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Zach Shemon, alto/tenor saxophone soloist
UMKC Musica Nova, Boris Vayner, Conductor
Virginia Backman, flute
Erik Hose, bass clarinet
Ashtin Johnson, violin
Aubrie Powell, double bass
Matt Anderson, percussion
Hao Yin, piano
Recorded and Produced by Jason Schueffler
Recorded May 4, 2017 UMKC White Hall
BOOM!!! ...for Real!
I. Untitled (loops, boats, and other things)
Cadenza I: A Gathering of Autumn on the Poetry Trail
II. Balopticon [un][re]Focused
Cadenza II: Litanies of Samo
III. BOOM!!! ...for Real!
Untitled (loops, boats, and other things) explores the lyricism of Cy Twombly's (1928-2011) repetitive loops and pseudo-calligraphic gestures in the work Untitled (New York City)1968 and the cycles of paintings Three Notes From Salalah (2005-2007), Camino Real (2010), and The Last Paintings (2011). Three sections divide the movement, with each section representing a work or cycle. The movement explores Twombly's development of linear gesture. From the tight scribbles of automatic writing in the "blackboard paintings" such as Untitled (New York City) 1968 to the unrestraint of Camino Real and The Last Paintings, the movement develops from a contrapuntal framework of temporally and harmonically independent lines to a homophonic and polytonal texture. The transitions serve as contrasting material and explore Twombly's fascination with the subjects of boats and flowers.
Cadenza I: A Gathering of Autumn on the Poetry Trail, scored for solo alto saxophone, continues the preoccupation with line by merging improvisation and gesture. It is a collection of melodic contours composed from tracing leaves gathered during an autumn hike while attending the Millay Colony in upstate New York.
Balopticon [un][re]Focused is through-composed and explores shifting textural opacity reflected in the work of Franz Kline (1910-1962). Kline's black and white canvases exude a sense of textural depth and gestural freedom. The manipulation of dissonances and orchestration color the initial consonance of wide-spaced octaves. Outbursts of agitated melodic activity accumulate to activate the foreground and create a sense of randomness. However, background strata such as pacing of melodic activity, rhythmic durations, and structure are controlled using proportional relationships. The dichotomy between melodic gesture and controlled background of the movement reflects Kline's methodology versus public perception of his work.
The graffiti tags and paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) inspire Cadenza II: Litanies of Samo and the final movement, BOOM!!! ...for Real! and feature the tenor saxophone. Spoken text, noise, rhythmic momentum, and improvisation evoke the frenetic nature of Basquiat's work. The final movement develops the energy of the cadenza, by adding a constant juxtaposition and layering of fragmented and disparate musical material, comprised of noise, improvisation, text, and hints of vernacular music genres. Rapid changes of texture, orchestration, volume, and temporality shape the dramatic arc.
I would like to thank Wildacres Retreat, the Millay Colony, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts for the residency opportunities that allowed me time to compose this concerto.