Saturday, March 13, 2010

about Bernard Rands


Bernard Rands, a returning member of JiB's senior faculty, was born in Sheffield, England in 1934, he has been an American citizen since 1983. He is a dedicated teacher, both at Harvard, where he is the Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music, and at summer festivals such as Aspen, Tanglewood, and June in Buffalo.

His work Canti del Sole, premiered by Paul Sperry, Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic, won the1984 Pulitzer Prize in Music. His large orchestral suite Le Tambourin won the 1986 Kennedy Center Freidheim Award.

Conductors who have championed his work include Barenboim, Boulez, Berio, Maderna, Marriner, Mehta, Muti, Ozawa, Rilling, Salonen, Sawallisch, Schiff, Schuller, Schwarz, Silverstein, Sinopoli, Slatkin, von Dohnanyi, and Zinman, among others.

His 20-minute score Chains Like the Sea, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, was given its premiere by the orchestra in October 2008. Wrote Steve Smith in The New York Times, "Mr. Rands... creates pieces filled with technical demands that make them gratifying to the performer, as well as sufficient sensual beauty to appeal to listeners. Poetry has provided the spark for some of his strongest creations; Chains Like the Sea, an instrumental work about 20 minutes long, was inspired by Dylan Thomas’s Fern Hill. Certain phrases, Mr. Rands explained in a program note, conjured memories of early years spent in Wales.

"True to its title, The Sabbath Rang Slowly, the first of two sections, was a broadly paced sequence punctuated with bell tones made from stacked notes that shimmered and rippled in combination. Patches reminiscent of Debussy seascapes and early Stravinsky lullabies floated in a dreamlike drift, meant to evoke the tedium of slow, pious Sundays. A more animated second part, Rivers of the Windfall Light, repeatedly surged with chattering gusts of horns, brass and percussion.

Mr. Rands has an unerring knack for lucid orchestration; here, scintillating details regularly pricked through an overall melancholy tone. A brief, gentle duo for solo violin and muted trumpet midway through the second part, for instance, seemed to leave behind a humid, bluesy wilt in its wake."

In this video, Rands describes the genesis of Chains Like the Sea.

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