Nexus

Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Russell Hartenberger,
and Garry Kvistad, percussion
With Special Guests Amy Fradon, voice; Kirsti Gholson, voice; Sepideh Raissadat, voice and setar

Saturday, June 27, 8 pm

program

Sky Ghost
Russell Hartenberger
With Amy Fradon and Kirsti Gholson, voice

Percussion Sonata No. 3, "Maverick"
Peter Schickele (b. 1935)
World Premiere Performance, commissioned by Garry and Diane Kvistad and the Woodstock Chimes Fund
for the centenary of the Maverick Concerts


1. Toccata: bright and driving with some
jazz influences.
2. Romanza: relaxed, laid back,
like a reverie
3. Vaudeville: with ragtime and
early movie-music influences

intermission

Ragtime Xylophone Music Selections
George Hamilton Green (1893-1970)

Caprice Valsant

Arr. Bob Becker

Alabama Moon

Arr. Bob Becker

Dotty Dimples

co-composed by Victor Arden, Arr. Bill Cahn

Just A Kiss From You

Arr. Bob Becker

Persian Songs
Reza Ghassemi (b. 1949) Arr. R. Hartenberger
With Sepideh Raissadat, voice and setar

1. Madadi Ke Chasme Mastat
(A Cup of Wine to my Rescue – From your
Intoxicating Glance)

2. Vajd; Ta Dami Bissayam
(Ecstasy; A Moment of Ease)
3. Vocal and Setar
4. Eishe Modam (Endless Bliss)
5. Setar
6. Selselehye Mooye Doost
(Locks of the Beloved's Hair)
7. Vocal and Setar
8. Az In Marg Matarsid; Bouye Sharab
(Be not Afraid of Death; Scent of Wine)

 

TOMORROW

Sunday, June 28, 4 pm
Shanghai Quartet, with Ran Dank, piano


A reprise of a concert from the first season of Maverick Concerts
in 1916: Music by Haydn, Schumann, and Max Bruch

NEXT WEEK

Friday, July 3, 7 pm
Simone Dinnerstein, piano: J.S. Bach,
Goldberg Variations


A Benefit Concert


Saturday July 4, 11 am
YOUNG PEOPLE'S CONCERT
Elizabeth Mitchell & Family

Saturday July 4, 6 pm
Adam Tendler, piano
Music by John Cage and Woodstock
composer Henry Cowell


Sunday, July 5, 4 pm
Fred Hand, guitar; Paula Robison, flute
Songs Without Words

 


LOGO

Program Notes © 2015 by Miriam Villchur Berg*


ABOUT THE ARTISTS

NEXUS began its career with an entirely improvised concert in 1971. Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Russell Hartenberger, and Garry Kvistad are all virtuosos in their own right, and bring elements of their knowledge and character to a distinct and powerful whole. The group has toured through Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Brazil, Scandinavia, and Europe, and tours regularly in the United States and Canada. NEXUS participates in international music festivals around the world, and was the first Western percussion group to perform in the People’s Republic of China. NEXUS is the recipient of the Banff Centre for the Arts National Award and the Toronto Arts Award. The group was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1999.

The ensemble created the musical score for the National Film Board of Canada’s Inside Time, which won the 2008 Yorkton Golden Sheaf award for best social/political documentary. NEXUS also created the chilling score for the Academy Award-winning feature-length documentary The Man Who Skied Down Everest. NEXUS’s list of high-profile collaborators includes Steve Reich, the Kronos Quartet, the Canadian Brass, and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman.

Bob Becker is one of the world’s premier virtuoso performers on the xylophone and marimba. He served as timpanist with the Marlboro Festival Orchestra under Pablo Casals. For several years he toured as percussionist with the Paul Winter Consort. He is a regular member of the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Steve Reich and Musicians, and has appeared as soloist with the Israel Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, and the London Symphony.

Bill Cahn was the principal percussionist in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 1968 to 1995. Bill has performed with Chet Atkins, John Cage, Aaron Copland, Chuck Mangione, Mitch Miller, Seiji Ozawa, Steve Reich, Doc Severinsen, Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, Edgard Varèse, and Paul Winter. In 1999, he was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame. In 2006, Bill received a Grammy award as part of the Paul Winter Consort.

Russell Hartenberger holds a PhD in World Music from Wesleyan University, where he studied mridangam, tabla, Javanese gamelan, and West African drumming. He is professor of percussion at the University of Toronto and acting associate dean and chair of the Performance Department. He has performed with the Paul Winter Consort, Gil Evans, John Cage, John Adams, Peter Erskine, Glen Velez, Pablo Casals, the Kronos String Quartet, Peter Serkin, and Yo-Yo Ma. Russell has been a member of Steve Reich and Musicians since 1971.

Garry Kvistad has been a member of NEXUS since 2002 and has toured and recorded with Steve Reich and Musicians since 1980. He was the timpanist and percussionist with Chicago’s Grant Park Symphony, and was a summer Tanglewood Fellow. The Balinese gong kebyar gamelan ensemble Giri Mekar, which he formed in 1987, is currently in residence at Bard College, where Garry serves on the faculty of the Conservatory of Music. Garry is the founder and CEO of Woodstock Percussion, Inc., makers and distributors of Woodstock Chimes and musical instruments sold worldwide.

