From the Margins to the Fore

Logo Modern RevealA Modern Reveal

An Eclectic Compilation of Vocal Music by Women Composers, 1560-present

Wednesday, October 30, Noon

Charles Library Event Space

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

Historiography has marginalized the contributions of women in many spheres of endeavor, and musical composition is no exception. Even as the names of contemporary female musicians found their way into eighteenth-century lexicons, e.g., Johann Gottfried Walther’s Musicalisches Lexicon (Leipzig, 1732), entries for famous opera singers far surpassed those of composers. This lack of representation alludes to social expectation and bias: women could thrive in the world of music by filling roles deemed appropriate to their gender. In the light of such social constraint, the legacy of women composers is remarkably rich. Our upcoming concert will showcase many of these little-known compositions, delivering them from the margins to the fore.

Given in collaboration with A Modern Reveal, the program features sixteen songs by fifteen different composers, some of whom will no doubt be familiar to music scholars and enthusiasts: among those representing the early baroque is Francesca Caccini (1587-1646), an employee of the Medici family who is recognized as the first woman to compose opera; the formidable composer-pianist Clara Schumann (1819-1896), who was dubbed “Queen of the Piano” in the age of Romanticism; Amy Beach (1867-1944), the first American woman to achieve distinction as a composer of large-scale art music; and the prolific Libby Larsen (b. 1950), whose catalog comprises more than 400 works, including several operas.

The content of the program spans more than four hundred years; as a result, there is great variety in material both lyrical and musical. The duet “Il gondoliere,” by Maria Malibran (1808-1836), belongs to the genre known as the barcarole (It. barcarola). The traditional song of the gondolier, the barcarole (6/8 time signature) depicts the lilting motion of the iconic vessels that traverse the waters of Venice. Another example is the Lied “Verlust” (Loss), a setting of the poem “Und wüssten’s die Blumen” (If the Little Flowers Knew) by Fanny Hensel (1805-1847). Hensel largely evades the tonic and closes the song with an unresolved dominant, reflecting the inconsolable anguish of Heinrich Heine’s text. Finally, a rendition of “I’m Nobody” will offer the listener a blend of modern music and nineteenth-century wit. Lori Laitman (b. 1955) composed the bouncy and comical setting, part of a cycle entitled Four Dickinson Songs (1996). In short, the stylistic diversity of this program ensures something for everyone.

We invite you to join us on Wednesday, October 30, for this special celebration of women composers. We also encourage you to visit https://www.amodernreveal.com/ to learn more about the women featured in the program.

Consult the following sources for more information:

Frasier, Jane. Women Composers: A Discography. Detroit, MI: Information Coordinators, 1983.

Jezic, Diane Peacock. Women Composers: The Lost Tradition Found. New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1994.

.Marrazzo, Randi, ed. The First Solos: Songs by Women Composers. Bryn Mawr, PA: Hildegard Pub. Co., 2000.

Marrazzo, Randi, and Nicole Leone.  A Modern Reveal: Songs and Stories of Women Composers.  18 Oct. 2019, www.amodernreveal.com/

Pendle, Karin, ed.. Women in Music: A History. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001.

Rodgers, Stephen. “Fanny Hensel’s Lied Aesthetic.” Journal of Musicological Research 30, no. 3 (2011): 175-201.

Schleifer, Martha and Sylvia Glickman. Women Composers: Music through the Ages. New York: G.K. Hall, 1996. https://librarysearch.temple.edu/catalog/991000427089703811

Tick, Judith, Margaret Ericson, and Ellen Koskoff. “Women in music.Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 17 Oct. 2019. https://www-oxfordmusiconline-com.libproxy.temple.edu/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000052554.

(Note: Grove Music Online contains entries for all of the composers mentioned in this article.)

Gary Sampsell is a second-year PhD student in the Music Studies program at Boyer College. His research interests include the musical culture of baroque-era Saxony and Austro-German reception of early music in the nineteenth century.

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The Sound of History

Johann Sebastian Bach Concerto Festival!

Wednesday, October 2nd, 12:00 Noon
Charles Library Event Space

Presented by Dr. Joyce Lindorff
with Boyer College Harpsichordists
and Baroque Strings

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

Hands on a harpsichordMore than a mere antecedent to the modern piano, the harpsichord is a keyboard string instrument with an otherworldly sound. Its metallic timbre and precise articulation result from an internal mechanism: quills pluck the strings when the keys are depressed, and dampers silence the strings when the keys are released. Creating the effect of cascading notes, this mechanical operation is ideal for the performance of contrapuntal music because of the clarity it lends to the middle and lower voices; in other words, the design and function of the instrument met the musical demands of its time.

Emerging in the years around 1400, the harpsichord reached its zenith in the 1700s. During this era, luminaries such as Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), François Couperin (1668-1733), George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), and Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) composed some of the finest music for the instrument. Famous examples from the solo repertory include J. S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, a collection of 48 preludes and fugues in two volumes, and Scarlatti’s 555 keyboard sonatas. The harpsichord was also regularly used for accompaniment in the performance of both sacred and secular music. This role kept the instrument in service until the turn of the nineteenth century, when changes in musical tastereflected in the rising popularity of the pianofortediminished its presence. The resurgence of the harpsichord in the late 1800s may be attributed to the special qualities mentioned above, namely its suitability for the performance of early music. 

