2015 Program Notes & Composer Bios – Concert #5: Mivos Quartet & Greenstone

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MIVOS Quartet:

Olivia De Prato, violin
Joshua Modney, violin
Victor Lowrie, viola
Mariel Roberts, violoncello

Madison Greenstone, clarinet


Latitudes (2014) – Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann (1973)
for clarinet, violin, viola, and cello

Latitudes explora el concepto de expansión y de compresión en relación a la longitud de los elementos gestuales y frases y cómo se ellos propagan a lo largo de tiempo. Considerado un alejamiento de los diseños estructurales que he utilizado en el pasado, Latitudes presenta lo que considero una narrativa musical sin resolver. Su “resolución” yace (eso espero) en la imaginación del oyente. Esta pieza fue escrita para y estrenada por el Distractfold Ensemble.

jvgrossmannJorge Villavicencio Grossmann‘s music has been performed throughout the United States, Latin America and Europe by ensembles such as the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, National Symphony Orchestra of Argentina, Peruvian National Symphony, Orquesta Filamónica de Bogotá, Orquesta Juvenil Teresa Carreño of Venezuela, New England Philharmonic, Aspen Sinfonia, Kiev Camerata, Orquesta de la Universidad del Norte (Paraguay), Boston Musica Viva, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Pierrot Lunaire Ensemble Wien, Da Capo Chamber Players, Seattle Chamber Players, Jack Quartet and Amernet Quartet. His works find inspiration in a wide range of subjects, from medieval music to Latin American modern art. His awards include a Fromm Music Foundation Commission, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, the Aaron Copland Award, Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, fellowships from the Bogliasco Foundation, Vitae-Associação de Apoio à Cultura (Brazil) and the Nevada Arts Council; the Jacob Druckman Award from the Aspen Music Festival, Copland House Borromeo String Quartet Award, first prize in the New England Philharmonic Call for Scores, and grants from the American Music Center, St. Botolph Club Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, and Meet the Composer. His residencies include the Bogliasco Study Center (Italy), Copland House, MacDowell Colony, and Atlantic Center for the Arts. He has been commissioned by organizations such as the Society for New Music, American Liszt Society, Nevada Music Teachers Association, ALEA III and the Henderson Symphony Orchestra. In 2008 he was featured as composer-in-residence at SLAM, Seattle Latin American Music Festival. He has appeared as guest composer in the Festival Latonoamericano de Musica (Caracas, Venezuela) Festival Internacional de Chihuahua (Mexico), Festival Internacional de Música Clásica Contemporánea (Lima, Peru), New Music Symposium at Colorado College and International Society of Contemporary Music festival, in Miami. In addition, his works have been performed at contemporary music festivals in Asunción (Paraguay), Monterrey (Mexico), Musical Premieres of the Season (Ukraine), Proyecto Puentes (Spain) and Archipel Music Festival (Switzerland), along with festivals and conferences in the U.S. He has participated as a fellow in the Composers Conference at Wellesley College, June in Buffalo, Aspen Music Festival and Domaine Forget. Having studied violin and composition in his native Lima and subsequently in São Paulo, Brazil, Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann moved to the U.S. in 1998. He holds a B.M. in violin performance from Faculdade Santa Marcelina (Brazil), a M.M. from Florida International University and a D.M.A. in composition from Boston University. He has studied composition with Paulo Maron, Orlando García, Fredrick Kaufman, John Harbison and Lukas Foss. Before his appointment at Ithaca College, he served on the faculty of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he was also director of NEXTET, UNLV’s new music ensemble, and founder and co-director of N.E.O.N., Nevada Encounters of New Music festival. He is currently director of áltaVoz, a Latin American composers collective. For further information, please visit his website: www.shadowofthevoices.com.


memory boxes (2015)* – Iddo Aharony (1978)
for string quartet

First came the title – memory boxes – inspired by visual artist Joseph Kornell’s life-long fascination with boxes, which he filled with, one might say, reflections, dreams and memories, using concrete items. What might be a musical equivalent to this, especially if it focuses on the realm of memory, embracing its slippery nature and the impossibility of capturing it? Then came the google search: apparently, such thing as “memory boxes” does actually exist; most often given as a gift for special occasions, these boxes are meant to store mementos and memorabilia items – anything that at a later time can send one down abstract memory lane, with the sheer power of, say, an old photo and a medal placed in a wooden container. One of the websites selling such memory boxes even goes as far as stating that its products “capture moments in time, and turn them into lifelong memories.” This composition has little to do specifically with these arguably over-kitschy (and possibly falsely-advertised) merchandise. But it did grow out of a desire to explore the paradox at the very heart of any attempt to “box” memories; to have a concrete representation of the abstract; to hold in our hands, if only for a brief moment, some of that wandering, flowing sand. So here is a tiny, modest personal tribute to that ever-inspiring longing, to capture the uncapturable: six miniatures in the shape of small musical “boxes.” Each box started off with an attempt to contain a memory in music, despite it being something with no present physicality, beginning or end. Inevitably, each box fails; hopefully, it does so in its own way.

Iddo Aharony - headshotIddo Aharony’s diverse body of work includes pieces for a variety of ensembles and solo instruments, along with compositions for contemporary dance, opera and various theater and multimedia projects. His stage work, Oedipus: Opera-Theatre, was premiered in summer 2011 at the Israel Festival of Culture in Jerusalem. Aharony’s acoustic and electronic music has been performed by ensembles and musicians in the United States, France, Italy, Britain, Spain and Israel, including ensemble dal niente, eighth blackbird, Pacifica Quartet and soprano Tony Arnold. It was presented at festivals such as SEAMUS, NYC Electronic Music Festival and June in Buffalo. Among his awards are the 2014 soundSCAPE festival composition prize and commission (Italy), and residencies at the MacDowell Colony, VCCA and Blue Mountain Center. He is currently Composer-in-Residence for Chicago-based Fused Muse Ensemble and co-director of Project Incubator. Primary composition teachers include Shulamit Ran, Augusta Read Thomas, Marta Ptaszyńska, Howard Sandroff, Sven-David Sandström, Jeffrey Hass, Don Freund and Joseph Dorfman. A native of Tel Aviv, Israel (1978), he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Music Composition at the University of Chicago.


5 Sounds for Noel Rosa (2014) – Luiz Castelões (1977)
for string quartet

“This work is a sort of transposition of the postmodern literary genre known as ‘historiographic metafiction’ (i.e. rewriting ‘history’ through ‘fiction’) to the realm of music. It is also my first attempt at an Arrangement/Commentary Form – that is, a multi-movement work in which original popular music arrangements alternate with ‘New Music’ commentaries derived thereof. Noel Rosa (1910-1937), one of the founding fathers of Brazilian modern popular song, is chosen as the musical protagonist for this particular work. The music then alternates among several fictitious Noel Rosas: a polyphonic dancer, a Portuguese fadista, a Funkeiro, etc.”

[NB.: there are two words that I left in Portuguese: 1) “fadista,” which means Fado musician/composer (Fado is a Portuguese genre); and 2) “Funkeiro,” which means “Funk maker”]

