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Weeknights at 7 p.m. on Classical 90.5
April 25 to April 29
Orpheus in the New World
With communications and travel offering cultural exchange like never before, today’s composer draws from an enormous palette, giving voice to the amazing era in which we live. From Schwantner and Adams to Neikrug and Beach, we’ll listen to and celebrate their music.
This weeks show title is borrowed from a book by Philip Hart of the same name. The book focused on American orchestras in the 1970s, and this week's show focuses on, mostly recent, American composers.
Monday, Program One
Born 1961 in Milkwaukee, Michael Torke was asked to write a piece for the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia. He composed the piece Javelin and named it such because he thought the word was sleek.
Torke studiend under Joseph Schwantner at the Eastman School of Music, and next we hear Schwantner's piece, Sparrows, written in 1979. It is the setting of 15 haiku's.
Next, we meet Elliott Carter who was born in 1908. He is two years younger than Samuel Barber and two years old than Shostakovich. We hear his Pastoral for Clarinet and Piano which he wrote at age 37 in 1945.
Finally, we meet Aaaron Jay Kernis, a Pulitzer Prize winner, born in 1960. We hear Musica Celestis (Music of the Heavens) which was originally written for string quartet and then later rearranged for string orchestra.
Tuesday, Program Two
Today's program begins with a violin concerto by Roger Sessions (1896-1985), a famously intelligent man. He spent many years as a professor at Princeton University. Marc Neikrug, also very intelligent, is the composer of the next violin concerto Bill plays. Neikrug spent much of his career as the piano accompanist of Pinchas Zukerman, and is also the director of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
The next violin concerto was written by John Adams. Movement two contains the written phrase "Body Through Which a Dream Flows." This phrase comes from a poem by Robert Hass which Adams said mirrored the sensation of the movement.
The final violin concerto of the program is composed by Stehpen Paulus writing for William Preucil, then concert master of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
The program ends with a ragtime piece for the piano by William Bolcom entitiled Graceful Ghost.
Wednesday, Program Three
Into Eclipse by Stephen Albert, is based on the Ted Hughes transalation of Seneca's version of Oedipus Rex. Albert was also very drawn to James Joyce and set several of his works to music. Albert won a Pulitzer Prize for his piece, RiverRun, based on Joyce's Finnegan's Wake.
Albert was killed in a 1992 automobile accodent, and one of his best friends and composer, Christonpher Rouse, dedicated the second movement of second symphony to Albert.
Donald Erb's piece Ritual Observances also deals with loss and is dedicated to Lenoard Slatkin and Mozart. The title is taken from a Dylan Thomas poem.
On a lighter note, we hear the piece T. Rex by Bill's old friend Mark Phillips. The piece is scored for trombones and electronic sounds.
Finally, we hear the piece Morgen-Gesang (morning sound) by Arthur Foote, and several selections from Amy Beach, born Amy Marcy Cheney.