Saturday, March 26, 2011 | 4:00 p.m.
Alfred Newman Recital Hall, USC (see AHF on campus map)
3616 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles, CA
Reception following the concert
Admission is FREE and open to the public
Campus Parking: $8 – enter Gate 3 at Figueroa St. & McCarthy Way (Parking Structure X)
Juicy (2005) for Piano and Video – Jarosław Kapuscinski (b.1964)
Jarosław Kapuscinski, piano
Sonata for Two Pianos (2005) – Mikołaj Górecki (b. 1971)
Tema. Lento, senza rigore
Var. 1. Grazioso
Var. 2. Piu mosso
Var. 3. Scherzando
Var. 4. Molto energico
Var. 5. Lento
Tranquillo e leggero
Aurelien Eulert and Sara Sumitami, piano
I’m Underwater (2008) for Solo Piano – Robert Pierzak (b. 1984)
Yevgeniy Milyavskiy, piano
Arguro (2009) for Flutes and Live Electronics – Krzysztof Wołek (b. 1976)
Michael Matsuno, flute
Com/m/a (2008) for Flute and Clarinet – Wojciech Blecharz (b. 1981)
Amy Tatum, flute
Eric Jacobs, clarinet
Minotaur (2005) for Horn and Surround Sound – Ewa Trebacz (b. 1973)
Josiah Boothby, French horn
Polish Night Music – Free Improvisation
David Lynch, keyboards
Marek Zebrowski, piano
Polish Music: The New Generation
From PMC Newsletter March 2011
On March 26, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. in USC’s Newman Recital Hall, the Polish Music Center will present a concert featuring trend-setters in Polish contemporary music. Members of what is generally referred to as the “Glissando Generation” (named after a Polish music periodical covering avant-garde music and art), Wojtek Blecharz, Mikołaj Górecki, Jarosław Kapuściński, Robert Pierzak, Ewa Trębacz, and Krzysztof Wołek represent a wide spectrum of musical styles and approaches. These young composers, who have already made their mark on the international scene with numerous commissions and performances of their works, will be present to discuss their music and their compositional process. The concert will be capped with a special performance by filmmaker David Lynch, appearing in a duet of free improvisations with pianist Marek Żebrowski. Other performers include: Josiah Boothby, French horn, Aurelien Eulert, piano, Eric Jacobs, clarinet, Yevgeniy Milyavskiy, piano, Sara Sumitani, piano, Amy tatum, flute.
Wojtek Blecharz, currently pursuing a doctoral degree in composition at UC San Diego, has already been recognized with a number of international prizes for his compositions as well as for performances as an oboist. He has received commissions from the Poznań Music Spring Festival, Polish Composers’ Union, Ensemble Intégrales, Kwartludium Ensemble, clarinetist Michael E. Richards, and Royal String Quartet, and wrote music for the Silesian Dance Theatre, Kokoro Dance Ensemble in Vancouver, City Dance Ensemble in Washington, Fringe Festival for Arts in Philadelphia, Ballet Met in Ohio, Rotterdamse Dansacademie, and theatres throughout Poland. Mr. Blecharz will be represented on the March 26 program with a 2008 composition, Com/m/a for flute and clarinet, performed by flutist Amy Tatum and clarinetist Eric Jacobs.
Mikołaj Górecki, son of the late Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, is also a composer and currently serves on the faculty of Laredo Community College. He studied composition at the Katowice Music Academy with his father and graduated with honors in 1995. A scholarship student at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada during 1996-1997, Mr. Górecki received a doctorate in composition in 2000 from Indiana University in Bloomington. His music has been performed worldwide, including De Ijsbrejer Centre in Amsterdam, Avery Fisher Hall in New York, as well as venues in Montreal, Quebec City, Victoria, Edmonton, Washington, DC, and the World Music Days ISCM Festival in Slovenia. His Sonata for Two Pianos was written in 2005 and will be given its World Premiere at the March 26 Polish Music Center concert by piano duo Aurelien Eulert and Sara Sumitami.
Jarosław Kapuściński, a composer and pianist, is a graduate of Warsaw Academy of Music and Banff Centre for the Arts and received his doctorate in composition from UC San Diego in 1997. Currently he is Assistant Professor of composition in the Department of Music at Stanford University, and directs the Intermedia Performance Lab at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). He has also taught at McGill University in Montreal, Royal Academy of Arts and Music in The Hague, Art Conservatory and Music Academy in Odense, Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific, and has lectured internationally. Kapuściński’s primary interest is the creation and performance of works in which musical instruments are used to control multimedia content and the composer will perform his 2009 composition Juicy for Piano and Video.
Robert Pierzak is a composer and conductor who writes vocal, electronic, and instrumental music. He studied composition at Ithaca College and the Eastman School of Music with Mario Davidovsky, Phillipe Manoury, Robert Morris, Chinary Ung, Dana Wilson, and Gregory Woodward. Mr. Pierzak is currently in the PhD program in composition at UC San Diego. He is the recipient of the BMI Student Composer Award, the Howard Hanson Large Ensemble Prize, the Smadbeck Composition Award, and the Yale College Composer’s Group High School Composition Award. His music has been performed throughout the U.S. Mr. Pierzak’s composition, I’m Underwater for Piano Solo(2008) will be performed by pianist Yevgeniy Milyavskiy.
Ewa Trębacz is a composer and media artist living in Seattle and teaching at the University of Washington’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS). A graduate of Kraków Music Academy in the composition class of Bogusław Schaeffer, Ms. Trębacz received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington, where she studied computer music with Richard Karpen and Juan Pampin, and experimental video with Shawn Brixey. Ewa Trębacz’s works include instrumental solo, chamber, and symphonic compositions as well as computer realized sound with live performance, soundtracks for animated films, and experimental stereoscopic video. She was commissioned by the Klangspuren Festival in Austria and the International Contemporary Music Festival Warsaw Autumn in Poland and recognized by the 56th UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris in 2009 for her work things lost things invisible for ambisonic space and orchestra, which resulted in multiple radio broadcasts on four continents. Her 2005 work, Minotaur for Horn and Surround Sound will be performed by Josiah Boothby, who collaborated with Ms. Trębacz on this composition.
Krzysztof Wołek has studied composition with Edward Bogusławski, Louis Andriessen, Marta Ptaszyńska, Shulamit Ran, and Howard Sandroff and received his Ph.D. in composition and computer music from the University of Chicago. He has taught composition, electronic music, and theory at the Academy of Music in Katowice, Columbia College Chicago, University of Chicago, and, most recently, as Assistant Professor of Music Composition and Director of Digital Composition Studies at the University of Louisville. Krzysztof Wołek also serves on the jury of the Grawemeyer Award, is a Programming Committee Member of the Warsaw Autumn Festival, and is the Director of the University of Louisville New Music Festival. His works have been performed at the Warsaw Autumn Festival, SEAMUS, SPARK, International Computer Music Conference, Audio Art Festival, Musica Polonica Nova, and the ISCM World Music Days. He has received commissions from the Warsaw Autumn Festival, the Siemens Foundation, SCI/ASCAP as well as awards and grants from the Chicago Arts Grant, the Concours Internationaux de Musique et d’Art Sonore Electroacoustiques, the MISAME Association, and the Bourge Competition. His 2009 Arguro for Flutes and Live Electronicswill be performed by flutist Michael Matsuno.
David Lynch, a visionary filmmaker, is also a keen musician and enthusiast of Polish avant-garde music. For several years he has collaborated with pianist Marek Żebrowski on exploring musical inspiration in free-form improvisations. After a period of in-studio experiments and recordings in the early 2000s, Lynch (on electronic keyboards) and Żebrowski (at the piano), have performed live in Paris, Milan, Łódź, Gdańsk, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington. Their CD Polish Night Music, featuring several extended improvisations, was released in 2008. Their performance at the March 26 PMC concert will include a brief introduction by Mr. Lynch with music—created on the spot—to follow.
THE NEW GENERATION DELIVERS
On March 26, the Polish Music Center at USC presented a concert of music by young Polish composers residing in the United States, entitled “Polish Music: the New Generation.” Five of the composers arrived in Los Angeles from such faraway places as Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky, as well as from the Bay Area and San Diego, and began the weekend with presentations at the USC Thornton School of Music’s Composition Forum. They included Ewa Trębacz (University of Washington), Krzysztof Wołek (University of Louisville), Jarosław Kapuściński (Stanford University), and Wojtek Blecharz with Robert Pierzak, both from UC San Diego. Mikołaj Górecki was the sixth composer invited to participate but could not attend—he was in Katowice, Poland, attending the world premiere of his orchestral work on that same day (more on the Katowice premiere below).
The program opened with Jarosław Kapuściński’s Juicy, a 2005 work for piano and video. The composer was at the keyboard for the LA premiere of this engaging yet accessible work. Visuals of geometrically arranged fruit appeared and disappeared in time with the well-synchronized and rather melodic post-modern piano accompaniment. The dramatic images and the electronic symbiosis between live musician and pre-recorded video set the tone for the evening’s musical challenges and discoveries for both audience and performers. Watch and listen to a clip of Juicy on the composer’s website: www.jaroslawkapuscinski.com/work-juicy.html.
Mikołaj Górecki’s Sonata for Two Pianos, also dating from 2005, received its world premiere performance during the Newman Hall concert. Sara Sumitami and Aurelien Eulert, a duo of two doctoral students from Thornton’s Keyboard Collaborative Arts department, gave this three-movement work a superb and very assured reading. Performing in splendid synchronicity, Ms. Sumitami and Mr. Eulert imbued the outer movements with poetry and color in contrast with white-hot virtuosity in the central Toccata-Agitato second movement. The work was an audience favorite of the evening, ensuring it a likely spot on other programs in Southern California in the near future.
Pianist Yevgeniy Milyavskiy, who is currently pursuing his doctorate at UCLA and has performed on several other PMC concerts in the past, was the soloist in Robert Pierzak’s 2008 work for piano, I’m Underwater. After thanking the Newman Hall staff and professional sound engineers from AV West, without whom the evening’s complicated technical parameters would not have been met, Pierzak introduced his piece simply with an evocative poem. Whimsical and oft-recurring textures gave I’m Underwater a haunting air, and the requirement for the pianist to sing a simple tune in the final minute added to the unusual listening experience.
