Max Lifchitz - director, presents:
Mioi Takeda & Lynn Bechtold, violins
Andrew Jordan, audio/video
10 June 2021
Renee Weiler Concert Hall
Greenwich House Music School
46 Barrow St NYC 10014
Livestream link: https://vimeo.com/551515985
1. Alvin Singleton: Ishirini (2003)
2. Ruth Crawford Seeger (arr. Gilbert Dejean): Diaphonic Suite # 3 (1930)
3. Hesam Abedini: Ghazaliyât (2020-21)
4. Dai Fujikura: Twin Tweets (2019-20)
5. Isaac Otto: Nycticorax (2020-21)
6. Lynn Bechtold: Projet Imaginaire 1.4 (2013/2020)
7. Max Lifchitz: Five Impromptus (2015)
-Happy New Year Mr. Billings
Duo Miolina (Mioi Takeda & Lynn Bechtold, violins) has been called "talented and dedicated" by Arts Birmingham, and described as displaying "aggressive and virtuosic prowess" with "brilliance of sound, technical mastery, and stunning expressivity" by I CARE IF YOU LISTEN. A member of New Music USA’s Impact Cohort, Miolina has been attracting audiences since their inception in 2012. To date, Miolina has premiered almost 50 violin duos. They’ve performed concerts at various venues in NYC, as well as around the U.S. and abroad, in Birmingham, Chicago, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, Malmö, Pensacola, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC, Paris, and Tokyo. Miolina has participated in festivals/residencies/series including Avaloch Farm, Birmingham New Music Festival, Composers Concordance, Concrete Timbre, C-Y Series, Electronic Music Midwest, Infuse Présente, Ladies First, NWEAMO, North/South Consonance, and Sonic Circuits. They are recipients of numerous grants, including Adami, American-Scandinavian Foundation, Japan Foundation NY, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New Music USA, and New York Women Composers. As part of their outreach and educational programs, Miolina has performed at senior centers and soup kitchens, as well as worked with students at The Alabama School for the Blind, CUNY/Queens College, The Juilliard School, Rutgers University, and UC Irvine. Featuring works by Alabama composers of the Birmingham Art Music Alliance, their latest album ‘à la BAMA’ was released this past March on CCR/Naxos. In addition, their debut album ‘Miolina’ was released in 2018 on CCR/Naxos, and they can be heard on 2020’s ‘Le Passager,’ performing Jean-Baptiste Favory’s large-scale work UNISONO V, available on label ACEL, as well as on Flower Cat’s 2020 album ‘Symbolic Gesture,’ available on Bandcamp. For individual bios: https://www.miolinanyc.com/
Alvin Singleton was born in Brooklyn, New York and completed his studies at New York University and Yale. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied with Goffredo Petrassi at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy. After living and working in Europe for 14 years, Singleton returned to the United States to become Composer-in-Residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (1985-88). He subsequently served as UNISYS Composer-in-Residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (1996-97), and was the 2002–2003 Composer-in-Residence with the Ritz Chamber Players of Jacksonville, Florida. In addition, he has served as Visiting Professor of Composition at the Yale University School of Music. In Spring, 2004, Singleton joined the American Composers Orchestra as “Music Alive” Composer-in-Residence and Artistic Advisor for the IMPROVISE! Festival. In 2008, Singleton served as Composer-in-Residence in Tirana, Albania.
Singleton's music is notable for its rare union of influences, "from Mahler to Monk, Bird to Bernstein, James Baldwin to Bach, Santana to Prince," (Philadelphia Inquirer) as well as for its signature moments of theatricality and surprise. He has worked extensively with major orchestras worldwide, and has written significant works for chamber and vocal ensembles, as well as works for the theater. His set of Argoru pieces for solo instruments span a compositional period from 1968-2002 and have been championed by soloists across the world. His 1987 orchestral work, Shadows, was hailed by The Boston Globe as "fresh, original and entirely Singleton's own." Singleton's choral ballet TRUTH, based on the life of Sojourner Truth, was praised as "edgy and eclectic ... thought-provoking and affecting" by the Star Tribune following its premiere with VocalEssence in 2006. In 2008, his wind quintet Through it All was commissioned by The ASCAP Foundation and Spivey Hall and premiered by the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds. After Choice, for string orchestra, was commissioned and premiered in 2009 by the Orchestra of the League of Composers at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. In 2010, Singleton’s concerto for piano and orchestra BluesKonzert had its Carnegie Hall debut with Ursula Oppens and the American Composer’s Orchestra.
