Concert Program Notes

Brightwork newmusic • Thursday, February 22, 2024


The Garden Song (2023) | JONATHON GRASSE

Jonathon Grasse’s The Garden Song (2022-23) incorporates a 2021 poem of the same name and is the fourth of his series of compositions written for Brightwork and Aron Kallay that began in 2017. Using thematic and stylistic fragmentation, these pieces present freely chromatic languages and rhythmic tensions suggestive of improvisation. Here, expressionistic coloring of words and phrases resolves toward song-like simplicity and repeated melodic themes, a general pattern shared by the other works in which sectional and freely chromatic passages of non-developmental music lead to formal closing statements marked by tonal centers and minimalist ideas. The text draws sometimes surreal parallels between imagesof a garden, senses of time, and human fragility. - Jonathon Grasse


The Garden Song

Bright pale-green hedges whistle generous scents

tall edges of a garden cultivated by happy thieves

where rhythmic steps and loose scrapings of a rake awaken fossils

marking scattershot apparitions of dawn


Inhale/exhale meters of shifting sunlight

share hues among faint damp hisses and consonant drips

flowing eyes, ears, over paths brightening with warmth,

sounds explore quiet jewels, deep blue and fiery red


Unhinged strata of our old footprints, webs of desiccated twigs

strewn about flower beds, mossy flat grey steppingstones

slow-motion shadows inflate into thoughtful shapes

behind colors swaying in the tempi of afternoon breeze


Blind drone of tiny, deaf lives speaks with bald-faced clarity

enveloped by the gradual wealth of nocturnal tableaux

a soon resting darkness silently grounded under ivory moon’s eye

translating dream languages of night’s nothingness


Fecund enclosure’s promise of embrace – a place never quite forlorn,

forever cool to hocketing seasonal whispers, decay’s “goodbye,”

and the welcoming, misty “hello” of nourished rebirth,

a changeling’s laughter and tears beneath indifferent stars


I Mary, Mary By Herself for piano, cello, and voice (2024) | PAMELA MADSEN

The Opera America and National Endowment for the Arts awarded Why Women Went West (2022-2023) explores controversies over human rights, water wars, early 20th-century feminist artist communities through the life of Mary Hunter Austin. Writer, feminist, conservationist, and defender of Native American and Spanish-American rights, Austin's quest, trauma, and journey uncovered dark mysticism in the American Southwest. Resonating with concerns over marginalization of indigenous cultures, desecration of women, nature, and women's escape from conventions through their artistic agency, this work reveals ongoing trauma of woman's quest for autonomy. A complex, problematic story of coming to terms with one’s self as a woman in society, Why Women Went West chronicles Mary Austin’s escape from persecution to transformation of white woman’s privilege and passion for preservation of nature, history, and indigenous culture.

“I Mary, Mary by Herself” is an aria for soprano, cello and piano),  a multi-media chamber opera in which two voices—I, Mary (soprano) and Mary by Herself, (recorded voice of soprano/spoken voice/electronics) tells the unfolding narrative of a sole woman protagonist and her journey west. Fourteen songs comprise the two-part narrative; with empathy, ritual, and passion they trace Mary’s experiences from her youth in a Midwest small town in late 19th century to her pioneer days in California, and finally to her wild west days in New Mexico where she eventually confronts death and overcomes the challenges that have plagued her throughout her life. Mary struggles with her decision to abandon her disabled daughter, her abusive and absent husband. She struggles with  the conflicting voices in her head, she finally resolves to escape and find herself on her own, as a writer.  -Pamela Madsen


The Illusion of Permanence (2020, arr. 2023) | RAJNA SWAMINATHAN

This piece traces the journey of a song through the embodied memory. The song— "Pyaare darshan dijo ay," by the 16th century Bhakti saint-poet Meera Bai — was one I enjoyed singing as a child with my late mother Lalitha (1958-2010). Over time, the song faded from my conscious memory. Many years later, I encountered it again through an old tape recording of me and my sibling Anjna eagerly singing along with our mom, when we were probably 4-5 years old. An uncanny feeling arose as I listened, and the song gently haunted me for several months, drawing out forgotten melodies I had composed in my youth. It felt as though the song had somehow lived on within me, and it inspired a process of creative remembering that led to this piece. "The illusion of permanence" felt like the best way to encapsulate the simultaneous sense of loss, continuity, and renewal in the way our bodies remember sound, in the ways sounds resonate with us over time.

