Program Notes

Wednesday, October 24, 2012, 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall

Davis Brooks, violin; Minju Choi, piano; Kurt Fowler, cello
with guest Paul Bro, saxophone


Fantasia Armorial (2012) for alto saxophone and cello - Alexis Bacon (b. 1975)

World Premiere
Commissioned by Paul Bro and Kurt Fowler
with the support of an Indiana State University Arts Endowment Grant

All dreams begin with the horizon (2007) for solo piano - Christopher Theofanidis (b. 1967)
I. lucid, present
II. erratic, charged
III. singing, noble
IV. menacing

Summer Verses (2009) for violin and cello - Christopher Theofanidis
I. very, very happy
II. curious
III. lyric, wistful
IV. Robert
V. noble, resolute

--- Intermission ---

Piano Trio 3 on C# (2004) for violin, cello and piano - Joel Hoffman (1953)
I. Vivace
II. Flowing
III. Maestoso


Fantasia Armorial
Alexis Bacon (b. 1975)

Alexis Bacon is a violist and composer of electroacoustic and acoustic music. Dr. Bacon received her Bachelor’s degree in viola performance and music composition from Rice University in 1998, and subsequently received a Fulbright grant to study music composition in Paris with Betsy Jolas. She then attended the University of Michigan, where she earned her doctorate in music composition in 2007. She has been the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the 2010 Ossia International Composition Prize. Her work “Cradle,” for alto saxophone and tape, was the first place recipient of the 2007 ASCAP/SEAMUS student composition commission, for which she wrote "Cowboy Song" for percussion and tape. Other recent performances of her music have included the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, the Western Illinois New Music Festival, the Florida State University New Music Festival and Electronic Music Midwest. Additionally, Dr. Bacon has received grants from ASCAP, the Indiana Arts Council, and the American Music Center. During the summers she serves as Instructor of Music Theory and Electronic Music at Interlochen Arts Camp. Her composition teachers have included William Bolcom, Michael Daugherty, Susan Botti, and Evan Chambers. Dr. Bacon has taught at West Texas A&M University and Indiana State University.
“Fantasia Armorial was written for the Bro-Fowler duo during a 2012 stay in Brazil.  The piece consists of three connected movements.  The first movement is inspired by a sound I heard almost daily from my high-rise apartment in Santos. A knife sharpener would walk the streets, advertising his services with an evocative high-pitched whistle whose piercing sound easily reached my apartment on the thirteenth floor.  The slow second movement is an exploration of chord progressions and melodic contours typical of Brazilian popular music such as that of composers Tom Jobim and João Gilberto.  The fast last movement references the “armorial” music of the Brazilian northeast that gives the piece its name.  For much of this movement, the cellist plays with a type of mute that is normally used only for practicing, therefore emulating the sound and style of the fiddle-like “rabeca,” an instrument commonly used in folk music of the Brazilian northeast. The entire movement is based on a melody that I wrote in the style of a Brazilian folk song.” - Alexis Bacon

All dreams begin with the horizon (2007) for solo piano
Christopher Theofanidis (b. 1967)

The occasion for the commissioning of this piece was something right out of the 19th century- a piece written as a birthday present to be performed at a salon-style party.  I took great delight in writing this work, not only for the personalized nature of the occasion, but also because it is the first solo piano work I have written in almost 15 years, and since I started my musical life as a pianist, it gave me a wonderful excuse to reconnect with the physicality of the piano.  This work was written at the piano, for the piano. 
The salon nature of the first performance made me think about composing a series of miniature movements- something along the lines of the Schumann piano cycles.  The attractive thing to me about this was that I could concentrate on delineating very strong characters between the movements, and on differences in pianistic approach.
The first movement is impressionistic and gestural in nature, and I think comes from the ephemeral, atmospheric writing one finds in pieces like, “Ondine” from “Gaspard de la nuit” by Maurice Ravel.  The second movement  is quite different- much more earthy and raw.  It contrasts an explosive opening figure with an erratic rhythmic motive.  The third movement was meant as a kind of ‘toast’ to love which seemed to befit the occasion (as much as my own love-drunk nature).  It basically presents a lyrical melody in three very different ways- once highly ornamented, oncc rhythmically pressing, and once broadly and expansively.  Not wanting ultimately to succumb to my more lyrical side, I chose a last movement which is more of a trouble-maker.  It is based around a very fast septuplet figure that is split up between the two hands and is really almost an etude.  
The title comes from something my father once told me.  In the early sixties he had a series of dreams which strangely all came true in time.  He said that each of those dreams began with the horizon. - Christopher Theofanidis

