Yellow Barn Videos

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Watch festival performances from the Big Barn in Putney, Vermont.

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Listen to audio recordings of Yellow Barn festival performances

Documentary films

Jörg Widmann at Yellow Barn

Grisey's Le Noir de l'Etoile in Dallas and Marfa, Texas

Beethoven Walks

2021 Summer Season

Samuel Barber (1910-1981) String Quartet Op.11, Adagio (1936)
James Wood (b.1953) Rogosanti (Healing) (1986)
Toshio Hosokawa (b.1955) Im Nebel (In the Fog) (2013)
Kaija Saariaho (b.1952) Oi Kuu (1990)
Dai Fujikura (b.1977) The Voice (2007)
Steven Mackey (b.1956) Cairn (1994)
Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) And then I knew ’twas Wind (1992)
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) Cello Sonata No. 2 in G Minor, Op.117 (1921)
Hans Abrahamsen (b.1952) Six Pieces (1984/2012)
Leos Janácek (1854-1928) From Hukvaldy and Moravian Folk Poetry in Song (1898/1908)
J.S. Bach (1685-1750) Amore traditore (Treacherous love), Cantata BWV 203 (1718-9)
György Ligeti (1923-2006) Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedüvel (With Pipes, Drums, Fiddles) (2000)
Thomas Adès (b.1971) The Four Quarters (2010)
J.S. Bach (1685-1750) "Schafe können sicher weiden" ("Sheep May Safely Graze") from Cantata BWV 208 (1713)
Tigran Mansurian (b.1939) Agnus Dei (2006)
Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate (b.1968) Standing Bear: A Ponca Indian Cantata in Eight Tableaux (2015)
Earl Kim (1920-1998) Scenes from a Movie, Part 1, The Seventh Dream (1986)
Eric Nathan (b.1983) Toying (2012)
Brett Dean (b.1961) Seven Signals (2019)
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004) Movement for String Trio (2004)—Gideon Klein (1919-1945) String Trio (1944)
György Kurtág (b.1926) Einige Sätze aus den Sudelbüchern Georg Christoph Lichtenbergs, Op. 37a (1996/1999)
Friedrich Cerha (b.1927) Musik für Posaune und Streichquartett (2004-5)
Claude Vivier (1948-1983) Hymnen an die Nacht (1975)
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), Op.4 (1899) (arr. Eduard Steuermann, 1932)
Sebastian Currier (b.1959) Night Time (1998)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Violin Sonata in G Major, Op.96 (1812)
Jörg Widmann (b.1973) String Quartet No. 7 (Beethoven – Study II) (2020)
James MacMillan (b. 1959) "T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)" from others see us... (1990)
Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931) Hommage à T.S. Eliot (1987)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op.130 (1825-6)
James MacMillan (b. 1959) Motet II (2012)
James MacMillan (b. 1959) Motets III, IV, V (2012)
James MacMillan (b. 1959) in angustiis... I (2001)
James MacMillan (b. 1959) Tuireadh (Lament) (1991)
Mario Davidovsky (1934-2019) Salvos (Saved) (1986)

Check back soon. More videos from 2021 are being added throughout the fall!

2020 Summer Season

Watch Yellow Barn's 2020 Summer Concert Streams from the Big Barn.

2019 summer season

Andrew Hamilton O'ROURKE
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Concerto No. 12 in A Major for piano and string quintet, K.414
Eric Nathan Some Favored Nook
Claude Debussy Danses sacrée et profane (Sacred and Profane Dances)
Igor Stravinsky The Rite of Spring
Elliott Carter Saëta (Arrow) from Eight Pieces for Four Timpani
Anna Thorvaldsdottir Ró (Serenity)
Simon Bainbridge Four Primo Levi Settings
Stefan Wolpe Arrangements of Six Yiddish Songs
Eugène Ysaÿe Trio à cordes “Le chimay,” Op. posth.
André Previn Vocalise
Antonín Dvořák Violin Sonata in F Major, Op.57 (B.106)
Salvatore Sciarrino Tre duetti con l'eco (Three Duets with an Echo)
Sándor Veress Memento
Earl Kim Where Grief Slumbers
Tōru Takemitsu Orion
Harrison Birtwistle Crescent Moon over the Irrational
Stephen Coxe About That Time
Jörg Widmann Fieberphantasie (Fever Fantasy)
Brett Dean Recollections
Clara Schumann Romance in A Minor, Op.21
Brett Dean Equality
Brett Dean Huntington Eulogy
Benjamin Britten Winter Words, Op.52
Brett Dean String Quartet No. 2 “And once I played Ophelia”
Philippe Schoeller Isis II
Mark Applebaum Control Freak
Frédéric Chopin Rondo in C Major for Two Pianos, Op. posth. 73
Brett Dean Winter Songs
John Cage Dream

