Archive for October, 2015

Happy Halloween from earsense!

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

Christine Payne of Ensemble SF recently asked me about chamber music programming ideas for Halloween. I have come up with a nice little bag of treats for you including perhaps a few tricks. It turns out, chamber music can be downright SCARY, chilling, black, and certainly haunting. There are even several pieces that are directly related to Halloween, ghosts, goblins, graveyards and even Edgar Allen Poe, all presented here for your bone-rattling delectation.

Note, if one searches the broader field of piano, organ, choral and orchestral music, there is a raging haunted house of material. The game here is chamber music, specifically. Surely there is more, but this is a good haul for an evening of dark revelry. There is something here for everyone.

Welcome to the CHAMBER of horrors. Boo!

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Joan Tower, Night Fields (for string quartet)

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Joan Tower, 1938

Night Fields, for String Quartet, 1994

Joan Tower“Night Fields, my first string quartet, is dedicated with affection and admiration to the Muir String Quartet. The title came after the work was completed and provides an image or setting for some of the moods of the piece: a cold windy night in a wheat field lit up by a bright full moon where waves of fast-moving colors ripple over the field, occasionally settling on a patch of gold.”

– Joan Tower

Joan Tower is a contemporary American composer, now in her late seventies, who has been called the most successful women composer of all time. Starting with her orchestral tone poem “Sequoia” in 1981, Tower has become one of the most frequently performed composers around the world. While some may bristle at the ostensibly patronizing qualification, “woman” composer, Tower herself has spoken of the tremendous challenges she faced as a young woman in a male-dominated academia fixated on the achievements of what she refers to as the “DWEMS” (Dead White European Males). In this respect, Tower’s success is particularly gratifying. (more…)