program notes


2005 and Counting -- Katrina for clarinet and electronics.

This work is a thumbnail view of the multiplicity of souls affected then, and who continue to be affected, by the massive natural and civic tragedy brought by an inadequate response to a powerful force. The musical structure sketches the outline of one modified standard blues verse in slow motion. The music itself is not intended to sound like traditional blues.

This composition is based on the second movement of an acoustic ensemble work I wrote in 2007 called Rough Sleepers which is a musical examination of homelessness. 2005 and Counting was written this past December and January (2010) at Laura Carmichael's request, appropriately, as she both beautifully performed and recorded Rough Sleepers.

The voices on the recorded part are those of New Orleanians reflecting on their displacement by Katrina. Collectively, they do not - and could not - represent every demographic of that city's richly multicultural tapestry of citizenry, but do represent many aspects of it, and they all have much in common.

This is a personal composition. It's my rumination on the great damage done to my city. I don't live there anymore, but it remains the only place that makes sense to me.

Go back to top.


Angels, Emeralds, and the Towers

Angels, Emeralds, and the Towers was composed in 1992 on a commission from New Music America with funds from the C. Comstock Clayton Foundation. Its first performance was given by the Canyonlands Ensemble at the Tanner Amphitheater adjacent to Zion National Park in southern Utah.

This work is a non-programmatic, yet essential response to the spectacle of Zion National Park, whose unique landscapes were suggestive in its composition.

Go back to top.


Another Order of Cat

The concept for this work came about in 1983. I was finishing a piece for chamber orchestra called Consider the Window and was struck by how appropriate that music would sound transcribed for "Pierrot" ensemble. I also wanted to write another piece -- to be scored for this same group of instruments -- in order to complement Consider the Window and at the same time act as a kind of opposite to it. That "opposite" piece, Another Order of Cat, was written in 1984. The resulting adjoined pieces (together called Diptych: Another Order of Cat/Consider the Window) may be performed as a whole or in two independent parts.

The 19th-century idiom "another order of cat" may be used to describe two things which share many traits, but contain enough opposing characteristics to actually be substantially different. A general consideration that came to mind in writing Cat was to conversely reflect certain aspects of Window's very obvious and not-so-obvious characteristics. For instance, the structurally important notes which Window gravitates toward are given a lower priority in Cat; the formal layout of Cat is basically continuous, while Window's approach is decidedly more sectional; Window ends with low and irregularly sounding notes, whereas Cat begins with high and regularly stated notes, and so on. Perhaps Another Order of Cat's most noticeable characteristic is that is that it is in a seemingly permanent state of change. No one particular motive or color remains in command for any real length of time. Instead what occurs is a quick-paced transfer of responsibilities from one instrument to another. The orchestration and the identity of the rhythmic-melodic profiles are in constant flux.

Finally it should be said that the whole of Diptych was conceived as a kind of musical cartoon. Both parts tell their own short colorful music-cartoon tales. Inspirational in the writing of this music were printed comics with their witty counterpoint of illustration and word, and their independent, richly-drawn frames. Equally important was the intensity, often non-sequential fantasy, and quick-paced movement associated with more venerable television cartoons.

Go back to top.


A Certain Round of Events

This work was composed in 2002 for mezzo-soprano Lani Poulson and pianist Susan Wenckus on texts by Dante, Tasso, Wen T'ing-yün, Medici, Shakespeare, Browning, Marvell, Rilke, Li Ch'ing-chao, Li Shan-fu, and Boccaccio.

There are nine main songs in the work augmented by a prelude, interlude and postlude.

The cycle is organized around three different senses of time -- unchanging, seasonal, and subjective. The unchanging-time segments are set on Dante's words; fragments from Inferno and Paradiso are used as the piece's Prelude, Interlude and Postlude. These provide a perimeter and axis for the cycle. The season line is formed by an orbit of songs moving from autumn through summer. The subjective-time pieces are interwoven in various guises, beginning with total naiveté, then moving through celebration, doubt, idealization, and despair.

The order of the songs:

Prelude: (unchanging time); fragment of Canto VI from the Inferno. The general text is a description of the Third Circle. Here only two words from this Canto are used, "like dogs."

1. (subjective time) Tasso's Giammai. Praise is warmly shed on the admired; the tone is unwavering in its complete focus and devotion. The text is doubly and simultaneously set; the piano plays what seem like remaining fragments of a Renaissance madrigal-setting of the text while the voice overlays a fresh layer of new music in complement.

2. (seasonal time: fall) Early Autumn in the Mountains (Wen T'ing-yün) is a pastoral treatment of the onset of fall, solitude and music. The setting is freely structured without notated meter.

3. (subjective time) A short "ballo," Lorenzo di Medici's Canzona di Bacco is a vibrant description of a festive dance, told from the viewpoint of the bemused, wise observer.

Interlude: (unchanging time) traces the return of the Inferno's Canto VI to the place at which the text would segue with the Prelude's "like dogs" occurs. Its concern is to describe the general physical condition of the Third Circle and Cerbero, one of its intriguing creatures.

4. (subjective time) Torquato Tasso's A la Signora introduces the first sense of disappointment into the cycle's subjective line. Its bitter remorse is peppered with jutting bits from Marvell's To His Coy Mistress and Browning's My Last Duchess. The English texts, meant to both reinforce and foil Tasso's sardonic tone, are identified with particular musical types which cut across and interrupt the work's general flow.

5. (seasonal time: winter) After the entailed music of the two previous songs in particular, the straight forward setting of Shakespeare's Winter is intended to freshen the musical surface.

6. (subjective time) Slightly informed by cabaret style, the cluttered and nimble setting of the conclusion of The Fifth Elegy from Rilke's Duino Elegies explores the notion of fulfillment as acrobatic, remote, best attainable in the imagination, and applauded by the - at last - happy dead.

7. (seasonal time: spring) A spring song on Li Ch'ing-chao's exuberant, passionate, deeply personal Manifold Little Hills.

8. (subjective time) Boccaccio's Vetro is a spare, quasi-recitativo-secco/aria- setting of his comparison of cold winter to the isolation of the spurned, grieving soul.

9. (seasonal time: summer) Detached Villa by Li Shan-fu is a regular, even setting of this summer poem.

Postlude: (unchanging time) The first 12 lines of Canto XII from Paradiso form the understated end of the cycle.

Go back to top.


Da Lives ah da Saints

This piece came about as a result of an unlikely chain of events. I had been wanting to write something like it for some time. My version is neither based on medieval accounts of saints' lives nor the many novels and pieces of music that deal directly or allegorically with the Saints of the Catholic Church. It's about my hometown football squad and what that entity means to the citizens of that place.

Daniel Lippel, a distinguished classical guitarist who also plays electric guitar, asked me about playing Black Beauty -- my decades-old piece for solo electric guitar. I went over that piece and deemed it perfectly dreadful. So, I offered to write something new.

I suppose the piece could be heard as an amusing set of clips combined with incidental music, but my intention is to capture the nature of this nearly 45-year-old team in its glorious moments, its despair and hopes, reflected by its many fanatical devotees. I approached this not as a mere chronicle but as an unfolding of the one thing, the nexus, that ties and affects the many strands of New Orleanians who rabidly follow the Saints, particularly in this post-Katrina era. In sum, I view the journey of the team and the multi-cultural collective culture of New Orleans as inseparable, expressed through celebration, humor, surrender to providence, and pathos.

About the clips:

In November 2008, I was in New Orleans for a get together of extended family. Some of the clips are made from those encounters. Others are from interviews held on the streets, bars, restaurants, and lawns of various parts of the city. Others are fair-use excerpts from archival material.

About the music:

There is no intentional echoing of traditional, "found object" music. It's based on points of centricity and consciously managed harmonies of my own making.

About the piece:

It's short, about 5.5 minutes. It's for a virtuoso player with electronic music backdrop and the strategic arrangement of the sound clips. The music's relation to the clips is intended to be both supportive and a separate, interactive entity. The design of the piece was inspired by Dufay's 1423 ballade, Resvellies vous with respect to that work's use of Gematria (the specific correspondence of alphabetic letters with numbers) and Golden Sections. It begins softly and sparsely, becomes more crowded and loud, and ends softly and sparsely: it's shaped like a football.

Go back to top.


Dialogue in Three Parts

Dialogue in Three Parts was composed during 1994 for flutist Carlton Vickers, who specified that the work be written for piccolo, flute and alto flute to an electronic accompaniment.

The constituent three segments of the work are intended to contrast one another, and yet extend and reflect one another as well.

The tape part was conceived away from the studio in score and later realized at the Vladimir Ussachevsky Center for Electro/Acoustic Studies at the University of Utah. The relation of the flute to the tape part is intensely competitive and participatory.

Written for flute, the Chorale operates very much like a traditional chorale prelude. The Caprice, featuring piccolo, is the most intertwined of all these segments; it gives way to a contrasting trio which pits the alto flute against a metrically regular accompaniment. The music heard at the beginning of the Caprice is again enacted and leads into the Chorale/Chaconne. This last section returns to the music of the opening Chorale, but suspends the arrival of the the works strongest centric point, C, until the conclusion of the Chaconne.

Go back to top.


Just One Step Beyond

Though concise and not especially elegiac, Just One Step Beyond for viola and piano, written in memoriam of Marg McGlinn, a singer and songwriter, is among Rosenzweig's most intense and moving works. Proceeding with characteristic economy, a continuum of delicate subtle arcs emerges. We are carried along by a slow rhythm, not of beats, but of waves. Moments suggest potentials, but potentials are restrained by parsimonious concision. New beginnings are called forward. We sense movement away from and towards, opening and closing, in a careful coordination of pitch and rhythmic action. Fractured eruptions are countered by subito pianissimos. Forward motion is overcome by halting, repeated gestures. Memories of phrased counterpoint fade. At the breaking point of agony into absurdity: a unison pizzicato B. Then another, until eight even articulations pass over our ears. The only gesture left is the in-and-out sigh of a last breath.

- Brian Hulse

Go back to top.


Melpomene

The nine daughters of Zeus (the 'muses') include Euterpe (music), Terpsichore (dance and choral song), Thalia (comedy), and Urania (astronomy). Though Rosenzweig titled Melpomene after the muse of tragedy, the qualitative natures of all the muses figure in his conception of the work. His emphasis on the tragic perhaps reflects a sense that tragedy is not a separate sphere, but the defining quality of the muses as they reflect the human condition. Ultimately at the heart of the matter is the concept of tragedy itself, which as Rosenzweig, quoting Edith Hamilton, observed "is the beauty of intolerable truths."

Commissioned in 1999 by cellist John Eckstein, Melpomene features the cello against a backdrop of flute, mallet percussion, and harp. Its meditative character befits the "soft" instrumentation. Gestures are as simple as possible. Soft, glowing sounds initiate long arcs, carrying the listener along in waves. As the piece unfolds, a more agitated, dissonant feeling develops. It is a dissonance not of pitch but of rhythm. Arcs "throw forward" the anticipation of their own trajectory, yet anticipation is confounded by conflicting agendas. The dreamy equilibrium is disrupted. Two thirds of the way through, momentum collapses into a sustained perfect 5th. The pause in motion releases tension through thermodynamic diffusion in time. The remaining music, featuring especially the cello, completes the formal arc.

- Brian Hulse

Go back to top.


On the Wings of Wind

The song cycle On the Wings of Wind was written between 1992 and 1994. The concept of completing a group of songs on Hebrew texts came after I was asked to write a song for a friend's wedding, and after I was commissioned by the Hillel Foundation to compose a work in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto. Together, these two songs, Two Verses from "The Song of Songs", and Warsaw provided the notion of extending the cycle to include ancient, medieval, and contemporary texts which address the conditions of renewal, complaint, lament, marriage, revelry, and death.

Listen to clips.

Go back to top.


Partita Intrecciata

Partita Intrecciata, for violin and electronic sounds, was co-commissioned in 1999 by violinists Gerald Elias and Bodil Rørbech. Since its premier in Copenhagen in 2000 it has been performed widely, including venues in Malmö, Paris, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City. The title means "an intertwined partita." There are six sections, each of which contains elements of other sections (thus, sections 'interlock'). Interlocking also refers to the interplay between violin and electronics.