2018 summer season

George Frideric Handel Concerto Grosso in D Major, Op.6 No.5, HWV 323J
John Cage Solo for Voice 15 from Song Books
Einojuhani Rautavaara Ballad for Harp and Strings
Liza Lim Love Letter
Gustav Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen “Songs of a Wayfarer”
John Cage Experiences No.2
Salvatore Sciarrino Le voci sottovetro
Hans Abrahamsen Liebeslied
Philippe Hersant Usher
Stephen Coxe Entretien
Oliver Knussen Triptych
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart String Quintet in G Minor, K.516
César Franck Piano Quintet in F Minor
Antonín Dvořák Piano Trio in G Minor, Op.26
Chinary Ung Spiral
Alexandre Lunsqui Deflectere II
Shulamit Ran Moon Songs, a song cycle in four acts
Béla Bartók Violin Sonata No.2, Sz.76
György Kurtág 12 Microludes for String Quartet, Op.13
Benjamin Britten String Quartet No.1 in D Major, Op.25
Christopher Rouse Compline
Franz Schubert Fantasie in F Minor, D.940
Alexander Raskatov Monk's Music, Seven Words by Starets Silouan
Steven Mackey Heavy Light
Nicholas Maw Roman Canticle
Maurice Ravel Ballade de la reine morte d'aimer “Ballad of the queen who died of love”
Harrison Birtwistle 9 Settings of Lorine Niedecker 
Steven Mackey Ars Moriendi, nine tableaux on the art of dying well 
Matthew Burtner Coral Attraction
Steven Mackey Fusion Tune
François Sarhan Situation No.7 (Imagination) 
Mauricio Kagel Exotica 
Steven Mackey Four Iconoclastic Episodes
Ludwig van Beethoven String Quartet in F Major, Op.135
Mark Applebaum Aphasia 
Sofia Gubaidulina Perception, for soprano, baritone, string septet, and tape 
Erich Wolfgang Korngold Suite, Op.23
Steven Mackey On All Fours
Jacob Druckman 
Arnold Schoenberg Phantasy, Op.47
Luciano Berio O King
Edison Denisov Clarinet Quintet 
Leon Kirchner String Quartet No.4
Luciano Berio Folk Songs
Elliott Carter String Quartet No.1 
Viktor Suslin Grenzübertritt “Crossing Beyond”
Béla Bartók The Miraculous Mandarin, Op.19, Sz.73 (BB 82)
Dieter Ammann A(tenir)tension 
Johannes Brahms Piano Quartet in G Minor, Op.25 
Cathy Berberian Stripsody 
Arnold Schoenberg Notturno

2017 summer season

Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G Major, BWV 1048
Sofia Gubaidulina Galgenlieder à 3
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart String Quartet in G Major, K.387 
Alexander Raskatov Five Minutes from the Life of W.A.M. 
Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Cello
Jörg Widmann Zirkustänze

Oliver Knussen (1952-2018)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Yellow Barn's concert this Friday, July 13 was meant in part to celebrate the revered British composer Oliver Knussen, with the performance of three of his works. It is with great sadness that these performances must now be presented in memoriam to this composer who will be deeply missed.

In the words of BBC broadcaster Tom Service, “Oliver Knussen’s sheer brilliance as composer and conductor, his support for generations of younger composers and musicians, with whom he created a performance practice for music from Elliott Carter to Helen Grime—made him an essential part of our musical life. His music is one of the life-enhancing glories of the repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries."

