Wednesday, September 11, 2019

David Felder’s new orchestral work to receive its world premiere by the BPO

David Felder’s new orchestral work to receive its world premiere by the BPO

The extended four-movement work for symphony orchestra to be performed under the baton of the BPO’s Grammy-winning conductor and music director JoAnn Falletta

BUFFALO, N.Y. – SUNY Distinguished Professor David Felder’s new orchestral piece “Die Dämmerungen” will receive its world premiere in a pair of performances by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of JoAnn Falletta at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6, at Kleinhans Music Hall.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

The extended four-movement work muses on various forms of twilight with each movement framed by accompanying poetic inscriptions, including those of William Carlos Williams, Dana Gioia, the Book of Psalms, as well as Frederick Nietzsche’s “Twilight of the Idols.”

I’m deeply honored to have been able to compose ‘Die Dämmerungen’ for JoAnn Falletta and the wonderful musicians of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and am very excited to hear the premiere at Kleinhans,” says Felder, the Birge-Cary chair in music composition in the University at Buffalo Department of Music, part of UB’s College of Arts and Sciences.
UB faculty, staff and students will receive a 30 percent discount for tickets purchased online through the BPO’s website by using the code FELDER30.

“We are thrilled to present this new work by David Felder, one of the foremost American composers today,” said JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. “The BPO has a long history of presenting new works. Our audiences have come to expect it—to love it. It’s such a joy to present the premiere performance of this great work to our audiences at Kleinhans Music Hall. The BPO and I are happy to celebrate the close relationship between our orchestra and the University at Buffalo.”
JoAnn Falletta conducting the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
For Felder, who is widely recognized as one of the leading composers of his generation, twilight (“Die Dämmerungen” translates from German as twilights) is an encompassing theme that speaks to a recurring diurnal nature as easily as it references sweeping representations of place, position and time of life.
He says light has always been a source of fascination, its shades, durations and intensities expressed in ways often specific to time and geography. Felder mentions witnessing the brief but spectacular southwestern sunsets and their longer more subtle northern counterparts, as well as looking out his backyard in East Aurora, N.Y. 

The village’s name references the Roman goddess of dawn, and inspired Felder to reflect on that mythology along with the current historical moment in “Die Dämmerungen’s” second movement, while speculating on twilights of persons, and civilizations, both their beginnings and their endings, in later movements.

Felder’s use of poetic texts in “Die Dämmerungen” represents both passion and inspiration. Poetry in this case, speaks not only to his personal interests, but creates a frame that provides what he calls an ancillary way of looking at the music.
That Felder explores cycles of time in some ways speaks to his own evolution as an artist. 
David Felder

“Die Dämmerungen” is another step in a decades-long line of collaborations with the BPO that began in 1987 with the orchestra’s performance of Felder’s double concerto for clarinet and piano, performed as part of what was the North American New Music Festival. He also wrote in 1991 for the former BPO music director Maximiano Valdes a piece titled “Six Poems for Neruda’s ‘Alturas…’” Felder served as Meet the Composer, BPO composer in residence for three years beginning in 1993 as part of a national program that put five other composers in residence with American orchestras. And since then, he has worked with the BPO on many June in Buffalo concerts, UB’s internationally celebrated new music festival.

But his current works represents his interest in speaking more directly and simply in his work.
“I think simplicity is among the qualities that clarifies one’s work as we get older,” he says. “As a younger composer, part of my focus was on the formal and technical as points of departure in working out my own language, but as you get older and more comfortable with that language, you can be more direct in how you disperse the material you have in hand for the artistic purposes you desire.”

As a younger composer, Felder was interested in writing extended single movement forms expressed in complex formal vehicles.

“In ‘Die Dämmerungen,’ as in much of my recent work, I’ve concentrated more on shorter, individual movements which are essentially binary forms,” he says. “These are more simple forms than my earlier work, basically two parts, but clearly connected – the movements rhyme in a manner of speaking.”

Purchase tickets for Saturday, October 5, 2019, at 8:00 pm, at Kleinhans Music Hall here.

Purchase tickets for Sunday, October 6, 2019, at 2:30 pm, at Kleinhans Music Hall here.

University at Buffalo faculty, staff, and students, please don't forget the codeword for a 30% discount: FELDER30

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Slee Sinfonietta Soloists and Chamber Music Concert

The Slee Sinfonietta is the professional chamber orchestra in residence at the University at Buffalo and the flagship ensemble of the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music. The Sinfonietta’s first concert of the Fall Semester at UB will feature Solo and Chamber Music by David Felder, Nathan Heidelberger, Tomek Arnold, Harrison Birtwistle, Heinz Hollinger, and John Cage. The performance will take place on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 7:30 PM in Lippes Concert Hall.

