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Orpheus in the New World

With communications and travel offering cultural exchange like never before, today’s composer draws from an enormous palette, giving voice to the amazing era in which we live. From Schwantner and Adams to Neikrug and Beach, we’ll listen to and celebrate their music.

Program 1

This weeks show title, Orpheus in the New World, is borrowed from a book by Philip Hart of the same name. The book focused on American orchestras in the 1970s, and this week's show focuses on, mostly recent, American composers.

Born 1961 in Milkwaukee, Michael Torke was asked to write a piece for the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia. He composed the piece Javelin and named it such because he thought the word was sleek.

Torke studiend under Joseph Schwantner at the Eastman School of Music, and next we hear Schwantner's piece, Sparrows, written in 1979. It is the setting of 15 haiku's.

Next, we meet Elliott Carter who was born in 1908. He is two years younger than Samuel Barber and two years old than Shostakovich. We hear his Pastoral for Clarinet and Piano which he wrote at age 37 in 1945.

Finally, we meet Aaaron Jay Kernis, a Pulitzer Prize winner, born in 1960. We hear Musica Celestis (Music of the Heavens) which was originally written for string quartet and then later rearranged for string orchestra.

Torke: Javelin
Atlanta Symphony Orch/Levi
Ecstatic 92293
8:29, 3:07

Carter: Pastoral for Clarinet and Piano
Yeh, cl.; Blackwood, p.
Cedille 48

Program 2

Today's program begins with a violin concerto by Roger Sessions (1896-1985), a famously intelligent man. He spent many years as a professor at Princeton University. Marc Neikrug, also very intelligent, is the composer of the next violin concerto Bill plays. Neikrug spent much of his career as the piano accompanist of Pinchas Zukerman, and is also the director of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

The next violin concerto was written by John Adams. Movement two contains the written phrase "Body Through Which a Dream Flows." This phrase comes from a poem by Robert Hass which Adams said mirrored the sensation of the movement.

The final violin concerto of the program is composed by Stehpen Paulus writing for William Preucil, then concert master of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

The program ends with a ragtime piece for the piano by William Bolcom entitiled Graceful Ghost

Sessions: Violin Concerto, I
Monadnack Festival Orchestra/Bolle; Bohn, v.
Albany 938

Adams: Violin Concerto, Part II: “Body Through Which the Dream Flows”
LSO/Nagano; Kremer, v.
Nonesuch 79360

Bolcom: Graceful Ghost
Bolcom, p.
Nonesuch 79619

Program 3

Into Eclipse by Stephen Albert, is based on the Ted Hughes transalation of Seneca's version of Oedipus Rex. Albert was also very drawn to James Joyce and set several of his works to music. Albert won a Pulitzer Prize for his piece, RiverRun, based on Joyce's Finnegan's Wake.

Albert was killed in a 1992 automobile accodent, and one of his best friends and composer, Christonpher Rouse, dedicated the second movement of second symphony to Albert. 

Donald Erb's piece Ritual Observances also deals with loss and is dedicated to Lenoard Slatkin and Mozart. The title is taken from a Dylan Thomas poem.

On a lighter note, we hear the piece T. Rex by Bill's old friend Mark Phillips. The piece is scored for trombones and electronic sounds.

Finally, we hear the piece Morgen-Gesang (morning sound) by Arthur Foote, and several selections from Amy Beach, born Amy Marcy Cheney.

Albert: Into Eclipse (excerpts)
20th Century Consort/Kendall
Nonesuch 79153

Erb: Ritual Observances, I (Lachrymosa)
St. Louis Symphony/Slatkin
New World 80415

Foote: Morgen-Gesang
Johnson, v.; Kairoff, p.
Albany 150

Beach: “I Send My Heart up to Thee” & “The Year at Spring’s End” fr. 3 Songs by Browning, Op. 24
Voight, s.; Zeger, p.
EMI 57964

Program 4

This program begins with Sonata for Violin and Piano by Paul Moravec, a recent Pulitzer Prize winning composer. The piece was written for violinst Maria Bachman, and her piano accompanist Jon Klibonoff. 

