Musique 21

Venue: Fairchild Theatre, MSU Auditorium 

Musique 21 ensemble at Fairchild Theatre

Simon Holoweiko, conductor

Musique 21 is a project-based ensemble with a “Theatre of Music” style presentation, featuring new works and unique instrumentation. 

The concert will feature the muisc of Pulitzer Prize winner Jacob Druckman, an American composer from Philadelphia and graduate of the Juilliard School. He studied with Vincent Persichetti, Peter Mennin, and Aaron Copland and has taught composition at the Juilliard School, the Aspen Music Festival, and Tanglewood. 

Works include “Come Round” by Jacob Druckman “Maggies” by Mathew Rosenblum and “The Sound of the Light” by Mazzoli

Generously sponsored by Sam and Mary Austin.

General admission seating: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, free for students. 

Add a $1.50 convenience fee for each ticket ordered online or over the phone. Tickets may also be purchased at the door if available. College of Music Box Office: 517-353-5340, musicboxoffice@music.msu.edu


Program Notes


Come Round by Jacob Druckman
Come Round was co-commissioned by the New York New Music Ensemble and three performing arts festivals and premiered by that group in August, 1992. The title refers to the circular nature of the musical material, and its use of canonic forms, like the familiar sung round song.

In form it is a set of six large variations. Druckman conceived the music of these six sections as being variations on each other, rather than being variations on a principal theme. All six sections are equal. There is a short contrasting passage in the nature of a ritornello before and after the fourth variation. The piece begins with the simplest material, a solo alto flute playing notes a half-step apart. Alternating patterns of this nature (for instance, pairs of chords) grow from this idea. Despite the use of contrapuntal techniques, the texture of the piece focuses on the ensemble as a unified group rather than on many separate complex stands of sound. The form of the work is made clear to the audience by the use of clear harmonies at important structural points, lending a tonal organization to it. Thus the language is a form of extended tonality, giving the audience an anchor making it less difficult to comprehend.

Maggies by Mathew Rosenblum
Maggies combines live instrumental music with sampled ambient sounds and pre-recorded texts by Donald Barthelme, Gordon Lish, and Roger Zahab. The inspiration of the piece was the rhythms and sounds of these texts but especially as they are given contour and musical qualities by the chosen reader, Maggie Lane (my wife). The brief text by Donald Barthelme, positioned at the beginning of the piece, is taken from his book Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts, and is the prelude to the rest of the work. The text by Roger Zahab, Bales in Ayr, is a parody of a section from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake and provides a very “open ended” recurring narrative throughout. The story by Gordon Lish strings together familiar cliches in a “stream of consciousness” manner and is excerpted from The Merry Chase. This text is used in the middle and at the end of the piece and provides a second pseudo narrative. Maggies was originally conceived using short passages from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. After a year of trying to get permission from Joyce’s estate to use the texts in this piece, the grandson of Mr. Joyce, Stephen James Joyce, refused, stating that his grandfather had very particular tastes in music and that he would not have liked my music. He added, as well, that neither he, nor his wife, cared for my music either! After relating this story to my dear friend Roger Zahab, Roger proclaimed that he had read Finnegan’s Wake no less than three times and offered to write a parody of the Joyce text for me. The resulting text is a gem of “deliverative porphyry” and I am extremely grateful.

The Sound of the Light by Mazzoli
The Sound of the Light, for flute, violin, trumpet, trombone and piano, was inspired by the children I met when I visited New York Presbyterian Hospital with members of Ensemble ACJW. I was amazed at the complexity and emotional depth of the compositions these young musicians created, and wanted to create a tribute to their enthusiasm and bravery. The Sound of the Light is a musical depiction of growth and transformation. A lighthearted opening grows into a mysterious echoing middle section, but it's the dancing grooves at the end that I feel best reflect the energy and spirit of all the young composers I met at the hospital. 

Filed under: