Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

The third annual Dessoff Midwinter Festival comes to an end this Sunday evening with our performances of two “second life” Brahms compositions– the Sonata for Two Pianos in F Minor (see previous post) and the “London Version” of Brahms’ immortal Deutsches Requiem.  Interestingly, the manuscripts for both pieces are housed in the United States; the sonata score is in the Morgan Library here in New York, and the Requiem score is in the Library of Congress.  You can see the whole score online at their website.

Here are two clips so that you can compare the “London Version” to the original orchestral version.  I’ve always loved the sixth movement myself.  Obviously the full orchestration is immensely powerful when all hell breaks loose (“Death, where is thy sting?  Grave, where is thy victory?”), but it must be said that Brahms’ piano writing is also tempestuous!  The Klemperer recording is still one of my favorites, and I was thrilled when I went looking for a YouTube version of the four-hand transcription to find a recording conducted by an old graduate school classmate and friend, Jeff Bernstein.  Here are the two for comparison, followed by Sunday’s program notes.

Hope to see you at the concert on Sunday!

Brahms Requiem– orchestral version, Otto Klemperer conducting (VI is at 47:04)

Brahms Requiem, “London Version” (4-hand piano), Movt VI, Jeffrey Bernstein, conductor

Program Notes for Requiem:

The Sonata for Two Pianos in F Minor is by no means the only time that Brahms wrote for two pianists, on either one or two pianos. The Hungarian Dances are an absolute staple of the piano duet repertoire, and the Liebeslieder Waltzes for voices and four-hand piano continue to be performed often (Dessoff last performed some of them in 2011). During Brahms’ lifetime, the piano reached the apex of its popularity as the instrument for home and salon music-making; in this period before recordings, volumes of four-hand arrangements of all the major Classical and Romantic symphonies were very popular. In this context, it is not surprising that Brahms would have created a four-hand piano accompaniment for his Ein deutsches Requiem, for a chamber concert in London in 1871. For that performance, at the home of surgeon Sir Henry Thompson (whose wife, Kate Loder, joined Cipriani Potter at the piano), the text was sung in a now-lost English translation. As is often done in current performance practice, we present the Requiem in its German version, in the absence of that authoritative original English version.

There is little evidence of the genesis of the Requiem as a whole—neither Brahms’ reasons for writing the work (it was not commissioned), nor for the origins of the musical material. The one clear exception to this is the second movement, which provides a fascinating glimpse into Brahms’ willingness to recast his musical ideas into radically different forms. This movement, often called a “slow scherzo”—a funeral march, but in triple meter—went through many versions on its way to theRequiem. Especially interesting in terms of our use of four-hand piano tonight, it originated as a two-piano sonata, just as the F Minor Piano Quintet had. Brahms realized that the material was more symphonic in nature, so he worked the material into a symphony before revising it again to become his first piano concerto. He then returned to the abandoned symphonic draft to create the second movement of the Requiem.

There are other “second life” aspects of the Requiem. Its first version, premiered in Bremen in 1868, did not include the beautiful fifth movement for solo soprano and choir, a movement often associated with the death of Brahms’ mother in 1865. It was not until 1869, with a performance by the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, that the now-final version was first heard. And even then, there is some evidence that Brahms would have liked to make further revisions, as he often did later in his life with earlier works. But the Requiem had become so popular by then that it didn’t make sense to alter it. One change that he did make in a subsequent edition of the piece was to remove the original metronome markings, not so much because he disavowed his choice of tempi, but because he had come to distrust the inelasticity of the metronome. Those original metronome markings are striking however; they are often conspicuously faster than the tempi that many 20th-century conductors chose to interpret the tempo markings he substituted using German and Italian phrases. For this evening’s concert, we have used Brahms’ original metronome markings as a departure point for our interpretation.