While the original piece featured me as a soloist, the process of creating this new arrangement for Brightwork invited me to revisit what this piece means to me today and entrust it to others. While maintaining the episodic nature of the piece, its specific softnesses and intensities, performers are invited to shape their own presence and journey among the gestures and textures.

The Illusion of Permanence (2020) was originally commissioned by the LA Phil as part of the Green Umbrella Series. - Rajna Swaminathan


Scorpio (2016) | ADAM BORECKI

Strengths: Loyal, Passionate, Resourceful, Observant, Dynamic. Weaknesses: Jealous, Obsessive, Suspicious, Manipulative, Unyielding.

My interpretation of "Scorpio" from Stockhausen's Tierkreis is based on two aspects of the original melody. The first comes strictly from the given pitch material. I elaborate and expand on the implied polyphony (outlining multiple voices or chords from a single line) and the melody's characteristic use of glissandi. The second aspect of Stockhausen's Tierkreis that inspired me was the instrumentation. In my arrangement, the musicians double on melodicas as a reference to the simple yet unique nature of Stockhausen's original instrumentation (music boxes). - Adam Borecki


A Prayer For My Daughter (2022) (piano, strings, voice) | PAMELA MADSEN

(With texts by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mary Hunter Austin and W.B. Yeats)

Why Women Went West is a multi-media chamber opera in which two voices—I, Mary (soprano) and Mary by Herself, (recorded voice of soprano/spoken voice/electronics/voices of the choir) tells the unfolding narrative of a sole woman protagonist and her journey west. Why Women Went West explores controversies over human rights, water wars, early 20th-century feminist artist communities through the life of Mary Hunter Austin. Writer, feminist, conservationist, and defender of Native American and Spanish-American rights, Austin's quest, trauma, and journey uncovered dark mysticism in the American Southwest. During her journey west, Mary encounters marriage, childbirth, abuse and abandonment. She struggles with her dual existence as a kept woman (I, Mary), and her self-reliance (Mary by herself). Act II sets the scene of her heroic journey west by train, across the plains and through hostile territories of the desert southwest. She encounters the desolation and dangerous challenges of nature that inspires her artistic vision. “Prayer for My Daughter” reveals Mary’s difficult decision to leave her absent husband and give up her disabled daughter and place her in an institution, showing Mary’s growing distance from her family and her past--to press on, survive, on her own.

Commissioned and funded in part by National Endowment for the Arts and Opera America Discovery Award for concert premiere of Act I and II by Brightwork New Music, Stacey Fraser, soprano; concert premiere of Act III HEX Ensemble (SSATTB) and full two-act version for Operation Opera Festival, Sacramento. - Pamela Madsen


The Glam Seduction (2001) | D.J. SPARR

The Glam Seduction was written with the intent of making an analogy amongst virtuosic classical playing in the (mostly romantic) style of performer-composers such as Liszt and Paganini, modern classical music, and "glam rock" from the 1980s era of heavy metal music such as Van Halen. The Glam Seduction begins with a modern music re-write, infused with more funky notes, of one of the most notorious and outrageous guitar solos of all time, the culmination of all that was the riotous excess of the 1980s; Eruption, by Eddie Van Halen. The piece continues with an ascending scale pattern that rears its bleached and frizzed-out head two more times, thereby delineating different musical sections, and signifying a return to the beginning of the form. In The Glam Seduction, each member of the ensemble gets their own solo in which to "rock out" heavy metal style. The Glam Seduction was commissioned by the BMI Foundation, Inc./ Boudleaux Bryant fund for eighth blackbird. - Nicholas Photinos

