Canzona III Hidden in Her Light
This work is another hymn to the sun, next to Canzona II Tribute to the Sun and Canzona (I) L’Altra Persona – that are already recorded on the Navona label - to complete the triptych. Each of the three can be played separately, but if they are performed as a whole, then the sequence is II, I, III.
With regard to the artistic form, each of these pieces is a short story or symphonic poem for orchestra in a nutshell, although there is a longer A-B-A form in Canzona III Hidden in Her Light. Here the A-section got its idea from the 3th song of “Drie liederen voor hoge stem en piano: Hoera, de zon is spin!”, based on a child's drawing. The B-melody is derived from "Lied voor Nicole", from my ‘Six Songs without Words for piano’. You can consider Canzona III as a sound mirror of my experience and perception of the sun (‘I do myself short, if I don't notice her when she's there’) in a 21st century neo-romantic idiom with a lot of thirds and sexts (“Terzen und Sexten Seligkeiten”).
Each person has its own experience when listening to music-in-itself, but sometimes background information and explanation of the title can help to understand the piece better, or at least the composer’s intention.
The intention behind Canzona III Hidden in Her Light is an elucidation of the thoughts about Canzona II Tribute to the Sun, that is inspired by the celebrated Gâyatrî Mantra of the Rig-Veda (III, 62, 10), and by this word of Goethe: "When the eye was not sun-like, it could never see the sun".
That intention is in a way a consequence of the thoughts of Canzona L'Altra Persona, that is a homage to my 'alter ego', the other which I am myself, without mask, with a hunch for the other side of the mirror.
Since the sun is feminine in Dutch and German, resp. “de zon” and “die Sonne”, I wrote Canzona III Hidden in Her Light as a canticle to the sun, that reminded me also of the cult of the sun based on ancient Egyptian mysteries, which experienced a revival in the Renaissance, culminating in the ideas of Robert Fludd, for whom the sun is the heart of the makrokosmos. In it lives the life-giving World-Soul. Fludd shows in a picture how God sets his tabernacle in the sun at the beginning of creation and thereby animates and enlightens the cosmos (Philosophia sacra, Frankfurt, 1626), in which the obvious is hidden, as it were, in full sight and light. This for me has an interface with the idea of the "Sophia", the wisdom of God as the eternal female pole of the substantial spirit; the Shechinah, as the presence of God in creation; and Goethe's "das ewig Weibliche". In short, this is my Sun Song.
- Hans Bakker
Suite for Strings
The Suite for Strings, for youth string orchestra, is a pedagogical work in which each of the four movements trains the young players in a particular skill. It was commissioned by the Norman Burgess Memorial Fund to enlarge the repertory of educational string music. The first performance was given in 2010 in Ottawa by the Intermediate String Ensemble of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy conducted by Pauline McCombe.
The first movement, Changing Times, trains the players to switch rapidly from one time signature to another. The second movement, Shifting Cargo, is a shifting exercise in disguise. The players are forced to frequently shift from one position to another, adding a visual element to the performance. The third movement, A Thoughtful Moment, focuses on expressive vibrato and louré bowing style. Melodic passages are given to the viola and bass sections who are often left out, to be relegated to less interesting accompaniment parts. The last movement, Dance of the Monkey Man, deals with rhythm, syncopation in particular. Finger snaps are used for percussive effect and can even be supplemented with foot stomping and thigh slapping. Fun is definitely allowed.
Hopefully the piece provides enjoyable educational material to string playing students, as well as to the audience who listens to their efforts.
- Jan Järvlepp
The Redcliffe Gardens Suite for Strings
All the movements of this Suite were composed by Clive Muncaster when he was living at Redcliffe Gardens in London, UK.
PETRONELLA was first performed in the Wigmore Hall, London, by the string section of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Subsequently, it was broadcast many times on the BBC.
PASTORELLA was also performed on the BBC. It was always intended to be the slow movement after Petronella, then followed by a fast and energetic finale. Unfortunately, the sketch for the third movement was never completed.
