Journeys is the second album released by Sonic Crossroads as a continuation of Kathryn Woodard's project to bring attention to new piano music by composers around the globe. Full liner notes are provided below along with links to composer's websites. Listen to selected sample tracks at CD Samples
Journeys is available at Amazon.com
Composer bios and notes
Keiko Fujiie, born in 1963 in Kyoto, is one of the most frequently performed Japanese composers and the recipient of numerous awards in Japan. She graduated and completed postgraduate studies at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. She won the Otaka Prize in 1995 and again in 2000 for the best symphonic piece of the year (chosen by NHK Symphony Orchestra). She has composed a number of pieces for guitar, many of them for the distinguished Japanese guitarist Kazuhito Yamashita. She came to the United States with the support of the Asian Cultural Council and lived in New York for several months. She returned to New York in 1998 for the dance-music collaboration project "In Their Shoes" at Colden Center.
Fujiie writes about her piece:
Pas de deux II for solo piano (1988) is a dance of perpetual motion. It is composed of several simple movements of one's neck, shoulders, arms, hips and feet. On the whole, the combination appears complex and refined. It symbolizes the chain of life and, in fact, is itself a part of it.
Eka Chabashvili (b. 1971) is based in Tbilisi, Georgia. Her larger compositions include two ballets, works for instrumental theatre, chamber compositions for different musical instruments, plays for orchestra, for guitar, for choir, for organ, and the multimedia work “Idea of God - Spheres”. She has stated that, “Georgian composers live at the cross of space and time” and indeed, her creative work is full of European and non-European cultural musical traditions.
Panorama for solo piano from 1996 creates an expansive sense of time and space with simple gestures using richly varied piano timbres, including strummed, plucked and beaten strings.
Kathryn Woodard is active as an improviser and has collaborated with several noted artists and composers in this capacity, including Allen Otte, Min Xiao-fen and Paula Matthusen. The six movements of Lyric Suite are the result of a single improvisational session on August 22, 2008. Woodard arrived at the extensive preparations for the piano from her knowledge of John Cage’s works for prepared piano and from earlier attempts to create all the instruments and timbres of the Balinese gamelan gong kebyar, which she had become familiar with as a member of Gamelan Dharma Swara in New York. Elements of the improvisation also betray influence from that style of music, such as the layering of lines, punctuating ‘gong’ strokes and even certain melodic modes. The title is a nod to Robert Motherwell’s painting cycle of the same name (rather than Alban Berg’s orchestral suite), which is based on similar improvisational impulses inspired by far eastern aesthetics and notions of creativity.
Ivan Božičević (b. 1961) is a prolific composer and active performer (piano and organ). Besides modern classical, he is interested in a variety of genres (early and baroque, electronic, jazz, world music) and the possibility of “cross-fertilizations“ between those genres, always aiming for the stylistic amalgamation on a deeper level. Although seemingly disparate, those music genres have one crucial thing in common: non-separation of composer – performer roles. It is Božičević's belief that the increasing separation of those roles during past 200 years of classical western music tradition has decidedly contributed to a general artistic standstill of our modern times. Loosening this separation and reversal to „live“ music creating (as in jazz and world music traditions) seems crucial for a renewal of music life in general.
His works have been performed in Serbia, Croatia, Sweden, Germany, USA. He made numerous recordings for Serbian national radio and television, Swedish national radio and Croatian national radio. His compositions have appeared on various CDs issued in Croatia, including Sotto mare and Sopra aria with his current jazz band, Splitminders. He is one of the founding members of the Splithesis ensemble for new music in Split, Croatia. As organ recitalist, Božičević performed in Germany, Spain, Switzerland, USA, Serbia and Croatia. He is active as a jazz musician and appears with Croatian bands Splitminders, Partet, Black coffee and Waveform.
Sotto voce is a six-movement solo-piano meditation on a haiku by Bashô (1644-1694).
kane kiete the bell fades away,
hana no kawa tsuku the blossom's fragrance ringing:
yuube kana early evening
Bashô (translated by David Landis Barnhill)
Paula Matthusen (b. 1978) writes both electro-acoustic and acoustic music and realizes sound installations. Her work often considers discrepancies in musical space—real, imagined, and remembered. Her music has been performed by Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), orchest de ereprijs, Ballett Frankfurt, noranewdanceco, Kathryn Woodard, Diesel Lounge Boys, and Jody Redhage. In addition to writing for a variety of different ensembles, she also collaborates with choreographers and theater companies. Her work has been performed at numerous venues and festivals in America and Europe, including Merkin Concert Hall, WAX, Judson Dance, Joyce SoHo, the Construction Company, Das TAT, the Aspen Music Festival, Bang on a Can Summer Institute of Music at MassMoCA, Aural Tick Festival, the Gaudeamus New Music Week, SEAMUS, NWEAMO, and the Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival. Awards include a Fulbright Grant, ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers' Award, First Prize in the Young Composers' Meeting Composition Competition, the MacCracken and Langley Ryan Fellowship. Matthusen has also held residencies at create@iEar at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, STEIM, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. She currently divides her time between Brooklyn and Miami where she is Director of the Electronic Music Studio at Florida International University.
run-on sentence of the pavement for piano, ping-pong balls, and electronics exemplifies Matthusen’s experimentation with instrumentation and sound sources. In the work she melds sampled and processed sounds from recording sessions with Kathryn Woodard together with structured improvisations that call on the performer to interact with the electronics created from those sessions. Steve Smith of The New York Times hailed the composer’s “vivid imagination” in this work, and Alex Ross of The New Yorker has described the piece as "entrancing.”