University Symphony Orchestra feat. Joseph Loi, flute • Sunday, October 25, 2024


Flute Concerto | CARL NIELSEN

The Flute Concerto was composed shortly after Nielsen’s Sixth Symphony, which raised cynicism and misperception among its critics. At the time, Nielsen had not only been competing for international success as a Danish composer, but also was battling illness and self-doubt. Perhaps these frustrations directly motivated the composition of his Flute Concerto, as he wished to recover from the rejection of his Sinfonia Semplice (Simple Symphony). There exists a yearning for acceptance within the concerto, which can be heard throughout the quaint first movement. Facing conflict and question, Nielsen responded to his oppositions with sophistication and grace, by demanding both delicate musicianship and virtuosity from its soloist. Holger Gilbert-Jespersen premiered the Concerto in Paris under the baton of Emil Telmányi. Interestingly, Nielsen was forced to write a temporary ending for the concerto after intolerable stomach pain halted his writing. Nielsen conducted the Concerto’s Norway debut in Oslo on November 8, 1926; however, the real ending did not premier until January 1927 at The Music Society in Copenhagen. The Concerto has prevailed as a principal work of today’s flute repertoire.


Les préludes , “after A. de Lamartine,” S. 97 | FRANZ LISZT

“What else is our life but a series of preludes to that unknown song, the first and solemn note of which is sounded by death?” So goes the putative source of the title of the first of Liszt’s thirteen tone poems. It is from Alphonse de Lamartine’s “Nouvelles méditations poétiques,” and alludes to life as but a prelude to death. Scholars have fought over the truth of the inspiration for Liszt, but it fits, and the evidence has some weight. Liszt was in the forefront of composers who were committed to striking out in completely new directions during the nineteenth century, and who largely abandoned traditional forms, such as the symphony. Liszt’s solution was his origination of what he called a “symphonic poem,” a single-movement composition of symphonic proportions, which focused on the exploration of a single idea, poetic content, or even a narrative depiction. Liszt, in fact, drew upon a variety of sources for his muse in the composition of his tone poems: literature, myth, visual arts--whatever stimulated his creativity.

To engender formal integrity and more or less “pull” his new genre together, Liszt used a technique that takes a very simple little melodic fragment or motive, and employs it as the single source for the whole piece. The motive is usually a sharply chiseled, distinctive affair that, on the one hand is capable of being “transformed” into a remarkable variety of

unique figures and melodies, and yet, on the other, maintains its identity throughout these transformations. And so it is with Les préludes.

The initial three notes serve throughout as the origin of the themes of each section, which differ greatly in mood, tempo, and key. As Liszt explores his take on the meaning of the text, the theme serves his various purposes, tying it all together, whether the subject is love, war, death, nature, and more. It is not necessary to track each guise of the theme as it evolves, but it may be easier than you think. With this idea Liszt wrought a major innovation in Romantic musical style, and provided a model for a legion of composers who took up the technique and the genre. While of his thirteen symphonic poems only Les préludes remained in the standard repertoire, he led the way for generations of composers. Subsequent audiences have come to enjoy symphonic (or tone) poems as an integral and essential element of concert life.

--Wm. E. Runyan

© 2015 William E. Runyan


The Moldau (Vltava) | BEDŘICH SMETANA

Smetana is the first great Czech composer of the nineteenth century, and—owing to the general trend towards nationalism during the late romantic period—the first significant Czech composer to integrate indigenous folk elements into his musical style. He is known the world over for having composed what is more or less the Czech national opera, The Bartered Bride, as well as a wealth of other works. He exerted a significant influence on his younger colleague, Antonín Dvořák, and along with the latter, is honored with his own museum in present-day Prague. The tone poem for orchestra, a distinctive creation of the progressive wing of composers during the nineteenth century, may be said to be the brainchild of Franz Listz, and in 1857 Smetana visited Liszt in Weimar, and took his ideas to heart. The Czechs and Russians really adopted Liszt’s tone poem ideas with much greater alacrity than did his countrymen, and consequently, we have numerous examples by Smetana’s successors: Dvořák, Fibich, Janácek, Novák, Suk and Ostrčil.

