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 2001 Conference
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2001 State Conference, Concert 6

Chamber Works
Sunday, April 1, 2001
2:30 p.m., Morphy Recital Hall

Concertino for Percussionist and Chamber Winds
     I Andante
     II Andante
     III Vivo
Joel Blahnik
Cindy Terhune, percussion soloist;
Sarah Van De Weghe, flute; James Zweig, oboe;
Emily Marciniak, clarinet; Patrick Zylka, bassoon;
James Black, Christopher McGann, trumpets;
Jennifer Balch, horn; Collin Gehle, trombone;
Clay Wachholz, conductor
(1978/1999 - 16') The last fugue of J.S. Bach's in 'The Art of Fugue' employed the musical motif of B-A-C-H which represented his name. Since then, various composers have employed this famous motif in fugues or fantasias. In like manner, Concertino for Percussion and Chamber Winds uses a musical motif of F-R-E-D, the letter 'R' representing 're' from an assumed tonal center of F; therefore R = G. The composition is dedicated in memory of my mentor, Fred Schroeder, Professor-Emeritus at the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin. The instrumentation of Concertino utilizes woodwind and brass quartets in addition to multiple percussion for the solo performer, thereby presenting a 'trinity of timbre.' Transforming the double quartet into a woodwind quintet and brass trio dialogue, along with other instrumental alignments, provides a satisfying color palette, blended with a sound chemistry from the single percussionist. The work is straighforward, with intrinsic relationships in a 12-tone scheme. This design is a tribute to a man of extraordinary educational, musical, scholarly, and humanistic resources. The 12 tones portray a man for all seasons. The implied tonalities of F, g, and e, with the D-major chord at the conclusion of the second and the last movements are indicated in the score. The little quips of "Lawrence Is Our Dear Old Home" bring special delight within the harmonic design of the work. Concertino was premiered in May 1978 at the Pabst Theatre by the UW-Milwaukee Chamber Winds, Stan DeRusha, conductor. A week later, it was conducted by the composer as a gift of musical acknowledgment for Professor Fred Schroeder's Retirement Concert. It has had great subsequent performances at the University of Texas and a host of other universities, as well as at Michigan State University for the National Composers Symposium in 1979.
Keats Songs
     I A Valentine
     II To Sleep
     III Daisy's Song
     IV A Vision
     V One Day
Scott Gendel
Melanie Kuolt, mezzo-soprano; Scott Gendel, piano
(2000 - 15') The five Keats Songs are unified by a single, highly ambiguous sonority. The ambiguity of this harmony acts as an organizing principle in certain songs, while in others it is only a fleeting sound which occasionally creeps in. Also, while the songs are fairly traditional in form, they take on very diverse stylistic personalities, from a tango-inflected dance to an angular nervousness to a pop-song sensibility.
Ballad-Variations John Jeffrey Gibbens
John Jeffrey Gibbens, piano
(1993/94 - 5') Ballad-Variations is the third movement of the Second Piano Set (1992-1999), and was premiered in 1996 and 1997 in Madison and La Crosse. The piece was written in response to a talk given by Max Roach, in which he envisioned the future of American concert music as a fusion of Jazz-derived improvisation and European ensembles and forms.
Three Pieces for Cello and Piano
     I Allegro Vivace, quasi una toccata
     II Liberamente--gently, with subdued expression
     III Sempre molto marcato
Joel Naumann
Ana Ruth Bermudez, cello; Alicia Small, piano
(1998 - 12') This work was written for Sarah Schaffer and Alicia Small, the composer's wife, who play in a group of good avocational musicians. They wanted a duo written just for them. While in Australia in 1979 I composed a very wild piece called SARAH using lot of extended and theater techniques for a touring solo cellist named Sarah. Sarah Schaffer did not want a piece that was quite that crazy and this work was the result, an example of what I call my 'decadent' style. Writing it gave me the opportunity to explore some quasi neo-classical territory I had never visited before. Sarah Schaffer was unable to play it for this concert and Ana Ruth graciously agreed to do it for me.
Pyramid Scheme Keith A. Carpenter
Nathan Metzger, piano; Jamie Ryan, percussion
(1997 - 8') Pyramid Scheme was written for percussionist Fred Selvaggio and his pianist wife Yoko. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, they were unable to perform the piece. Because Fred is such a fine drum set player, I decided to explore some of the possibilities of that instrument. The piece is loosely modeled on the Barnett Newman sculpture, Broken Obelisk, which is outside the Rothko Chapel in Houston. The sculpture has always enchanted me, especially the uncanny way that the massive form appears weightless, soars to the sky and dissappears. In Pyramid Scheme I have chosen to approximate the way the sculpture disappears into the sky and use the magnificent balancing act of an obelisk teetering atop a pyramid as a way to intersect the two instruments. Today's performance is a premiere.