The Guardian published the following obituary on July 9, 2018:

Oliver Knussen, who has died aged 66, was a towering figure in contemporary music, as composer and conductor, teacher and artistic director. The relatively small size of his compositional output conceals music of exceptional refinement and subtlety—a few bars of Knussen may have more impact than whole movements by lesser composers.

Besides definitive interpretations of his own music, he must surely have given more first performances than any other conductor, alongside an outstanding body of recordings. He was the central focus of so many activities, and an irreplaceable mentor to his fellow composers, who constantly sought and relied on his advice and encouragement.

He was born in Glasgow, son of Jane (nee Alexander) and Stuart Knussen; his father was principal double bass of the London Symphony Orchestra for nearly 20 years. Although Knussen would have laughed at any idea of his being a child prodigy, this gave him an unrivalled insight into the workings of the orchestra from an early age. It culminated in his conducting his First Symphony with the LSO at the age of 15, when their principal conductor István Kertész fell ill. His father played in the first performance of Benjamin Britten’s church parable Curlew Riverin 1964. Knussen attended all the rehearsals, and Britten was very encouraging to the young composer, commissioning a work for the 1969 Aldeburgh festival.

Between 1963 and 1969 he studied with the composer John Lambert, which gave him a solid but untraditional grounding. His musical perspectives were expanded greatly by studying in the US with Gunther Schuller from 1970 until 1973 at the Tanglewood Music Center, where he met his future wife, Sue Freedman, then a horn player, later a maker of documentary films. This period saw him writing with ever greater confidence—a Concerto for Orchestra commissioned by André Previn in 1969, and his Second Symphony, commissioned by Yehudi Menuhin in 1970, the latter the first major work in which he felt fully confident of his abilities. Even at the age of 18 his musical personality seemed fully formed.

The 1970s were a period of intense creativity for Knussen, with chamber works including Rosary Songs, Océan de Terreand Ophelia Dances, culminating in the completion in 1979 of his Third Symphony, a work whose first movement had been conducted by its dedicatee, Michael Tilson Thomas, in 1973. But this activity came at a cost: his extreme scrupulousness led him to take increasing care in composing, whether the work was on a small or large scale, and the material for the first complete performance of the symphony at the Proms was delivered only at the last minute. The 70s also saw the beginning of his longstanding relationship with his publisher Faber Music.

Similar problems attended the two “fantasy operas” he wrote in collaboration with Maurice Sendak. Where the Wild Things Are (1979-83) and Higglety Pigglety Pop! (1984-85). These superbly crafted, colourful works give every impression of unaffected spontaneity, but for Knussen it was a slow and painstaking process, with both operas first performed incomplete. Higglety was finally completed to the composer’s satisfaction only in 1999.

Until the 80s conducting had been a second string for Knussen, but gradually began to take up more of his time, particularly with his appointments as artistic director of the Aldeburgh festival from 1983 until 1998 and head of contemporary music activities at Tanglewood between 1986 and 1993. In 1992 he and I founded the Aldeburgh Contemporary Composition Course, where it gave him great pleasure to work with young composers and performers, who gratefully sat at his feet. Conducting was an occupation which gave him much satisfaction, with the opportunity to programme the music of both senior and junior composers, as well as his contemporaries, but it inevitably distracted him from composing. “I certainly wish I could afford to keep the two roles, conducting and composing, in better balance,” he said in 2012.

Most of the works from the next decade were on a smaller scale, but the Whitman Settings(1991), Songs Without Voices(1991-92) and Horn Concerto(1994) stand out as major achievements. He seemed to recover something of the flair of the 70s when he composed Prayer Bell Sketch in three days in 1997 in memory of his great friend the composer Toru Takemitsu, and the Violin Concerto, composed in 2002 for Pinchas Zukerman, which seemed to come almost out of the blue.

The similar intensity of Requiem: Songs for Sue(2005-06) was his considered reaction to the death of his wife in 2003 (he had much earlier composed Sonya’s Lullabyfor the birth of their daughter, now a gifted singer, in 1977). He described this major late work succinctly: “It’s not a huge work ... but it’s a big piece emotionally.” However other works from this period remained incomplete, including the remarkable Cleveland Picturesfor orchestra begun in 2003, withdrawn for revision and still unperformed, and concertos for piano and cello. His last completed work was O Hototogisu!for soprano and ensemble, a tantalising but substantial fragment of an intended larger piece.