The next three works on the program were even more evocative and complex. While all three compositions called for impressive extended performance technique on different wind instruments, Arguro and Minotaur also involved live electronics, surround-sound speakers, and computer-assisted performance. Krzysztof Wołek’s Arguro for Flutes and Live Electronics is a very substantial and yet almost primal work that challenges the performer’s abilities to the utmost. Flutist Michael Matsuno, already an accomplished virtuoso despite his young years, approached the work with gusto as he fearlessly plunged into a thicket of unusual sounds and textures and effortlessly displayed both traditional and extended flute techniques. The range of colors and emotions evoked in the semi-darkened space of Newman Hall was truly astonishing, as the live sounds beautifully created by Mr. Matsuno were masterfully manipulated and blended with pre-recorded sounds by Mr. Wołek at the mixing board.
Com/m/a is a 2008 composition for flute and clarinet by Wojtek Blecharz, who was not only a composer on the program but also one of the masterminds behind the concert’s overarching theme. Blecharz’s intense and fascinating piece was a tour de force for flutist Amy Tatum, a former Thornton student and current rising star on the new music scene in Los Angeles, and clarinetist Eric Jacobs, a Thornton doctoral candidate and devoted teacher. Rhythmic complexity, vivid coloristic technique, and substantial virtuosity are required to perform this work. The soloists and the composer were heartily applauded by the audience who was clearly enthralled by the presentation.
Horn virtuoso Josiah Boothby arrived from Seattle together with Ewa Trębacz, the composer of Minotaur, a 2005 work for horn and ambisonics. Ms. Trębacz is a dedicated researcher of sound-spaces and her music is inspired by recordings in various soundscapes throughout the state of Washington, where she is a visiting lecturer in the UW’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS). The envelope of sound—waves of French horn recorded in acoustically-rich environments then reproduced in surround sound—served as point of departure for Mr. Boothby, who utilized a seemingly inexhaustible repertoire of traditional and eerily unusual sounds that he could produce on his instrument. Involving both composer and performer throughout the compositional process, Minotaur provided an excellent example of a truly collaborative work.
The concert of new Polish music ended with another collaborative effort in the form of live improvisation. Filmmaker David Lynch, a great fan of Polish contemporary music, was the evening’s special guest performer. Seated behind two keyboards, he first read a short and evocative poem that set the mood. Soon, over his mysterious-sounding harmonies and sound effects (including city traffic and echoing footsteps), piano textures of various chords and light passagework performed by pianist Marek Żebrowski unfolded. Over the past several years Mr. Żebrowski and Mr. Lynch have performed these improvisatory collaborations throughout the U.S. and Europe, and their recording—entitled Polish Night Music—was issued in 2008 to critical acclaim. Their joint performance at the Polish Music Center’s March 26 concert was, likewise, greeted with warm applause by the USC audience and provided a fitting end to an evening of musical adventure.
A few members of the audience shared their impressions of the concert as they filed out of the hall. “I was quite impressed with Jarek Kapuściński,” said Dr. Carl Muchnick approvingly. “He was the first composer on the program, who connected the video to the piano [in Juicy], and I admired his ability to adjust the images to the music.”
Dr. Eva Muchnick agreed with her husband, adding, “I liked the way the concert started off with Juicy, and how it got the audience in the mood for something special. With all the horrible news of destruction in the world, it was a joy to hear and experience creation by such young and enthusiastic composers—the surround sound, the video images with the musical composition, and virtually all the pieces were so original. It was also heartwarming and encouraging to see and hear young, uniquely talented musicians from all backgrounds play new Polish music. Bravo to all.”
Susan Requa, a teacher in the LA Unified School District, shared these thoughts: “Having attended many of the Polish Music Center’s amazing concerts, this one was a real break from past experiences. Often, we’re listening to works we’re familiar with, that feel comfortable, and enjoying a particular performer’s interpretation, but this concert brought an excitement in not knowing what would come next! I was constantly guessing at what kind of performance or sounds I would be hearing in the next piece since every note was something new. And the talent that had produced such amazing music was there, so you could discuss the piece you just heard with the composer, learning from their creative minds.”
Noted UCLA oncologist, Dr. Bartosz Chmielowski, also seemed to like the program. “I always enjoy coming to the concerts organized by the Polish Music Center,” he said, “but this event was really special. It was the first time that the names of the composers were not known to me before the concert. It was so interesting and exciting: I could listen to the music composed by a new generation of composers. The music was rich and challenging. I was able to listen to the whole spectrum of the new music: from the brilliant but more traditional Sonata by Mikołaj Górecki, through pieces by Robert Pierzak and Wojtek Blecharz who reinterpreted the use of traditional instruments such as piano, flute and clarinet, to compositions by Krzysztof Wołek and Jarek Kapuścinski that enriched and transformed the music by the use of electronics, and finally to the ephemeral piece for the French horn by Ewa Trębacz that combined live music with prerecorded surround sounds. This concert proved that the new composers speak with their own voice.”