Summer Verses (2009) for violin and 'cello
Christopher Theofanidis

Given the prominence of both the violin and ‘cello throughout history, the actual duo repertory is remarkably small.  I think part of the reason for that is that both instruments have such a strong association as solo instruments, so putting them together might seem more like 'the battle of the wills' than collaborative chamber music.   I tried to take certain aspects of this soloistic capacity, particularly in the form of virtuosity, and weave them into the piece, but at other times, I thought of the players more as coming together for the common cause of longer melodic lines, or for creating an almost Baroque sense of harmony and timbre to try to give balance to the soloistic tendencies.
The first movement is based on double notes played at a blazing pace.  The single running line is passed between the two instruments with alternating punctuation and support.
The second movement is all pizzicato (plucked, without a bow).  This is also an extremely fast movement with mercurial pauses and phrasing.
The third movement uses many double-stops (playing two notes at once on the same string instrument) to create a thicker sense of harmony.
Although this movement moves quite deliberately, there are many cross-rhythms between the two parts that hopefully create a sense of internal flow.
The fourth movement, entitled "Robert", comes from particular details of the silly side of my friendship with Robert DeMaine- from musical quotes of things that we both know well, to certain behavioral tendencies that are better left unmentioned.
The final movement is earnest with a hopeful outlook, the tenor of which is inspired by the personal plight of a dear friend of mine, who is dealing with some very serious health issues.
The summer is filled with light and energy, though in my case this year, there are some more weighty things which are important and pressing; both of these strains make their way into my piece, Summer Verses. - Christopher Theofanidis

Piano Trio 3 on C# (2004) for violin, cello and piano
Joel Hoffman (1953)

Born in Vancouver, Canada in 1953, Joel Hoffman received degrees from the University of Wales and the Juilliard School. He is a member of a distinguished musical family that includes brothers Gary and Toby, cellist and conductor, and Deborah, harpist. Honors include a major prize from the American Academy-Institute of Arts and Letters, two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bearns Prize of Columbia University, a BMI Award, ASCAP awards since 1977, and three American Music Center grants. Currently, Hoffman is Professor of Composition at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music, where he is also Artistic Director of its annual new music festival, MusicX.
Hoffman's works draw from such diverse sources as Eastern European folk musics and bebop, and are pervaded by a sense of lyricism and rhythmic vitality. They have been performed by many ensembles such as the Chicago Symphony Brass, the BBC Orchestra of Wales, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, members of the Berlin Philharmonic, the Cleveland Quartet, the Shanghai Quartet, the Brentano Quartet and the Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio.
"My third trio (2004) follows Cubist Blues (1991) and Piano Trio #2 'Lost Traces' (2003). The Piano Trio 3 on C# is so named because of the fact that all three movements revolve around that note. The word "on" is used instead of the traditional "in" to signify that the connection is not that of tonality (as in "C# major or minor") but rather that of architecture. In other words, the note C# (not the key of C#) functions as a musical anchor towards which all three movements inevitably gravitate. This "gravitational pull" is most evident in the third movement, less so in the second, and even less so in the first--although it too ends clearly on C#. There is also more emotional and temporal weight associated with movement three as compared with the other two. The first is a short dance-like scherzo that coyly invites the listener into the music, while the second spreads out into a spacious and gentle aria. But the third poses more complex musical questions, both thematic and structural. It is serious music, but not without occasional playful and tangential moments. This third movement borrows liberally from another recent work of mine, "At What Price?" for piano solo, which--in a more direct way--deals with the unfortunate consequences of the current American administration's foreign policy." - Joel Hoffman