Luiz E. Castelões - 427k - cortadaLuiz Castelões (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Composer, Professor at Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora since September 2009. DMA (Boston University, 2009), MM and BM (UNIRIO, 2004, 2001). Prizes, residencies, internships, and grants from/at CMMAS – Centro Mexicano para la música y las artes sonoras, IRCAM, Boston University, CAPES/Fulbright, UFRJ School of Music (honorable mention at their 1st National Composition Contest, 2012), Festival Primeiro Plano (Prize for Best Sound Editing, 2003), and Funarte (1st prize in the XIV Brazilian Contemporary Music Biennial, 2001). Recent performances/recordings by Szlachta String Quintet (Boston, 2015), Duo Promenade Sauvage (Italy, 2015), Quartetto Maurice (Italy, 2014), Ensemble Arsenale (Italy, 2013), Orquestra da Unicamp (Brazil, 2013-12), UFPB String Quintet (Brazil, 2013), and Duo Amrein-Henneberger (Germany, 2012). Recent articles published in Sonic Ideas (Mexico, 2015), El oído pensante (Argentina, 2013), International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music (Croatia, 2009), and Music Scholarship – Russian Journal of Academic Studies (2009). Research interests: Musical Onomatopoeia, Algorithmic Composition, Image-to-Music Conversion, and Popular Music.


San : Si (2015)* – Wong Wai Sze Sophyia (1982)
for string quartet

San : Si are two words in Cantonese, mean the number ‘three’ and ‘four’. In both Cantonese and Chinese, the assonance of these two words ‘three’ and ‘four’ represent live and dead. Speaking of ‘death’ or it’s assonance ‘Si’ is one of the taboos obsessing people in Chinese culture. The dramatic changes among sections represent live is unexpected. No one can predict nor control. Life is always full of surprise. The humorous ending tells that shall we face deaths with no fear and have fun in our lives. Wish you all enjoy the music and have a fruitful life.

SophyiaWong 2Wong, Wai-Sze Sophyia was born in Hong Kong and graduated in Kingston University London. She interests in various types of art since her childhood. Started learning piano at the age of five and obtained the piano performance diplomas, DipABRSM and LTCL, from ABRSM and Trinity College. Sophyia starts developing her career as a piano teacher since 2004. After years of teaching, she sought for further study in music at Kingston University and obtained a degree (BMus Hons) in piano performing. During her study, professors spot her talent in music composition. The first composition was performed by the musicians from Hong Kong Sinfonietta. Recently, her pieces were premiered in HighScore Music Festival at Pavia, Italy and Yogyakarta Contemporary Music Festival in Indonesia.  Since 2012, she has actively involved in different contemporary-classic composition events and attended the master classes by Zhou Long, Chen Xiaoyong, Luca Francesconi, Dieter Mack, Dmitri Tymoczko, and Christopher Theofanidis. She is now supervised by Dr. Pui-Shan Cheung in Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Under Dr. Cheung’s edification, audiences easily realise her music is structured with unique style. Infusing with her enriching imagination and exquisite emotion; each piece of music is imbued with an unique soul from her.


Asymptotic Flux: First Study in Entropy (2012) – Jason Thorpe Buchanan (1986)
for bass clarinet, violin, viola, cello, and electronics

“Asymptotic Flux: First Study in Entropy” was written for clarinetist Madison Greenstone over a three month period while backpacking throughout Europe, surrounding time spent in Paris and Darmstadt. As one might imagine, composing with pencil and paper while constantly on the move is cumbersome, taking place in awkward and chaotic workspaces like cafes, restaurants, hostels, and the apartments of my various hosts. My intent was to explore the timbral possibilities of the bass clarinet, utilizing techniques to produce complex soundscapes and microtonal sonorities providing germinal material for the work while unifying the ensemble. Pitch content was generated through spectral analysis of multiphonics as well as an acoustic analogue to a process known as single-sideband modulation and scordatura tuning of the cello strings to the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 11th partials of a virtual low E-flat fundamental (19.6 Hz).

The title comes from an arguably conceptual device: the low E-flat that simultaneously pervades the work and is non-existent. I imagine that the ensemble is always reaching towards this E-flat as a point of centricity, but never quite arriving; analogous to an asymptote as it approaches infinity. Entropy can be described as the “measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system” or “loss of information in a transmitted message,” — taking liberties to reduce this to a unit of measurement for chaos, one might say this work conveys a state of high entropy in music, reflecting the compositional process, the result of demands on the performers, and my state of mind throughout the creation of this work.

