I. When the Land Belonged to God
II. Windswept Winter
III. Old Stomping Grounds
(1923 – 2006)
I. Allegro con spirito
II. Rubato. Lamentoso
III. Allegro grazioso
IV. Presto ruvido
V. Adagio. Mesto
VI. Molto vivace. Capriccioso
I. Andante – Allegro vivace
IV. Allegro con brio
Soapstone Prairie Quintet for Woodwinds
“Soapstone Prairie Quintet was commissioned in 2016 by Classical Revolution Northern Colorado as part of series of multimedia events at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery in Fort Collins, Colorado. The project, called Melody of Our Landscape, celebrated the 2015 release of genetically pure bison into the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area in Northern Colorado. The premiere at the Museum of Discovery included panoramic photography and video of western landscapes, projected onto the ceiling of the Otterbox Digital Dome Theatre.”
“The composition is scored for the traditional woodwind quintet instrumentation of flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon. It is in three movements and is intended to depict the life of bison as a part of the magnificent Western landscape. The first movement, When the Land Belonged to God, is inspired by and named after the masterpiece by American Old West painter C.M. Russell. The second movement, Windswept Winter, portrays the life of bison on the prairie in winter, with its frigid, swirling winds. The final movement, Old Stompin’ Grounds, was inspired by watching video footage of these bison being released from their holding pens into the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, where their ancestors once roamed free.”
I had two goals in mind: first, to imagine what Haydn might have written if he had been exposed to a sampler plate of 20th-century recordings; and second, to write something which sounded Classical if you weren’t paying attention, and only revealed its oddities upon closer inspection. I don’t have enough hubris to say I managed the first goal, but I feel confident I did well at the second.
When submitting the work for performance, I toyed with the idea of subtitling it “Divertimento.” This in reference to the genre, which acted as a pleasing diversion from the tedium and seriousness of life, but also to the idea of using a style to divert attention away from something off-stage but, somehow, still makes itself felt. I don’t have anything in particular in mind for what this ‘other’ could be. I only suggest that, if the work were personified, it’s as if the music attempts to maintain some sense of decorum in the presence of a prankster, and doesn’t always succeed.”
- Adam Eason
Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet
In 1953, he arranged for brass quintet six movements from one of his new piano pieces, and the unique Six Bagatelles was born.
Although Stalin died that year, György did not release his bagatelles to the public for three years, still fearful of the State’s menacing authority overall artists. Even then, the sixth bagatelle was omitted from the first performance as “too audacious”. The complete set of six was not played until 1969 after he emigrated to Germany.
György labeled the Bagatelles in order (1) “spirited”, (2) “lamenting”, (3) “graceful”, (4) “rapid and coarse”, (5) “mournful and melancholy (Bela Bartok: In Memoriam)”, and (6) “capricious”. In the third movement, György lightens the texture by calling for the bassoon to stick a rag in the instrument’s bell to serve as a mute.
Postscript. György, his father, and his brother were sent to a Nazi internment camp after Hitler invaded their country in 1944. His father and brother perished. György did not, only to fall prey to Stalin. It is a tribute to the human spirit that a man who survived the horror of the mid-20th century could survive to write music full of optimism, life, and energy. Bagatelle means “trifle”, but these six are anything but.
“Tuttarana” from KhirKhiyaan
“So much of my work with brass instruments has come into being because of incredible and intrepid brass players who have shown me new windows into my own music. Hence the title: Khirkiyaan means ‘windows’ in Hindi, and this brass quintet is made up of three ‘windows’ into my work. Each movement is a transformation of another piece of mine for another instrumentation, reimagined for brass quintet.
Tuttarana, the third movement of this piece, was commissioned by The Brass Project, a brass ensemble formed from graduates of the Curtis Institute of Music. It was originally a piece for women’s choir. The title of this movement is a conglomeration of two words: the Italian word ‘tutti’, means ‘all’ or ‘everyone’, and the term ‘tarana’ designates a specific Hindustani musical form, whose closest Western counterpoint is the ‘scat’ in jazz. Made up of rhythmic syllables, a tarana is the singer’s chance to display agility and dexterity. While the brass version of this piece doesn’t have the actual syllables that the vocal version does, it does aim to showcase the brilliant virtuosity of the ensemble.
The other two movements were added later. The first movement, Jog, is a movement of my string quartet Ragamala.Though not entirely in the purest form of the Hindustani raag called Jog, it does use the characteristic between the Western perception of major and minor.
The second movement comes from my song cycle for guitar and mezzo soprano, called Chuti Hui Jagah (The Space Between). ‘Joota’ means ‘shoe’ in Hindi. The title comes from a tiny couplet by the poet Manav Kaul: “When the shoe bites / Then it becomes difficult to navigate through the world / And when the shoe stops biting / Then it becomes difficult to navigate through time.”
It was through working with brass players, being shown the seeds of what was already there in my existing work, and then transforming it for these instruments, that allowed these windows to open.”
Sonata for Brass
Paul Von Hoff is the trombonist and artistic director for the Gaudete Brass, the group that commissioned Sonata for Brass. When asked to describe it, he said, “To put words to it almost diminishes it. There is joy and energy. All five of us think it is very powerful. Its success comes from its five intriguing parts, but even the accompaniment is interesting.” I agree.
John wrote not only for the audience but also for the players. He gives each a significant solo role in this piece which may explain its enduring popularity among chamber ensembles as well as the audience.
Quintet No. 1 for Brass
Kenneth took up the tuba by accident. His parents started him on the guitar and the piano, but he didn’t like either. He switched to the trombone in school, but one day the tuba player in the band dropped out, and the music director shifted everybody one chair to the left. What was waiting for him? The tuba and the rest is history.
Kenneth looks for a wide variety in his musical life. He emphasizes teaching as an important part of his career because it causes him closely to examine his techniques and aesthetic ideas to make sure they are worthy of being passed on to his students. He heartily subscribes to the idea that “to teach is to learn”.
I talked to Kenneth about this engaging piece. As you might expect, he is a thoroughly delightful person. I wanted to know more about it so I could prepare you to enjoy it. To my surprise, he wrote it when he was only 17 years old! He describes it as “intentionally conservative” not designed to break new ground. If anything, it captures the Romantic style as exemplified by Brahms. His advice is just to “relax and listen”. He did say that the third movement is a palindrome, which means if you play it backward, it will sound the same as if you play it from the beginning. He doesn’t expect anyone to listen to it in that light, but I thought I’d throw it in for you music majors.
How fun to talk to a living composer. Wouldn’t you like to talk to Beethoven? Or Rachmaninoff? Or Elgar? Thank goodness they continue to speak to us through their timeless music, and thanks to Kenneth for continuing our great music tradition. Where would we be without music?
Executive Director Message
Welcome to the Boise Phil's new Digital Stage! Nearly every week this season, you'll enjoy new performances that you can stream anytime, anywhere. As a bonus, you can deepen your experience with our weekly Backstage conversations featuring our music director and musicians. Thank you for joining us!
Be sure to check out our Inside the Symphony blog for special features and insights into the Boise Phil.MEET THE STAFF
Music Director Message
Board President Message
As board president, let me take this opportunity to thank all of the people, organizations and businesses who have helped us bring this innovative season to life. Your support has ensured that the Boise Phil continues to thrive and evolve to ensure that your local orchestra is accessible to everyone in our community.MEET THE BOARD
The Boise Phil reflects the energy and heartbeat of our communities through invigorating musical experiences that touch the human spirit.