies and endlessly percussive texture belongs purely to Schuller’s late 20th-Century idiom. When transferred from the keyboard to the wind ensemble, this is the movement that becomes perhaps most challenging, the toccata character insisting on pristine and virtuosic rhythm from every individual member of the ensemble. The symphony ends with a towering aggregate of both timbre and pitch (in the original, in fact, one note is suggested to be taken by an organ assistant, since the organists’ hands are quite literally full!), making the form a culmination, rather than an arcing climax.
In orchestrating the Symphony, I sought a large but somehow clear ensemble, emphasizing individual tones and creating composite timbres mostly as effects or in observance of Schuller’s organ stop instructions.
– Joseph Bozich
SYMPHONY FOR ORGAN (FOR WIND ENSEMBLE)
By Gunther Schuller
Copyright © 1981 by Associated Music Publishers, Inc. (BMI)
This arrangement © 2020 by Associated Music Publishers, Inc. (BMI)
International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved.
Used by Permission.
Warning: Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited by Federal Law and is subject to criminal prosecution.
Newly appointed to the NEC faculty, composer, conductor, and multi-instrumen-talist Joseph Bozich also serves as Artistic Advisor and Assistant Conductor to the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra (BYSO), as well as a teaching assistant to the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra.
Bozich’s compositions, heard across the United States, seek a balance between kinetic musical geometries, operatic intensity, and introspective spirituality. Upcoming premieres include a work for two saxophones commissioned by Kenneth Radnofsky and a new work for clarinetist Andrew Friedman. Recent highlights include the premiere of the Two Wilde Poems, a commission for the Boston-based soprano and string bass Departure Duo. His work Babel, for saxophone quartet, was the winner of the Donald Sinta Quartet’s 2014 commissioning competition; it received its premiere in Carnegie Hall as part of the group’s Concert Artist Guild competition winner’s recital
Trained as both a classical saxophonist and pianist, Bozich currently splits his time between the instruments. As a saxophonist, Bozich was the winner of the Beatrice Herrmann Young Artist Competition (2012), and the University of Puget Sound Concerto Competition. As a collaborative pianist, he has music directed opera scenes and accompanied singers at Opera Neo and Pittsburgh Festival Opera. Bozich holds a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the University of Puget Sound. His composition teachers include Bright Sheng, Efstratios Minakakis, and Robert Hutchinson. He studied saxophone with Fred Winkler and Donald Sinta.
Lior Navok '98 MM, '01 DMA | Loose Caboose - world premiere
When traveling by train, I enjoy sitting by the window and looking outside. Looking afar, the horizon moves rather slowly and in an oval-shaped line. Looking closer, the sharp angle presents a hectic, fast-changing, unpredictable visual effect. Over the years, I started viewing these visual events as sound events, ever-changing, merging, widening, closing up and always colorful. The title refers to the unpredictability of events, just as one cannot predict the next event while sitting on a fast-riding loose caboose. Loose Caboose is dedicated to Charles Peltz.
– Lior Navok
The music of composer Lior Navok is being played worldwide in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Berlin Philharmonie, Sydney Opera House, Oper Frankfurt, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Berlin, Nuernberg Opera, among others.
His passion for the stage has resulted in two operas: The Bet – based on a short story by Anton Chekhov and An Unserem Fluss (By Our River). The latter was commissioned by Oper Frankfurt. 2019-20 saw the birth of a few new compositions, including Gitz & Schpitz for actor and ensemble, to an original libretto dealing with war resistance; Drift – for alto flute and ensemble among chamber and solo music.
Navok’s passion for the children’s world brought the creation of The Little Mermaid – after Andresen and The Adventures of Pinocchio – based on Collodi as well as Brave Little Timmy, to an original libretto and the venerable Beauty and the Beast.
As pianist and founding member of the Butterfly Effect Ensemble, he performs live-composition using a wide array of instruments and techniques. The ensemble specializes in creating live scores for silent films, covering the days of the silent-film era up to 1929.
Partial list of awards and fellowships include: Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Award, Israel Prime Minster Award [2002, 2010], America-Israel Cultural Foundation, ACUM, Tanglewood Music Center, Cité Internationale des Arts, Aspen Music Festival and the MacDowell Colony. Navok has released highly acclaimed CDs, described as “Dreamy and utterly gorgeous” (American Record Guide.)
Jeong Won Choe
Hui Lam Mak
Ryoei Leo Kawai
So Jeong Kim
Tyler J. Bourque
Alicia Camiña Ginés
Stephanie Nozomi Krichena
Pei Hsien Lu
Leigh M. Wilson
Hannah Cope Johnson