At first, the tape sounds deceptively like an instrumental ensemble (perhaps we ponder the luxury, and illusion, of modern recording technology - what commercially available recording isn't electronic music?) As the tape progresses, the clear edge of instrumental sounds blur. Blatantly tape-like sounds become more prevalent. They are comforting and familiar. Perhaps homage is being paid to the "electronica" of Ussachevsky-Babbitt-Davidovsky, luminous and nostalgic, now dressed up with more up-to-date sounds. The adroit use of direct samples and midi suggests a different kind of interlocking, that of technologies and eras. The "old" Princeton-Columbia studio is resurrected on a laptop computer. And in the tradition of, say, Davidovsky's Synchronisms, there is no gratuitous excess in the tape part. Only those sounds exist which directly contribute to the articulation of a pristine form.

- Brian Hulse

Go back to top.


Past Light

Past Light was commissioned by, and is dedicated to the New York New Music Ensemble, whose members I have enjoyed an enriching professional relationship with for over 20 years.

The commission itself was generously funded by the Argosy Foundation.

Past Light is scored for clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, cello, and piano and cast in three movements totaling about 17 minutes.

The three movements are "One Thread Within It," which is divided in three unequal sections and employs the four instruments in equal degrees. The second ("All Together") features each instrument in a solo capacity; these solos are cast against individually designed backdrops; the basic ingredients of the four instruments' solos sound simultaneously at intermittent points in the movement as well. The third movement ("Open") is a concise set of characteristic variations on an ever-changing theme, whose origin is imagined.

Listen to clips.

Go back to top.


person, place, etc.

This music a long-standing idea for my long-standing colleagues and friends Carlton Vickers and Glenn Webb.

1. The Halfs Of It

about 2:1 proportions: length of sections, tempos, that sort of thing

unpitched movement

2. What Time Is It

Henry Gwiazda’s films have really made an impression on my thinking. I think I was perhaps heading that way, but got the right wind from them. Anyway, two of the movements are about the meaning of moments. One of them is called "What time is it?"

3. Kuchki Victimas and Gleb

The third remarkss on Mussorgsky (and other Russians), re his unfortunate characterization in Pictures called “Samuel Goldenberg and Schmyle”; KVnG gives it back to him – just a little.

4. Outside Wilson

- a brief reflection of the physical and psychological reality of my elementary school in its post-Katrina state as witnessed January 2006.

Listen to clips.

Go back to top.


Points and Tales

I have a keen interest in writing cycles; that genre holds a particular challenge in that pieces assembled in the collection must make a shape, a dramatic curve, but each of the pieces normally needs to be able to stand on their own as individual works as well.

Points and Tales is a collection of 12 character pieces that I began in fall 2003, and completed in spring 2004. The whole cycle is about 42 minutes long.

There are various sorts of compositions in this collection: Short ones, like Parched Tango, long ones such as One Self Eemage, pieces such as From One Illusion to Another are easy to play, whereas something like Hello demands much technical ability. Many of the pieces are quiet and balladic, while others are boisterous and move very quickly. Various approaches to harmony move in and out of the cycle, from ones which use a somewhat older approach to tonality, including quotations, to those which rely on a more modern sense of pitch centricity.

Points and Tales (or "places" and "stories") was begun in Salt Lake, continued in New Orleans, continued again in Salt Lake, and finished at Bellagio.

I am deeply grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation for providing me with the time and space to complete this piece at Bellagio, and to the University of Utah, which granted me a whole-year sabbatical so that I might work on this extended project and several other works.

Go back to top.


Quartet

Quartet was co-commissioned by the Abramyan Quartet and the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress.

The work was written between September 1996 and February 1997. It is dedicated to the Abramyan Quartet and to the memory of Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky.

One preoccupation concerning the writing of this work had to do with finding a process which would facilitate the construction of each movement in such a way that each maintained their respective identities, while at the same time complementing and reflecting one another. In order to achieve this goal, various forms of both contrast and unity were employed in making the work's global design and local detail. Each movement is composed using a distinct methodology in an effort to achieve balance in the quartet's structure as a whole.