For both compositions on this evening’s concert, listeners might be tempted to see the piano versions as somehow “less” than their better-known counterparts. This may be true on one level (the piano colors in the Requiem can’t match those of the orchestration), but it is still fascinating to see how Brahms, a very fine pianist himself—and a composer who wrote so powerfully for four-hand piano—approached these works in such a pianistically-conceived way. The inner voicings, always so complex and texturally dense in Brahms’ writing, take on new aspects and reveal hidden characteristics when viewed from a different perspective. What is lost in sweeping string gestures is somehow compensated for in the intricacy of the piano writing, as well as the insistence of the rhythmic elements so aptly conveyed by the piano. And surely Brahms must have thought these two “second life” compositions conveyed something important: for a perfectionist composer who destroyed so many drafts and versions of his music, the decision to release these would never have been taken lightly.

Manuscript of Brahms Sonata, in the Morgan Library

Well, we’re drawing to the end of another Dessoff Midwinter Festival, with our  final concert on Sunday evening at Symphony Space.  There are only two pieces on the program, both by Brahms– the Sonata for Two Pianos in F Minor, Op. 34b and the “London Version” of the Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45.  In these final two blog entries, I’ll be posting the program notes in advance, as well as links to various recordings of the different versions.

Program Notes for Two-Piano Sonata:

One of the most distinctive aspects of Brahms’ compositional output is that, although he obviously grew and matured as a composer throughout his career, there is a certain unity of style that runs through all of his works. One reason for this is that unlike many other Romantic composers, Brahms remained steeped in the classical forms throughout his life, preferring to develop his musical language within 18th-century architectural structures. But another reason is that Brahms was an inveterate reviser of his own music, so even the late compositions often came from versions explored earlier in life. Discovering these connections has provided much fodder for the musicological mill. Brahms famously destroyed early drafts of his compositions once he no longer needed them, so retracing the palimpsest of a published work often presents challenges. Luckily, the revisions in tonight’s repertoire present no such difficulties: they are two of the rare instances in which Brahms allowed a work to be published in more than one version.

At the risk of sounding flippant, Brahms’ beloved Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34, scored for string quartet with piano, might be considered a “Goldilocks” composition. It was the result of dissatisfaction that Brahms felt with two earlier versions: the first, for string quintet (quartet with an extra cello), he felt wasn’t quite effective enough; the second is the elegant version presented this evening, the Sonata for Two Pianos in F Minor, Op. 34b, which he found lacked something of the sweep provided by the strings. Clara Schumann, always the person to whom Brahms turned for feedback on his compositions, admired both early versions. However, after playing through the two-piano sonata, she wrote Brahms: “It is masterly from every point of view, but it is not a sonata—but a work whose ideas you might—and must—scatter over an entire orchestra.” Brahms did not orchestrate the work, instead returning to his earlier idea of writing for strings (without the second cello, which had muddied the texture) and keeping one of the pianos for the final version. What is perhaps most interesting is that he chose to publish the two-piano sonata in addition to the piano quintet, suggesting that he still valued this second version.

 

I have to admit that the F Minor Piano Quintet is my favorite piece of chamber music; I first fell in love with it from a recording by Christoph Eschenbach with the Amadeus Quartet.  Here is a link to the full recording; if you wish to compare it to the two-piano version below, go to 23:39.

Brahms Quintet in F Minor, Eschenbach and Amadeus Quartet

In recent years, I have especially enjoyed the several performances that my colleague from the Hotchkiss Summer Portals program, pianist Melvin Chen, has given with several different quartets– particularly a memorable performance with the Shanghai String Quartet a couple years ago.  What a piece!  The clip of the piano sonata version below is played by one of my very favorite pianists, Emanuel Ax, collaborating here with Yefim Bronfman.  The third movement particularly lends itself to Brahms’ pianistic writing.

 

 

 

Brahms Sonata for Two Pianos, Mvt 3– Emmanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman

 

 

 

Thomaskirche, Leipzig

It certainly makes sense.  Bach had composed a great deal of instrumental music in other jobs before he arrived in Leipzig.  Once in Leipzig, he created a rod for his own back: a project to write a cantata each week for at least three years’ worth of cantata cycles.  The job was particularly difficult at Christmas, since there were cantatas for Christmas Day as well as the following two days.