Hasan Uçarsu was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1965. He studied composition with Ahmed Adnan Saygun and Cengiz Tanç at the Mimar Sinan University State Conservatory of Istanbul, where he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in composition in 1990 and 1992, respectively. He completed his doctorate in composition in May, 1997 at the University of Pennsylvania under George Crumb and Richard Wernick. Since 1998 he has been on the composition faculty at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory of İstanbul. In 2009 he was appointed as Professor of Composition at the same institution. During the spring semester of 2007, he was invited by the Music School of Memphis University as visiting composer and faculty member.
His works have been performed (and broadcast) by all leading orchestras and choruses in Turkey as well as noted ensembles throughout Europe and int the USA. He has been commissioned by private individuals as well as organizations, such as the T.R.T. (Turkish Radio and Television), Turkish Ministry of Culture, Tefken Culture and Arts Foundation, İstanbul Culture and Arts Foundation, Meditearrenean Youth Orchestra (OJMED-France) and The Silk Road Project founded by Yo-Yo Ma. His work for the Silk Road Project, “The Back Streets of Old Istanbul,” is available from Schirmer Music Publishers. In addition to this release on Sonic Crossroads, Uçarsu’s music has appeared on CD labels such as TRT, Bilkent Music Productions, PB Productions, Ltd., Kalan Music and AK Music.
Uçarsu writes about his pieces:
“Aperlai” and “Patara” are part of a set of four pieces compiled under the title Reminiscences of a Summer Journey: A Tale of Four Ancient Cities. As the title suggests this set reflects the impressions of the ruins of ancient cities in the southwest coast of Turkey. I had been in the region frequently between 1992 and 1994. The idea to compose about these cities occurred during those trips but the compositional process began later. The whole set was designed and the first two pieces were finished in the summer of 1995, but the rest was completed in 1998. The aim was to capture and transform spiritual impressions inspired by the ruins in the medium of the piano instrument, incorporating its timbral and technical features. The comments next to the names serve as subtitles reflecting the associations and spiritual moods.
Aperlai (a sunken city). Aperlai was covered by a flood after an earthquake, but there are still traces of it to be seen, such as steps carved into the rocks of the hills going down into the sea and some higher parts of the walls at sea level. In this piece the stopped/muted sounds are employed to create distant sounds in a free, pleading style. Its floating rhythms evoke the feeling and sound of taksim (a free improvisation on a given maqam/mode) on an eastern Mediterranean instrument. The mid-register muted tones of the piano remind one of the forgotten voices of the city vanished by the sea and are surrounded by cluster-like figures in the outer registers especially highlight the great distance of separation of time and space from the moment.
Patara (a wealthy city in solitude). The ruins of Patara still reflect the city’s physical richness with its magnificent ceremonial entrance gate. Besides the features of its wealthy past there exists a mood of loneliness, a deep solitude that is sustained over time, carried by the elegant mild winds among the ruins. The music captures these contrasting moods: a physical richness and strength versus a spiritual lonesomeness.
Sangidorj, Sansargereltekh (b. 1969, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) divides his time between Mongolia and the USA. He has composed mostly chamber works that have been performed in Asia, Europe and North America; he is also active as a pianist. Mr. Sangidorj is the son of the composer Choigiv Sangidorj (b. 1940), with whom he studied piano in Ulaanbaatar as a child. He studied piano with Nasanbat Lodoydamba at the School of Music in Ulaanbaatar from 1977–85 and composition with Gonchigsumlaa Samba and piano with Pagma Puntsag at the College of Music in Ulaanbaatar from 1985–89. He then studied composition with Albert Leman and piano with Elena P. Savelieva at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow from 1989-95, where he also had post-graduate studies in composition with Albert Leman from 1995-97. In addition, he had post-graduate studies in composition with Antón García Abril at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid from 1997–99. Among his honors are the prize for best piano work at the Golden Autumn festival in Ulaanbaatar (1999, for Piano Works, Volume I) and a commission from the Silk Road Project (2000, Khara-Khorum). His music has been performed in China, Germany, Mongolia, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, and the USA. As a pianist, he has primarily played his own works.
Endless Stairways is from his first volume of piano works (1999).
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Learn about Ottoman composer Leyla Saz and listen to her Victory March from 1908 in several arrangements. This work is featured on ...And We Were Heard in a performance by Jacob Wallace and the South Dakota State University Wind Ensemble (also available in the audio player below). Peruse instrumental arrangements available for purchase here