On Wednesday, October 2, Dr. Joyce Lindorff and her colleagues from Boyer College will present performances of J. S. Bach’s concerti for one, two, and four harpsichords. (The latter is a transcription of a solo concerto from Vivaldi’s L’estro armonico, Op. 3, no. 10.) Listeners will have the opportunity to experience the singular sound of the instrument thrown into relief by contrasting tutti (full ensemble) and solo sections. Do not forgo what is sure to be an eminently satisfying musical event.

Consult the following sources for more information:

Kottick, Edward L. A History of the Harpsichord. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

Pollens, Stewart. The Early Pianoforte. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Ripin, Edwin M., Howard Schott, John Koster, Denzil Wraight, Beryl Kenyon de Pascual, G. Grant O’Brien, Alfons Huber, William R. Dowd, Charles Mould, Lance Whitehead, and Martin Elste. “Harpsichord.” Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 11 Sep. 2019. https://www-oxfordmusiconline-com.libproxy.temple.edu/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000012420.

Wolff, Christoph. Bach: Essays on His Life and Music. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991.

Wolff, Christoph, and Walter Emery. “Bach, Johann Sebastian.” Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 11 Sep. 2019. https://www-oxfordmusiconline-com.libproxy.temple.edu/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-6002278195.

Gary Sampsell is a second-year PhD student in the Music Studies program at Boyer College. His research interests include the musical culture of baroque-era Saxony and Austro-German reception of early music in the nineteenth century.

 

 

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Beyond the Notes Announces Fall 2019 Season at Charles Library!

We are excited to announce the first season of Beyond the Notes in Temple University’s beautiful new Charles Library! Mark your calendars!

J.S. BACH CONCERTO FESTIVAL!

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
12:00 Noon – 12:50pm
Charles Library Event Space

Presented by Dr. Joyce Lindorff with Boyer College Harpsichordists and Baroque Strings.

Historic Harpsichord

Program:
Concerto in C Major for Two Harpsichords
Concerto in A minor for Four Harpsichords and Strings
Concerto in D minor, featuring soloist Benjamin Katz

Come join our festive opening of the Noontime Concert Series in the beautiful Charles Library! Be the first to hear the new event space resonate with J. S. Bach’s brilliant concertos for one, two and four harpsichords accompanied by a Baroque string ensemble. Dr. Joyce Lindorff will perform and conduct, along with current and alumni Boyer performers.

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Modern Reveal Logopictures of women composers

Herstory

An Eclectic Compilation of Vocal Music by Women Composers, 1560-present 

Featuring Vocal Arts Students at Temple University

Jean Francois Proulx, pianist

Randi Marrazzo, faculty coordinator

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
12:00 Noon-12:50pm
Charles Library Event Space

 

All events are free and open to the public. Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

 

 

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Bravos and Thank You to Beyond the Notes Artists!

Beyond the Notes, Temple University Libraries, and audiences wish to extend bravos and thank you to the artists who provided beautiful, interesting, and exciting concerts at noon in the library during the 2018-2019 year. We appreciate your talent and are grateful for your bringing live music to Paley Library!

Dr. Lindorff's master class

Ben Katz, Emiko Edwards, Joyce Lindorff, Irene Moretto, Silvanio Reis, Anna Kislitsyna

 

 

Happy Birthday François Couperin!  Joyce Lindorff and her doctoral seminar ushered in the new season with a birthday celebration!  Many thanks to Dr. Lindorff and her students for our celebratory season opener!

 


photo of Zach Brock

Zach Brock, Jazz violinist.

In October, Zach Brock, Boyer faculty and Grammy Award winning jazz violinist, entranced us with his amazing artistry. Thank you, Zach!


Baroque Chamber Music group

Shannon Merlino and friends.

 

In November, library audiences were treated to a lively performance of Vivaldi and Bach, played on period instruments and led by Shannon Merlino.   Congratulations and thank you, Dr. Merlino!

 


Xylophone playing

Philip O'Banion and students

Temple University Percussion Ensemble

Temple University Percussion Ensemble, directed by Phillip O’Banion, totally rocked the library in December!  Amazing talent and performance!  Thank you, Professor O’Banion and TU Percussion students!  You are awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Performers

Charles Abramovic, Lawrence Indik, and Cara Latham

In February, Boyer faculty artists turned the Library’s Lecture Hall into a cozy café with Cabaret Songs and Piano Rags by William Bolcom!  Thank you Charles Abramovic, Lawrence Indic, and Cara Latham for an exquisite performance!

 


Students of Allen Krantz brought the beautiful music of classical guitar to the library to end our season.  Thank you Allen Krantz for bringing your gifted students to the library, always one of the most beloved events of the entire year!

3 guitarists

Andrew Evans, Joeseph Jones, Emmanuel Lozada-Mendez.


