The Calder Quartet will appear with the Orchestra in Riley’s The Sands, a concerto for string quartet
The Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Museum of Art collaborate in the presentation of California Masterworks, two intimate Cleveland Orchestra concerts at the museum featuring works by groundbreaking composers inextricably associated with California.
James Feddeck, Cleveland Orchestra assistant conductor, will conduct performances Wednesday, May 1 and Friday, May 3, 2013 in the museum’s Gartner Auditorium. The programs include works by John Adams, Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, Terry Riley, James Tenney, and, in a posthumous world premiere, Dane Rudhyar. The concerts are part of the museum’s VIVA! & Gala Performing Arts series, which explores extraordinary performing arts from around the world.
California Masterworks also includes three films highlighting California composers, plus concert previews with Case Western Reserve University Professor Henry Adams, speaking about modern and California art, and concludes with a special performance of a work by John Cage at MIXup: Composition.
Cleveland Orchestra Concert I – Cowell, Rudhyar, and Harrison
The program on May 1, at 7:30 p.m., begins, as does seemingly all music from California, with a work by Henry Cowell. Often considered alongside Charles Ives to be one of the first truly original American composers, Cowell wrote his darkly modernist Sinfonietta in 1928.
The centerpiece of the program is the posthumous world premiere of a work by Dane Rudhyar, Out of the Darkness, composed in 1982. Born in 1895, Rudhyar was a well-regarded composer of the so-called “Ultra-Modernist” school alongside Cowell, Carl Ruggles, Edgard Varèse, and others, but moved away from music to concentrate on his writings in astrology, for which he is most well-known. He returned to composing large-scale works late in life, dedicated to, in the words of music scholar Deniz Ertan, “his firm belief in the totality of philosophy, art, and life, and his synthesis of Western and non-Western philosophies and approaches.” Stephen Rose, principal second violin of The Cleveland Orchestra, is soloist in the concluding piece, Lou Harrison’s Suite for Violin and String Orchestra. Originally written for violin and American Gamelan, a percussion orchestra of Harrison’s own devising, it was re-orchestrated for the sake of practicality and to glorious effect, drawing on both Indonesian and Baroque music, and juxtaposing elegant solo violin lines with eastern dance rhythms.
Cleveland Orchestra Concert II – Tenney, Riley, and Adams
The second program of the series, on May 3, at 7:30 p.m., features the Los Angeles-based Calder Quartet in Terry Riley’s The Sands, a concerto for string quartet and orchestra.
The Calder Quartet have committed themselves to a substantial portion of Riley’s string quartet oeuvre, and have even resurrected and belatedly premiered Riley’s earliest string pieces – now considered the very earliest hints of Minimalism, of which the composer is generally acknowledged as the founding father. The quartet has worked closely with the composer, forging a relationship that started during their involvement in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Minimalist Jukebox festival in 2006.
The Sands is a large, dramatic work commissioned by the Salzburg Festival in 1991. The program opens with James Tenney’s Clang, a work the composer described as “one single modulated event,” a close examination of the overtone series, and which involves players choosing from available pitches. As such, it encapsulates Tenney’s forward-looking ideas about composition and acoustics. Next is John Adams’s Shaker Loops for string orchestra. Written in 1978 and revised in 1983, it clearly shows Adams’s emergence as a major composer who has digested the lessons of Minimalism and embarked on his own singular path. The New York Times called it “the earliest of several Adams scores that have become bona fide contemporary classics.”
California Music Masters on Film
The museum will present three films incorporating the music of California composers Terry Riley and Lou Harrison. Tom Welsh, the museum’s director of City Stages, will introduce and discuss the films.
Terry Riley’s music is heard in two short films on Friday, April 26, at 7 p.m. First up is a 1976 experimental film, Crossroads, by Bruce Conner that looks closely at the 1945 atomic bomb explosion on Bikini Atoll. The second, Music with Balls, is a 1969 movie made for San Francisco television in which music is wedded to abstract visuals.
A new documentary, Lou Harrison: A World of Music, an intimate portrait of a free-thinking musician whose groundbreaking compositions spanned decades, directed by Eva Soltes, receives its Cleveland premiere at the museum on Sunday, April 28, at 1:30 p.m.
Concert Previews – Henry Adams speaks about Modern and California Art
The museum is offering two free Cleveland Orchestra concert previews by Dr. Henry Adams, professor of art history at Case Western Reserve University. The first talk, on May 1, will explore “The Quest for Nirvana and the Birth of Modern Art,” and the second, on May 3, will delve into “The Funkiness of California Art in the 20th Century.” Both previews will begin at 6 p.m. in Gartner Auditorium and are open to the public.
Post-Concert Performance of John Cage’s HPSCHD with five harpsichords
As a grand finale to the California Masterworks programs, the museum and the Orchestra will present John Cage’s HPSCHD on Friday, May 3. One of the seminal figures of 20th-century music, Cage created the massive piece in 1969, scoring it for up to seven harpsichords, 51 reel tapes and 90 slide carousels. Presented as part of the MIXup at CMA series, HPSCHD will utilize five harpsichords from the museum’s collection and run continuously in the Ames Family Atrium from 9 to 11 p.m. Admission to MIXup: Composition is included in the ticket price for attendees of both California Masterworks performances.
The landmark collaboration between the Orchestra and the museum began in May 2011 with Italian Masterworks, performances heralded by The Plain Dealer as one of the year’s “high notes” in classical music. The partnership continues, again following a masterworks theme, this time turning attention to the West Coast of the United States. Californian composers emerged with new voices, influenced by the cultures of Southeast Asia and Latin America. They incorporated non-European percussion traditions, tuning systems, and compositional architectures that found their way into music composed for orchestra and the concert stage, creating a classical canon of a different sort – refreshing and exciting.
These programs are supported by the Keithley Fund for Artistic Collaboration at The Cleveland Orchestra, and the Ernest L. and Louise M. Gartner Fund, the P. J. McMyler Musical Endowment Fund, and the Anton and Rose Zverina Music Fund of the Cleveland Museum of Art.
The Cleveland Museum of Art’s VIVA! & Gala Performing Arts series is also sponsored by AkzoNobel, makers of Glidden™ paint, and the Musart Society. Additional support provided by the InterContinental Cleveland.