25: Concert 3 | Lovely All These Years

VERMONT NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL WEEKEND special — Fri, April 5 | Sat April 6, 2013

Attend Counterpoint Chorus or the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble on Friday, April 5 and receive a HALF-PRICE DISCOUNT at the other ensemble’s concert on Saturday, April 6. Just bring in your ticket stub from the previous night’s performance.
Lovely All These Years PosterVermont’s poet laureate Sydney Lea reads his poems with music composed in response:


Boundaries: Crossing-Point – Thomas Read
River of Voices – Thomas Read
The Meadow is Gone – Lydia Busler-Blais
Blue Insomniac Nights – Lydia Busler-Blais
Rodney Fallen – Michael Close
To a Young Father – Michael Close
The Bend in the River – Erik Nielsen
Mahayana Corner – Alex Abele
Tock – Alex Abele

The Meadow is Gone | Lydia Busler-Blais   I found myself thinking, after reading Farmall Cub Tractor, “All that nostalgia, all that impact, and hardly a physical trace remains.” So, with a sizable gaggle of instruments, I begin by creating a jolt of sound that is like the shock of happening upon an unfamiliar place and suddenly realizing that was once the setting for a scene of so much life and influence to you that now seems unwitting of its past.  The shock is replaced by an inward sense of loss. Then the woodwinds recall the meadow birds once peripheral yet so intrinsic to the memory and the old familiar scene is reset, alternating back and forth between pining and blissful nostalgia.  Notes by the composer

Blue Insomniac Nights | Lydia Busler-Blais   A response to Transport, I intend   to portray the continuous yet seeming disjunct parts of a short trip across town on foot, via public transportation, through crowds. At times exhilarating, often uncertain, and occasionally striking a chord of nervous apprehension (as heard in the heartbeat produced by the bassoon and guitar), the trip across town can be a brief and completely distinct moment in time unto itself. The trip is short and does not belie the deep and contemplative scene that would follow.  Notes by the composer

Rodney Fallen | Michael Close   Rodney Fallen turns on a terrifying image of a man slipping on the ice in midwinter, taking a bad fall. I’ve opened the piece with the background sounds of winter: long low notes in the bass clarinet and cello to represent the layers of deep heavy snow, followed by harp and vibraphone playing bracing, high chords to evoke the cold, hard frost and ice. As Rodney enters the scene, the cello introduces a simple and sincere melody that reflects the straightforward goodness of the man; and as he ventures onto the ice, the piccolo offers a bird call, perhaps a warning. The pace of the music quickens, the notes rushing dangerously fast, until the moment Rodney falls. The real world begins to slip away into chaos; the music continues, becoming more and more intense as we share Rodney’s delirious visions. Then, gloriously, Rodney opens his eyes. With a sigh of relief, the familiar winter themes return, followed by the cello once again playing Rodney’s melody. The piece closes with the song of a bird, signaling spring and the renewal of “courage, kestrels, warmth, another year.”  Notes by the composer

To a Young Father | Michael Close   The poem To a Young Father addresses both great beauty and time lost to the frenetic pace of daily life. I have tried to evoke the fragile moments of transcendence that reveal themselves to us from time to time — beauty that has perhaps been there all along. The piece opens with fast moving, yet static harmonies in the cello and vibraphone. Then the music transforms into fragile lullaby in the cello, slow moving and almost timeless. The anxious tremolo in the vibraphone gradually becomes broken chords, sometimes moving in harmony with the melody. Gradually, however, the fast paced yet static harmonies that opened the composition obscuring hiding the beautiful melody that lies just below the surface.  Notes by the composer

Tock | Alex Abele   My musical response to Sydney Lea’s Tock attempts to express a musical departure from routine to awareness. What Lea’s poem says to me can best be summed up by the aphorism “stop and smell the roses.” In a very condensed format the duo of guitar and cello escape from the rigidity of repetition and are able to embrace the lyrical harmonies of which they are capable. Lea’s message is well received by me, as I find myself once again staring at a computer screen. I hope that Tock the poem and Tock the music will remind you to power down whatever device currently has your attention and enjoy the world around you from time to time.  Notes by the composer

Mahayana Corner | Alex Abele   The meditative qualities of a brisk walk can be food for the mind, body and soul. This Zen-like aspect is alluded to in Sydney Lea’s Mahayana in Vermont, not only by the title, but by his background music provided by a Monk, albeit a Thelonious Monk. When I was a student at UVM, I lived in a house near Centennial Field, so it was a good hike to the music building. Over the top of the hill by the Medical Campus, through Living and Learning and East Campus. I was usually in a hurry or, in the winter, trying to keep warm, so I walked quickly with a steady gait. Inevitably, music would come to mind to the rhythm of my steps, either something we had discussed in class, or something I was composing, even some Monk from time to time although never Brilliant Corners. It was with all this in mind that I chose to reflect Lea’s poem with a fugue using the theme from Monk’s Brilliant Corners as the fugue subject. The steady rhythm of the form are my steps, each episode a brood of grouse scattering or a late glowing trillium or a gaggle of oncoming students interrupting my reverie. In true Baroque fashion, the steady pace continues until the form is complete and I arrive at my destination mind alert, body refreshed and soul cleansed.  Notes by the composer

The Bend in the River | Erik Nielsen   The two poems that surround my piece are Peaceable Kingdom and To a Young Father. From the first I took the idea of heaven as something just out of our reach and out of sight, just around the corner, and different from our present life in certain ways. It is also apart from us in our preoccupation with the details of everyday living. This preoccupation is at the heart of the second poem, but my understanding of the poem was that if we could just stop and look around, we could experience the beauty of the natural world. However, such peace is often around “the bend in the river”. In musical terms I used three types of musical material in various ways:  chords (that is, simultaneous sounds), rapid passage work, and a lyrical melody. The piece opens with tremolos, a shimmer like the heat rising from the pavement in Peaceable Kingdom. Soon we hear chords and then more activity. Both the chords (representing that which is just beyond our sight or understanding) and the rapid running notes (our busy lives) tend to change and go in and out of focus for the first half of the piece, until the lyrical melody, representing peace and tranquility, “heaven” if you will, is first heard in clarinet. After a time it too changes and loses its focus as it is gradually swallowed up in hectic activity again. However, eventually the calm of the opening tremolos is restored and the melody enters one final time to finish the piece.  Notes by the composer

Boundaries: Crossing Point and River of Voices | Thomas Read   Musical ideas in Crossing Point and River of Voices are inspired by and freely associated with images from Sydney Lea’s “March” and “At a Solemn Musick.” Both of my compositions have a similar design in which a contrapuntal fantasy precedes a cantabile flute solo accompanied by harp and percussion. In each case a short coda recalls earlier material.  Notes by the composer