Thursday, April 9, 2009

5/12/2009 @ 6:15 p.m.: VnC Duo



Piotr Szewczyk violin
Alexei Romanenko cello


New American Music for Violin and Cello

Virtuoso string players from the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra perform very new music for violin and cello by American Composers, including three world premieres!

Program Selections:

Alan Beeler Dance Suite
Warren Gooch Fauxmanian Dance No. 3
Kari Henrik Juusela Chasing Karma
Edward Lein Tangle [WORLD PREMIERE]
Daniel Perttu Tonospheres
Gary Smart Street Music [WORLD PREMIERE]
Piotr Szewczyk The Moon Goddess [WORLD PREMIERE]
Christopher M. Wicks Duo No.1
Alex Wroten Realpolitik



Alexei Romanenko, principal cellist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra since the 2005-2006 season, has won numerous awards, including First Prize in the Far-Eastern Competition for Strings, the Presser Music Award, First Prize at the 8th International Music Competition in Vienna, First Prize at the 2nd Web Concert Hall International Auditions, and the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra Cello Fellowship. In addition to numerous solo engagements, Alexei has performed as principal cellist with the Boston Philharmonic, and has been featured on Boston’s WGBH radio's Classical Performances and in national and international broadcasts from Chicago and San Francisco. Mr. Romanenko has taught at the San Francisco Institute of Music, Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, and at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He is also the organist/pianist at Grace Episcopal Church in Orange Park, Florida.

More about Mr. Romanenko at alexeiromanenko.com

TOP




The winner of the 2006 New World Symphony Concerto Competition, violinist and composer Piotr Szewczyk joined the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in 2007, and has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras and ensembles including the Lima Symphony, New World Symphony, World Youth Symphony Orchestra, Queen City Virtuosi, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. He performs frequently in solo and chamber recitals, including appearances in the United States, Poland, Germany and Austria, often premiering works written for him for an ongoing project he initiated called Violin Futura. Among these was a February 2008 recital given as part of the Music @ Main series, and other appearances at the Library have included collaborations with fellow Jacksonville Symphony violinists Andy Bruck and Max Huls, and an evening of Polish music with pianist Christine Clark.

More about Mr. Szewczyk at verynewmusic.com, and notes on his music are included below.

TOP




Alan Beeler (b.1939) completed his graduate study in theory and composition at Washington University, where he received an M. A. and Ph.D. He has taught music theory, composition, and oboe at Washington University College, Wisconsin State University, and Eastern Kentucky University, where he was Professor of Music Theory and Composition. His many compositions include works for solo piano, chorus, chamber ensemble, string orchestra, full orchestra, and voice. His Dance Suite was written in the summer of 2008, and the composer writes that each movement “uses a single or double musical interval to control the melodic and harmonic activities in both instruments. The first is a Waltz in fourths and half steps that begins with a canon between the parts. The middle section is more active, with some of the intervals expanding and contracting. The closing section returns to the canon with the parts exchanged. The Polka uses thirds in a kind of dialogue. It is a conscious parody of the famous Beer Barrel Polka that I used to hear all the time when I taught music at Wisconsin State University in Stevens Point … . The March in Fourths is reminiscent of Bartók with similar exchanges between the instruments to those of the Waltz. The last piece is a cross between the English jig and the Italian tarantella, with two different whole tone scales connected by thirds and fourths between the instruments. I hope the performers and listeners have as much fun with these pieces as I did writing them.”

TOP




The music of Warren Gooch has been performed widely throughout North America, Latin America, Asia and Europe, and he has been recognized through awards, grants, and commissions by numerous national and regional arts organizations. Dr. Gooch is Chair of the Theory Composition Area and Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Music program at Truman State University (Kirksville, Missouri), where he has been a finalist for both "Educator of the Year" and "Advisor of the Year" awards. A native of Duluth, Minnesota, he received his doctorate in composition from the University of Wisconsin, and his publishers include Kjos, Alliance, Flammer, Plymouth, and Southern. He is active in the field of sacred music, and his Clockwork for orchestra has been recorded on the MMC label. About today's work the composer says, "The Three Fauxmanian Dances were written for my sister on her fiftieth (um … 29th) birthday. A fine amateur violinist, she was looking for something new that she and a cellist friend could play. As my sister and I have always been fond of Slavic music, I took that as a point of departure. Consequently the 'flavor' (but not the substance) of these three dances is vaguely East European. These pieces were composed in June of 2006 and received their premiere at the Truman State University New Music Festival in fall of 2007."