Honours came to him in later years—appointment as CBE and honorary membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1994, honorary membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2002 and its conductor award in 2010, the Ivor Novello classical music award and the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2016. He was associate guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1989 onwards and their artist in association, 2009-12; artist in association with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group from 2006; and associate artist of the South Bank Centre in 2006. In 2014 he was made the inaugural Richard Rodney Bennett professor of music at the Royal Academy and was awarded an honorary doctorate there very recently.

But any sense of Olly (as everyone knew him) belonging to the establishment would have been an illusion. He was too big a figure to fit into any easily defined category. He had a voracious appetite for knowledge, with a special love for films—he was a Hitchcock obsessive and became friends with Jim Jarmusch—and painting: he had a fascination for obscure artists such as Joachim Patinir and Ivan Bilibin. But above all his consuming passion was for music. I can think of no composer into whom he could not offer insights, although his taste was very much for the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a love that could and did get in the way of composing: it was as if every bar that he wrote was measured against all the music that he knew, and this explains the almost painfully slow process by which his music was written, and the number of fragments left behind.

He had close friendships with most of the major 20th-century composers—Takemitsu, Hans Werner Henze, Elliott Carter (whose late works he championed), Mauricio Kagel, Harrison Birtwistle and Alexander Goehr, among many others. He even established a relationship with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and loved to tell the story of how, when he said to him “You can call me Olly”, the reply came back “You can call me Stockhausen.”

Although he leaves a wonderful legacy of performance, it is primarily as a composer that he would want to be remembered. It makes it all the more regrettable that, although he gave less time to conducting, due to the ill health which dogged his last years, this did not mean—as he said to me in hope only a couple of months ago—that he would have time to write the music that was in his head, and which would undoubtedly have taken him in new and rewarding directions.

He is survived by Sonya.

—Colin Matthews for The Guardian (July 9, 2018)

2019 Yellow Barn videos

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Watch performances from Yellow Barn's 2019 Summer Festival in Putney, Vermont.

More videos

Audio recordings

Andrew Hamilton (b.1977). O’ROURKE (2013). Lucy Shelton, soprano.—July 5, 2019 | Program Note
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Concerto in A Major for Piano and String Quintet, K.414 (1782). Peter Frankl, piano; Claire Bourg, Mann-Wen Lo, violins; Katherine Murdock, viola; Coleman Itzkoff, cello; Pete Walsh, double bass—July 5, 2019
Allegro: 0.00'
Andante: 10.36'
Allegretto: 18.22'
Eric Nathan (b.1983). Some Favored Nook (2017). Rachel Schutz, soprano; William Sharp, baritone; Gilbert Kalish, piano—July 5, 2019 | Program Note | Texts
Part I: 0.00'
Part II: 17.22'
Part III: 39.02'

Claude Debussy (1862-1918). Danses sacrée et profane (Sacred and Profane Dances) (1904). Noël Wan, harp; Anny Chen, Zenas Hsu, violins; Rosemary Nelis, viola; Matthew Chen, cello; Pete Walsh, double bass—July 6, 2019

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971). The Rite of Spring (1913). Gilbert Kalish and Sophiko Simsive, piano four-hands—July 6, 2019 | Program Note

Elliott Carter (1908-2012). Saëta (Arrow) from Eight Pieces for Four Timpani (1950). Sam Seyong Um, timpani—July 6, 2019 | Program Note

Anna Thorvaldsdottir (b.1977). Ró (Serenity) (2013). Rosie Gallagher, bass flute; Barret Ham, bass clarinet; Marisa Gupta, piano; Sam Seyong Um, percussion; Mélanie Clapiès, Magdalena Filipczak, violins; Lauren Siess, viola; Sein Lee, cello—July 11, 2019 | Program Note

Simon Bainbridge (b.1952). Four Primo Levi Settings (1996). Lucy Shelton, soprano; Yasmina Spiegelberg, clarinet; Sarah Sung, viola; Pedro Borges, piano—July 11, 2019 | Program Note

Stefan Wolpe (1902-1972). Arrangements of Six Yiddish Songs (1923, 1925). William Sharp, baritone; Emely Phelps, piano—July 11, 2019 | Program Note

Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931). Trio à cordes “Le chimay,” Op. posth. (1915). Yiliang Jiang, violin; Rosemary Nelis, viola; Yoshika Masuda, cello—July 11, 2019 | Program Note

André Previn (1929-2019). Vocalise (1995). Rachel Schutz, soprano; Alexander Kovalev, cello; Marisa Gupta, piano—July 12, 2019

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904). Violin Sonata in F Major, Op.57 (B.106) (1880). Leonard Fu, violin; Peter Frankl, piano—July 12, 2019
Salvatore Sciarrino (b.1947). Tre duetti con l’eco (Three Duets with an Echo) (2006). Rosie Gallagher, flute; Yen-Chen Wu, bassoon; Roger Tapping, viola—July 12, 2019 Program Note

Sándor Veress (1907-1992). Memento (1983). Rosemary Nelis, viola; Pete Walsh, double bass—July 13, 2019 | Program Note

Earl Kim (1920-1998). Where Grief Slumbers (1982). Rachel Schutz, soprano; Noël Wan, harp; Emma Frucht, SoYoung Choi, Magdalena Filipczak, violins; Katherine Murdock, DJ Cheek, violas; Jean-Michel Fonteneau, Yunwen Chen, cellos—July 13, 2019 | Program Note

Tōru Takemitsu (1930-1996). Orion (1984). Aaron Wolff, cello; Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, piano—July 18, 2019 | Program Note

Harrison Birtwistle (b.1934). Crescent Moon over the Irrational (2010). Rosie Gallagher, flute; Yasmina Spiegelberg, clarinet; Noël Wan, harp; Anthony Marwood, SoYoung Choi, violins; Maria Lambros, viola; John Myerscough, cello—July 20, 2019 | Program Note

Stephen Coxe (b.1966). About That Time (2019) Caleb Hudson, trumpet; Pete Walsh, double bass; Seth Knopp, piano; Eduardo Leandro, percussion—July 26, 2019 | Program Note

Jörg Widmann (b.1973). Fieberphantasie (Fever Fantasy) (1999). Sophiko Simsive, piano; Magdalena Filipczak, Tatjana Roos, violins; Sarah Sung, viola; Yoshika Masuda, cello; Barret Ham, clarinets—July 26, 2019 | Program Note

Brett Dean (b.1961). Recollections (2006). Barret Ham, clarinet; Stephen Stirling, French horn; Sam Seyong Um, percussion; Anthony Marwood, violin; Rosemary Nelis, viola; John Myerscough, cello; Pete Walsh, double bass; Marisa Gupta, piano—July 29, 2019 | Program Note

Clara Schumann (1819-1896). Romance in A Minor, Op.21 (1853). Marisa Gupta, piano—July 29, 2019

Brett Dean (b.1961). Equality (2004). Christina Dahl, piano—July 30, 2019

Brett Dean (b.1961). Huntington Eulogy (2001). John Myerscough, cello; Pedro Borges, piano—July 31, 2019 | Program Note

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976). Winter Words, Op.52 (1953). Benjamin Butterfield, tenor; Marisa Gupta, piano—July 31, 2019

Brett Dean (b.1961). String Quartet No. 2 “And once I played Ophelia” (2013). Rachel Schutz, soprano; Emma Frucht, Sophia Anna Szokolay, violins; Maren Rothfritz, viola; Coleman Itzkoff, cello—August 1, 2019 | Program Note

Philippe Schoeller (b.1957). Isis II (2001). Yen-Chen Wu, bassoon; Noël Wan, harp—August 2, 2019 | Program Note

Mark Applebaum (b.1967). Control Freak (2015). Benjamin Butterfield, voice; Rosie Gallagher, flute; Mark Hill, oboe; Anny Chen, violin; Matthew Chen, cello; Sophiko Simsive, piano; Sam Seyong Um, percussion—August 2, 2019

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849). Rondo in C Major for Two Pianos, Op. posth. 73 (1828). Alice Chenyang Xu and Pedro Borges, pianos—August 2, 2019 | Program Note