Composer Biographies

Joel Blahnik (Fish Creek) was a founding member of WAC in 1984. He is a retired music educator in the Wisconsin Public Schools from 1961-1993 and a graduate of Lawrence University Conservatory of Music. As a student of Fred Schroeder, Blahnik's advanced study has included a 25 year mentor relationship with Vaclav Nelhybel. During his comprehensive music career he has been a clinician and lecturer in over 350 of the state's schools. He has received many local, state, and national awards for his creativity and excellence in teaching during these three decades. He was the first Wisconsinite to receive the NBA "Citation of Excellence" award and the First Chair of America "MAC" award, considered the "Tony" of the Academy Awards. As a composer, he has received 34 Wisconsin commissions, including Slavia for the Inaugural Concert of the Weidner Center in Green Bay. His works have been featured at national composer symposiums and international festivals, and appear on state and international music education selected lists. Blahnik's Invention #1 was the first work to be placed on the WSMA Permanent Class C list. His works have been recorded by state, regional, national, and foreign rado and TV. As an author, his writings have appeared in state, national, and international journals. As a conductor, his student ensembles have distinguished themselves with five performances at WMEC State Conventions, along with six other workshops he has designed for this event. Blahnik was the first Wisconsin conductor to present three performances at the celebrated Mid-West International Band/Orchestra Clinic and has served for 15 years as a clinician for the WSMA adjudication workshops. He has taught at related arts festivals (including Wisconsin's Arts World), music camps, and other music activities from elementary schools to international Science and Arts societies. Since his retirement, he has been called to a great deal of musical activity in the Czech Republic. This includes guest conducting student, amateur, and professional ensembles, co-founding the Prague Youth Wind Ensemble Festival, Music Director of the Czech International Music Camp for Youth, recording with the Prague Radio Orchestra, and networking with Czech musical artists and composers. Blahnik's mission here is to employ WSMA/WMEC formulas and apply them to the school structures of the Czech nation where music is not a part of the educational curriculum, but rather a special fine arts activity after school. His single leadership and influence there has brought about creditable results, bringing music into the curriculum on the university and high school levels. He is heralded as an educational pioneer, evidenced by being the subject of master degree theses.

While home in Wisconsin, Blahnik is busy with Alliance Publications, Inc., a desk-top music publishing company he founded in 1988, which lists over 1,000 compositions. 40% of this repertoire is penned by 32 Wisconsin composers. Since 1993, Blahnik has embarked upon a career as a festival clinician and conductor, as well as a free-lance composer, often drawing inspiration from his Czech musical heritage. CLEARVUE/Eav of Chicago has recently released an educational video "What is A Composer" and "Instruments of the Orchestra" which features Blahnik and his music. In December 2000, Blahnik released three CDs of his compositions/collaborations. Blahnik's counter melody to teaching is the water, where he has served 47 years as a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain on the Great Lakes.

Since 1975 he has also been the Chambers Island Lighthouse caretaker and historian. He and his wife, Mary Ann, have a family of three children, "Inventions #1, #2, and #3," in addition to three grandchildren. Esteemed a visionary, Blahnik believes in treasuring the past which gives direction and meaning to contemporary life. This message he wishes to impart to others - to embrace their roots and the roots of their communities. His life's credo is to "Celebrate Life!"

Keith A. Carpenter (Milwaukee) is from Houston, Texas, where he studied with Ellsworth Milburn at Rice University. His earliest musical experiences came from playing guitar in rock and jazz bands. As a result, his music is often heavily indebted to American vernacular music, borrowing licks progressions, rhythms, and forms from seminal rock, blues, and folk songs. Carpenter is currently ABD at Northwestern University where he studied with M. William Karlins, Jay Alan Yim, and Michael Pisaro. He received his MM from the University of Cincinnati where he studied with Joel Hoffman and Darrell Handel. He has also studied with Louis Andriessen and Tristan Murail. Carpenter currently teaches at UW-Parkside, Carthage College, and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.

Scott Gendel (Madison) is currently an MM candidate in composition at the UW-Madison, and received his BA from Bard College in Annandale, NY. His teachers have included Daron Hagen, Joan Tower, Kyle Gann, Joel Naumann, and Stephen Dembski. Last year, Scott was the winner of the UW-Madison Concerto Concert Composition Competition, and his piece Effusion was recently selected to be featured at this year's Midwest Graduate Student Music Consortium.

John Jeffrey Gibbens (Carbondale, IL) is a charter member of WAC, and has served on the statewide Board of Directors since 1997. Gibbens worked as an independent scholar, free-lance accompanist, and archivist in Madison from 1984 to 2001. He recently joined the library faculty at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale as a Cataloger. Part of his assignment is to work with the SIU School of Music to develop music and research collections. Gibbens has been an active performer of new piano music in the state, including the works of a long list of UW composers.

Joel Naumann (New Glarus--Belleville) received his musical education at Manhattan School of Music, Long Island University, where he studied with Stefan Wolpe, and the University of Utah. While teaching at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he managed the Contemporary Music Forum, one of that city's premiere new music groups, and founded The Washington Sinfonia, a 35-member Baroque-Classical orchestra with a regular concert series on Capitol Hill. After a year in Australia as Fulbright Composer in Residence at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, he came to Madison in 1980, where he rebuilt the electronic music studio program and developed the two undergraduate foundation courses in the composition major. He was the principal founder of The Wisconsin Alliance for Composers in 1984 and has served it in various capacities since then. This is at least the fourth (or fifth?) WAC State Conference he has hosted at the UW-Madison.

2001 Conference
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