Many thanks to our wonderful artists and to our audiences who together create an intimate, exciting, and wonderful lunchtime series of live music at the library, Beyond the Notes! We are busy planning an exciting concert series for our new Charles Library in the Fall of 2019! See you then!


Anne Harlow is the research librarian for music, dance, and theater at Temple University Libraries, and curator of the library’s noontime concert series Beyond the Notes.  aharlow@temple.edu

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The Classical Guitar: its Evolution and Appreciation by Italian Greats

Guitar Studio of Allen Krantz

Wednesday, February 27th, Noon

Temple University Paley Library Lecture Hall

Free and open to the public

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

photo courtesy Beverley Goodwin

The guitar, currently a mainstay of popular music, has a l ong history and wealth of literature preceding its use in rock bands and college dorm rooms. The type of guitar that Allen Krantz and his students will be using is called the classical guitar (also known as the nylon-string guitar or the Spanish guitar). The main difference between classical and acoustic/electric guitars is the material of the strings. On a classical guitar the strings are made from either gut or nylon, whereas the acoustic or electric guitar have metal strings. Another difference would be the way that the guitar is held while being played. (For right-handed players) Classical is propped up by the left leg and the modern steel string guitar is played off of the hip.

Sometimes the term “classical guitar” isn’t even describing the instrument itself, but instead one of two concepts:

– The playing technique where individual strings are plucked with the fingernails
– The instrument’s literature

Music written specifically for this instrument dates back to the addition of the sixth string (the baroque guitar originally had five strings) in the late 18th century. In addition to these works written for the instrument, a classical guitar might play pieces originally written for lute, vihuela or the cello. The most well-known composer who did not write for the guitar is J.S. Bach; his baroque lute works are a mainstay in classical guitar literature.

Not many concertos were written specially for the guitar, however in present times there are numerous concertos that are quite well-known. Antonio Vivaldi and Mauro Giuliani are Italian composers who wrote famous concertos for the guitar. Allen Krantz and his students will be performing literature from the classical guitar’s extensive repertoire with a focus on a few of these great Italian composers.

A third Italian composer Nicolo Paganini, was also a guitarist. He once said “I love the guitar for its harmony; it is my constant companion in all my travels.” Paganini’s relationship with the guitar ha s only recently come to light – only a few of his compositions for the instrument have been published. The reason for this is disputed among scholars, but it appears to have something to do with the popularity of his violin works. Paganini’s work for violin seems to have overshadowed his guitar works during the time of his publications, when in fact Paganini work with technique was just as extensive on the guitar as it was with the violin.

The classical guitar has been cultivated over centuries, building its repertoire and technique as various schools utilized this flexible and well-rounded instrument. Allen Krantz and his students will be presenting many fine examples of this unique instrument and we hope to see you Wednesday February 27th at noon for our Beyond the Notes concert series.

For more information see:

The Classical Guitar: A Complete History. London, England: Balafon Books, 1997. Paley Library ML1015.G9 C547x 1997

Dobney, Jayson Kerr, and Wendy Powers. “The Guitar.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/guit/hd_guit.htm (September 2007).

Heck, Thomas F., Harvey Turnbull, Paul Sparks, James Tyler, Tony Bacon, Oleg V. Timofeyev, and Gerhard Kubik. “Guitar.” Grove Music Online.  January 01, 2001. Oxford University Press.

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Stephanie George is a second-year masters student in Music Theory at Boyer College of Music & Dance. Stephanie completed a B.S. in Music Education and a B.A. in Music (concentrations in clarinet and music theory) from Lebanon Valley College in 2015, after which she secured a placement with Harford County Public Schools as a music teacher for Havre de Grace Elementary. Her master’s thesis applies narrative theory to Chopin’s second piano sonata using a variety of analysis techniques. Her research interests include Sonata Form, Narrative Theory, Schenkerian Analysis, and Pedagogy. After completing her masters, Stephanie plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Music Theory.

 

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William Bolcom: Wide-Ranging Influences, Theatricality, and Fun

Beyond the Notes logo

Cabaret Songs and Piano Rags

by William Bolcom

Featuring faculty artists Charles Abramovic, Lawrence Indik, and Cara Latham

Wednesday, February 6th

12:00-12:50pm

Paley Library Lecture Hall

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.


 

William Bolcom

Like many other American composers who studied composition in universities in the middle of the 20th century, William Bolcom began his career composing serial music, the musical style most commonly associated with “atonality.” At that time, serialism was often seen as necessary tool to help composers avoid a tendency to recreate familiar patterns that represented a failed, oppressive system (Brindle 2003). Yet Bolcom gradually shifted toward employing a wider variety of compositional styles, often influenced by popular music. Today, composers and “new music” listeners and performers may see being forced into an academic, atonal style of writing as oppressive.  As a result, many of today’s younger composers have followed Bolcom’s lead into music that incorporates a wide variety of stylistic influences. Bolcom’s music, influenced by other forms of music, became the music for which he is known.  In this concert, we will hear some of his cabaret songs along with rags for piano performed by Boyer faculty.