Between the years 1874 and 1880 Smetana wrote a cycle of six tone poems, each depicting some important aspect of Czech history or geography. The whole cycle is entitled, Má vlast, or My Fatherland; The

Moldau is the second of the six works, and, unfortunately, the only one of them that is regularly heard in this country. Actually, the real title of the The Moldau is Vltava, the Czech name for the river, over which spans the bridge in Prague crowded by tourists today. Moldau is the German name for the river, which foreign oppressors used during the long years of Czech domination by German-speaking countries; it was not used by Smetana, nor today by anyone else.

It is easy and pleasing to follow the “story” of this tone poem, for Smetana “painted” the elements in the changing trip down the river most evocatively. Moreover, he left us signposts in his own written notes. The river begins high in the hills as a small mountain stream, heard in the burbling woodwinds and strings. It courses through the forests and meadows, passing along the way a rustic peasant wedding heard through a folk dance. It then moves into darkness, illuminated only by the moon, and we hear mermaids dancing serenely in the night. The famous St. John’s Rapids inspire a stormy passage, with swirling whitewater. The music broadens majestically (with the river) as we approach Prague, and Smetana calls upon the brass to paint the imposing crags of the rocks of Vyšehrad —the magnificent overlook in Prague, home of the mythological origin of the Czech people. Incidentally, both Smetana and Dvořák are buried there in Vyšehrad Cemetery, the resting place of the cultural “heroes” of the Czech people. Finally, the music soars to its emotional heights as the river leaves Prague on its way to the (smaller) Elbe and the sea.

--Wm. E. Runyan

© William E. Runyan


Pines of Rome, P. 141 | OTTORINO RESPIGHI

After Respighi moved permanently to Rome in 1913--at the time, a center of orchestral concerts in Italy--he turned more attention to the composition of instrumental music. His first big success was the symphonic poem, Fountains of Rome, from 1916, although it did not garner accolades immediately. But, by the early 1920s it was fast becoming an international hit, and he was on his way to world-wide recognition—not to speak of a much more secure financial future. He followed up on this success with two more symphonic poems evocative of his home: Pines of Rome (1924) and Roman Festivals (1926). Collectively, they are often known as his “Roman trilogy.” They all are showpieces for orchestra, spectacular evidence of his mastery of orchestration, vivid musical imagination, and flamboyant penchant for instrumental color. He had listened well to his predecessors who were successful in this vein.

Pines of Rome is cast into four movements, all using the conceit of pine trees that happen to be growing by various evocative Roman locations to tie everything together. Respighi scored the work for a large orchestra: the usual and familiar full complement, with additions of piano, organ, celesta, off-stage brass band, and (for the first time in musical history), a sound recording of a bird. All of these resources receive a full workout. What else would one expect from a composer who, in a later composition (Brazilian Impressions) adroitly depicted snakes and spiders in a Jungle research institute! Pines of Rome was an immediate hit; Toscanini was so enamored with it that he included it in the first concert—and nineteen years later, the last—that he conducted with the New York Philharmonic.

The first movement, “Pines of the Villa Borghese,” is a sparkling, lilting evocation of children playing on a Sunday morning, madly dashing about, full of youthful delight. The Villa Borghese is one of the largest public gardens in Rome, built in the informal English garden style, containing spectacular plantings, lakes, pathways, and buildings. It has long been a favorite with tourists and natives alike, and Respighi conjures up a bright musical context that depicts the cheerful setting. A filigree of attractive rhythmic figures and simple tunes clearly evoking childhood mirth sustains the fun-filled, light-hearted atmosphere. Woodwind trills, cheeky dissonances, glissandi in the harps and keyboards, high register brass, and the complete absence of “gloomy” low instruments sustain the joy.

It abruptly ends, though, as we enter the dark world of a catacomb. The second movement (“Pines Near a Catacomb”) is set in the malarial region of the Roman campagna, abandoned in ancient times, but with extraordinary stark beauty. The ominous, dark atmosphere of the burial caverns is aptly portrayed by most of the instruments that we did not hear in the first movement. Trombones, with the deepest of organ notes beneath them, don the garb of priests as they solemnly chant the melodies of the dead. The gloom is then broken by a shimmering solo trumpet, offstage in a lonely elegy. The chanting soon returns, building to a huge climax, more affirmatively, perhaps alluding to triumph over death. All soon dies down (no pun intended), as the brass returns to a crespular chant.

