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Performance Date: May 8th, 2015
Program Notes
This concert is dedicated to the memory of the poet Robert Creeley (1926 – 2005)

The Long Road
by Robert Creeley

The long road of it all
is an echo
a sound like an image
expanding, frames growing
one after another in ascending
or descending order, all
of us a rising, falling
thought, an explosion
of emptiness soon forgotten
As a kid I wondered
where do they go,
my father dead. The place
had a faded dustiness
despite the woods and all.
We grew up.
I see our faces
in old school pictures.
Where are we now?

"Robert Creeley took the measure of life with his very breath, breaking with traditional metrics in order to reach to the origins of our lives. Charles Olson, with whom Creeley established the major poetic movement of our time, had written, in "Projective Verse" (1950): 'the [poetic] line comes … from the breath, from the breathing of the man who writes, at the moment that he writes … for only he, the man who writes, can declare, at every moment, the line its metric and its ending—where its breathing shall come to.' Six-foot-seven, flamboyant, emphysemic Olson would naturally breathe very differently from the deeply retiring and introspective Creeley, but the object remains the same. In 1964, Creeley wrote: 'Measure [commonly defined in this context as the rhythm of a piece of poetry or a piece of music], then, is my testament. What uses me is what I use and in that complex measure is the issue.' He said that he felt given to write poems, and we might ask: who was the giver, who or what was using him? "The Long Road," from late in his life, bears witness. Observe his characteristic line breaks (note 'all/of us a rising, falling' before the word 'thought' appears in the next line); see how, as he feels the long road, he and it become one. So the path of life uses him and he it as he captures the wonderment expressed in the last line: 'Where are we now?' And hear the magnificent quality of his breathing as he reads the work, his body becoming the vehicle for creation itself."

Professor David Landrey , Buffalo State College

David Felder composed So Quiet Here for four channels of electronic sound in 2006, incorporating the voice of Robert Creeley reading four of his poems: "Buffalo Evening", "Edges", "Spring Light" and "Goodbye".

In her 2008 thesis for her PhD from the Dartington College of Arts in the University of Plymouth, the Berlin-based German composer Ruth Wiesenfeld writes that her "research into the quality of presence in performance explores a compositional approach that originates from the question of what might lead a person to seek musical or sounding utterance. lt aims at opening the awareness-space towards a listening not only to the musical-acoustic event, but to the performer as a whole." The influence of this idea can be experienced by the listener in her two brief works for solo voice, Air - like murmuring winds and Ruins.

Ruth Wiesenfeld writes that "Air - like murmuring winds is inspired by the following lines of Margret Atwood's poem Variation on the Word Sleep:

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

The music entails two very different emotional territories in between which the singer is seamlessly navigating as if those two voices were simultaneously present within herself".
About her work Ruins Wiesenfeld says "I was asked to write a solo for female voice last summer. This was the time with the war in Gaza and other horrible news. It felt impossible to ignore all this while conceiving a new piece. On the other hand I had nothing to express but grief and powerlessness. I felt that all I could do was to augment care and gentleness in my immediate surroundings, including my music. So I scribbled down many ideas, threw out all of them and suddenly - whilst tearing one of my tries apart - I realized that this sound and this gesture - when done slowly and cautiously - contained the atmosphere that I had been looking for. Immediately the image of a woman standing there very calm, very focused, introvert, slowly tearing paper in regular intervals came to my mind. It was clear that this would be a second voice, an ostinato to a text by Yeats sung in an intimate tone of voice, almost as if the singer was singing to herself:

What do you weave with wool so white?
I weave the shoes of Sorrow:
Soundless shall be the footfall light
In all men's ears of Sorrow,
Sudden and light.

William Butler Yeats, from: The Cloak, The Boat, And The Shoes (1889)
The score consists of scraps of paper whose torn edges and fissures the singer is tracing with her voice in between the more melodic fragments to which the words are set".
Of her work open – close, for accordion and voice, Wiesenfeld writes: "Originally it was written for a French accordionist (Christine Paté) who did the voice and the playing simultaneously. In this piece I conceive of the voice as rather reflective, intimate - as if singing to oneself. Reading "Un Coup De Dés" by the French symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé I found my attention caught by the two capitalized and italicized phrases 'C`Ètait' (it was) and 'ce serait' (it would be) on the poem`s seventh page. Regarding my composition I was interested in their sound and rhythm as well as in their transitory character, their suggestion of future and past, but not of the present moment itself. The space in between these two words encapsulated for me the moment in between the opening and the closing of the accordion, the moment when inhalation turns into exhalation, the moment when transformation takes place. To complete the cycle of becoming and ceasing, as well as for rhythmical reasons, I added the phrases 'jamais' (never), 'jamais encore' (never again) and 'pas encore' (not yet)".

While he was a student at Yale of Horatio Parker, a leading American composer of the late 19th century, Charles Ives received an assignment to compose some songs in the French chanson style. These Four French Songs reveal Ives's ability to effectively make use the French art song style. These songs demonstrate that Ives, who later went on to earn a well-deserved reputation as a genuinely original American composer, was also able to very effectively compose songs in the style of late nineteenth century French composers by making use of mode changes, chromaticism to connect phrases and classical structure, often employing the predominant theme in the texts of French art song, that of lost love.

Apparition, a 1979 work for soprano and amplified piano by the American composer George Crumb, was his first published composition for solo voice and piano, and his first published vocal work in English. It consists of elegiac songs and vocalizes on texts by Walt Whitman. The songs are mainly from the "Death Carol" section of his larger work "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", an extended elegy that Whitman wrote shortly after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 as a testament to the slain leader. "The literary and musical materials focus on concise, highly contrasting metaphors for existence and death . . . death is never depicted as an ending of life. Instead, it is circular, always beginning or an enriched return to a universal life-force".


Choreographer and performer Melanie Aceto, inspired by her collaborations with the extraordinary young Turkish vocalist and composer Esin Gündüz, composed Vent, an exploration of our vulnerable and expressive relationship with breath. Using consonant sounds, Melanie uses her breath as propulsion and restriction, creating a score that both accompanies and drives her movement.

The Austrian pianist and composer Artur Schnabel is perhaps best remembered in this country for the profundity, vitality and spirituality with which he imbued his interpretations at the piano keyboard of the master pieces of the greatest Austrian and German composers, particularly Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. Harold Schonberg, the widely respected and, it must be added, feared, longtime classical music critic for the New York Times, went so far as to describe Schnabel as "the man who invented Beethoven". Yet, Schnabel was also an active composer who very unexpectedly composed a sizable body of works that are almost exclusively atonal, perhaps reflecting his lifelong friendship with his fellow countryman Arnold Schonberg. Schnabel's works are now very rarely ever performed, including the work on this program, his Seven Early Songs, Op. 14 (Frühe Lieder) composed in 1899-1902 for medium voice and piano.

Jan Jezioro


Made possible by the generous support of

Irene Haupt, Photographer

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