Singleton has amassed numerous awards throughout his compositional life. He is the recipient of a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship and was commissioned by The Serge Koussevitsky Music Foundation and American Composers Orchestra for the orchestral work When Given a Choice, which premiered at Carnegie Hall in April 2004. His other awards include the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis by the City of Darmstadt, Germany, twice the Musikprotokoll Kompositionpreis by the Austrian Radio, the Mayor’s Fellowship in the Arts Award by the City of Atlanta, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2014, Singleton was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Ishirini was commissioned by Music from Angel Fire's 20th Anniversary Season, with the support of The Bruce E. Howen, Jr. American Composers Project, and premiered on September 1, 2003 in New Mexico at the Music from Angel Fire Chamber Music Festival, Ida Kavafian and Daniel Phillips, violins
Ruth Crawford Seeger was a pivotal figure in American modernist music as well as a leading ethnomusicologist. Born in East Liverpool, Ohio, in 1901, Ruth Crawford learned to play piano from her mother. In 1921 she moved to Chicago to pursue her training at the American Conservatory of Music, where she studied musical composition under Adolf Weidig and Djane Lavoie Herz. There she also collaborated with Carl Sandberg, setting his po s to music. In 1929, Ruth Crawford moved to New York and became a pupil of Charles Seeger. In March 1930, she won a Guggenheim Fellowship in music composition, the first woman to do so. The following year, she produced her most famous work, String Quartet 1931. The Seegers married in 1932; and with the responsibilities of family and social activism Crawford Seeger stopped composing around 1934. In 1936, the Seegers moved to Washington, D.C., to collect and transcribe field recordings for the American folk-song archive at the Library of Congress. The Seegers also transcribed Our Singing Country and Folk Song USA by John and Alan Lomax. In 1948, Crawford Seeger published her own innovative book, American Folk Songs for Children, which was designed for use in the elementary grades. Crawford Seeger returned to composition in 1952 with her Suite for Wind Quintet. By the time the composition was completed, Crawford Seeger learned she had cancer. She died in 1953.
Diaphonic Suite #3 was written in 1930 for two clarinets. In the twenties and early thirties, Crawford Seeger wrote atonal works influenced by Alexander Scriabin. These works favored dissonance and post-tonal harmonies; they also utilized irregular rhythms and meters. She studied in Berlin in 1930, through the first Guggenheim Fellowship in composition given to a woman. Her technique may have been influenced by the music of Schoenberg, although they met only briefly during her studies in Germany. She was encouraged and guided by her teacher-then-husband Charles Seeger's dissonant counterpoint, as well—and also developed her own methods of composing. Gilbert Dejean arranged this piece for Miolina in 2019.
Hesam Abedini is an Iranian-American performer, composer, improviser and educator residing in Irvine, CA. His work crosses the boundaries between idioms as wide as contemporary music, classical Iranian music and free improvisation. He is the founding member of the Sibarg, an Intercultural Creative music ensemble that combines traditional Iranian music and Jazz. Hesam’s music have been performed by various musicians and ensembles such as, selected members of the Atlas Ensemble, Del Sol Quartet, Loadbang, New Mexico Contemporary Ensemble, Amalgama Ensemble, Sunflower, and Mark Dresser’s Bass Ensemble. He is the winner of the New Mexico Contemporary Ensemble's 2nd Annual Call for Scores in 2018.
Since 2011, under the supervision of Dr. Hossein Omoumi, Hesam has researched on classical Iranian music and directed the NEA and Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute-sponsored Documentary film “From Isfahan to Irvine”. He is a graduate of the Tehran Music Conservatory and holds his B.A. in Music Composition with honors from the University of California, San Diego. He studied music composition with Dr. Lei Liang, Chinary Ung, Anthony Davis and improvisation with Mark Dresser.
Currently, Hesam is a Ph.D. candidate in Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology at the University of California, Irvine as a Provost PhD Fellow under the supervision of Prof. Christopher Dobrian. He is an Associate Faculty in music at Saddleback College where he teaches music theory and harmony. Hesam also teaches Music of Modern Iran at the University of California, Irvine.
