2015 Program Notes & Bios – Concert #2: Eastman Broadband Ensemble



Nomos Group+Alxarq Percussio:
Javier Berbis, flute
Madison Greenstone, clarinet
Jenny Guerra, violin
Mayte García, violoncello
Carlos Amat, piano
Carles Salvador, percussion
Miquel Mateu, percussion
Jorge V. Grossmann, conductor

Broadband Ensemble:
Deidre Huckabay, flute
Sammy Lesnick, clarinet
Hanna Hurwitz, violin
Mariel Roberts, violoncello
Daniel Pesca, piano
Dieter Hennings, guitar
Brant Blackard, percussion
Connor Stevens, percussion

Guest artists:
Leah Brzyski, soprano
Tim Weiss, conductor

Acculturation (2014)* – Linda Dallimore (1981)
for flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello, two percussionists and piano

The composer’s intention with this work is to reflect upon her personal experience with the process of acculturating to a new country/city/culture. The first section of the piece is reminiscent of the build-up to leaving a place, with multiple ‘strands’ of emotions occurring simultaneously – excitement, apprehension, anticipation. The second section is reflective of the ‘newness’ of arriving in a new city, where many things are similar but subtly different. Slowly, one adjusts and finds their own groove.

lindaLinda Dallimore is an emerging composer and flutist hailing from New Zealand, currently studying at Berklee College of Music, (Boston, USA). Linda will complete her dual-majors in Composition and Flute Performance and graduate in May 2016. Her works have been performed in the USA, Australia, Italy and France.



The Distance of the Moon (2014) – Daniel Pesca (1985)
for flute, violin and piano

The Distance of the Moon is modeled on the first story in Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics. The charming story is cast in the mold of an old-timer spinning a tall tale. Qfwfq, the narrator, remembers a time when the moon used to arc close to the earth; you used to be able to take a boat out in the middle of the night, stand on a ladder, and touch the moon. You could even jump up, get drawn in by the moon’s gravity, and go exploring. From this story, I drew three particular notions. First, the arcing motion of the moon’s descent led me to explore curving musical lines that descend obliquely, all at different rates. Second, I worked with the idea of opposed gravities, and the implied split-second of suspended ambiguity between competing pulls. The piece begins in a state of suspension, and then resistance to the earthly mounts as the music aspires towards the lunar. Third, I was captivated by the story’s particular tone, which, despite its whimsey, is suffused with a certain nostalgic yearning.

dp-home-image-427x510The composer and pianist Daniel Pesca, currently pursuing his DMA in composition at the Eastman School of Music, seeks in each of his careers a synthesis between the past and the present. His works—mostly chamber music, often featuring voices or piano—aim for clarity, cohesion of expression, and patient artistic engagement with the inner relationships of simple materials. Works in 2014 have been contributions to collective efforts: the Benson Forum for Creativity (Rochester and New York City; The Distance of the Moon) and the first Ritsos Project (Athens and Samos, Greece; Absence, Nocturne). Both projects engaged with literary works—those of Italo Calvino and Yiannis Ritsos. As a pianist, he is an advocate of new music in ensemble contexts, while his recital programs tend to mingle contemporary music with earlier repertoire. Recent solo recitals have featured Schumann, Berg, Fauré, Janáček, and Mozart alongside his own music, while orchestral performances in 2013–14 have included music by Béla Bartók, Elliott Carter, and Stephen Hartke. He has recorded for Block M Records and Urtext Classics (music by Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, including the piano concerto,Diaries, written for Daniel), and a recording for Centaur Records with flutist Sarah Frisof is due in 2015. He holds double degrees from Eastman and the University of Michigan in piano performance and composition. He is a student of Nelita True, Logan Skelton, Rita Sloan, and Yakov Kasman (piano), and Robert Morris, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, David Liptak, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, and Betsy Jolas (composition). At Eastman, his varied catalogue of duties has included teaching a course on twentieth century piano music, teaching composition to non-majors, and accompanying for the opera department. He is currently vice-president of Ossia, Eastman’s student-run new music organization. He is a native of Huntsville, Alabama.