Brett Dean (b.1961). Winter Songs (2000). Benjamin Butterfield, tenor; Rosie Gallagher, flute; Alan Kay, clarinet; Mark Hill, oboe; Yen-Chen Wu, bassoon; Stephen Stirling, French horn—August 3, 2019 | Program Note

John Cage (1912-1992). Dream (1948) (arr. 1974 by Karen Phillips). Sarah Sung, solo viola; Roger Tapping, DJ Cheek, Lauren Siess, Maren Rothfritz, violas—August 3, 2019 | Program Note

Video program note: Four Iconoclastic Episodes

Saturday, June 23, 2018

In 2003, during Steven Mackey's first composer residency at Yellow Barn, violinist Anthony Marwood proposed the idea of a double-concerto for violin and electric guitar with string orchestra. Six years later, Steve and Anthony premiered Four Iconoclastic Episodes. On July 26, 2018 the double-concerto comes home to Yellow Barn for a performance with Steve and Anthony in the Big Barn. Steve describes the genesis and composition of his piece in the following video program note:

Songs of Refuge and Resistance

Friday, June 22, 2018

In advance of Yellow Barn's 2018 Summer Gala, The Westerlies offer the following notes for their program with Theo Bleckmann, Songs of Refuge and Resistance, which was developed during a Yellow Barn Artist Residency in June 2018:

In June of 2018, Theo Bleckmann and The Westerlies worked in residence at Yellow Barn to pair songs of resistance with songs of refuge, seeking to balance music’s integral role in protest movements with the power of songs to provide internal solace amidst external turmoil.

This balance is perhaps no better demonstrated than in the two pieces that bookend the evening, those of Joni Mitchell and Judee Sill. Joni Mitchell first recorded The Fiddle and the Drum on her 1969 album Clouds, and its anti-war message has been associated with a number of resistance movements since the 60’s. A contemporary of Mitchell, Sill released two albums in the early 1970’s before her untimely death from drug overdose in 1979. Her 1973 song The Kiss is a demonstration of her remarkable lyricism and Bach-influenced harmonic sensibility.

The protest song is given a fresh, new take in the work of American composer Phil Kline. A veteran of New York’s downtown scene, Kline’s work has been hailed for its originality, beauty, subversive subtext, and wry humor. 3 Rumsfeld Songs come from his 2004 work Zippo Songs, a statement on war and the politics of war based on the Pentagon briefings of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The song cycle was written for Theo Bleckmann and was one of the most talked-about records of 2004, winning “Best of the Year” citations throughout the world, from The New York Times to The Guardian, from CNN to NPR. His song Thoughts and Prayers was written for Theo Bleckmann and The Westerlies during their June 2018 residency at Yellow Barn, and sets the words of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivor and activist Emma Gonzalez’s speech addressing the NRA.

Two original pieces in the program by members of The Westerlies draw on their inspiration from the world of poetry. Trombonist Andy Clausen’s Land was composed while in residence at Yellow Barn in June 2018, and sets words from Agha Shahid Ali’s poem of the same title. Exploring the complexities of life as an Indian-American immigrant, Agha’s work colorfully illustrates the thematic and cultural poles of past and present; America and India, Islamic and American geography, American cities and former American Indian tribes. Trumpeter Riley Mulherkar’s Looking Out is a reflection on the poem of the same name by Japanese-American activist, feminist, essayist, and poet Mitsuye Yamada. Born in Japan, Yamada spent most of her childhood in Seattle until 1942, when her father was arrested by the FBI for espionage and she was interned at the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho. The poem “Looking Out” comes from her 1992 work Camp Notes and Other Writings, and is juxtaposed here with text from FDR’s Executive Order 9066, which authorized the Secretary ofWar to prescribe certain areas as military zones and cleared the way for the incarceration of 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry.

True to their Seattle roots, The Westerlies find another voice of resistance in Pacific Northwest history in Joe Hill, a Swedish-American immigrant and laborer who rose to prominence as an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World. As Hill and other IWW organizers traveled to lumber and construction camps throughout the west, they would often encounter missionaries from the Salvation Army who were attempting to convert the local migrant workers to Christianity. One of the Salvation Army’s (referred to fondly by the IWW as the “Starvation Army”) most popular hymns was “In the Sweet By and By”; in response to the Salvation Army’s overtures to the migrant workers, Joe Hill, a gifted songwriter himself, wrote a parody version of “In the Sweet By and By” called “The Preacher and the Slave”. Trombonist Willem de Koch’s arrangement juxtaposes the two songs side-by-side, highlighting Hill’s witty, cynical lyrics. 