Ghazaliyât No. 1: Ghazal is a form of poem originated in Arabic poetry and adopted by Persian poets hundreds of years ago. Ghazal usually contains between 5 to 12 couplets. Each couplet is independent while linked to the others through the theme and the poetic form of the poem. Ghazaliyât is the plural form of Ghazal and usually refers to a poetry book that includes several Ghazal. In Persian, the word Ghazal also refers to "composing/writing/telling a concept or story with/regarding love and passion. The formal structure of this piece is based on the forms found in classical Iranian music instrumental duos in which musicians start with imitating one another and at different points one accompanies the other and again they imitate each other in a canonical form. Sometimes musicians connect to each other and they get to a point where both play the same melody together while improvising. This form of improvisation inspired me to compose this piece.
Born in 1977 in Osaka, Japan, Dai Fujikura was fifteen when he moved to UK. The recipient of many composition prizes, he has received numerous international co-commissions from the Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival, BBC Proms, Bamberg Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and more. He has been Composer-in-Residence of Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra since 2014 and held the same post at the Orchestre national d'Île-de-France in 2017/18. Dai’s first opera Solaris, co-commissioned by the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Opéra de Lausanne and the Opéra de Lille, had its world premiere in Paris in 2015 and has since gained a worldwide reputation. A new production of Solaris was created and performed at the Theatre Augsburg in 2018, and the opera received a subsequent staging in 2020.
In 2017, Dai received the Silver Lion Award from the Venice Biennale. In the same year, he was named the Artistic Director of the Tokyo Metropolitan Theater’s Born Creative Festival. In 2019, his Shamisen Concerto was premiered at Mostly Mozart festival in New York Lincoln Center and there have so far been 9 performances of this work by various orchestras. 2020 saw the premiere of his fourth piano concerto Akiko’s Piano, dedicated to Hiroshima Symphony's Peace and Music Ambassador, Martha Argerich and performed as part of their "Music for Peace" project. Dai is currently composing his third opera, which will be revealed to the public soon.
His works are recorded by and released mainly on his own label Minabel Records, in collaboration with SONY Music, and his compositions are published by Ricordi Berlin. Dai is currently focusing his attention on upcoming works including an opera on the life of Hokusai, a concerto for two orchestras, and a double concerto for flute and violin.
Twin Tweets was written for my teacher, George Benjamin’s 60th anniversary. I was asked to write for clarinet duo. I immediately thought this duo could be something like two birds gliding in the sky. I don’t particularly have much interest in bird song, but I am always interested in the movements of birds. How freely they fly together with other birds, gracefully moving together but not completely so, as if completing each other’s movements. Flying together, but not fighting to be leader (unlike humans, birds, insects and fish are clever: they don’t fight for leadership especially when they are swarming). Freely flying, but then always moving around each other. Free but with an overall shape. So this makes both clarinets, for the most part, move in a similar direction, such as flying very far above the ground and coming down towards us, closer to the earth. Never stopping, flying very fast, and yet very calm. I thought the clarinet would be the best instrument to do this, as it has a vast range, and each register has very different sounds. Just as in how birds fly, Twin Tweets moves across the pitch register, from very high to low, moving around, flying around the middle register, sometimes together, sometimes not together but always complimenting each other. If we were like birds, free and completing each other, the world would be a more peaceful place. This is the US premiere of the violin duo version.
Isaac Otto is a composer, clarinetist, and saxophonist currently pursuing his PhD in Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology at UC Irvine in Southern California. His interests include musical modernism, hybrid music notation, algorithmic composition, cross-modal fixed/free musics, the American jazz tradition and the music of the AACM. He is also an avid draughtsman and film photographer. Isaac holds an MFA from Mills College where he studied composition/improvisation with Roscoe Mitchell, James Fei, Fred Frith and Zeena Parkins.
Nycticorax is the genus of one of the more beautiful, inscrutable birds native to the Bay Area. More commonly known as “night herons,” they nocturnally stalk small fish, crustaceans and the like around bodies of water. This piece was inspired by late-night walks around Lake Merritt where Nycticorax can be seen creeping cautiously at a safe distance from any would-be interlopers. Here I tried to capture the Oakland nighttime, the stillness and quiet of the birds, and sudden rushes of movement in the corner of one’s eye.