So why wouldn’t he turn to some of the music that he had written earlier in his career?!

Bach did just that for the opening movement of BWV110, Unser Mund sei voll Lachens.  He wrote this cantata for his second Christmas Day in Leipzig, in 1725.  For the first movement, he returned to the highly festive Overture in D Major, BWV1069.  Click on the link below to see a recording of that original orchestra work, led by the great Dutch Bach interpreter, Ton Koopman.

Overture in D Major

The text of the opening movement of the cantata is “Make our mouth full with laughter and make our tongue full with praises. For the Lord hath great things for us achieved.”  Bach was undoubtedly inspired to choose this orchestral movement because of the word “lachen”– or “laugh”, which he depicts with all the running triplets in the highly florid central choral section.  Incidentally, this material is new to the cantata (the original had been in 4/4 time), but it preserves the Baroque overture structure that begins (and in this case ends) with a stately grave introduction, followed by a faster, contrapuntal section.  Here is a recording of the first movement of the cantata, which you’ll see keeps the introduction as purely instrumental.

Cantata, Unser Mund sei voll Lachens, BWV110

I can assure you that singing this movement is every bit as hard as it sounds– it may illustrate the word “laughing”, but singing it is no laughing matter!  As a little bonus, I thought I’d make a reference to one of my very favorite Bach cantatas, BWV31, Der Himmel Lacht! Die Erde Jubilieret, one of the earlier cantatas.  There’s that word “lachet” (laugh) again– in this case, “The heavens laugh, the earth rejoices!”  Following an orchestral prelude, the choral movement based on this text begins at 2:30.  Again, Bach uses exceptional florid vocal writing to sound like laughter… and again, it’s anything but “a laugh” to sing it!

Cantata, Der Himmel Lacht! Die Erde Jubilieret, BWV31

J.S. Bach

Well, it was only a matter of time before I turned to Bach.

There are countless examples of “second life” compositions in the output of Johann Sebastian Bach: as we observed at some length in the festival two years ago, for example, most of the Mass in B Minor consists of “parody” movements of pre-existing compositions refashioned to the Latin text of the Mass.  The same thing is true of the Christmas Oratorio, for which Bach reworked music from secular cantatas.

This practice of “new wine in old wineskins” was made possible for Bach by the stress placed on the Doctrine of Affects in the Baroque period, in which each movement strove to express a single emotion or theological concept.  There was also a widely accepted lexicon of musical rhetoric, so that a new text could be grafted onto old music as long as the textual ideas were related.  In this way, secular music for a king could become sacred music about the Christ the King, and a movement about a more generalized suffering could be transformed into a movement about Christ suffering on the cross.

What is even more fun is when you encounter Bach’s music that you know so well as purely instrumental, suddenly with a text added.  I never cease to be amazed in particular by the opening chorus of a secular cantata celebrating the Elector of Saxony’s name-day– BWV 207a, “Auf Schmetternde Töne”, itself reworked from an earlier cantata honoring the appointment of Professor Korte at Leipzig University.

The music comes from the first Brandenburg Concerto in F Major, the third movement.  As was typical of the Brandenburg Concerti, the instrument was quite specific; each of the concerti has a different combination of instruments– in this case, two corni da caccia, three oboes, bassoon, violin piccolo, two violins, viola, cello and continuo.  For the cantata, Bach uses the more typical celebratory instrumentation of trumpets/timpani, flutes, oboes and strings.  This also reflects better the text of the libretto, which goes through a roll call of the orchestra:

Here are two recordings– the original Brandenburg Concerto version, and then the BWV207a secular cantata.  (The chorus begins at 1:30, following a fanfare-like processional.)  The chorus seems at once familiar and unfamiliar– especially with the “drums ringing thunder”!