In this 21st century, his work is still described as “running the gamut” of popular and classical musical styles (Lister 2006, 37). In an interview in The Opera Quarterly, Bolcom shares some fascinating details of his views on music:

“I’ve always been interested in character. I think pure voice is something that compels a certain sort of opera buff, along with the admiration of singers as athletes. And that’s okay; but I’ve always been interested in opera as theater.” (Horowitz 2006)

Bolcom could be seen as a rejection of the typical 20th century conservatory ethos, of music as an end in and of itself. Even today, many of those of us who are music students have been told at some point in our lives that to be a good musician means to engross ourselves in “pure” music and to ignore the “extra-musical” aspects of our lives, as well as to see popular music as inherently artistically inferior. One could trace this back to the 19th century German debate over so-called “absolute music,” essentially the idea that music should transcend life and exist only for its own, purely aesthetic pleasure. To be fair, vocal music was not usually framed as “absolute music;” it typically has text which suggests something “extramusical.” But in recent decades, musicologists and ethnomusicologists have noted that “absolute music” was never really a thing at all. For example, Henry Kingsbury’s influential 1988 work—which was published by Temple University Press—shows how the very idea of classical music is itself always part of the construction of a social and cultural system. Bolcom’s embrace of the theatrical rather than holding on to some idea of sanctity of “pure” academic music is one of the things that makes his music especially fun.

The rags, too, of course, reflect influences beyond the world of classical music. Ragtime music is characterized in particular by its distinctive syncopated rhythmic structure. A 1992 review by Barry Hannigan, then a professor at Bucknell University, writes that “care and craft distinguish the [Bolcom] ragtime pieces, giving evidence of Bolcom’s classical training” compared to other ragtime composers. Hannigan’s attitude seems remarkably condescending toward the earlier ragtime composers, and I am inclined to wonder if there is a racial dynamic here, since ragtime is a historically African American musical form, and Bolcom appears to be white[1] and trained as a composer in a historically predominantly-white musical genre. Nevertheless, while I would argue that ragtime’s traditional “care and craft” should not be measured by its adherence to contemporary classical music values, it is noteworthy that Bolcom incorporates traditional rhythmic ideas of ragtime, and uses them in more classically notated ways. For example, Hannigan notes that there is a higher precision in the way expressive directions are notated on the page than in traditional ragtime music. While I would not argue that this makes the music automatically superior—after all, as I argued in the case of Couperin in my blogpost for the first concert of last semester, level of notational detail in keyboard reflects social and cultural factors—it does give us something else to listen for. As in most music of the 20th and 21st century, there is clearly a lot to consider. Yet behind this all is a concert sure to be accessible and fun!

References:

Berlin, Edward A. 2001. “Ragtime.” Grove Music Online. 10 Dec. 2018. https://doi-org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.22825.

Brindle, Reginald Smith (1987) 2003. The New Music: The Avant‐garde since 1945. London: Oxford University Press.

Hannigan, Barry. 1992. “William Bolcom, ‘Piano Rags’.” Notes 49, no. 1 (September): 369.

Herwitz, Daniel. 2006. “Writing American Opera: William Bolcom on Music, Language, and Theater,” The Opera Quarterly 22, 3-4 (July), 521–533. https://doi-org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1093/oq/kbn001

Johnson, Steven, and Lars Helgert. 2013. “Bolcom, William.” Grove Music Online. 7 Dec. 2018. https://doi-org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2248409.

Kingsbury, Henry. 1988. Music, Talent, and Performance: A Conservatory Cultural System, Temple University Press.

Lister, Rodney. 2006. “Review: William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and Experience.” Tempo 60, no. 35 (January), 37-39.

[1]To be clear, I cannot actually find any explicit mention of his race, and am saying this based on photos of him.

Ben Safran is a Ph.D. candidate in music at Temple University, where his dissertation focuses on contemporary classical composers’ uses of social justice and political themes within concert music. His compositions have been performed by various ensembles and musicians across the United States.

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Temple University Percussion Ensemble: watch, consider, enjoy!

Temple University Percussion Ensemble

Phillip O’Banion, Director

Wednesday, December 5th

12:00pm – 12:50pm

Paley Library Lecture Hall

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

photo of xylophoneWatching a percussion ensemble can be unlike watching any other type of concert! For one thing, there is the physicality of seeing musicians move around between instruments. While we often think of music in more abstract terms, there is increased interest in the twenty-first century among music scholars in thinking about the physical relationship with a musical instrument (Abbate 2004; Le Guin 2006). The visual element of seeing musicians move around among elaborate set-ups of instruments contributes to the fun of the performance. Another exciting difference is that while most Western music tends to prioritize thinking about pitch over other aspects of music, percussion music celebrates and can help us listen more carefully to other elements of sound, such as rhythm, timbre, and volume. Of course, there is plenty of pitch in percussion music as well.

