Concert Notes From The Director, Spring 2018
One of my favorite things to do is to work with composers, especially young composers. PEV has a long history of performing new works and this season is no exception. Three works on this Spring concert came to us as the result of a call to composers. Others are recent works by composer friends. I’ve paired these new works with beguiling, lesser-known pieces by well-known composers, including Samuel Barber and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel.
Michael T. Roberts
A Boy’s Will (1915) is an autobiographical book of poems by Robert Frost, based on nature. Roberts chose four to set, linked to the seasons. PEV sang two, the Fall and Winter poems, in December 2017, and now we’ll sing the Spring and Summer poems for Spring 2018:
A Prayer in Spring – In the style of a playful Renaissance motet, this is a Bay Area premiere.
Rose Pogonias – The opening uses vocal sounds that imitate insect and other sounds of the garden. This is a premiere.
[Look for more comments on the Roberts pieces, coming soon!]
Dylan Tran is an undergraduate at Loyola University in New Orleans. His wide musical interests include composition, singing and conducting. Tran’s compositions reflect his knowledge of the voice and his ear for interesting harmonies and facile text setting. If Music be the Food of Love is a poem by Col. Henry Heveningham, Colonel (1651 – 1700).
El Canto Del Poeta (El príncipe Monencauhtzin) is a text from a 15th century poet, Tecayehuatzin, Lord of Huexotzinco. It is set to music by Javier Martínez-Ramírez, a Mexican composer, choral conductor and orthodox priest currently based in Guatemala. El Canto del Poeta took second prize in the Fourth National Contest of Choral Composition in Mexico in 2000.
Cançao do Exilio by César Zumel Vaquero. The text for this song, by Brazilian poet by Gonçalves Dias, is modeled on Goethe’s famous poem Kennst du das Land. It evokes an exile’s memory of the trees and birds of home.
The Ruins – One of our members suggested this song for men, a cry for the homeland by Zoltan Kodaly
Sin Palabras – I was given this song without words for women by a Cuban choral conductor colleague, Wilmia Verrier Quiñones, during our 2013 tour in Havana. It has some sinuous melodies floating over the ubiquitous clave, the rhythmic heartbeat of Afro-Cuban music.
Samuel Barber, To be Sung on the Water. A new work for us by a great American composer, conjuring the motion and sparkling of a body of water
Jennifer Higdon, A Quiet Moment. This is a gorgeous song about the passing of time and the poignancy of goodbyes to loved ones
Arvo Pärt, I am the True Vine. I love the sound and the form of this song. It uses an old technique, hocketing, to create a sonic jigsaw puzzle of a Biblical text appropriate to Eastertide. Here, Jesus expresses his promise to be with His friends in Spirit. He is the vine that will support them, as branches that will produce fruit of the Spirit.
Maurice Duruflé, Quatre Motets Sur Des Thèmes Grégoriens. These four motets, one for women, are 20th century chants that are reminiscent of ancient ones.
– Lynne Morrow, Music Director