JasonThorpeBuchanan_BenchJason Thorpe Buchanan’s works have been described as “an unearthly collage of sounds” and “sharply-edged”, performed internationally by ensembles such as Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Interface (Germany), Nikel (Israel), Linea (France), IKTUS Percussion, wild Up, the [Switch~ Ensemble], OSSIA, and the Eastman Musica Nova Ensemble, among others. Nominated for the 2015 Gaudeamus Prize, three works will be presented at Gaudeamus Muziekweek (September 2015). Scenes from his multimedia opera Hunger have received performances at the Darmstadt Contemporary Opera Workshop (2014), The Industry’s FIRST TAKE Opera Workshop in L.A. (2015), and the MATA Interval 8 Series in NYC with the [Switch~ Ensemble]. “Hunger is a kind of training session in mental disintegration… An ungodly opera needs ugly music, singers who produce primal sounds, an electric guitar that sounds scraped raw…wailing orchestral effects, cuts the ear like a knife. Buchanan delivers.” – LA Times. Honors include a Fulbright Fellowship (2010-11; Germany), Artist-in-Residence USF Verftet (2015; Bergen, Norway), American-Scandinavian Foundation Grant, ASCAP Morton Gould Award (2014 & 2015), Howard Hanson Orchestral Prize, winner of newEar Composer’s Competition, winner of the 2014 International Iron Composer Competition, commissions from Mizzou Int.Composers Festival, Int.Horn Society, Tzlil Meudcan (Tel Aviv), Chamber Music Campania (Italy), German/American Fulbright-Kommission, the NYCEMF, Blue Water Chamber Orchestra, and others. Coordinator of the VIPA Festival (Spain), as well as artistic director of the [Switch~ Ensemble] and Ph.D. candidate at the Eastman School of Music, where he has served as course instructor in electronic music and composition as well as assistant conductor for the Musica Nova Ensemble with Brad Lubman. Current projects include Hunger, a multimedia opera with libretto by award-winning poet Darcie Dennigan, a consortium for saxophone, electronics, and video (World Saxophone Congress, Strasbourg, 2015), and commissions for the New York Virtuoso Singers (NYC, 2015), Slagwerk Den Haag/Gaudeamus Muziekweek (Netherlands, Sept.2015), and Eklekto Geneva Percussion Center (Switzerland, Nov.2015). www.jasonthorpebuchanan.com


Six lettres à l’obscurité (und zwei Nachrichten) (2006) – Stefano Gervasoni (1962)
for string quartet

Six Letters to Obscurity (and Two Stories), which plays for around twenty-six minutes, is the second of the three string quartets Gervasoni has written so far, preceded by Strada non presa (Path Not Taken, 2001) and followed by Clamour (2014). His own note on the piece indicates his basic thinking: My second quartet is in one movement divided into eight sections: six main ones, each composed on a letter of the alphabet, and two moments of “lyrical stasis,” a pair of “songs without words” that cut the succession of letter pieces into three couplets. At once the letters of a name and letters to that name (a name that ambiguously contains its contrary [i.e. the name, meaning ‘clear,’ is rendered obscure by being divided into its component letters and then musically encrypted]), six steps, with two hesitations, towards the principle of light, in its obscurity, my quartet attempts an investigation of “inexpressiveness” in music. Expressivity is inscribed in the depths, in the folds of the clarity-obscurity of the sound, and the musical text more hides than reveals it. In the secrecy of music is sealed the secrecy of a name. The fluid first section contains a pun, in that middle C is the note on and around which these ostinatos rotate, with highly nuanced colors and textures such as will be the norm all through the work. Sudden jerks in the dynamic level will recur, too. “L,” in contrast, is a study in sustained and turning harmony, always returning to an extreme pianissimo. Then comes the first story, begun by the second violin, viola, and cello in slow recitative. This becomes the support for a different tale told by the first violin, which, at the end, finds itself alone. The “A” music rushes, challengingly (for the players) oscillating between presto and prestissimo from one measure to the next, and again punning, notably by how a high A may pipe in repeatedly, on any of the instruments. “I” is spelt out largely in harmonics, in a movement that has quite some surprises, and that looks forward a little, as its title implies, to how “R” will sound. The second story has to find its way through circling arpeggios from the viola, and it is, to begin with, again told in unison. It ends in unmeasured time. “R” turns out to be for “ricercare,” or for the Recercar chromatico post il Credo, a decidedly weird organ Girolamo Frescobaldi published in his culminating collection Fiori musicali (1635). (The word “ricercare,” one may note, can be spelt either way with the letters in “Claire.”) Gervasoni’s subtle, distressed arrangement envelops the music in further strangeness. The name is completed by a movement started by the viola, dancing against a sustained chord from the others. Activity increases, and leads back towards the first section, though now with E appropriately the focus, furiously disputed at the end. (Program notes by Paul Griffiths)