Early in their development as an ensemble, The Westerlies found mentorship in Seattle-based composer and pianist Wayne Horvitz; their first performance was at his Seattle club The Royal Room, and their first recording was their 2014 album of his compositions, Wish The Children Would Come On Home. These two Horvitz pieces come from his 2012 work Smokestack Arias, a song cycle for soprano voice, piano and pre-recorded electronics and accompanied by dance performances with text by Robin Holcomb. Inspired by the 1916 labor uprising and resultant deaths, now known at the Everett Massacre, each song portrays the perspective of a different woman affected by the uprising and the deaths of the slain protesters, giving a personal account of a seminal event in the history of the Pacific Northwest labor movement. 

Perhaps no voice is more associated with American protest songs than that of Woody Guthrie, and his voice is channeled through The Westerlies in many iterations. One of the songs, entitled Tear the Fascists Down was recorded in 1944 but never released until 2009, when master discs of Stinson Records were discovered in a Brooklyn apartment. At the same time that Guthrie was writing his songs, Bertolt Brecht was a prominent international voice of freedom. His poem “Bitten der Kinder” was written in 1951 and set to music by Paul Dessau, originally written to be sung by a children’s choir but arranged here by Riley Mulherkar.

Amidst these voices of resistance, the original songs of refuge by members of the ensemble shine. Another Holiday by Theo Bleckmann, was written in June of 2016 shortly after the mass shooting atPulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Says Bleckmann, “Unlike my often long and intensely critical editing processes when writing music, ‘Another Holiday’ seemed to appear almost fully formed. This is a not a protest song but a song about being without refuge, of being isolated from your family because of whom you love.” Also bringing familial relationships into the program is Andy Clausen, who wrote Grandmar in November of 2017, shortly after the passing of his grandmother. Says Clausen, “the piece is a meditation on the challenges of loving someone with whom you have vehement political disagreements.”

The theme of refuge is exemplified in Wade in the Water, a well-known spiritual work song from the Underground Railroad. The meditative melody is a hymn of resistance and unification, originating from one of the (many) dark times in the African American struggle. Theo Bleckmann arranges it here next to Look for the Union Label, a TV commercial song from the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (formerly the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and other unions). Composed by R&B Soul artist Malcolm Dodds to a lyric by advertising executive Paula Green, the melody seems to strongly reference Jerome Kern’s Look for the Silver Lining.

Theo Bleckmann and The Westerlies would like to thank Yellow Barn for making this program possible.

In Their Own Words

Sunday, June 17, 2018

2018 Young Artists Program composers, left to right:
Adam Karelin, Benjamin Champion, Theodore Haber, Hannah Ishizaki, Lauren Vandervelden, Matthew Pinder, Sequoyah Sugiyama

The Young Artists Program concert on June 17, 2018 features seven world premiere performances of works by our YAP composers. Here is what they have to say about their work:

Theodore Haber (b.1999)
Entrances at Bay (2018)

I often go to a place called Indian rock to clear my head when I am back home in Berkeley, California. It is a rock formation that has been in the Berkeley hills for hundreds of years. From the top, you can see all of the Bay Area. When I arrived back home after finishing my first year in college, I wanted to go there to reflect. Along with me, I had brought a book of manuscript paper. I decided, while watching the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge, to start writing this piece. I knew that I wanted to explore the idea of a single line as the entire conceptual and sonic material for the piece, but where that line would go, and how it would develop, I was not yet sure. So, as I sat at the top of Indian rock, reflecting on my year, looking forward, both in time and physically at the setting sun, I wrote the first few iterations, or entrances, of the line. They were the entrances at bay.

Adam Karelin (b.2000)
System Preferences (2018)

System Preferences is a collection of three pieces: Systema Naturæ, Systema Machina, and Systema Deus. Systema Deus was premiered and recorded in the summer of 2017 in Los Angeles, by members of the Sunset ChamberFest. The full System Preferences suite is being premiered this afternoon, by members of the Yellow Barn Young Artists Program.

