Explore Program Notes

Composer Portraits: Bright Sheng

Bright Sheng, who will turn 64 on December 6, has been practicing what he preaches for the better part of four decades. Presently the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Music at the University of Michigan, Sheng has been a leader in bridging the musical traditions of his native China with European art music and its American descendants, exploring Eastern themes within the context of Western classical musical forms.

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New York Polyphony: Gothic Polyphony

Rescued from the Reformation as recycled book-bindings, these Medieval gems of a lost generation show the mastery of the English style, the Contenance angloise, that would influence the next three centuries of composition.

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Composer Portraits: Annea Lockwood

Annea Lockwood’s experiments with sound often thrive on the specificity of physical objects and spaces. One might think that being so particular could breed limitations for the musicians. Yet Lockwood’s precision engenders performances rife with chance, where musicians must relinquish control to their conventional—and not-so-conventional—instruments, opening themselves to the unexpected.

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Composer Portraits: Vijay Iyer

Few jazz musicians still approaching their fifth decade are quite so celebrated, with no signs of critical interest waning. A MacArthur Fellowship and a professorship at Harvard University complete Iyer’s bona fides. But his reach has long extended beyond jazz, what he and many musicians feel is a fraught and potentially limiting category.

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Vox Luminis: Stabat Mater

This evening’s program explores the theme of love in two senses, in two different types of works: secular madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi, and sacred works featuring representations of the Virgin Mary.

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Creating Desire

Desire is brimming with attraction, and yet the magnetic forces at play are not those of a romantic triangle. Rather, the piece is a metaphor for the creative process, dispelling illusions of what it means to encounter inspiration and overcome self-doubt. The departure to the garden mirrors the way a woman might slip into her imaginative life, wrestling with the pull of the domestic sphere despite her wishes to pursue her own artistic vision.

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Composer Portraits: Anthony Braxton

The iconoclastic composer, multi-instrumentalist, and educator Anthony Braxton, who will turn 75 years old on June 4, 2020, has given us an abundance of reasons why we should commemorate his arrival in this time-space, as he likely would phrase it.

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Composer Portraits: David T. Little

Little’s music can groove, moving in ways that are at once loose and spring-loaded and his affinity for theatrical forms finds its way into his instrumental compositions. Both descriptions apply to the pieces on tonight’s program: Haunt of Last Nightfall (a ghost play in two acts) (2010), and AGENCY (2014).

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Composer Portraits: Tyshawn Sorey

Musicians and critics alike avow Tyshawn Sorey’s fierce musicianship, readily placing him among his generation’s most gifted jazz drummers.

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Composer Portraits: Wang Lu

Although Wang’s music lives in the interstices between Eastern and Western realms of sound, more and more it seems to come from the studied perspective of an outsider, a stance facilitated by her itinerant career.

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New York Polyphony: Music from Over the Alps

Many Flemish composers made their names writing and teaching in Italy rather than in their northern homeland. Besides expanding upon the basic compositional techniques of polyphony, they introduced the beginnings of what would become the ubiquitous musical form that is the madrigal. 

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Orlando Consort: Love’s Command—Sacred Poetry & Music

Music from the 16th century was marked by a perfect union of words and harmonies. Sacred and secular boundaries began to blur—hence the adoption of the title ‘Love’s Command’ for this program.

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