The composers represented in the program are Jason Treuting, Ivan Trevino, John Cage, Bob Becker, and Minoru Miki. Of these, John Cage is probably the most well-known. Cage is especially appreciated for his aleatoric works, compositions in which elements are left up to chance. He is also known for prepared piano music, in which performers place objects inside the piano before the concert to alter the sound. This concert will include music for prepared piano. While Cage is sometimes credited as the inventor of the technique, Liang Deng argues that the practice of preparing a piano actually dates to early keyboard music of the 17th century (2015).

photo of percussion performanceAll four of the other composers on the program are known for founding or co-founding their own percussion ensembles. Treuting is a percussionist and member of percussion ensemble Sō Percussion. The ensemble is known for performances of Cage and of Steve Reich, and their original music is described as influenced by those composers but also very distinct (DelCiampo 2015). Trevino is also a percussionist and member of Break with Reality, a cello and percussion quartet, and also a founder of The Big Trouble, which he describes on his website as “a songwriting collective focused on creating music for percussion and vocals in an indie-rock aesthetic.” Miki was a composer known for uses of traditional East Asian percussion instruments. In 2008 he published a book on composing for Japanese instruments [available at Paley]; he died in 2011. Miki too was an organizer of an ensemble; the Ensemble Nipponia was founded in 1964 and played music for traditional Japanese instruments (Kanazawa 2001). He composed a large body of works including a number of operas plus works for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensembles. Finally, Becker co-founded the ensemble NEXUS in 1971 (Beck and Strain 2012).

All told, this concert features composers with roots from Japan [Miki] to Mexico [Trevino], while Cage and Becker were both heavily influenced by East Asian and South Asian sounds (Ruby 2017; Brett 2009). This makes sense. While the origins of most instruments in the orchestra may be fascinating and complex but are most commonly Eurocentric, the origins of instruments in the percussion section are especially diverse. There exist commonly used percussion instruments in modern and contemporary classical music from most populated corners of the world.

photo of xylophone and drum performanceSuch intercultural borrowing deserves close examination. Neil Ruby critiques Cage specifically as Ruby argues that “contemporary music often perpetuates pervasive attitudes and assumptions regarding the relationship between spirituality, Asia, and artistry that are historically amnesiac, culturally reductionistic, and perversely antithetical to the progressive egalitarian values typically associated with musical interculturalism” (2017). On the other hand, Philip Brett speculates how alternative instrumentations, tuning systems, and Orientalism itself might have held a special allure for gay American composers of the 20th century, including Cage. While noting that Orientalism is still problematic, Brett sees it as a potential strategy used by queer composers for escaping the traps of western cultures. This building of musical “alternate worlds” that Brett suggests—perhaps friendlier to those on the margins of society—through reference to non-Western culture can also be done through instrumentation, specifically the construction of less familiar, more adventurous ensembles.

This brings us back to the question of how percussion ensembles are different from others that perform “classical” music. The best way to find out will be to experience the concert firsthand, and to focus on the aspects of music that we normally think about less, from timbre to rhythm to the visual of performers’ movements on stage.

 

References:

Abbate, Carolyn. 2004. “Music—Drastic or Gnostic?,” Critical Inquiry 30: 505-36.

Beck, John H., and James A. Strain. 2012. “Percussion music.” Grove Music Online. Accessed November 7, 2018. http:////www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-1002225030.

Brett, Philip. 2009. “Queer Musical Orientalism.” Echo: A Music Centered Journal 9 (1).

DelCiampo, Matthew. 2015. “So Percussion and Grey Mcmurray, Where (we) Live. Cantaloupe CA21087, 2012, CD.” Journal of the Society for American Music 9 (4): 515-517. doi:http://dx.doi.org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1017/S1752196315000462.

Deng, Liang. 2015. “On the Debate over Whether ‘Prepared Piano’ was the Invention of John Cage.” College Music Symposium 55.

Le Guin, Elisabeth. 2006. “‘Cello-and-Bow Thinking’: The First Movement of Boccherini’s Cello Sonata in E-flat Major, Fuori Catalogo,” Boccherini’s Body: An Essay in Carnal Musicology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 14-37.

Kanazawa, Masakata. 2001. “Miki, Minoru.” Grove Music Online. Accessed 7 November 2018. http:////www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000018649.

Miki, Minoru, and Marty Regan. 2008. Composing for Japanese Instruments. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

Ruby, Neil. 2017. “Spirituality and Orientalism in Contemporary Classical Music.” M.A. thesis, University of California, San Diego.

Sō Percussion. Accessed 7 November 2018. https://sopercussion.com/people/jason-treuting/

Trevino, Ivan. “Bio.” Accessed 7 November 2018. https://ivandrums.com/biography/

Ben Safran is a Ph.D. candidate in music at Temple University, where his dissertation focuses on contemporary classical composers’ uses of social justice and political themes within concert music. His compositions have been performed by various ensembles and musicians across the United States

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Shannon Merlino, Baroque Violin, and Music from our Childhoods

Music of Bach and Vivaldi

Led by Shannon Merlino

Wednesday, November 14th

12:00pm – 12:50pm

Paley Library Lecture Hall

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

 

Photo of Merlino playing viola

Shannon Merlino

Violinist and violist Shannon Merlino, a Philadelphia native, describes the theme of this recital as revisiting Baroque violin music that is most often used for pedagogical purposes for students first learning to play violin. Merlino references Itzhak Perlman’s album Concertos from my Childhood. That album consists of the famous virtuoso violinist’s performances of didactic pieces composed for violin students.