Amy Fradon has been singing and performing for the past twenty-five years. She was in the national touring company of the Broadway hit, Pumpboys and Dinettes. She has toured and recorded with Leslie Ritter; with Kim Rosen and Cathie Malach for Brethwork in conjunction with swimming with dolphins; with her band, Small Town News; with the Vanaver Caravan; and with Face the Music, bringing music as a team-building medium to corporate clients such as Bank of America and others. She is an Interfaith Minister and leads workshops at Omega Institute and elsewhere in voice as a vehicle for self-discovery.

Kirsti Gholson is a Woodstock singer/songwriter, a well-known backup singer, and a member of the harmonic-overtone choir PRANA, which has recorded three albums. Before moving to Woodstock, Kirsti made music with her bands "Art Can Kill" and "Sweet William" and as a backup/session singer in Philadelphia. She was chosen to perform on the Emerging Artists stage for Woodstock '99, and her song "I got the Message" was aired on MTV’s Laguna Beach. Using the name Little Green Blackbird, she recently released an album titled The Summer I Stopped Whining.

Sepideh Raissadat was born in Tehran in 1980, and began studying Persian classical music at the age of nine. Sepidah recorded her first album when she was eighteen, becoming the first female vocalist to have a solo public performance in Iran after the 1979 revolution. She moved to Italy and received a degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Bologna. Currently, she is working on her doctorate at the University of Toronto, focusing on ancient, pre-Islamic Persian music.

 


 


 


ABOUT THE MUSIC

Composer Russell Hartenberger writes: “Sky Ghost is the final movement of The Invisible Proverb, a piece that incorporates elements of talking drum styles and the rhythm patterns of West African drumming ensembles. Sky Ghost also uses a melody from Small Sky by Toru Takemitsu, which appears in the first section of the piece. In the second section, talking drum melodies are heard against a backdrop of African bell patterns played on a xylophone. There are, in essence, two bell patterns heard at once: the left hand of the xylophonist plays a five-note pattern while the right hand ‘ghosts’ a seven-note pattern against it. The third section reverses this procedure and the Small Sky melody reappears.”

Woodstock composer Peter Schickele has written works on commission for the many major orchestras. His film credits include music for Fantasia 2000, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and the prize-winning Silent Running. For many years he hosted a weekly syndicated radio program, Schickele Mix, broadcast nationwide over Public Radio International. Schickele is also well known for touring with his close acquaintance Professor Schickele, performing and discussing the music of P.D.Q. Bach.

Peter Schickele writes: “Garry Kvistad and I have long been good friends. We go to lousy movies that we know our wives wouldn’t want to see, and straighten out the world over supper. Through that connection I wrote my second Percussion Sonata for Nexus, and when the time came to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Maverick concert series, Garry and his wife Diane and the Woodstock Chimes Fund commissioned a piece for the centenary.

“The third Percussion Sonata has the standard three movements; the first movement is a lively Toccata, the second a quiet, ambling Romanza, and the finale, titled Vaudeville, contains a bunch of theater music, some of it reminiscent of the xylophone pieces played in vaudeville acts (the quartet’s Bob Becker showcases those pieces in a masterly way), some of it reminiscent of old-time rock‘n’roll, and some of it reminiscent (to me) of the music that Nino Rota wrote for Fellini’s films.”

Bob Becker writes about the Ragtime xylophone music selections on today’s program: “From the turn of the century through the Roaring Twenties, there was a tremendous dance craze all over North America. The xylophone found its way into the dance orchestras, probably because of its ability to clearly accentuate the syncopated rhythms of the newer dance music. One of the most popular of the dance bands was the Green Brothers’ Novelty Xylophone Band, with two or three xylophones played by virtuosos Joseph and George Green. George Hamilton Green was hailed as the world’s greatest xylophonist, and he greatly expanded the instrument’s expressive potential through his many compositions and transcriptions. The Green Brothers were very active in the budding record industry, recording hundreds of dance tunes. Their popularity was worldwide. Caprice Valsant is among George Hamilton Green’s celebrated works in the new genre of concert pieces for solo xylophone. The music, though relatively light in character, is nevertheless demonstrative of the energy, joy, and direct sentiment of its time.”

Russell Hartenberger writes: “Sepideh Raissadat was a student in a graduate seminar I taught at the University of Toronto in 2013. She presented a paper relating her experience as a professional singer of classical Iranian music in a country whose government that did not allow women to sing as soloists in public. She was one of the most famous vocalists in Iran, but the only way listeners could hear her was by way of pirated recordings. Sepideh gave me a CD she recorded of songs written by the contemporary Iranian composer and writer Reza Ghassemi. I asked Ghassemi if he would allow me to arrange some of them for Nexus and Sepideh. He agreed, and the result is this suite of Persian Songs.”

 

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg.
It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy, publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at miriam@hvc.rr.com.

Program Notes © 2015 by Miriam Villchur Berg