 

 

 

 

Pfc Jesse Givens, 1969-2003

Saturday night’s Choral Juxtaposition concert is quickly approaching!  I’ve already previewed one of the piece, Mahler’s Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen in an earlier post.  Today, I wanted to talk a little about one of the most heartfelt pieces of choral music I’ve heard.  Here is an excerpt from Saturday’s program notes about it:

When composer Lee Hoiby first encountered a letter from fallen soldier Jesse A. Givens, who was killed in Iraq in 2003, he was struck by its intimacy.  The letter, written by Givens to his wife in case he was killed in action, was featured in the New York Times and the HBO documentary Last Letters Home.  When Hoiby was later approached by a men’s choir consortium led by the Minnesota ensemble Cantus to compose a new work, he suggested setting Givens’ letter.  The result was a work that has become an important addition to the men’s choir repertoire.  But the success of the original setting led to two more versions: the version for solo baritone and piano performed this evening, and a mixed choir version, also with piano.  Together, these three versions of Last Letter Home illustrate beautifully the way that composers will reexamine a work in giving it a “second life”.  The original men’s version is largely chordal, with the rhythm of the work indivisible from the text.  Once Hoiby added the more flowing, arpeggiated piano accompaniment for the solo song, he decided to keep that for the mixed choir version as well.  Some conductors have chosen to graft that piano accompaniment (or its orchestral version) onto the original a cappella male choir version—in this case, the various possibilities allow for a number of artistic approaches to this moving work.

 

The Dessoff men who have been learning this work have found the emotional content of it deeply moving.  For some, it brought back memories of their own military service; for others (like me), it reminded us of long months when beloved family members or friends were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, and our fears for their safety.  Many fathers have spoken to me about how they think of their own children when they sing these words– others are sons who think of their own fathers and letters they have received from them.  Many have poked around online to find more material about the piece and Pfc Givens; one of the basses led me to the following blog, which includes a beautiful performance of the original men’s choir version of the work.

http://mormonsoprano.com/2009/12/31/the-last-letter-home-a-soldiers-song/

Even apart from the emotional content of the work, it is enlightening to compare the original TBB version contained in that blog with Hoiby’s other versions.  Below are three different permutations: the first for solo baritone with piano; then the SATB version which is essentially a hybrid between the TBB harmonies and the piano part that Hoiby added for the solo song.  Finally, a particularly spine-tingling version, the New York premiere (at Trinity Church Wall Street), in which the TBB version is blended with an orchestral version of the piano part added for the solo song.  In this case, it is sung by Army musicians, giving the piece a special poignancy.

Edward Elgar

In the previous post, we looked at an instrumental piece that had been transformed into a choral piece by the composer.  In this post, the new choral piece was created by an arranger– in this case, the British composer John Cameron.  Like the Barber, Elgar’s Nimrod variation from the Enigma Variations it is a breathtakingly beautiful piece of orchestral music– in this case, for full orchestra rather than Barber’s strings-only piece.

It is quintessentially English music of the first part of the 20th century, with its sweeping melodies, heavily rooted in tonal, diatonic harmonies.  It is reminiscent of another famous Elgar piece to which words were added– “Land of Hope and Glory”, which began as the trio section of his first Pomp and Circumstance march.  Here is the original orchestral version of the Nimrod variation, conducted by Daniel Barenboim:

Similar to the Barber Agnus Dei, the challenge for the arranger is to mirror the same growth of intensity and color that exists in the original, but without the ability to add more instruments, or to have the instruments exploit their natural range of timbres and colors.  In both the Barber and Cameron’s Lux Aeterna, it could be argued that the most successful aspect of the choral versions is the softer sections of the piece.  It is in that dynamic range that the beauty of the transparent vocal lines is most suited to the music.  The climaxes are beautiful, to be sure, but it is easy to miss the power and majesty of the orchestral version.  Here is a performance Cameron’s version, which uses the “Lux Aeterna” text from the Latin Requiem Mass.