Sonata for Violin and Cello (II) Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
for marimba and vibraphone

A High-wire Act (2014) * – Nirmalli Fenn (1979)
for violin, violoncello and piano

A feature common to the piano, violin and cello is that their sound is generated by vibrating strings or, to draw from the title of this piece, vibrating wires. As if stealthily climbing over each other, the instruments in A High wire Act run the gauntlet of crossing and exploring the extreme regions of their strings. Some of the musical lines in A High wire Act effectively create ‘wires’, accompanying an instrument as it does its high wire act, while other lines pull and tug at the ‘wire’ in a hope to destabilize the balancing act. At one point, the violin bends its string to its extreme, requiring it to detune and is simultaneously accompanied by a heavy cello bass adding further weight. Metaphors such weights and ‘tugging and pulling’ capture the essence of much of the musical motion operating in this piece. However, a high wire act generates its most tension by magnifying the relationship between the wire and the vertical distance. A sense of verticality is created in this piece through very slow violin glissandi that incrementally descend and ascend. With the soaring of these fragile solo violin transitions, A High wire Act reminds us of the beauty of being on the edge.

Nirmali FENNNirmali Fenn is a Sri Lankan-born Australian composer. She received her initial music education in Australia from the universities of New South Wales and Melbourne, graduating with high distinction. With the support of a prestigious Clarendon Fund Scholarship, she read music at Oxford University, U.K. She has worked on the faculties of the University of Hong Kong, New York University, University of New South Wales and will soon be joining Yale-NUS College, Singapore. Nirmali’s music often involves a lot of theatre and she has collaborated with some of Asia’s most respected choreographers, such as Pun Siu Fai and Daniel Leung. Her collaboration with the Guangdong Modern Dance Company opened the 9th Guangdong Dance Festival in Guangzhou, China. Nirmali has served as composer-in-residence at a number of major European festivals, most notably the Lakes District Summer Music Festival in the U.K. and the Saxophone Habanera Festival in Poitiers, France. Of the first performance of her song cycle Over Exposed at Abbaye Royaumont in Paris, Le Monde praised it as “standing out in the genre of ‘songs’ of today” and La Croix described it as “deeply moving”. Her compositions have been performed by the Arditti String Quartet (U.K.), Ensemble Cairn (France), Ensemble Linea (France), the Kuss Quartet (Germany), Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (Australia), Tin Alley String Quartet (Australia), Sounds Underground (U.K.), the Endymion Ensemble (U.K.), the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble (China), Ensemble Concorde (Ireland) and the S.E.M Ensemble (U.S.A).

Sones de tierra fría (2012/2015) – Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon (1962)
for soprano, flute, violin, violoncello, percussion and guitar

  1. Night
  2. Puente
  3. Lejos
  4. Day
  5. Nada

Sones de tierra fría is an extended “cancionero” (a songbook), currently “under construction.” The title of the work refers to my having composed all these songs -my tribute to the “sones” of México- in Rochester, New York, the cold northern region where I have made my home for the past 13 years. When completed, Sones de Tierra fría will include settings of poems in several languages, penned by a number authors from different eras, but woven together by a common thematic thread (love and absence). The cycle is also unified by its musical content: each song develops and recasts a small collection of harmonic and melodic archetypes, resulting in an overall formal design that is akin to a set of variations. Some of the songs within the cycle can also be performed as independent subsets. In this evening’s concert we will hear a pairing of two such subsets: old words new (a settings of Shakespeare sonnets No. 18 and No. 27), and yo no / tú sí / yo tú / sí no (4 songs on texts by Raúl Aceves).

Sones de tierra fría

1. Night
Sonnet XXVII, William Shakespeare
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expired:
For then my thoughts (from far where I abide)
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
Lo, thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.

2. Puente
from El Puente de tus ojos, by Raúl Aceves
Entro a la casa de tus ojos negros cruzando el puente de tu cuerpo,
el puente que cuelga del cuerpo del aire sostenido por tus cabellos negros.
Y tú sostienes mi cuerpo colgante de tus ojos con los hilos de tu mirada sólida, que no me deja caer al vacío de tus ojos negros.

I enter the house of your dark eyes crossing the bridge of your body, the bridge that hangs from the body of the air, suspended from your black hair. And you hold my body, which hangs from your eyes by the threads of your solid gaze, which does not let me fall into the vacuum of your dark eyes.