Next we hear two birthday greeting pieces by Leonard Berstein, the first written for Carl Berm's 85th birthday. The other is a greeting for Alexander Berstein on the first day of his life.

This is followed by the wild piece Symphony No. 3 by Ellen Taafe Zwilich, and then the calm piece Old and Lost Rivers by Tobias Picker. Next is the piece Petroushskates by Joan Tower, the piece is a tip of the hat to her favorite composer, Igor Stravinsky.

This program concludes with several works by Peter Lieberson, written for the love of his life and vocalist Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. The piece premiered in Los Angeles in May 2005 and the recording played in the program is from a live November 2005 performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Lorraine died of cancer a year after that performance.

Moravec: Sonata for Violin and Piano, I
Bachman, v.; Klibonoff, p.
Catalyst 61824

Zwilich: Symphony No. 3, II
New York Phil/Ling
NYP 9904

Tower: Petroushskates
eighth blackbird
Cedille 67

Program 5

The final program begins with a piece by Carolyn Jennings called The Loons. Next, we hear Elegy written by one of the violinists from The Emerson String Quartet, Philip Setzer. The piece is written for Setzer's close friend who passed away.

Next we hear several concert pieces from composers usually thought of as film composers: John Williams and Danny Elfman. Williams' piece, The Five Sacred Trees, is based on a Celtic legend. Elfman's piece is entitled Serenada Schizophrana.

Elfman was inspired by Philip Glass, and we listen to a piece from Glass' opera, Orphee. We also hear Cauldrons by Minnesota composer Franklin.

Finally, the program ends with a full performance of the Exploring Music Theme written by Bill McGlaughlin himself. The piece is dedicated to Steve Robinson.



Jennings: The Loons
Jette, s.; Greenwald, bar.
Innova 500

Elfman: Serenada Schizophrana, V
Hollywood Bowl Orch/Mauceri
Sony 89780
Purchase Similar

Glass: Interlude from Orphée (Act II Scene 5)
Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra/Davies
Nonesuch 79496
Franklin: Cauldrons
Kansas City Symphony/McGlaughlin



The Exploring Music streaming website is supported by Mr. & Mrs. William Gardner Brown and the Richard P. and Susan Kiphart Family.  
You have opened up the world of Classical Music to me, where previously, it seemed too complicated.
Steffen Demeter
This is simply one of the very best radio programmes in the medium!...The study of the people, the times, and the events that inform the music we otherwise enjoy and even, heaven forbid, take for granted, brings the entire world of the music and the composer to life.
Walther Davies
There isn't a program you broadcast on Exploring Music" that isn't of interest. I find them all engaging. It is a combination of variety of subject, intellectual curiosity and your obvious enthusiasm which characterize your satisfying programs.
Michael Sanders
It’s a great way to re-engage myself with consciousness before heading off to work.
I Love this program! I am in 7th grade and I am the complete opposite of the other kids. I am 4th chair in the orchestra and I love to read. But most of all, I LOVE classical music!
Claudia Wertz
Your show has helped open my mind and heart to this world of music, and every show I hear confirms my place in music and gives me new ideas for where I'd like to go with it in the future….I grew up with classical music as a child and always held it in my heart, but I didn't have the confidence to be a good student (or a good violinist.)
Christine Anderson
Listening to you is almost interactive.You invite us in with so many well modulated dramatic and informative comments, enticing, enthusiastic interpretations, and coherent, beautiful presentations. It's a privilege to follow you into the musical space you create.
Sally Rosenbaum
I just love this program. It is soothing and comfortable at the end of the day. I find his comments interesting, but they aren't so dragged out that there is very little music. The balance of both is just right.
Jean Quay
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