• New Music Connoisseur Vo. 12 #1&2, Piping the Earth

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  • Judith Shatin & Michael Kubovy: The Mind of An Artist at LOC

    Acclaimed cognitive psychologist Michael Kubovy  and I were invited to give a joint presentation on The Mind of An Artist as part of the Music and the Brain Series at the Library of Congress on 3/27/2009. The video is available below  and has already been watched close to 40K times. I have been fascinated by the role of perception in musical experience, performance and creation for decades, and it is always a factor in my compositional process.

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  • Zipper Music Digital Performance for NIME 2020

    Zipper Music, performed on  a UVA New Music Concert, included in the Covid-online version of  NIME 2020.   The conference was scheduled for the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, but circumstances led to its on-line migration.

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  • The Best Angel in Heaven, in memory of Sandra Santos-Vizcaino

    I composed The Best Angel in Heaven in the cruel month of April, 2020, in memory of Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, the wonderful third-grade teacher at PS 9 in Brooklyn, NY who passed away from Covid-19. You can hear the beautiful performance by soprano Victoria Erickson and pianist Arlene Shrut here. 

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  • Hehuanshan for Bass Drum & Optional Interactive Electronics

    One of my current projects is the creation of Hehuanshan (Mountain of Joy), scored for solo bass drum and optional interactive electronics. It is inspired by, and a tribute to, I-Jen Fang, with whom I have studied percussion for the last two years. The title I have chosen reflects the ongoing delight of this experience.

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  • Drive-By

    Instrumentation: Digital Music
    Duration: 2:00
    Date of Composition: 2006

    Program Note:

    I composed Drive-by while I was working on music for Cinnamon, Kevin J. Emerson’s movie about African American drag car racing. I created the music by processing the sounds of a race car and then building a pulsing,  polyrhythmic digital track.

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  • The Best Angel in Heaven

    Instrumentation: Unison Chorus or soloist & piano
    Duration: 3:00
    Date of Composition: 2020

    Program Note:

    I composed The Best Angel in Heaven in the cruel month of April, 2020, in memory of Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, the wonderful third-grade teacher at PS 9 in Brooklyn, NY who passed away from Covid-19.  I did so because I was so touched by the memory page devoted to her, marked by the love and sadness of so many whose lives she touched. She was clearly not only a great teacher, but a woman of extraordinary character, kindness and compassion. I wish I could have known her. I have based the lyrics on phrases drawn from these memories of love for her and of distress at losing so dear a person. The song can be performed either by unison chorus or soloist and piano.  Any profit from this piece will be donated to PS9 in the memory of Ms. Santos-Vizcaino. -JS

    Lyrics: The Best Angel in Heaven

    You are my fav’rite  teacher.
    You will stay with me forever.
    I will always love and miss you.
    I will love you no matter what, no matter what.

    You are the kindest, smartest, funniest,
    You are the best teacher ever.
    You are the best angel in Heaven,
    Angel in Heaven.

    You loved us all equally,
    We were part of your family.
    We miss your warm hugs,
    We miss your sweet treats.

    You will always be in my heart.
    It is the hardest loss,
    The hardest loss.

    You were always a hugger,
    You were like our owl.
    Always a leader,
    Always smiling,
    You were like our own Athena,
    Athena.

    You are safe in star clan now.
    You are safe in star clan.
    You are the best angel in Heaven,
    in Heaven,
    in Heaven.

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  • For the Fallen

    The marvelous Italian trumpeter Ivano Ascari contacted me on the recommendation of composer Fabrizio Festa, a mutual acquaintance. Ivano was creating a program in honor of the centennial of World War I and asked if I would be willing to contribute to this effort, and I thought it was an important project. Whenever I create a piece for a soloist or ensemble, I am interested in finding connections that move me both in terms of conception the musical design during our discussion, Ivano told me about the Campana dei Cauditi (Bell for the Fallen) in his home town of Rovereto. It was originally cast from cannons melted down after World War I, with the project conceived by the Priest Don Antonio Rossaro. This amazing bell is rung 100 times at sunset every day in memory of the fallen in all wars, and there is now a useum and many ancillary projects. After further discussion, I asked whether high quality recordings could be made of the bell that I would then use a source material for the electronics, and the answer was yes! I fashioned the electronics from those recordins, shared by sound engineer Marco Olivotto. Ivano premiered the piece at the Mondi Sonori, XV Edizione Festival at the Trento Conservatory in Trento, IT on 10/5/12, and subsequently recorded it on his CD A Hundred Years, to commemorate  the Centennary of WWI. All of the pieces for this project were written for and dedicated to Ivano.

    I subsequently did a brief residency at the Conservatory in 2015, delivering my first lecture in Italian, and attending a concert that included a spectacular performance of For the Fallen by Ivano, whom I had the pleasure of finally meeting. The next day, my husband and I visited Rovereto, and Ivano took us to see the impressive bell and the museum on the same grounds where there is a great deal of information both about the bell and the ongoing work to foster peace.