Stefano-GervasoniBorn in Bergamo in 1962, Stefano Gervasoni began studying composition in 1980 on the advice of Luigi Nono: this encounter, as well as others with Brian Ferneyhough, Peter Eötvös and Helmut Lachenmann, turned out to be decisive for his career. After attending the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, Stefano Gervasoni went on to study with György Ligeti in Hungary in 1990, and then, in 1992, he attended the Course in Composition and in Computer Music organised by Ircam in Paris. His first three years in France laid the foundations for an international career that eventually led him to be “lodged” at Villa Medici in 1995-1996. With commissions from such prestigious institutions as the WDR, the SWR, the Orchestra Nazionale della RAI, the Festival d’Automne in Paris, Radio France, IRCAM, the Casa da Musica in Porto, the Festival Archipel in Geneva, the Divertimento Ensemble in Milan, the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Ensemble Modern, the Ensemble Contrechamps in Geneva, the Maerzmusik festival in Berlin, the Ars Musica Bruxelles, the Festival Musica in Strasbourg, the French Ministry of Culture, Milan Teatro alla Scala and Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Stefano Gervasoni has established himself as one of the most important Italian composers of his generation. His catalogue – which includes chamber and vocal music, concertos, works for orchestra, for ensemble and an opera (Limbus-Limbo), commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the Percussions de Strasbourg (2012) – was first published by Ricordi, from 1987, and then, from 2000, by Suvini Zerboni. A monographic CD entitled Antiterra, which features the pieces An, Animato, Antiterra, Least Bee, Godspell, and Epicadenza, was recently released in France by Aeon and bears witness to «a sonic world of great wealth, subtlety, refinement, expressive but also organic, that immediately captures one’s attention» (Philippe Albèra). Other monographic recordings include the Harmonia Mundi CD in the series Musique Française d’Aujourd’hui (Ensemble Contrechamps), the Stradivarius CD by Divertimento Ensemble and the CD Dir-in dir released in Germany by Winter und Winter. Winner of numerous prizes, including the recent Premio della Critica Musicale “Franco Abbiati” (2010), his work has allowed him to be a grant-holder at the Fondation des Treilles in Paris (1994) and at the DAAD in Berlin (2006) and composer in residence at the Domaine de Kerguéhennec during the period 2008-2010. He has also been invited to teach at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse, on the courses organised by the Fondazione Royaumont (Paris), at Toho University in Tokyo, at the Festival International di Campos do Jordão in Brazil, at the Conservatory in Shanghai, at Columbia University (New York) and at Harvard University (Boston). He has been composer in residence at Lausanne Conservatoire (2005); he was visiting professor at ESMUC in Barcelona for 2012-13 academic year. Since 2006 Stefano Gervasoni has held a regular teaching post as professor of composition at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in Paris. www.stefanogervasoni.net