There are many pieces that were originally composed to be teaching tools or most commonly used as such, but that still can be captivating as concert pieces. I have my own experience of this, having taken my first piano lessons as a college student, in which I learned to play several of J.S. Bach’s 2-part inventions and Bartok’s Mikrokosmos, works written for students. Having already studied music theory certainly made my interpretation of these pieces different than they would have been if I had learned them as a child. Still, my interpretations were limited by my technical skill. These pieces have all been recorded by esteemed professionals, who bring new interpretations. While originally for pedagogical purposes, these works continue to attract the attention of scholars in the 21st century for non-pedagogical reasons (see, for example, Väisälä 2009; Hajdu 2008).

1870 painting of Bach and his family

Johann Sebastian Bach accompanies his family at the harpsichord. Toby Edward Rosenthal , 1870.

None of this is to belittle the joy that children and their families and friends can feel from learning these pieces their own way, even if their interpretations are often less nuanced. On some level, one can argue that these pieces should not require such nuance. Unlike a typical classical concert, a youth recital is more about celebrating the performer than it is about the composer. And much music written for students is not intended for performance at all, but rather as a means for one to practice a specific skill.

But it is another matter the repertoire for this recital, which will consist of Baroque music which was intended to have specific performance practice that is not often followed when students learn the music today. Merlino notes that “beginning players learn Baroque music, and without performance practice – ornamentation, continuo, and the like – the repertoire is relegated to “didactic” status.” In the Baroque era, musicians were often expected to add their own embellishments, such as trills or other flourishes (Although some, such as Couperin who was featured in a Beyond the Notes concert earlier this season, did provide their own.) So when children learn to play violin by using these pieces without such embellishments, not only is there less complex interpretation, there are fewer notes. In this program, we can expect to hear these pieces performed with a more historically informed practice, which should make them especially exciting.

Revisiting music from our childhood is not just for musicians. Most of us have music that was meaningful to us as children, that we feel as if we have grown out of, but is still part of who we are. There is some Baroque music, such as Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, which most likely many listeners would have grown up hearing, if only from commercials or soundtracks, whether or not they learned to play an instrument. There is still much to gained from taking it seriously the soundtracks of our childhoods and listening in more closely.

Children’s music itself has so far received somewhat limited attention from musicologists and music theorists. This may be changing, however. In fact, there is an effort is currently underway to start a Childhood and Youth Studies Study Group within the American Musicological Society. It seems then, that this concert is coming at the perfect time!

Bios:

Born and raised in the greater Philadelphia area, Shannon Merlino began violin studies at the age of nine, earning her Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance at Rutgers University as a student of Matthew Reichert and Lenuta Ciulei. She continued her violin studies as a scholarship student at Mannes College, earning a Master of Music degree while studying with Lewis Kaplan. Finally she completed doctoral coursework under Mikhail Kopelman at Rutgers University. After making the decision to focus primarily on viola, she began private studies with Kerri Ryan and is now in doctoral studies at Temple University. Her competition awards include second place in both the Miami String Quartet and South Orange Symphony competitions, and her solo credits include several appearances with the Lustig Dance Company. She has appeared in recitals as both soloist and chamber musician throughout the New York City metropolitan area, and maintains an active freelance performance career in the Philadelphia area as both modern and Baroque violist. Ms. Merlino has also given pre-concert talks on viola technique and pedagogy, most notably at the Library of Congress. Ms. Merlino performs on a viola by Clifford Hoing and a bow by Malcolm Taylor of W. E. Hill and Sons.

References:

Hajdu, Andre. “A Galaxy Called ‘Mikrokosmos’: A Composer’s View.” Tempo 62, no. 243 (2008): 16-35. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40072752.

Väisälä, Olli. “Bach’s Inventions: Figuration, Register, Structure, and the “Clear Way to Develop Inventions Properly”.” Music Theory Spectrum 31, no. 1 (2009): 101-52. doi:10.1525/mts.2009.31.1.101.

 

Ben Safran is a Ph.D. candidate in music at Temple University, where his dissertation focuses on contemporary classical composers’ uses of social justice and political themes within concert music. His compositions have been performed by various ensembles and musicians across the United States

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Zach Brock, Jazz Violin, and Genre

Photo of Zach Brock.

Zach Brock, jazz violinist

Beyond the Notes Presents:

Boyer Artist-in-Residence Zach Brock, Jazz Violinist

Tuesday, October 23rd, 12:00pm – 12:50pm

Paley Library Lecture Hall

 

While a fixture of the classical concert hall, violins have also been used in Jazz since the 1930’s. In addition to amplification and a tendency toward bowing over plucking, jazz violin playing can also include extended techniques, strategies to alter or distort the violin sound that are not part of typical playing conventions. These have unique sounds that are often not at all traditionally “violin-like.”