III. Lejos
Lejos y hondo, by Raúl Aceves
Antes para verte
te dejaba entrar por mis ojos
ahora que ya te fuiste
cierro mis ojos para verte
y los abro para olvidarte
porque te fuíste hacia dentro de mí
lejo y hondo
donde ni siquiera yo
puedo seguirte

Before, to see you
I would simply let you enter
through my eyes.
Now, that you have left,
I close my eyes to see you,
and I open them to forget you.
Because you went inside me,
far and deep,
where not even I
can follow you

4. Day
Sonnet XVIII, William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

From Cisne, by Raúl Aceves
No te deseo nada
ni calor ni frío
ni laguna ni río
Tan solo en esta nada
sólo te pido que nades
desnuda en mi nada
Y que dejes en el agua
la temperatura de tu piel
ni caliente ni fría
Tan sola nada
tan cisne, tan húmeda
en mi deseo de nada

I do not wish you anything
neither heat nor cold
neither lake nor river
All alone in this nothingness
I only ask you to swim
naked in my nothingness
And that you leave in the water
the temperature of your skin
neither hot nor cold
So lonely swim
so swan, so humid
in my desire for nothing

6. Tú

From Tú, by Raúl Aceves
Tú eres todo el sabor
que me dio la vida
como tomar el té
en una casa de cristal.

La frontera de tu cuerpo es el mar,
no hay ave que conozca todas tus paredes,
el azul te invadió como llama a lo seco.

En las piedras donde te sientas
se empollan y saltan a la luz
las canciones.

Si te cansaras al mediodía
y los ojos se te cerraran
hasta el día se detendría.


You are all the flavor
that life gave me
like drinking tea
in a crystal house

The frontier of your body is the sea,
there is no bird that can know all your walls
the blue invaded you as flame to what is dry

In the stones where you sit
the songs incubate
and hatch into the light.

If you became tired at midday
and your eyes were to close
even the day would stop.

Zohn-MuldoonMexican-born composer Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon joined the Eastman faculty in 2002. He received his undergraduate degree in guitar and composition from the University of California at San Diego, and both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in composition from the University of Pennsylvania. He studied with George Crumb, Jay Reise, Franco Donatoni, Keith Humble, and Jean Charles François. Prior to joining Eastman, Zohn-Muldoon held positions at the School of Music, University of Guanajuato, Mexico (1993-95), and the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati (1997-2002). Zohn-Muldoon’s honors include being named 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work Comala, the 2011 Lillian Fairchild Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Tanglewood Music Center (Omar del Carlo Foundation), Camargo Foundation, Fondazione William Walton, Endowment for Culture and the Arts of Mexico, and the Embassy of Austria in México (Mozart Medal). He has been invited as guest composer, lecturer, and adjudicator by prominent cultural institutions in the U.S. and Latin America, including the University of Chicago, Cornell University, the Ministry of Culture of Colombia, and the Composers Conference, among others. In 2012 he was a Trotter Visiting Professor at the University of Oregon, in Eugene. His works have been performed by groups such as as eighth blackbird, Riverside Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Neue Ensemble Hannover, and San Francisco Contemporary Players. Performances have taken place at ISCM World Music Days, National Public Radio’s “St. Paul Sunday,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gaudeamus International Music Week, Academy of Arts in Munich, Festival Internacional Cervantino, and Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva, among others. His recent work has included collaborations with artists from other disciplines. Encounters, with illustrations by celebrated Mexican cartoonist José Ignacio Solórzano (Jis), was composed for a concert series leading to the FIFA World Cup of 2006, thanks to a commission from Globusklänge and Initiative Neue Musik Berlin. Silueta como Sirena, written thanks to a commission from the Fromm Foundation, is based on songs by distinguished songwriter Alfredo Sánchez. It was premiered by the Riverside Symphony, the Tarab Cello Ensemble, and Alfredo Sánchez in 2007. Pluck. Pound. Peel., for soprano and an unusual ensemble of plucked instruments, strings, and percussion, was written on texts by poet Raúl Aceves, for the Syracuse Society for New Music, in 2010.