About 19 minutes long, the three-movement work is cast in a traditional fast-slow-fast pattern. The first movement, Fantasia, kinetic, gestural and energetic, is freely written and is structured using a network of associated motives. The second movement is a set of seven variations based on a simple, quiet, lyrical theme played in unison at the beginning of the movement. These variations consist of differing characters, a serenade, a waltz, a scherzo, etc. The sixth variation functions as the work's scherzo, thereby enclosing a movement inside of a movement. The last movement is a rondo, in which the rondo theme reappears not in its traditional repeated form, but as a succesion modular units which are flexibly reassembled and made new with each appearance. Its last sounding gives way to extensive change and brings on the end of the piece.

Listen to clips.

Go back to top.


reprise

Go back to top.

Background:

Corbin Johnston proposed this commission with the idea that the music be rapid, have a "run and gun" nature, and be about 8 minutes' duration. So, the resulting work is a compact, one-movement piece that perhaps seems to be in a perpetual state of change and consists of 7 sections that move into one another without pause.

The title refers primarily to the music that begins the piece, a brief segment based on a four-note chord -- specifically, a minor chord with a minor 7th. This segment is reprised 3 more times during the course of the work. This particular chord seemed somehow familiar to me beyond its merely being a very commonly used sound. While writing the piece its insistence on being present became clear:

In 1977 I saw a wonderful film made by Fellini based on Casanova's memoirs. The score for that movie, and for virtually all of Fellini's movies, was composed by Nino Rota, a musician of extraordinary ability and to my mind the finest film composer to date. The most striking musical cue in the film is indeed the unfolding and hypnotic repetition of this very chord and the contrasting music that follows. I was very taken by that music and wondered at that time how I might one day use it in a piece of my own. So, 30 years later, I knew. Rota's manifestation and mine are vastly different, but the sound remains the same.

Technical stuff:

The piece contains other recurrent motives whose reappearances are typically varied, not literal restatements. The music is made of using several types of four-note cells in various combinations with one another, somewhat akin to the method that ancient Greek musicians used to generate modes. Each of the piece's 7 sections is 1/7 longer than the one it precedes.

Listen to clips.

Go back to top.


Roman Passacaglias

Roman Passacaglias was written between October 1991 and January 1992. It was composed for, and dedicated to, the Leonardo Trio who premiered it in Amsterdam during March 1992.

The second word in the title refers to the different passacaglia themes which permeate and competitively inhabit the musical landscape. Of the five passacaglia themes, three perhaps project themselves more prominently: the "cello" passacaglia, which consists of the rapid alteration of bowed and plucked notes (most of which are generated by sixths), the "piano" passacaglia, which sounds as intermittent chords made in part of perfect intervals, and the "violin" passacaglia which is scalar in nature and the most aggressive of the three. The mode of variation on these themes is traditional to a point and could be described as ornamental, figurative and additive in nature. However, as the piece progresses these themes lose their initial identity and are passed around to different instruments.

At one point (about two thirds through the work) all three of the these themes sound simultaneously. This particular joining emits a number of specific harmonies which form the chordal basis of another of the work's passacaglias and which also functions as the resource of the piece's freer musical episodes. Yet another passacaglia theme is the one heard first, played by violin and piano and made of chordal thirds.

The piece opens with unison passages in the violin and piano followed by a similar passage in the cello and piano. The music of these scenes makes possible -- both technically and emotionally -- the existence of the passacaglia themes and their variations. With the intention of rounding the structure, the opening music recurs in varied form near the end of the composition. This rounding off lends the work an air of Roman pragmitism (not unlike the symmetricality of a Roman arch). Much of the harmony in the piece, perhaps more clearly heard near the end, is made of small snipets of sounds reminiescent of scores for Roman movies of the Ben Hur-and-less- variety popular in the fifties and sixties.

Listen to clips.

Go back to top.


Rough Sleepers

Go back to top.

At some point I became interested in imagining what life might be like from the perspectives of various homeless people. This is not a piece that's directly about creating awareness -- most of us are quite aware; nor is it propaganda -- it poses no solutions. This is hardly a new category for musical treatment - Schubert and Mahler immediately come to mind.

The New York New Music Ensemble commissioned a work from me in 2005 called Past Light, which they were kind enough to perform quite wonderfully many times in many places, and splendidly record as well. I've known and have been colleagues with most of the players in NYNME for many years, which naturally adds considerably to the pleasure of continuing to work with them. I spoke to Jayn about the nature of Rough Sleepers after the last performance of Past Light, which in turn interested the group to program its premiere. It was commissioned by the Fromm Foundation for NYNME and is warmly dedicated to them as well.

