Illinois Wesleyan University Symposium of Contemporary Music

IWU-ChorusIllinois Wesleyan University has had an annual Symposium of Contemporary Music since 1952, and I am delighted to be the featured composer this year, with great thanks to composer David Vayo for his tremendous organizational efforts. It will be a packed couple of days, 11/16-17/17! I will be giving a talk on Thursday, 11/16 at 4:00 p.m. called ‘Music and the Surrounding World,’  with a focus on the expansion of sonic sources that digital media offer , and demonstrate with pieces that draw on the natural world (Singing the Blue Ridge, For the Birds) and the built world (For the Fallen, Penelope’s Song and Tape Music).

There will be a concert of my music that evening in Westbrook Auditorium. The Collegiate Choir, led by J. Scott Ferguson, will perform Hark My Love, a setting of verses from the Song of Songs in Martin Pope’s beautiful translation. It also includes several chamber vocal pieces. The first is A Line-Storm Song a setting of an early Frost poem for soprano and piano. The second is one of my Akhmatova Songs (Everything is Plundered) in the original Russian, with poetry by the masterful Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. The last is Vayter un Vayter (baritone, clarinet, cello, piano), a setting of three poems by Abraham Sutzkeve in the original Yiddish. A survivor of the Vilna Ghetto and a partisan fighter against the Nazis, his poetry is intense and moving. I chose three contrasting poems and set them in the original to honor my paternal grandparents and father, whose first language was Yiddish. The program will be rounded out with a brass quintet, Fantasia sobre el Flamenco, inspired by my travel to Granada, as well as two electronic pieces: Hosech Al P’ney HaTehom (Darkness Upon the Face of the Earth), A Little Water Music and Rotunda, my video collaboration with Robert Arnold. Then, on Friday, 11/17 at 7:30 p.m. the Illinois Wesleyan Symphony Orchestra will perform Black Moon (orchestra and electronics), originally commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the American Composers Orchestra. During my residency, I will meet with student composers, and look forward to this adventure!