The “Pines of the Janiculum” is a tranquil visit at night to the prominent hill west of Rome where St. Peter is popularly thought to have been crucified, and which is now the site of a number of universities, colleges, and academies. It offers a spectacular view of Rome, and is named after the Roman god, Janus, who famously looked simultaneously in two opposite directions: the past and the future. This movement is a nocturne, opened by the gong and piano, introducing various woodwind solos that quietly evoke the moon on the pines. Apparently, a nightingale is perched in one of them, for as the music gradually fades away in trills, his song is faintly heard.

The nightingale is chased away, and the mood is ominously broken by the distant tread of the Roman Legions on the Appian Way (“Pines of the Appian Way”), beginning far off, perhaps in the morning mist, as they grow inexorably closer. A sinuous solo in the English horn adds a bit of mystery. Fanfares are heard, both in the orchestra and in the off-stage band that portrays the ancient Roman buccine—the large circular horns familiar from Roman mosaics. Everyone in the orchestra gradually joins in as the Legions march closer, and the music grows inevitably to a paroxysm of aural grandeur. It’s one of the most impressive moments in orchestral sound, and never fails to please.

--Wm. E. Runyan

© 2015 William E. Runyan

loadbang (Part of the 23rd Annual New Music Series) • Thursday, February27, 2024



>>liminal songs>> (2023) | CHRISTINA GEORGE

Living in the middle of no longer but not quite yet is a heavy feeling. It lingers on the skin like a brambly wood, sticks to your boots like muddy spring. But as with all things, the only way out is through. And so we pull off the burs, shake the mud from our boots, and keep walking. (notes by Christina George)

Poetry by Christina J. George

  1. This delicious rain

This delicious rain is like treefrog fingers,
is like
a gentle caress that lingers

on the nerve endings,
like contrast dye
that overstays its welcome in the veins.

This dear, delicious rain is the blanket
and the bedframe,
is the shelter

and the wildflower
around which the honeybee longs to hover
but cannot,

for this rain,
this delicious, insidious rain, weighs down the wings

of a creature who lives for the sun.

ii.ancienthisto r y

There is something universal happening here, something
je ne sais quoi.

There is a pattern here, and I am in it—

though I cannot touch the sides or see the edges,

though I cannot sense the outcome or the hypothesis,

though I cannot taste the breeze of the ocean or the lakes

and I’m out

I’m in that space

hinged cracked


or the surrounding continents—

there is a pattern here and not a grain of salt with which to take it.

  1. Not Quite words and

spaces that feel right—

sounds and

and I’m sitting here,

my joints not quite
my knuckles not quite

my eyelids not quite

  1. (dis)illusionment

The illusions
are trickling down my arms like a cold shower.

The ice on my fingers is melting
but the skin is not.

Perhaps I am solid after all.


Reckoning | RAVEN CHACON

Reckoning: the action or process of calculating or estimating something, as in, the calculation of a ship's position / Problem solving that involves numbers or quantities / The act of counting; reciting numbers in ascending order. (notes by Raven Chacon)

Raven Chacon (born 1977) is a Diné composer, musician and artist. Born in Fort Defiance, Arizona within the Navajo Nation, Chacon became the first Native American to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music, for his  Voiceless Mass  in 2022.


Fragments from the Wasteland: The Burial of the Dead (2024) | PAMELA MADSEN

Fragments from the Wasteland is a collection of 5 works based on the poem by T.S. Eliot: The Wasteland (1922), commissioned by loadbang, Brightwork newmusic, HEX Vocal Ensemble, Galan Trio and Bent Frequency.

Texts for this movement are from T.S. Eliot The Wasteland: The Burial of the Dead, with the opening Sibylline prophecy, recontexualized with the texts of his contemporary, Edna St. Vincent Millay's collection Second April (1921). The inclusion of the Millay texts create a mask of poetry which contains same syntax, cadence but from different perspective-juxtaposing and layering of T.S. Eliot's modernism with Millay's romanticism--providing a layered re-reading of these contemporaneous texts. (Pamela Madsen)

The Wasteland: The Burial of the Dead (T.S. Eliot)

I will show you fear in a handful of dust
Frish wehy der Wind Der Heimat zu,
Heimat Irisch Kind Wo weilest du?