Grammy-award-winning Zach Brock, who studied violin performance at Northwestern University, is regarded as among the top jazz violinists of our time. Yet Brock also incorporates musical ideas and techniques that may sound less like Jazz than like “classical” composers such as Bartok, with minimalist and post-minimalist sonic gestures as well. Some of Brock’s particular performance practices are uncommon among jazz violinists. For example, jazz violin often requires electronic amplification for purposes of balance with other instruments, but videos of Brock most often showing him playing without any amplification. In addition, note that jazz violin has traditionally been played with the bow [arco] rather than plucked with fingers [pizzicato] (Glaser et al. 2003), but a number of Brock’s performances do make use of pizzicato.

The ability to “cross over” between genres is not to be taken for granted. While jazzy sounds have been incorporated into American classical music since the early 20th century, and the tradition of improvisation within classical music stretches back many centuries, typical classical musicians who have not had experience playing Jazz would most likely find the transition to playing jazz difficult. Playing jazz requires a distinct skill set and technique. There are now a large number of teaching materials specifically dedicated to students learning jazz strings (Alibrio-Curran 2005). There are also sociocultural and especially racial implications to crossing over stylistic boundaries, which are increasingly attracting the attention of music scholars (James 2017).

But genre lines are already fuzzy. What is “Jazz” as a genre? German philosopher Theodor Adorno clumped Jazz in with popular music ([1941] 2002); strangely, even though he acknowledged that Jazz is more complex in some ways—such as rhythm—than classical music, he nevertheless maintained that all pop music is nevertheless rigid and mechanical. Scott DeVeaux notes that Jazz has also been referred to as “America’s classical music,” and is sometimes seen, like classical music, as a dying art form ([1991] 1998). What gets to count as Jazz has always been up for debate. The modernist tradition of “free Jazz” is sometimes not thought of as Jazz at all (DeVeaux [1991] 1998), but why not? DeVeaux argues that Jazz’s present struggles and decline in popularity should not be thought of as a musical or aesthetic problem, but rather one of historical framing.

So how about Jazz violin? Jazz in textbooks is sometimes given a clear, linear history, in which it is oriented more toward African American than European culture (DeVeaux [1991] 1998). This is not wrong, but—like the related notion of seeing Jazz as synonymous with “Black art music”—it is too simplistic. Violin, of course, can be thought of as one of the most quintessential European instruments. So if we know that Jazz violin has been around since the 1930’s, that could be a clue to help us to revisit the history of Jazz as more complex than we would often acknowledge. Once we do that, instead of finding a clear way forward for the genre to proceed, we can accept that its future will be as divergent and multi-layered as its past.

 

References:

Adorno, Theodor. ([1941] 2002). “On Popular Music,” reprinted in Essays on Music, Richard Leppert, ed., 437-479. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Alibrio-Curran, Frances. 2005. “From Whence They Came: A Tribute to Early String Improvisational Materials.” American String Teacher 55, 1 (February): 68-70. https://doi-org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1177/000313130505500110

DeVeaux, Scott. ([1991] 1998), “Constructing the Jazz Tradition: Jazz Historiography,” Black American Literature Forum 25, no. 3 (Fall): 525-60, reprinted in The Jazz Cadence of American Culture, New York: Columbia University Press, 484-514.

Glaser, Matt, Alyn Shipton, and Anthony Barnett. 2003. “Violin, jazz.” Grove Music Online. Accessed 15 Sep. 2018. http:////www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-2000468100.

James, Robin. 2017. “Is the post- in post-identity the post- in post-genre?” Popular Music 36 (1): 21-32.

Zack Brock. n.d. “Home – Zack Brock.” Accessed 18 September 2018. https://www.zachbrock.com/home

 

Ben Safran is a Ph.D. candidate in music at Temple University, where his dissertation focuses on contemporary classical composers’ uses of social justice and political themes within concert music. His compositions have been performed by various ensembles and musicians across the United States.

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Start the Music! Let the Party Begin!

Joyce Lindorff at the harpsichord

Dr. Joyce Lindorff, Professor of Keyboard

 

Couperin Birthday Celebration!

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

12:00pm – 12:50pm

Paley Library Lecture Hall

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

 

 

 

The opening concert of the 2018-19 Beyond the Notes concert series, features Dr. Joyce Lindorff, Boyer Professor of Keyboard, leading a birthday celebration for François Couperin, marking 350 years since his birth.  François Couperin, like Johann Sebastian Bach, was part of a large family of music-makers. For example, Couperin’s uncle was also a noted composer, and his cousin Armand-Louis was especially noted as an organist, but François was sometimes referred to as “Couperin Le Grand” to set him apart from the rest of his family. Recognized as a leading French composer of the 17th century, Couperin’s musical textures have continued to inspire musicians and composers in the centuries since his death. For example, Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, a solo piano with an orchestral version, is a concert staple, and is likely more familiar to the typical concertgoer than any piece of Couperin himself. Nevertheless, music like the Pièces de Clavecin features a palette that is distinctive, lush, sometimes witty, and sometimes harmonically adventurous.

Picture of harpsichord

1742 Louis Bellot harpsichord, Paris. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Couperin is especially known for his music for harpsichord. Unlike its most famous successor the piano, the harpsichord is a keyboard instrument in which the strings are plucked rather than hit. In addition to an altogether different sound quality, a major difference is that when a musician presses a key with more or less force, it will not change the dynamic [volume] of the note as it does on the piano. This means that the composer and performer must control the feel of each section of music without having a direct means to control how loud or soft each note is. Instead, our overall experience of the music will be shaped by other means, such as texture and tempo (speed). The density of writing will shape our experience of the intensity of the music rather than volume.