It's scored for full NYNME forces: a Pierrot-plus-percussion ensemble, and an electronic overlay comprised of clips of a variety of homeless people addressing and/or representing an array of issues. There is some modest processing of the voices, but not more than is necessary to meet the aesthetic aims of the work as a whole, while intending to balance the speakers' involvement with, and provide a cogent connection to the ensemble. The assembled voice collage is neither entirely concrète nor purely documentary. Then again, that's the basic nature of the work; it's what's appropriate for the tone and aim of the piece.

The voices come from people in a broad range of places and predicaments: A temporarily displaced older woman in New Orleans, an itinerant, long-term homeless cellist -- Ellie - who plays an upright instrument with gloved hands on the streets of Salt Lake City, and a disabled, middle-aged man in the Bay Area who has lived outside for 17 years by choice are three such types among a mosaic cast.

The work is in three parts:

In the Soup: a floating assemblage of people with much in common, but who convey their experience in diverse ways. The music shifts regularly.

Katrina: 2005 and Counting: A thumbnail view of the multiplicity of those then affected, and who continue to be affected, by the massive natural and civic tragedy brought by an inadequate response to a powerful force. The music sketches the outline of a modified standard blues verse.

"... and keeps faith with those who sleep in the dust." This title is from a fragment of Hebrew liturgy typically understood to confirm God's connection with the dead, but which can also be read to confirm an awareness of those among the living who dwell beyond society's borders. Two main speakers occupy most of this part, followed by a coda sparsely annotated by women living on the streets of Mumbai. The first section is modeled on the modular nature of a Baroque ritornello; the coda is a series of layered quasi-and-fully isorhythmic fragments mixed with freshly composed lines.

The music is written in a way that rarely directly underscores the speakers' mood or message, but rather acknowledges, co-exists and intertwines with them, intending to provide appropriate context for each speakers' particular character, and at the same time, the music progresses on its own path, symbolizing the "invisibility" of the homeless.

Listen to clips.

Go back to top.


A Table of the Most Used Chords

The idea of my writing a horn quartet was hatched by the Intermezzo Chamber Music Series, and I am indeed the fortunate recipient of that choice for a number of reasons: I was a horn player for many years; I no longer play and I miss not playing very much. I've stayed connected to my former instrument by writing pieces featuring the horn: a concerto titled Delta, The Perfect King which was brilliantly premiered by William Purvis and Speculum Musicae in New York, recorded for CRI, and also performed at the International Horn Society's annual conclave; Three Fantasy Pieces, scored for horn and piano, also premiered in New York by William Purvis with Aleck Karis on piano; a violin, horn, and piano trio which I wrote for myself and two colleagues; this piece enjoyed many performances by various performers including those in Philadelphia, New York, and New Orleans.

What's really connective about my past horn lineage and this present quartet is that the first piece I ever wrote for any ensemble was a horn quartet. I, and three teenage colleagues -- Tommy Freeman, Lee Bruner, and Ira Weber, tried that 1969 quartet out one early morning and later performed it that year. It wasn't a very good piece. No matter. More important is that I will never forget those sounds when we first began to play: I had previously only imagined them, and now they were genuinely present, vibrating in a real and visceral state. The most unusually conceivable sensations coursed through me, and a thoroughly different world of sonic landscape opened up; not much of that sort of reaction has changed since.

The title of this work was inspired by the name of a chart published in a manuscript book I bought in Venice. It reads "Sigle degli accordi piú usati," or Symbols of the Most Used Chords. The chart is a brief overview of basic triadic formations and their nomenclature. Coincidentally, I also have a chart that I use for my music, or a table of the chords I use the most. Most of these chords are not triadically formed, but are made of various three-and-four note sounds, and the resulting mixtures of these three-and-four note sounds when they are combined with one another.

The piece itself is not about these chords, but it does of course use them to form its underlying harmonic foundation. This 10-minute work is episodic in nature. It quickly changes characters and tempos. The instruments interact in a very tight-knit and precise manner. Some episodes and motives recur, others do not. And I very much wanted to treat the group as a balanced ensemble, where each part carries as much responsibility as the others. I did also envision a very idiomatic work, one made for the special characteristics of these wonderful instruments, but one which certainly presses the boundaries of the instruments a bit as well.