    While I rarely envision multiple versions of my compositions, this one is one of the few for which I have done so. In addition to the original version for trumpet, I’ve also created versions for flute, soprano sax and cello. The marvelous flutist Lindsey Goodman premiered and recorded it on her CD Returning to Heights Unseen, while the outstanding sax player Drew Whiting released it in the version for soprano sax and electronics on his CD In Lights Starkly Different. And still another version exists for cello, and was premiered by Madeleine Shapiro, who also premiere and recorded For the Birds, for amplified cello and electronics fashioned from birdsong.  It has been a fascinating process to reimagine the timbral world of the bell for several different instruments, finding a way to interweave each with the compelling sound world of the electronics that I fashioned from the recordings of this amazing instrument.

    Composition Page

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  • The Passion of St. Cecilia

    …Based on the legend of St. Cecilia, the piece uses the piano and orchestra against each other to depict the conflict between Cecilia and the society that condemned her, as well as together to express her calmer, meditative side. The coloristic effects, language and ideas are fresh and bold. [Shatin] has full grasp of her orchestral flavorings, and her sense of direction is always crystal clear. The work has beautiful sonorities yet an almost primitive character in its dramatic representation of conflict. [Shatin] uses a wall of orchestral sound in the first movement to portray society, from which the piano (as Cecilia) seems to rise. The second movement is mainly calm and lyrical; some of its harmonies are almost impressionist. The third builds to a striking finish as Henry pounds the piano with her forearms, perhaps depicting Cecilia’s behading. The ending is almost too abrupt, but the device is tremendously effective, almost making the listeners jump to their feet. ” –The Denver Post

    “Featured was Judith Shatin’s new piano concerto, ‘The Passion of St. Cecilia.’ Soloist was Gayle Martin Henry, the impressive pianist for whom the work was written and to whom it is dedicated…At the outset, ‘Passion’ portrays the persecution of the Christian saint in an all-out chaotic conflict between solo instrument and orchestra. An uneasy truce gives way to magnificent meditation in the second movement. This is followed by a vigorous and affirmative finale, brilliantly dissonant with tone clusters played by the soloist with both forearms.

    The work confirmed the excitement about current events in American music that I expressed here last month. Great and original things are happening in new music. The concerto also made a triumphant statement about women in music…”
    –The Sunday Camera (Denver, CO)

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  • I Love

    I Love was the direct result of a wonderful residency at Illinois Wesleyan University in March 2017, when I was invited as Featured Guest Composer for their annual Symposium of Contemporary Music. I was delighted to learn that this program had been ongoing since 1952! My host, David Vayo, himself a terrific composer, worked tirelessly on many details. These included a concert of my music, a performance of Black Moon (orchestra + electronics) by their excellent student orchestra led by their outstanding conductor Lev Ivanov, meetings with classes and individual students, and a colloquium. You can find program details here. The concert included a beautifully prepared performance of Hark My Love, an SATB setting I had made of verses from the Song of Songs. Conductor J. Scott Ferguson led the Collegiate Chorale in the performance, and immediately following the concert he asked if I would consider a commission for a new piece. I responded enthusiastically, and the process was set in motion. Again, I was amazed to know that this commissioning project also happens annually as it has since 1952. It was made possible by the Sylvia Monty Anderson commissioned coral work fund honoring Delta Omicron at Illinois Weslyan University.

    As always, my first step was to find a text – no easy task! I spent months on this process, and finally/suddenly came upon Gertrude Stein’s poem Before the Flowers of Friendship Faded, Friendship Faded. There is quite a story behind this poem. Apparently, Stein had planned to translate a poem by her friend Georges Hugnet. Evidently her plan did not go as anticipated, and she wrote a new poem based on his. He was of course not happy about this and indeed their friendship faded. The poem consists of 30 stanzas of which I chose to set #XXIX. I chose the title I love as these are the first words of the poem and it is indeed about love, though of course in Stein’s inimitable way. I was especially drawn to this verse due to its charming whimsy, it’s sudden twists and it’s linguistic and syntactic play.

    The next step was to obtain permission to use the text of this one verse. That took quite some doing but eventually I worked it out with the kind assistance of Mr. Stanford Gann, Jr. of Levin & Gann, P.A., representative of the Stein Estate in the US.  I actually started composing in the summer of 2017 while I was driving to the CubeFest festival at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg VA. The words were forming rhythms in my mind’s ear, and since I was alone in my car, I started singing them- loud! I was also experimenting with individual sounds as you can hear in the opening and elsewhere, with the repeated L sounds. When I sent the finished score to Scott, he told me that he laughed aloud as he read through it. He and the Collegiate Chorale worked hard on the piece and toured it before the final performance at Illinois Weslyan university, where I returned for a brief residency and attended the premiere.  They gave a wonderful performance!. Since then, after my experience of the live performance, working through the score again, and with some very helpful feedback from choral conductor Judith Clurman, I have revised the score and refined some of the text setting. For me, there is a wonderful feedback loop that happens only through interaction with live performance and reflection in addition, of course, to the original conceptual musical design. I love working with text, and composing this piece was in itself a love story.

    Composition Page

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