Violinist/composer Lynn Bechtold likes to compose mostly electroacoustic works, and has written over 30 works to date. Her compositions have been performed on Access Contemporary Music's Sound of Silent Film Festival, the Circuit Bridges Festival, Composers Concordance Series, Electro-Music Festival, JUMP Series, Music With a View Festival, NWEAMO Festival, Skeleton Crawl Art Ball, Sonic Circuits, and Sound Traffic series, as well as at venues such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, Bohemian National Hall, DROM, and St. John's University, in NYC; Experimental Sound Studio, in Chicago; La Cupula in Argentina; Galleri Sagoy in Sweden; Institut Finlandais in Paris; and Monten Hall in Tokyo. She has collaborated on works with chef Kurt Gutenbrunner, artist Cecilia Mandrile, and tap dancer Max Pollak.
Projet Imaginaire 1.4 is the acoustic version of a 2013 electroacoustic work, originally written for dobro-ukelele and fixed media electronics. "Projet Imaginaire" means "living in a bubble" in French. This piece is about coming to terms with death, emerging from the "bubble" of mourning, and accepting that life goes on. The text at the end is about a robin. This piece was included as #14 in Concrete Timbre's Covid-eo Project in 2020, with video by Robert Morton.
Max Lifchitz is active as a composer, performer, arts administrator and educator. A graduate of The Juilliard School and Harvard University, he was invited to join the University at Albany faculty in 1986. Previously, he held teaching appointments at the Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University. In addition to teaching a variety of music courses and general education offerings, Lifchitz has served as Chair of both the University's Music Department and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Department, where he holds a joint appointment. In the spring of 2005, he was honored with an Excellence in Research Award. During the fall of 2006 Lifchitz served as the Elena Diaz-Verson Amos Eminent Scholar in Latin American Studies at Columbus State University’s Center for International Education in Columbus, GA.
His creative endeavors have been supported by grants and fellowships from the ASCAP Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; Meet the Composer, Inc.; The University of Michigan Society of Fellows; the CAPS Program of New York State; the Individual Artists program of the New York State Council on the Arts; and the National Endowment for the Arts. As a pianist, Lifchitz was awarded the first prize in the 1976 Gaudeamus Competition for Performers of Contemporary Music held in Holland. His concert appearances throughout Latin America have been underwritten by the Fund for US Artists at International Festivals.
Lifchitz is the founder and artistic director of North/South Consonance, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization based in New York City devoted to the promotion and performance of music by composers from the Americas. Active since 1980, the North/South Consonance Ensemble has received grants from, among others, the Aaron Copland Fund; the Ditson Fund at Columbia University; the Yvar Mikhashoff Fund for New Music; the Cary Charitable Trust; the Virgil Thomson Foundation; New York Women Composers, Inc.; the Zethus Fund for Contemporary Music; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the New York State Council for the Arts; and the National Endowment for the Arts. It has also received contributions from several corporations and numerous individual donors. North/South Consonance, Inc. sponsors an annual concert series in New York City featuring new chamber music from the Americas and has issued over fifty compact discs on the North/South Recordings label.
Five Impromptus were written in early January 2015 at the request of the Miolina Duo. Improvisatory in nature, the work consists of five contrasting, self-contained but interrelated movements. As its title implies, the opening piece pokes fun at an imaginary virtuoso violinist who stubbornly keeps playing a technically challenging passage traversing the entire range of the instrument. The second movement clumsily imitates the bouncy rhythms of the Pizzica – an archaic Italian dance forerunner of the Tarantella. The third movement is a humble salute to the American composer William Billings whose hymn ʻConnectionʼ was used as inlay in Lynn Bechtoldʼs 2015 New Year's Greeting e-mail. The fourth movement clearly reflects the penchant this composer has had throughout his career for exploiting the various timbric possibilities inherent in the violin. In the manner of a conventional recapitulation, the final movement recalls and recasts materials previously heard throughout the work.
North/South Consonance 41st Season (1980-2021)
Concert made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency;
and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs;
as well as grants from the Zethus Fund; and the Music Performance Trust Fund.
Contributions by many generous donors are gratefully acknowledged and deeply appreciated.