Samuel Barber

For the next few posts, I’d like to introduce you (or reintroduce you) to some very specific kinds of “Second Life” compositions: works that began life as an instrumental work but were arranged to create new choral works. This is often done because the instrumental work has been so successful artistically and/or commercially; by setting the work so that many choirs can perform it, the music is given an entrée into a wider musical community.

This is often hugely satisfying to choral singers and just as appalling to purists! For the choral singer, the chance to sing some of the most beautiful music ever composed is a real delight. But for those who know a work in its original instrumental form, somehow the sound of voices can never quite match the wide range of dynamics, color and timbre possible in an orchestra.

The first example, Samuel Barber’s Agnus Dei, is actually a third life composition. The very famous “Adagio for Strings” began its life as the second movement of the String Quartet, Op. 11. I had known the string orchestra arrangement (popularized by the movie Platoon) and the choral version for many years before I had the chance to hear the string quartet life. That performance, given by the Shanghai String Quartet at the Hotchkiss School Summer Portals music program in Lakeville, Connecticut, was one of the most dramatic live performances I’ve ever heard. Not having heard the work live before, I was somehow expecting to be disappointed by the greatly reduced number of strings in the quartet version. But it was a spectacular performance, accompanied by an extraordinary sunset over the hills visible from the glass pavilion of Hotchkiss’ Elfers Hall. It reminded me how important it is to keep an open mind about these “second life” compositions, though this was in fact the original version.

This is a clip of Tokyo String Quartet’s performance of the movement.

Toscanini conducted the premiere of Barber’s version for string orchestra asked Barber to create the string orchestra version with the NBC Orchestra in 1938, two years after the string quartet was written.  This is a live recording of the premiere.

Arturo Toscanini

Barber himself created the choral version in 1967, adding the minimal text of the “Agnus Dei” to the string music, with only small changes to the string orchestra arrangement. The music looks quite simple on the page, but the transformation to a choral work is anything but simple. So many features combine to make this one of the more challenging works in the choral idiom: the long lines, extended vocal ranges, enormous dynamic ranges, tricky harmonic shifts and perhaps above all, the deep emotional content.

Often a “second life” composition highlights an aspect of the original piece that was either non-existent or largely masked. By adding a sacred text to this choral version, suddenly a piece that was conceived for strings takes on aspects of Renaissance church music, with the scalar motion, the migration of the melodic line from part to part and the other-worldly nature of the new composition.

We’ve been experimenting a bit with the schedule in this year’s festival; we presented a “preview” concert of Britten’s choral music in November, and then a week ago held a very successful sing-in of a new version of Bach’s B Minor Mass—the “Prayer in B Minor”, with a new Hebrew text based on Jewish theology by New York psychologist Eric Weitzner. (You can follow his fascinating blog at http://jewishbach.wordpress.com/.)

In the coming weeks, we have two more choral concerts based on the SECOND LIFE theme of this year’s festival, so I will be posting blog entries over the next six weeks. These posts will discuss the theme of the festival, some of the music that you will hear in Choral Juxtaposition on February 8th and Brahms the Revisionist on March 9th, and other choral works that fit the theme.

I have long been fascinated by the various reasons that composers or arrangers choose to create different versions of a work. In our current aesthetic climate, in which adherence to “authenticity” plays an outsized role, many of us have been conditioned to think that there must be a single “most authentic” version of any work.

But earlier generations have not quibbled over such niceties. If a work proves especially popular in one version, there is often a compelling commercial reason (either for the composer or the publisher) to create another version that will allow that work to be performed more widely. Sometimes movements are excerpted from a larger work, particularly if that larger work is too unwieldy to be often performed in its entirety. In other cases, a suite is extracted from an unsuccessful largescale work in order to salvage something from a work that will otherwise have a limited future life. Another genre of arrangements might be called a “love letter”—a performer or arranger falls in love with the original, but wishes to bring their new perspective to it, so they change the instrumentation or voicing as an homage to the original. This year’s festival covers all aspects of these “second life” compositions.