What are roots that clutch, what brances grow?
Out of this stoney rubbish? Son of man.

From Second April: Eel Grass (Edna St. Vincent Millay)
No matter what I say, All that I really love is the rain that flattens on the bay, and the eelgrass in the cove;The jingle shells that lie
and bleach at the tidle line,and the trace of higher tides
along the beach: Nothing in this place.
No matter what I say, All that I really love. . .

From Epitaph:Millay
Heap not on this mound the Roses that she loved so well, Why bewilder her with roses that she cannot see or smell? She is happy where she lies, with the dust upon her eyes.

From Wild Swans: Millay
I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over. And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying. Tiresome heart forever living and dying.
House without air I leave you and lock the door.

From The Wasteland: The Burial of the Dead (introduction)
Nam Sibylllam quidem, Cumis ego ipse, Oculis meis, vidi in ampulla pendere Et cum illi pueri dicerent illi. "Please let me die" (translation)

From The Wasteland: The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire
Stirring root with Spring rain. (TS Eliot)
Death devours all lovely things, Lesbia with her sparrow presently, Every bed is narrow, Unremembered as old rain Dries the sheer libation (ESV Millay)
Winter kept us warm covering Earth in forgetful snow (TS Eliot)
And the little petulant hand is an annotation (ESV Millay)
Feeding life with dried tubers, (TS Eliot), After all my erstwhile dear (ESV Millay)
Summer surprised us, coming over the starbergersee (TS Eliot)
My no longer cherished, need we say it was not love, just because it persiehd (ESV Millay; Passer Mortuous Est) and went on in sunlight, into the Hof-garden (TS Eliot.
“Please let me die” (translation of Sibyl's introduction quote from The Wasteland)


breath of cinder, depth of moss (2023) | LAURA CETILIA

When writing for loadbang, I wanted to take advantage of the velvety low tones of the ensemble while also exploring subtle shifts in timbre. I also wanted to make the most of minimal material and for the musicians to feel comfortable and unrestricted with their breath.

The ensemble slowly slips through rich harmonies that float among an electronically composed environment comprised of gently pulsing sine tones, slowed down crackles of an old vinyl record, and swaths of white noise. A delicate atmosphere unfolds, one I hope as evocative as the verses below:

lush woods carpeted with a thick moss cedar, thyme, and sage seep into bare soles vapors, smoke, vibration excite the air deep breaths, utterances of unfinished thoughts slow beginnings, stretched in between — ascending ends, affixed to air roots Descending (notes by Laura Cetilia)


I Am a Garden Adorned (2023) | OSCAR BETTISON

On February 24, 2024, Oscar Bettison’s I Am a Garden Adorned received its world premiere with new music ensemble loadbang at The Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, followed by a performance in Albuquerque the next day. Commissioned by the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, the work is written for a mixed ensemble of baritone, bass clarinet, trumpet, and trombone, plus electronics. The concerts are presented by Chatter, whose mission is to promote contemporary repertoire and the use of unusual instrumentation.

When writing the text for the piece, Bettison was inspired by the writing on the walls of the Alhambra—a palace located in Granada, Spain. These writings include a poem by Ibn Zamrak, whose text begins with “I am a garden graced with beauty.” The composer adapted this line and some of the poem as a starting point for his text, which centers around an imagined eternal garden.

Bettison elaborates:

“Ultimately, both in music and text, the piece is about layers of meaning. Taking an inscription in Arabic, going through Spanish, then into English and then making a modern, abstract text for me served as a metaphor for the piece. Recordings, which for me are an audio analogue for this concept of ideas getting passed down through the echoes of history, translated and re-contextualized, play a central part of the piece.”


Bag of Bones (2023) | NILOUFAR NOURBAKHSH

Bag of Bones, the setting of Dunya Mikhail's poem by the same title, is dedicated to the "woman life freedom" revolution in Iran. Poem by Dunya Mikhail, translated from the Arabic by Elizabeth Winslow From “The War Works Hard” Published by New Directions

Bag of Bones

What good luck!
She has found his bones.