STELLA was originally a piece for violin and piano. Only recently was it scored for string orchestra to form the middle movement of the Suite. The composer kept changing the title of this piece, and finally settled on the the name of a girl he was attracted to, but never met. She was a senior at the composer’s pre-prep school.
FUGA ROMANTICA was originally scored for full orchestra, but that version was never performed. Many years later, the score was drastically reduced to an arrangement for String Quartet. Most recently, a double bass part was added, resulting in a substantially revised score arranged for string orchestra.
GIRANDOLE. Like the middle movement, Stella, this piece was also originally written for violin and piano. In fact, the original violin and piano versions were intended as a pair with Stella being the slower movement to be played first, then followed by the lively Girandole. The original was in the key of D and quite easy to play on the violin, but the string orchestra version was transposed up to A major making the piece sound more brilliant but harder to perform. It was the string orchestra version that received numerous broadcasts on the BBC.
- Clive Muncaster
OF LAKES AND LEGENDS
Written for the Century Chamber Orchestra (Elliot Wilcox: Director), Of Lakes and Legends is a suite of four pieces depicting stories and historic locations in White Bear Lake, Minnesota – the city where Century College, home of the Century Chamber Orchestra, is also located.
I. Legend of the White Bear (Manitou Island). There are several versions of the Native American legend that gave White Bear Lake its name. In the version portrayed here, a Sioux maiden (the daughter of the Chief) and a Chippewa brave fall in love. Upon learning that her father is planning war against the Chippewa, the maiden goes to the brave to warn him. The brave goes to the Sioux chief to ask for peace and the hand of the maiden; the Chief responds that the Chippewa will have to perform a brave deed first. When the lovers next meet, on a moonlit night on Manitou Island, the brave sees a great white bear attacking the maiden. He springs to her rescue and fights the bear. The maiden runs to her village for help. When she, the Chief and the other Sioux return, they see the brave strike a mortal blow to the white bear – but he too has suffered mortal wounds, and both sink to the ground, dead. As the Chief at last gives his blessing to the Chippewa for his brave deed and sacrifice, the spirits of the brave and the white bear rise up to the stars. “It is said that even today, when night falls, the spirits of the bear and the brave wander the island eternally in search of each other…”
II. Ride on the Rails (Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad Depot). The arrival of the railroad in White Bear Lake in 1868 was a significant factor in the development of the city as a resort town. The grand opening of the line from St. Paul to White Bear Lake took place on Sept. 10, 1868. Ride on the Rails recreates this inaugural trip: the anticipation of the passengers, the scenic countryside through which the train traveled, and the excitement of the gala celebration that greeted the travelers upon their arrival at the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad Depot.
III. Parlor Recital (Fillebrown House). Built in 1879, the Fillebrown House has a rich history in the social life of downtown White Bear Lake. Originally a summer cottage, in 1920 it became the year-round residence of the Fillebrown family. In it, Helen Fillebrown (1884-1977) operated a number of enterprises over the years: a tearoom, a nursery, and a boarding house. Miss Fillebrown was an accomplished pianist as well, giving piano lessons and hosting numerous recitals on the Steinway grand piano in the parlor. Parlor Recital seeks to capture the sounds and moods of these intimate concerts.
IV. Regatta (White Bear Yacht Club). White Bear Lake has been home to many influential boatmakers, including A.E. Leaman, Gus Amundson, and perhaps most famously, John O. Johnson, of Johnson Boat Works. In 1900 Johnson invented the scow, a racing sailboat designed for extreme speeds. Regatta depicts the speed of the scow and the spirit of the boat races still hosted by the White Bear Yacht Club.
Sources: Web: “History of White Bear Lake” (www.whitebearlake.org)
Vadnais, Cynthia, Looking Back at White Bear Lake: A Pictorial History of the White Bear Lake Area, White Bear Stereoptics Co., 2008.
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