The pieces call for a retuned violin and mutes for the strings and piano in order to repurpose the sound of the trio in painting a landscape that is technically familiar to the players and sonically unfamiliar to the audience. The three systems share germinal material but treat it distinctly. Both the timbral similarities and disparities of the three instruments are explored through the dramatic scope of the ensemble.

Hannah Ishizaki (b.2000)
Lyrids (2018)

Lyrids was inspired by a yearly meteor shower called the Lyrids, which occurs in April and passes through the constellation Lyra. This piece follows the emotions of an observer from the anticipation of the astronomical event to its passing and the subsequent stillness. Lyrids begins with a cello solo that represents the observer’s watchful hope, which is then passed to violin and then viola. The expectation is broken by punctuated piano that reflects the bursts of adrenalin upon viewing the first meteors in the sky, leading into the full meteor shower. The calm of dawn then comes at the end, but the feeling of anticipation for the next night’s meteor shower still remains.

Sequoyah Sugiyama (b.1997)
Variations (2018)

Variations for piano quintet is my first foray into the world of integral serialism, a compositional technique wherein the constituent elements of the various parameters of music (i.e. pitch, rhythm, dynamics, etc.) are serialized, or placed into a strict order and realized almost exclusively in that order. Serialism was a divisive force in 20th century music, notorious for alienating concertgoers by prioritizing a seemingly academic rigor over conventionally pleasing aesthetics. But it is difficult to make generalizations about what the philosophical or artistic impetus for the emergence of serialism is because composers approached it in vastly different ways, and for sometimes contradicting reasons. My historical fascination with this approach to composition has evolved into a musical interest. In writing Variations, I set out to discover what I can learn from serial technique.

Lauren Vandervelden (b.1999)
Apprehension (2018)

Before writing Apprehension, I knew my friend Anoush would be performing the clarinet part. This inspired me to craft a virtuosic clarinet part that would show off this quality in her playing. Beginning mysteriously, the clarinet line becomes more improvisatory, highlighted with percussive gestures. This cadenza-like opening allows the players musical freedom, enabling them to utilize liberty in the pacing of the introduction, pushing and pulling to create a sense of tension. The turbulence of the beginning erupts into a faster, more playful, yet still agitated section. My inspiration for the title came not from my analysis of my composition, but instead from my confusing the 12:00pm deadline given for the completion of my work and thinking it was 12:00am instead. Having missed the deadline, I was overwhelmed with panic and realized my anxiety resembled the turmoil of my composition, making Apprehension the obvious choice for my title.

Matthew Pinder (b.1998)
String Quartet (2018)

This is the first movement of a four-movement string quartet. The movements are arranged in a slow-fast-slow-fast manner and this the first slow movement. One of my primary goals in composing this piece was to make sure every note had a definite place and purpose and to use as few notes as possible to convey as much as possible. I didn’t want to have dissonance just for dissonance’s sake or consonance just for consonance’s sake. What resulted was a movement consisting of long phrases with a slow melodic motion. It is my opinion that the long notes often hold tension and drama more effectively than fast notes and I tried to utilize this as much a possible in this piece.

The beginning is somewhat unusual. I have written a 29-measure duet between the first violin and the viola. This introduction is somewhat tonally ambiguous and the texture is thin because there are only two voices. When the whole quartet plays together for the first time, at measure 30, the warmth of a D-major chord is a polar opposite to what came before it. Throughout the rest of the piece I explore many different tonalities and textures while keeping the melodic motion relatively slow.

Benjamin Champion (b.2000)
Turtle Sphere (2018)

Waiting for things to happen is one of my favorite activities. I imagine that sea turtles are the grand masters of waiting. I like to think that this piece waits for things to happen, in the same way that I imagine sea turtles do. I wrote this piece in a “non-discriminatory” way, by which I mean I sat in front of a piece of paper without preconception and wrote as ideas occurred to me. My only objective was to fill each page with an idea or a shape and then wait, not only for the next idea to come, but for the eventual textual arc holding all of the events together to reveal itself.

More works by these young composers can be heard on Thursday, June 28 and Friday, June 29 at The Big Barn.