The skull is also in the bag
the bag in her hand
like all other bags
in all other trembling hands.
His bones, like thousands of bones in the mass graveyard,

His skull, not like any other skull. Two eyes or holes
with which he saw too much, two ears

with which he listened to music that told his own story,
a nose
that never knew clean air,

a mouth, open like a chasm,
it was not like that when he kissed her there, quietly,
not in this place
noisy with skulls and bones and dust dug up with questions:

What does it mean to die all this death
in a place where the darkness plays all this silence? What does it mean to meet your loved ones now With all of these hollow places?
To give back to your mother
on the occasion of death
a handful of bones
she had given to you
on the occasion of birth?
To depart without death or birth certificates
because the dictator does not give receipts
when he takes your life.
The dictator has a skull too,
a huge one.
It solved by itself a math problem
that multiplied the one death by millions
to equal homeland.
The dictator is the director of a great tragedy.
He has an audience, too,
an audience that claps
until the bones begin to rattle -
the bones in the bags,
the full bag finally in her hand,
unlike her disappointed neighbor
who has not yet found her own.

Brass Ensemble & Chamber Brass • Monday, April 22, 2024


Prelude and Fugue in c minor | JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH

The forty-eight preludes and fugues that make up the two books of the Well-Tempered Clavier were compiled at two different times-the first book in 1722 while Bach was in Köthen and in 1742 in Leipzig. In each book, the first prelude and fugue set is in C major, followed by the next in C minor and so they ascend chromatically in major-minor pairs. The preludes for the most part exhibit simple binary or ternary forms; a few (Nos. 9 and 12 in Book II) use the old Baroque sonata form well-known in the works of Scarlatti. Quite exceptionally, the Prelude in D of Book II nearly approaches the requirements of the modern sonata form. The fugues range from two to five voices, with three and four being the preferable choices, and employ a wide range of contrapuntal techniques.

The Prelude and Fugue in c minor of Book I is one of the most well-known pairs despite that fact it falls in the shadow of its major key counterpart. Like the Prelude in C Major, this prelude is also built on a consistent rhythmic pattern and harmonic progressions that regularly change at the beginning of each measure-at least until the closing. A dominant pedal beginning in measure twenty-five drives the music to a deceptive resolution and a recitative-like Adagio passage. Finally, a four-bar coda brings the prelude to a close. The fugue is often quoted as a prime example of a tonal answer and fugue with two regular counter subjects. As with nearly all of Bach's fugues, the episodes during the course of the fugue employ intricate canons and sequences that propel the music forward. The fugue concludes with a final statement of the subject, this time alone without the accompaniment of the counter subjects, over a tonic pedal and closes with a Picardy third.

-Joseph DuBose


Procession of the Nobles | NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV

Passion for developing uniquely Russian music drew Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) into a group often called The Five, or The Mighty Handful. He and his colleagues – Mily Balakirev, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Alexander Borodin – turned away from traditional compositional styles to focus on writing that honored Russian folk songs and legends. They toiled endlessly to discover exotic, new harmonic, melodic and rhythmic sounds, an approach often called “musical orientalism.”

His Procession of the Nobles comes from Mlada, written between 1889 and 1890, an “opera-ballet” based on a wildly complex tale set a thousand years ago in a fictional kingdom. He, Cui, Borodin and Mussorgsky had been commissioned twenty years earlier to join forces in creating a similar extravaganza, but the project fell through. All four composers incorporated what they’d written into other works.  Mlada faded into obscurity, but the Procession of the Nobles – the introduction to Act II, which begins with a festival of merchants and townsfolk – has become an enduring favorite.


Chorale: The Old Year Now is Gone Away | JOHANN STEURLEIN


Chorale: Sleepers Wake, A Voice is Sounding | PHILLIP NICOLAI

When J. S. Bach arrived in Leipzig to take up the post of Cantor at St. Thomas Church, he had not written any organ music for some time, and it seemed unlikely that he would do so again in a concentrated way.  Years earlier in Weimar, Duke Wilhelm Ernst had encouraged him to produce vast quantities of organ music: innovative concerto transcriptions, ground-breaking preludes and fugues, and a wide variety of chorale preludes including the approximately forty pieces in the Orgelbüchlein.  With all these marvelous pieces Bach brought organ music to new heights of artistic prowess. 