 

CD Cover ArtDr. Joyce Lindorff, professor of keyboard at Boyer, released a CD earlier this year of her performances of Couperin’s L’Art de Toucher le Clavecin. Lindorff’s CD-liner notes offer information about Couperin’s attitude toward pedagogy and performance:

“Couperin is a commanding presence, providing precise fingering for difficult passages in his first book of Pièces de clavecin, keyboard exercises, and a detailed table of ornaments, which he insisted be executed exactly as he wrote them. Rather than trusting players of his unmeasured preludes to interpret the customary minimalist French notation, Couperin instead provides richly detailed templates to be played with freedom. And in marked contrast to modern teaching methods, he advises that young students never practice in the teacher’s absence.”

At that time, music students would have been trained in improvisation far more than now. The level of detail that a composer would notate would be far less, and the musician would be expected to know how to embellish and interpret the music that was written. Rather than playing merely the notes on the page, musicians would add ornaments, or musical flourishes, such as rapid alterations between adjacent notes. In today’s world, with so many styles of classical music in circulation and a lack of a common set of conventions in the music being written by contemporary composers, leaving so much up to the interpretation of the performer may not be practical. However, it is unusual that in the 17th century Couperin would have written out the ornaments that he wanted the players to include.

The extent to which a composer ought to exert influence over performers has been a subject of much debate in recent decades. For example, Christopher Small (1998) sees a hierarchical system of power within orchestral music with the composer at the top. This privileging of the composer allows for a sometimes-oppressive musical canon to emerge, from which composers with less privileged identities, such as most female and non-white composers, would be excluded (Citron 1992). In December, Dr. Lindorff hosted a symposium at the library on such issues, which are becoming an increasingly large part of the historical study of music.

What would this mean in the 17th century? A prevailing view is that the modern idea of the “master composer” is a product of 19th century German Romanticism (Chua 1999). While this may be true, listening to the music of Couperin gives us a chance to see how such issues and differences of opinion would have played out even in earlier centuries. While his attitude suggests an unusual degree of control for his time, when listening to [the CD of] Lindorff’s performance, the listener is struck by the sense of freedom, and often leisure, that manages to prevail. Could the effects of each piece have been achieved with less specificity from the composer? Would that have been better or worse? Dr. Lindorff notes: “the French baroque music has a very paradoxical combination of seeming prescriptive, such as the ornament signs, but also there were extra freedoms, such as the unmeasured preludes and other liberties that could and should be taken.”

For sure, the identity dynamics I mentioned above are also worth considering for Couperin’s time as they are in later centuries: could a female composer at the time provide a table of ornaments and insist her pieces be executed exactly as she notated them, as he did? There is never a simple answer to the question of who gets to control art, but listening to Couperin can invite us to keep asking the question in different ways. Dr. Lindorff offers the following comment: “actually there was one particular female composer at the turn of the 18th century–Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, who was very well received by Louis XIV and influential to other musicians, and whose music was extremely detailed. She was unusual, though.”

To some who have learned a musical instrument, the idea that one must not practice without the teacher present may be hard to fathom. Whether evidence of his desire for control, or perhaps his enormous generosity of time and patience toward his students, it seems that Couperin hoped that his work be played as he intended. No matter the rigidity or flexibility of the composer, Couperin likely did not envision his music being performed in a twenty-first century library lecture hall with a birthday cake in his honor. This performance invites us to experience his music in new and different manners.  So start the music! Let the party begin!

 

References and Further Information:

Denis Arnold & Julie Anne Sadie, “Couperin,” Oxford Companion to Music, Allison Latham, ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

Daniel K. L. Chua, Absolute Music and the Construction of Meaning (Cambridge University Press,
1999), 1-28.

David Chung, “French Harpsichord Vitality,” Early Music, 41, no. 3 (August 2013), 525–527.
Marcia J. Citron, “The Canon in Practice,” Gender and the Musical Canon (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 190-232.
François Couperin, Art de toucher le clavecin (L’) / Pieces de clavecin, Book 2 – 6th, 8th Ordres (La Raphaèle). Joyce Lindorff, harpsichord. Affetto Recordings, Naxos Music Library, 2018.

Harpsichord [Fr. clavecin; Ger. Cembalo, Kielflügel, Clavicimbel; It. clavicembalo; Sp. clavicémbalo, clavecín].” The Harvard Dictionary of Music, edited by Don Michael Randel, Harvard University Press, 4th edition, 2003. Credo Reference, Accessed 04 Sep. 2018.

Christopher Small, Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening, (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1998), 1-29.

Richard Taruskin, “The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past,” Text & Act: Essays on Music and Performance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 90-154.

Ben Safran is a Ph.D. candidate in music at Temple University, where his dissertation focuses on contemporary classical composers’ uses of social justice and political themes within concert music. His compositions have been performed by various ensembles and musicians across the United States.

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