David Felder has long been recognized as a leader in his generation of American composers. His works have been featured at many of the leading international festivals for contemporary music, and earn continuing recognition through performance and commissioning programs. Felder's work has been broadly characterized by its highly energetic profile, through its frequent employment of technological extension and elaboration of musical materials (including his Crossfire video series, and the video/music collaboration Shamayim), and its lyrical qualities. Felder’s composition, Colección Nocturna (Chamber Version) (1982-83), will be performed by the trio of Michael Tumiel, Clarinet; Wei-Han Wu, Piano; and Robert Phillips, electronics.
Wei-Han Wu, Pianist

Wei-Han Wu, piano, will be joined by Soprano Julia Cordani in the performance of UB alum Nathan Heidelberger’s composition Descriptions of the Moon (2011). Recent musical preoccupations of Heidelberger's have included lists and repetition, text, distance, and ephemerality, and the distortion of traditional musical objects. Nathan received his PhD from the University at Buffalo in 2015. He also holds undergraduate degrees in Composition and English from Oberlin College and Conservatory, where he was awarded the Walter E. Aschaffenburg Composition Prize. His primary teachers have included David Felder, Lewis Nielson, and Richard Carrick. About Descriptions of the Moon, Heidelberger writes:

Descriptions of the Moon grew out of my desire to work with a few unusual quotations from a Jorge Luis Borges story. The quotes are demonstrations of how to refer to the moon in two hypothetical languages that the author imagined – one consisting only of adjectives and another only of verbs and adverbs. I wanted to write a more substantial piece than just those quotes would allow, however, so the idea of a larger moon-themed cycle was born. My process for selecting additional texts was, I supposed, rather haphazard: I leafed through all the books I happened to have on my bookshelf, scanning for any reference to the moon I could find. I compiled a list of a few dozen texts, confirmation of my theory that any book of poetry I opened would probably have a poem about the moon in it. After wading through the clichés, I arrived on the nine texts at hand, in part for their originality (it’s not every day you hear the moon described as a “luminous polyp”) and in part because most of them focused specifically on moonlight.”

UB Alum, Dr. Nathan Heidelberger

Current University at Buffalo PhD. Student Tomek Arnold will also be having a piece performed at the Slee Sinfonietta Solo and Chamber Music Concert. Tomek Arnold is a Krakow-born musician currently working and living in the US. His areas of work include: composition, percussion performance (solo and collaborative), electronic music and improvisation. In his work he tries to develop a language of understanding that can function across varieties of genres and musical expressions. He will be joined by fellow percussionists Tom Kolor and Steve Solook to perform his work, Out of Service – Ruthless Positions! (make them study, so they can be musicians) (2018) for percussion trio. Tomek Arnold writes very briefly about the piece, stating:

“There are times when you are forced to teach subjects that you don’t really believe in yourself. Writing a piece about it could be a solution to relieve some of the tension between artistic ideologies and teacher’s obligations.”

Harpist Rosanna Moore will be featured on two compositions for solo Harp; Harrison Birtwistle’s Crowd (2005) and Heinz Hollinger’s Sequenzen über Johannes I, 32 (1962). Originally hailing from the UK, award winning harpist Rosanna Moore is equally at home on stage as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. She was the first harpist ever to become a finalist in the Royal Northern College of Music’s Gold Medal Weekend (the highest accolade offered for solo performance), the first harpist to be awarded the Stan Barker Memorial Prize for jazz improvisation, and was placed third in Europe’s first Jazz and Pop Harp competition. More recently she was awarded the Robert Wayne Barlow Award for excellence in harp performance and was awarded third place in Tierra47’s pedal harp competition. Birtwiste’s Crowd is an exploration of resonance, and in the essential nature of the earliest harps. Crowd (etymologically related to the Celtic words crwth, cruit & crot) was the English term used for instruments of the lyre class, & ultimately for a frame harp  from pre-Christian to medieval times.

Harpist Rosanna Moore

The concert will close with a performance of John Cage’s composition for solo violin, Eight Whiskus (1985), by violinist Lynn Giam. The title of this work combines "Whistlin' is did" by Chris Mann (source text for the vocal version) and “Haikus.” In the original version for voice, Cage assigned syllables of the text to the notes of the F-minor scale. After consulting with Malcolm Goldstein, Cage reworked the composition "such that the vowel and consonant qualities of the poem are transformed into various bowing positions, gradations of bowing pressure, and forms of articulation.”

General Public Tickets: Online - $15 plus $2.18 fee and minimal credit card charge at (up to 90 minutes prior to concert time) or

In person, in advance - $19 at UB’s Center for the Arts (Tue-Fri, 12pm-6pm), At the door (one hour before concert time) - $22

Seniors/UB faculity, staff, alumni/non-UB students Tickets: Online - $10 plus $2.18 fee and minimal credit card charge at (up to 90 minutes prior to concert time) or

In person, in advance - $14 at UB’s Center for the Arts (Tue-Fri, 12pm-6pm), At the door (one hour before concert time) - $17

All UB students with a valid ID will receive one complimentary ticket to all UB Music Department events.