To whet your appetite, here are links to two versions of the same work, which will be performed in our Choral Juxtaposition concert on February 8th. The original solo version will be sung by bass-baritone Malcolm Merriweather with our own Steven Ryan on piano, followed by this “love letter” 16-part choral arrangement by Clyde Gottwald. Compare the two here and see what you think!

From my perspective, there’s no way to reproduce the orchestral sonorities with voices, but Gottwald wisely chooses instead to exploit the vocal colors, producing a new work that bears some of the hallmarks of late 19th-century choral works by Brahms and Rheinberger. By “burying” the solo line (it is shared between many different parts at different times), there is a new sense of ensemble—perhaps not intended by Mahler, but not without its own beauty.

Obviously, I’m not the only person to have strong feelings about the relationship between words and music!  So I thought that it would be nice to hear from other people throughout the festival about their own ideas and experiences.  I’ve asked some singers to write down their ideas, as well as some conductor colleagues; over the next few weeks, I’ll share their thoughts with you.

I’m kicking off this series with Martha Hollander, an alto in Dessoff, who is uniquely positioned to talk about the both words and music.  She is a poet (as is her father, John Hollander), and has been singing for most of her life.  Martha is also an art historian who specializes in 17th century Dutch art; you can read more about her in her biography from Hofstra University, where she teaches: http://www.hofstra.edu/Faculty/fac_profiles.cfm?id=681.  I can attest to her expertise; when we were in Mexico City last June, she provided outstanding advice on my purchase of a Mexican landscape painting!

What I HADN’T known is that Martha is descending from musical theater ‘royalty’!  What a cool connection.  Here it is, in Martha’s words… enjoy!

 

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t either sung or listened to singing. When I was a kid, my parents sang me to sleep with Renaissance duets, folk songs, protest songs, and silly parodies from their childhoods. They taught me to sightsing, and we’d read through madrigal books. On long car trips, we’d run through everything we knew. (My sister and I had our specialty: we’d sing the entire first two sides of the Beatles’ White Album from the back seat.)

When my great-uncle Frank Loesser died, we inherited a box of sheet music, mostly show tunes and old parlor-songs. My father and I would muddle through them: he played, I sang. What we lacked in skill we made up for in enthusiasm.

Being immersed in this stuff, and as a reader and writer of poems, I feel that singing can’t help being a kind of conversation – not just with other performers, or an audience, but also between the words and music. Singing wordsis doing them justice.  And isn’t that what setting a text is – to do it justice, to interpret it in some way beyond just reading it to yourself, or aloud?  Not just an analogy to the text, but a reinvention?

I often try to imagine what a setting of a poem would be like. How do composers do it? I’m fascinated by the way they take ideas, chunks of texts, rhythms and sounds, and remake them. What prompts them to set the poem in the first place?  Do they follow or ignore the line breaks? Rhymes, if any? How do they “translate” mood and atmosphere?

I especially like settings that veer away from the obvious, but find other parallels.  For example, achingly sad texts are often set in major keys. Having sung Ricky Ian Gordon’s subtle setting of Langston Hughes’ ”Luck,”  I’m especially struck by the ending: “To some people/Love is given,/To others,/Only heaven.” For all its gentleness, Gordon’s music keeps very tight and tense, on slightly “off” unresolved chords that invite us to hear the ambiguity of the text: is love better than heaven? Here’s a sensual version for three singers, performed by Sherry Boone, Theresa Hamm Smith and Michael Lofton.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBTotGqsIZ0

Then there’s the reverse, in a totally different character: Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. In “Dirge,” the repetitive stanzas of a medieval poem are set to an identical melody each time, as in a traditional ballad, but the accompaniment constantly shifts––feverish strings; horn suddenly roaring in at Stanza 6––reinventing the melody into a new harmonic, and emotional, entity. Fittingly, the piece begins and ends a cappella: practically a textbook example of what to do with a repetitive text. (This is the superb 1964 recording I grew up with, sung by Peter Pears, with Barry Tuckwell on the horn.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q88svqsTgYQ