TOP



Kari Henrik Juusela (b. 1954) is a Finnish/American composer, cellist and educator who is presently the Dean of the Professional Writing Division at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Prior to his work at Berklee College of Music, Juusela served as the Associate Dean, Director of Composition and Almand Chair of Composition at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. Juusela's compositions have won awards in numerous competitions including the 1995 Vienna International Full-Length Opera Competition directed by Claudio Abbado; First Prize, 2003 International Red Stick Composition Competition; First Prize for mixed ensemble, London Chamber Groups 2003 "Piece of the Year Competition"; Second Prize, 2004 San Francisco American Art Song Competition Established Professional Category; First Prize, 1989 GASTA String Quartet Composition Competition; Grand Prize and First Prize in 1998, and five awards in both the 1996 and 1990 Composer's Guild Composition Contests; and numerous awards from ASCAP. He was awarded the 1997 Stetson University Hand Award for Faculty Research and Creativity, received a 1997-98 Florida Council for the Arts Individual Artists Music Composition Fellowship, and has been the recipient of many other composition honors. He holds degrees from The University of Maryland, Georgia State University and Berklee College of Music. According to the composer, "Chasing Karma ... is a hard-driving, obsessive, imitative chase between two protagonists, slowing only briefly in the middle for the performers to catch their breath. The strings unabashedly display and flaunt their technical assets performing rapid scalar passages, left hand pizzicati, harmonics, and bold double, triple, and quadruple-stop chordal assertions. The musical language of Chasing Karma is an eclectic mix drawing from sources disparate as Finnish folk music and expressionism."

A recording of Chasing Karma may be heard on the composer's myspace page, at http://www.myspace.com/karijuusela

TOP



Edward Lein (b.1955) is the Music Librarian at Jacksonville Public Library's Main Library (Florida), and holds Master's degrees in both Music (major professor: John Boda) and Library Science from Florida State University. As a tenor soloist (now retired) he has appeared in recitals, oratorios and dramatic works throughout his home state, and drawing on his performance experience the majority of his early compositions were vocal works, including Missa pro defunctis (Mass for the Departed), first performed in 1991 by Riverside Presbyterian Chancel Choir (Jacksonville) with members of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Following peformances of orchestral works by the Jacksonville Symphony, including Meditation for cello, oboe and orchestra (premiered June 2006), and In the Bleak Midwinter (premiered December 2007), his instrumental catalog has grown, largely due to requests from Symphony players for new pieces, and he endeavors to imbue his instrumental work with the same singing lyricism found in his vocal music. Tangle, a tango, was written in March 2009 at the request of Piotr Szewczyk for a 3-minute piece for the VnC Duo, and although this is the public "world premiere," Tangle has been performed privately to help raise funds to benefit the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra players. Tangle inspired three additional pieces which form a suite with a Latin American flavor called Un Dulcito ("A Little Sweet"), for violin and cello, or for string orchestra.

A recording of Tangle may be heard at http://home.comcast.net/~edward_lein/UnDulcito.html

TOP



Daniel Perttu is Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, where he is also the Coordinator of the Music Theory Program. Previously he served as Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he was the Coordinator of the Music Theory Division. His music has been performed in 20 of our 50 states, as well as in China. These performances have occurred in arts festivals, new music festivals and concerts, Society of Composers Conferences, College Music Society Conferences, and solo recitals at the national and regional levels. Dr. Perttu completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at The Ohio State University, has a Master of Arts degree in composition, and a Master of Music degree with a double major in instrumental conducting and bassoon from Kent State University. About this evening's piece Dr. Perttu has commented, "Tonospheres blends both tonal and atonal techniques to construct a piece whose drama lies in the tension between these two approaches to composition."

