Monday, June 22, 2009

Adventures with the Slee Sinfonietta

The Slee Sinfonietta gave a characteristically absorbing program at Lippes Hall on April 7. Christian Baldini conducted works by UB faculty member Jeffrey Stadelman (Eventyr) plus recent composition grads Derek Charke (The Winds of Winter) and Evan Johnson (down / among the altitudes).

Charke's The Winds of Winter, for amplified solo flute and twelve-piece chamber orchestra, grows out of his researches into contemporary flute technique, integrated virtually every manner of sound production available to the instrument.

Johnson's down / among the altitudes was based from the book-length poem Anathemata by the Welsh poet David Jones. The passage from which the phrase in the title is taken describes, in a wide-ranging fashion typical of the poem, the changing of the Earth's surface on a geologic time-scale as it intersects with Celtic mythology - itself in turn a distorted reference to the Catholic Mass, around which the entire poem is somehow constructed.

Stadelman's Eventyr (Norwegian: "adventure," and also "folk tale) was written for the unusual instrumentation of New Zealand's virtuosic 175 East Ensemble, which Stadelman describes as "a sort of negative 'Pierrot ensemble' with low winds/brass, two low strings, and percussion." Says the composer, "I remember thinking about trying to develop an analogy-in form and time-to the feeling of the way high notes 'sound' when played by low instruments like cello, bass, trombone and bass clarinet." More information at the Center's website.

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