Difrasismos (2015)* – Miggy Torres (1992)
for flute, clarinet, two percussionists, piano, violin, violoncello and guitar
I & II

The chamber work Difrasismos is based upon the Nahuatl linguistic structure of the same name. In Nahuatl—the language of the Aztecs, one that is still spoken today—parallel linguistic structures abound. In many Nahuatl texts one finds examples of a single concept expressed in two ways though the use of paired synonymic or paraphrased lines. These parallelisms are used for emphasis according to Fr. Ángel María Garibay, who says “the same thought expressed twice, clothed in two different images, is like a double stroke of the hammer which drives in the nail.” An example of such a couplet might be something like, “may be not die; may we not perish.” These couplets illustrate the Aztecs’ obsession with duality, and oftentimes one finds nested dualities within Nahuatl speech, forming large binary hierarchies—sometimes reaching as many as five nested tiers. A subcategory of the couplet described above is a linguistic structure called the difrasismo. According to Nahuatl scholar Miguel León Portilla, when the Aztecs “wanted to endow an idea with maximum clarity and precision, they always isolated two of its qualities,” and used those qualities to describe the idea through eloquent and succinct metaphor. It is the metaphorical aspect of the difrasismo that qualifies it as such. These “couplet kennings” could also be part of nested hierarchies, creating even richer metaphors. The difrasismo upon which this piece is based is in chalchíhuitl, in quetzalli, which translates literally as “the jade, the quetzal feather,” but when said together conveys the idea of beauty and preciousness. In the piece, these meanings—both literal and metaphorical—as well as the Aztec obsession with dual structures, couplets, and nested hierarchies are explored through musical metaphor that attempts to be as eloquent and succinct as its linguistic counterpart.

MiggyGood_003_mediumOriginally from South Windsor, Connecticut, composer Miggy Torres (1992) regularly enjoys composing for as many media as possible, and constantly seeks to express himself in new and challenging ways. The result has been a compositional style rooted deeply in experimentation that calls upon a variety of musical styles and uses a smörgåsbord of compositional techniques; he feels equally at home writing for a string quartet or a jazz quartet. Miggy also enjoys incorporating extramusical devices into his works such as projections of visual art, narration, lighting designs, and choreography. His works have received various awards and honors such as the Louis Smadbeck Composition Award for best composition by an Ithaca College student for his piece Colorwalk. Miggy holds a B.M. in Music Composition from the Ithaca College School of Music, in Ithaca, NY, where his principal instructors were Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann and Dana Wilson. Miggy has also participated in various masterclasses and private lessons with composers such as Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, David Rakowski, and Michael Gandolfi. During his tenure at Ithaca College, Miggy also studied voice with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Ivy Walz, conducting with Dr. Janet Galván, and music theory pedagogy with Dr. Craig Cummings. When not composing, Miggy is also an avid vocalist and has performed in ensembles such as the Ithaca College Improvisation Ensemble and Ithaca College Choir, with whom he’s performed at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. Miggy’s hobbies include cooking; hiking; and studying wine, Italian, linguistics, or anything else that’s cool.

Luciérnagas (1992) – Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez (1964)
for clarinet, violin, violoncello, percussion and piano

Written for Eighth Blackbird, and commissioned by the Carnegie Hall Co.

Luciérnagas is an example of a rather abstract composition that is otherwise based on a very concrete experience. A few months ago, I was working on the music for Pascal Rioult’s choreography “El Mozote”–a story about the killing of hundreds of innocent Salvadorians at the hands of militiamen, when I came across a text by Carlos Henríquez, titled Luciérnagas en El Mozote (“Fireflies at El Mozote”). The text described the arrival of Henríquez and other workers of “Radio Venceremos” to the site where the massacre had taken place three years earlier. As the men reached the outskirts of the desolate village, Henriquez writes that “…a dazzling spectacle made it clear to us that we had arrived at El Mozote: thousands of little lights began to twinkle. The intermittent dance of the fireflies illuminated the night, showing us the way to the town’s ruined church. ‘They are the souls of El Mozote!’, said Padre Rogelio Poncel.” I was fascinated by the fact that the “dance of the fireflies” described above stayed on my mind not as a visual or narrative representation of a brutal–albeit strangely poetic–event, but as a powerful–and strictly musical–“picture”: The sound of brief rhythmic punctuations that weave a sparkling, constant, yet unpredictable flicker. Like the trompel’oeils found in the visual arts, the outcome is a shared expression of that which is regular (or “predictable”) and of the ultimately chaotic. My “luciérnagas” are represented by tangible musical materials: ascending and descending scale-like gestures that only seem regular, but that are actually under constant transformation. Similarly, the general rhythmicity of the piece is marked by the use of ostinati, whose regularity is perpetually disturbed by the incisive action of various surface elements, such as displaced accents, dynamic interjections, and the juxtaposition of extreme registers: The highly organized but endlessly puzzling world of insect life. ©2000, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez

Luciérnagas (1999) fue escrita por encargo de la Carnegie Hall Co. y estrenada en el Carnegie Hall de Nueva York el 12 de abril de 1999 por el ensamble de música contemporánea Eighth Blackbird. El compositor escribe lo siguiente respecto a la obra: “Luciérnagas  es una obra relativamente abstracta que, sin embargo, surgió a partir de una experiencia concreta. Hace algunos meses, mientras trabajaba en la música para la coreografía ‘El Mozote’ del bailarín francés Pascal Rioult basada en la masacre de cientos de Salvadoreños a manos de fuerzas paramilitares, me encontré con un texto de Carlos Henríquez, titulado Luciérnagas en El Mozote , el cual describe la llegada del autor junto con otros trabajadores de Radio Venceremos al sitio donde había tenido lugar la masacre algunos años atrás. Al acercarse a las orillas del poblado en ruinas, Henríquez escribe que ‘…un espectáculo sorprendente nos hizo ver que habíamos llegado a El Mozote: miles de lucecitas comenzaron a centellear. La danza intermitente de las luciérnagas iluminaba la noche, mostrándonos el camino hacia la iglesia en ruinas. “¡Son las almas de El Mozote!”, dijo el Padre Rogelio Poncel.’ El hecho de que esta ‘danza de las luciérnagas’ se mantuviera en mi memoria como una imagen no narrativa o pictórica del brutal—si bien extrañamente poético—incidente, sino curiosamente musical me ha intrigado desde entonces: el  sonido de una serie de breves puntuaciones que juntas tejen un centelleo tan constante como impredecible. Como los trompe-l’oeil  que encontramos en las artes visuales, el resultado total de esta experiencia es una expresión conjunta y compartida de lo regular, o predecible con aquello cuya naturaleza es esencialmente caótica. A fin de cuentas: el siempre fascinante mundo de los insectos.” Respecto a la abstracción que el compositor menciona al principio del texto citado: quien crea que va a encontrar en esta obra el “efecto insecto” como anécdota sonora, quedará defraudado. Lo que hay, en cambio, es una música luminosa, de variado color, señalada en general por una actividad ágil, nerviosa y llena de contrastes dinámicos. En ciertas partes, sobre todo al inicio de la pieza, el piano cumple una doble función, la de vehículo melódico y la de acento percusivo, un tanto a la manera de Bartók o Prokofiev. Al centro deLuciérnagas, Sánchez Gutiérrez propone un episodio para la marimba sola que es, quizá, una referencia mesoamericana objetiva. Esta obra, de desarrollo fragmentado y episódico, llega a su conclusión a través de una sección protagonizada por el piano.   Juan Arturo Brennan.

carlos-colorComposer Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez was born in 1964, grew up in Mexico, and now lives in the New York Tundra, where he is Professor and Chair of Composition at the Eastman School of Music. He studied with Jacob Druckman and Martin Bresnick at Yale, Steven Mackey at Princeton, and with Henri Dutilleux at Tanglewood. He has received many of the standard awards in the field (e.g. Barlow, Guggenheim, Fulbright, Koussevitzky,Fromm, American Academy of Arts and Letters). Carlos co-directs theEastman BroadBand Ensemble. He likes machines with hiccups and spiders with missing legs, looks at Paul Klee’s Notebooks everyday, hasn’t grown much since he reached adulthood at age 14, and tries to use the same set of ears to listen to Bach, Radiohead, or Ligeti.