Much went into the making of this work. I thank Intermezzo for coming up with the idea and extending this commission to me, my son Jacob for helping me input and prepare the score and parts, but most of all I am grateful to Stephen, Llew, Ron and Steve for their wonderful musicianship, patience, tenacity, and humor. To say nothing of the tremendous amount of personal and collective time they dedicated to this piece in order to bring it from the point where I only imagined it to its real sonic presence.

Listen to clips.

Go back to top.


trace

trace (1998), for two pianos and two percussionists was commissioned by the Fromm Foundation at Harvard for the Stuttgart-based group "Piano and Percussion," which premiered the piece at the 2001 Eclat Festival. Its multifarious, lively textures evoke a minimalist machine coming apart at the joints. Hopelessly un-synchronic rhythmic cycles enunciate axes of privileged notes set against thick shifting clusters. Sustained pitch hierarchies yield harmonic rhythms that are instantly upended at structural moments. Stabilized pitch fields coordinate with texture to articulate phrases and sections. At the end of the piece, a bell choir tolls for what seems an eternity. But it is an eternity integral to the particular and truly extraordinary "force-field" of this work. Taking in the dramatic conclusion, which is both a moment and an astonishing duration, we are reminded that music, above all, is the art of time.

- Brian Hulse

Go back to top.


What Follows is a Song From the Same Fragmented Masque

The unique artistry of flutist Carlton Vickers, to whom What Follows is a Song From the Same Fragmented Masque is dedicated, is instantly recognizable in not only the performance, but in the composition itself. As Rosenzweig tends to favor the gestural and dramatic possibilities of ensemble composition, the solo (and non-keyboard) work is unusual. To adequately perform it, the performer must not only be exceptionally virtuosic but cognizant of the underlying gestural choreography so critical to Rosenzweig's language: the flute is not a flute, but orchestra, stage, lighting, actors, and conductor, all in one. Every note is conceived as if depicting an operatic moment. Vickers, who has played Rosenzweig's music for over a decade, understands the special dramatic quality of the music. But there is reciprocity here as well, for in some sense specific qualities of Vickers' musicianship seemed to have informed the composing of the music.

- Brian Hulse

Go back to top.


Yeah You Rite

I met Tim Ruedeman when he was touring with Flexible Music in 2008. He and the other members of the group played a highly successful and memorable concert which featured their well-known wide stylistic variety, on-target expressive interpretation, and technical virtuosity. Additionally, they each had a wonderful air of collegiality and an impressive work ethic -- a perfect combination of virtues.

Some months later Eric Huebner gave a first-rate performance of 4 movements of a piano cycle of mine in New York. Tim attended that concert. We chatted afterwards and the idea of a sax and electronics piece somehow emerged.

This is the third piece I've written for solo instrument and electronics, the previous ones are for flute and violin. Those earlier pieces are clearly multi-sectional and on the longish side.

I wanted this piece to be short - it's about 6 minutes long - be multi-sectional with many sections and sub-sections, and have a wide number of ways from moving from one section to another. More importantly, I wanted the events and the content of the events to contain music that happened only once with no returns or repetitions, as to create a rapid, but balanced flow.

Yeah You Rite! is another of the pieces I've written which are something like a short story: not a miniature, not a full-size work, but something in between, that perhaps seems longer than it is, and has no need to elaborate its plot.

The title is a phrase that has been used by generations of New Orleanians of virtually every demographic. It's a multi-purpose retort whose meaning changes depending on how it's phrased, how fast it's said, and how loud it's spoken; some of its many possible applications:
functional, instead of OK - "See you tomorrow; yeah you rite."
ironically, sarcastically, often to express disbelief -- "I had a winner in evry race at da track yestaday; YEAH, ... you rite."
to express approval -- when taking the first bite of a good dish; YEAHyouRite."
to express emphatic appreciation -- YEAH YOU RITE!
and so forth.

The concrète and MIDI components of the electronic part were realized through a combination of Amadeus, Finale, and Logic.

Go back to top.