This Cascadia Composers concert is designed to engage the ears and mind with a variety of new acoustic and electro-acoustic works presented in surprising and enlightening ways. Showcasing the talents and creativity of a host of local composers and performing professionals, this multimedia experience seeks to draw connections between different artistic media to elevate the act of listening. Several of the works have been adapted for or written specifically to take advantage of the unique space and special acoustic properties of Eugene’s First Christian Church and its parabolic dome. Many pieces will be presented in the dark, with special lighting effects, or with visual displays to immerse listeners in a multisensory experience of sound. Musicians will be on the move, making music in all parts of the space. Video art, a live cymatics display, fixed media and other innnovative multimedia collaborative elements enhance the program. Several of the performances will be world premieres. Works will include voice, percussion, strings, synthesizer, winds, amplified harpsichord and incidental music by special guest John Beredzen with his one-of-a-kind instrument the “Robohorn”. The program will showcase the Delgani String Quartet, pianist Alexander Schwarzkopf, soprano Nancy Wood and percussionist Todd Bills among many professional musicians from Eugene and Portland.
The ten contributing composers are comprised of Eugene’s Paul Safar and Alexander Schwarzkopf along with Portlanders Daniel Brugh, Jennifer Wright, Jeff Winslow, Nicholas Yandell, Susan Alexjander, Ted Clifford, Lisa Ann Marsh, and Vancouver WA’s Brandon Stewart.
CASCADIA COMPOSERS is a non-profit membership chapter of NACUSA (National Association of Composers USA) based in Portland, Oregon and dedicated to the promotion and support of regional composers. Cascadia has produced concerts, workshops, and presentations promoting new classical music by Northwest composers for eight years.
Opening music courtesy of John Berendzen and his “Robohorn”
Eikos, for violin and synthesizer
by Susan Alexjander
The highly unusual microtonal tunings used in Eikos are derived from vibrations of the infrared world of
the DNA molecule. These original light frequencies, when translated into pitches, create a sonic ‘map’
of this molecular world for the human ear…what one author called “the invisible whispers within.” It is
a watery and intimate piece which flows in flexible time between the two performers. The violinist must
match the synthesizer’s tunings as best he or she can, but often the rub, or clash, results in interesting
vibratory events which take on a life of their own.
Counting Again, Beginning at One, for soprano, piano and percussion (vibraphone, orchestral bells, cymbal, wind chimes)
by Lisa Ann Marsh
This song was inspired by a poem by Deborah Buchanan that serves as the lyrics. The words speak
to the sorrow of missing a loved one as paths in life diverge. For the “Perceptions of Sound” concert,
lighting effects and spatial arrangement and movement of the performers will be used to augment the
mystery and poignance of the piece.
White Canvas for piano, bass clarinet and alto flute
Video by Daniel Helia
by Paul Safar
This tranquil, relaxing score curiously relies on the tritone – perhaps the most dissonant musical interval – as its primary musical element. Even more surprising, however, is that fact that in this “project of chance”, the music and its accompanying video purposely were composed in isolation of each other. The filmmaker was provided only with the abstract title “White Canvas” and the length of the finished musical piece; without having heard the music, he was free to compose what imagery inspired him (with fortuitous results).
Soon it will be, for soprano and piano
by Jeff Winslow
This piece combines heartache and the influence of the earlier works of Igor Stravinsky in equal measure. Somehow these disparate influences joined and percolated to create this song, with lyrics by the composer.
You Cannot Liberate Me: Only I Can Do That For Myself, for solo amplified harpsichord
by Jennifer Wright
This intense, rhythmically-fueled work was inspired by the innocent comment made by the 14th Dalai Lama (then only 15 years old) in 1950 when China announced its intention to invade Tibet and require the Dalai Lama to sign the “17 Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet”. In this special premiere performance, the music, which incorporates elements of mantra-like chant rhythms and traditional Tibetan music into a thoroughly modern texture, will manifest itself in the visual realm through a live cymatics display.
Spectra, for piano, violin and percussion
by Brandon Stewart
This piece explores the combination of sustained percussive and pianistc sounds that join, develop, enter and recede from an enveloping cloud of tone and timbre. Different “spectra” are used to then manipulate that cloud: the spectrum of pitch, of timbre, of density, etc. The violin, with its more limited capacity for sustaining sounds, behaves as a sculptor for the cloud and changes how we might perceive it throughout the piece.
Whispers, for piano, synthesizer and fixed media
by Daniel Brugh
This piece explores intimate sound using whispers and “Shepard tones”, synthesized sounds that create the auditory illusion of a tone that continually ascends or descends in pitch, yet which ultimately seem to get no higher or lower. The piano brings these sounds together into a melodic tapestry in space and time.
The Bewitching Hour, for string quartet
by Nicholas Yandell (with Alex Fulton)
This work began as a experimental, post-rock composition written, performed, and recorded within a four day span in a Sacramento, CA studio by Yandell and Fulton, originally arranged for Fender Rhodes, electric guitars, electric bass, Hammond organ, horn, trumpet, and two wordless voices. In 2014, with Alex’s blessing, Yandell expanded and reworked the music into a string quartet. The title refers to an fictional time of night when anomalous events begin. Consider this piece a narrative web of sound revealing the astounding happenings of an unseen magical world that always disappears at daybreak.
Introspection, for solo flute
by Ted Clifford
Improvising in space and sound simultaneously, the flutist will move through fluid textures as well as in the physical realm through the course of this multi-movement solo piece.
Recycled Wheels, for solo piano
by Alexander Schwarzkopf
This piece explores cyclic elements of “sound wheels” composed of tri-chords, varied clusters of tones and tightly-woven melodic lines that are “recycled” throughout the piece, undergoing continuous variation à la Brahms-meets-avant-garde jazz improvisation. These different threads weave the opposing contours and rhythms into a dense, complex fabric.