A recording of an excerpt from Tonospheres for Violin and Cello may be heard on his webage, http://www.danielperttu.com/

TOP



The career of Gary Smart has encompassed a wide range of activities as composer, classical and jazz pianist, and teacher. A true American pluralist, Dr. Smart’s compositions reflect an abiding interest in Americana, jazz, and world music, as well as the Western classical tradition, and he has received support from the Ford and Guggenheim foundations, the Music Educator's National Conference, the Music Teachers National Association, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Smart’s works have been performed in major U.S. venues, including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as in Europe and Asia. Dr. Smart's compositions are published by Margun Music (G. Schirmer) and his work has been recorded on the Mastersound, Capstone, and Albany labels.; forthcoming CD projects include Turtle Dreams of Flight, with solo piano performances by the composer, and Hot Sonatas, a collection of jazz-influenced chamber music with members of the UNF music faculty. Dr. Smart spent residencies in Japan and taught in Indonesia as a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer in Jazz, and was head of the music department at the University of Wyoming from 1978-1999. From 1999-2003 he served as Chairman of the University of North Florida Music Department, where he currently is the Terry Professor of Music. Regarding the piece performed today, Dr. Smart notes, "Street Music was composed in April for my friends Piotr and Alexei to premiere on this concert. Imagine two stellar street musicians improvising a brilliant minor-blues toccata and you have the idea."

TOP



Musical compositions by Piotr Szewczyk (b. 1977) have won a number of international composition contests, and have been featured on NPR and at the American Symphony Orchestra League Conference in Nashville. His music has been performed by numerous orchestral and chamber ensembles, and his recently published string quintet, The Rebel, was performed live on the CBS Early Show by the Sybarite Chamber Players, and was also featured this January on NPR's Performance Today. Mr. Szewczyk is the winner of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s 2008 Fresh Ink composition competition, with a commission to write a new piece for their 2009-2010 season, entitled First Coast Fanfare. According to the composer, "The Moon Goddess is a short, rhapsodic piece that musically depicts an elation evoked by an encounter with a beautiful creature. It begins with a slow, gentle section which develops into a powerful and emotional climax in extremely high registers for both instruments and dissipates into a transformed opening theme."

TOP



Christopher M. Wicks is an organist and composer living in Oregon's Willamette Valley. He holds a M.Mus. in Composition from the Universite de Montreal and a M.Mus. in Organ from the University of Oregon, and, did undergraduate work at no fewer than six colleges, including Marylhurst University and the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, New York). Christopher's compositions have been performed throughout the United States and in Europe, and he has released two CDs, one of him performing original organ music, and one of chamber compositions for harp and violin. For the piece on this concert the composer observes, "My Duo for violin and cello, composed in 2002, is in three movements, each rhythmically fairly traditional, but with shifting modes in the scalar motions in each instrument. The second movement is centered on the tone E, with a sense of minor or Dorian mode much of the time, and the third movement has passages with a persistent pedal tone of D in one instrument, while the other plays improvisatory-sounding roulades."

TOP



Alex Wroten began studying drums at the age of six, and began piano and guitar lessons at age eight. In middle school he wrote pieces for his school’s concert band and a few works for guitar and piano, and while in high school Alex developed a continuing focus on electronic music and synthesis for film scores. He began formal composition studies in 2004 at the Greenville County Fine Arts Center (South Carolina), and in 2005 Alex entered The University of South Carolina School of Music, where he has recently completed coursework as a Music Composition major studying under Dr. John Fitz Rogers and Dr. Reginald Bain, while also studying classical guitar with Christopher Berg. About Realpolitik, the composer writes, "The inspiration for the music came from the blues scale and power-chord-based rock n' roll. An optional improvisation section allows the performers to extend and add their own ideas to the piece. The title, which refers to practical, power-based politics versus ideals, is analogous to the power and ubiquitousness of rock versus classical music."

TOP