Sometimes words can rhyme on the page, but sound entirely different when sung.  Frank’s setting of his own lyrics for “My Time of Day,” from Guys and Dolls, sounds almost like a through-composed, single utterance, flowing naturally from the dialogue just preceding it. Here’s Peter Gallagher, from the 1992 revival, singing, and speaking, to Josie de Guzman.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrgZTqWlEMs

This isn’t strictly poetry…but I couldn’t resist.

 

UPDATE:  We will be postponing the masterclass because of the storm!  More information later about rescheduling…

In the meantime, I’m posting here the bios and clips from the other three masterclass participants…

Michael Blume

Michael Blume

Michael Blume’s blend of dynamic performance and soulful, honest vocals  has established him as one of Yale University’s top up-and-coming r&b/pop artists.  Having spent last year touring with the world-renowned Whiffenpoofs of Yale, Michael is currently in his last semester of school and performs frequently in the New Haven area. Combining elements of gospel, pop, soul, and jazz, Michael’s music speaks to listeners of all ages and backgrounds.  In addition to writing and performing, Michael has taught and conducted vocal ensembles in New Jersey, New York, New Haven, and Rio de Janeiro.

Audio file of “Cold and Lonely”

Philip Jameson

Philip Jameson

Philip Jameson is an Australian composer of orchestral and chamber music. He attended Sydney Grammar School on a music scholarship, where he studied piano with Ransford Elsley, organ with Robert Wagner and jazz with Dave Levy. During this time, he also studied composition with Richard Gill. He is currently an undergraduate student at Yale University.

Philip’s music is unashamedly melodic. The beauty of individual line is the highest priority in his work, although these lines often mingle in twisted, fantastical, even humorous ways. Philip is always looking to the past to inform his music, and is fond of appropriating such historic forms as Rondo, Variation, and Fugue. But the music Philip loves most is more recent, particularly that of the early twentieth century. His favourite composers are Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel and Samuel Barber.

Philip’s music is heard mainly in his hometown, Sydney. The Sydney Symphony Sinfonia has played three of his works, including The Wind in the Hemlock, which the organisation commissioned in 2010. More recently, the Australian Youth Orchestra commissioned him to write a brass quintet, resulting in The Collatz Variations. This work subsequently shared third prize is the Franz Schubert Conservatory’s International Composition Competition for 2012. Philip is currently working on Contact, an orchestral suite for the Sydney Youth Orchestra, as well as a children’s opera and a string quartet.

Outside his life as a musician, Philip enjoys reading Greek and Roman poetry, particularly Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  He is also a fan of crosswords and Breaking Bad. In the future, Philip intends to spend time on his skills as a conductor, so he can conduct his own operas and ballets.

Audio file– an extract from “Wind in the Hemlock” for mezzo-soprano and orchestra

 

Melissa Folzenlogen

Melissa Kingdom Folzenlogen

Melissa Folzenlogen is a 20 year old musician from several walks of life. A classically trained violinist, she attended Mannes pre-college for 9 years, as well as Fiorello Laguardia High School, Manhattan School of Music and ISO. Beginning in High School, she became interested in performing rock music, and formed the band Circadian Clock, in which she sings and writes the music for. She also works at Nightlife Productions, a recording studio where she traverses the ins and out of the music industry while recording and producing her band’s material with multi-platinum producer Sean Gill of ‘The Passengerz’. In addition to having played several notable venues over the years, (Don Hills, Sullivan Hall, and Ace of Clubs to name a few,) she has played back up guitar for celebrities like Foxy Brown and done session work for artists like Pasha (world famous accordion player). She has also made some appearances on TV as cast member ‘Random Melissa’ of the award winning ‘Chris Gethard Show’. Melissa is a young entertainer with experience, and is happy to share her music with you!