Sheep May Safely Graze | JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH

Sheep may safely graze (German: Schafe können sicher weiden) is a soprano aria by Johann Sebastian Bach setting words by Salomon Franck. The piece was written in 1713 and is part of the cantata Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd, BWV 208. The cantata’s title translates “The lively hunt is all my heart’s desire”, and it is also known as the Hunting Cantata.



A classic Mexican bolero song written by Álvaro Carrillo in 1959. The song's title translates to "Taste of Me" or "Flavor of Me" in English. It's a love song characterized by its melancholic melody and romantic lyrics, expressing the longing for the taste and memory of a lost love. The song has been covered by numerous artists in various languages and styles, becoming a timeless classic in Latin music. Its enduring popularity is attributed to its emotional depth and universal themes of love and longing.



One of the timeless, bolero songs written by Mexican composer and songwriter Rubén Fuentes in collaboration with Alberto Cervantes. It was famously performed by Pedro Infante, one of Mexico's most beloved singers and actors. The song's lyrics speak of enduring love and the passage of time, with the title translating to "One Hundred Years" in English. The narrator expresses a love that will last for a century, emphasizing the eternal nature of their feelings despite the challenges and changes life may bring. The melancholic melody and heartfelt lyrics have made "Cien Años" a classic in the Latin music repertoire, with numerous covers and interpretations by various artists over the years.



A classic Mexican song written by José Ángel Espinoza, also known as Ferrusquilla, in 1955. The song tells the story of a man who leaves his home and family to live in the mountains, where he finds solace and freedom. However, he eventually realizes the importance of his loved ones and returns home, only to find that they have moved on without him. The song is often interpreted as a reflection on the consequences of abandoning one's responsibilities and the value of family and home. It has been covered by various artists and remains a beloved song in Mexican music history.


Canzone e Sonate, Canzon III | GIOVANNI GABRIELI

There is perhaps no composer more beloved by modern brass players, and yet, relatively unknown to the general audience for symphony concerts, than Giovanni Gabrieli.  Standing at the juncture of the end of the Renaissance and the beginning of the Baroque eras in music, he was a musical giant whose influence spread far beyond his native Venice.  Luminaries such as Heinrich Schütz traveled from Germany to study with him, and experience the glorious sound of the compositions he wrote for the ornate Basilica di San Marco.  Among the cathedral’s significant architectural features are multiple choir lofts, which inspired and situated the polychoral style for which Gabrieli and his compatriots are known, including Adrian Willaert, Giovanni’s uncle and mentor, Andrea, and Claudio Monteverdi.


Brass Sextet in e flat minor (Movements I and III) | OSKAR BÖHME

Oskar Böhme was born into a family of trumpet players near Dresden, Germany in 1870. He studied trumpet at the Leipzig Conservatory before immigrating to St. Petersburg, Russia to play with the Imperial Theatre Orchestra. He subsequently became principal trumpet for the Mariinsky Theater. Known more as a trumpet performer than as a composer, most of his small catalog of works is for brass. Apart from the Sextet, his trumpet concerto and a collection of trumpet etudes remain his most popular works.  The Sextet, originally titled Trompetten-Sextett, was scored for three trumpets, two trombones, and tuba. The first movement is in sonata form and opens with a brief Adagio ma non tanto in chorale style. The Allegro molto uses much imitation and is generally built on short, motivic sequences that lead to an exciting finale.  The Andante cantabile displays a more Russian sound, returning to a minor key and building in intensity toward a grand climax that quickly cools down to a calm, almost melancholy ending.


Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral | RICHARD WAGNER

In the mid 1800s, the heroes and villains of opera were the equivalent of today’s superheroes, avengers and mythical films. In fact, the Lord of the Rings franchise is dangerously similar to Wagner’s Ring Cycle of operas. Richard Wagner based his third opera on the story of Lohengrin, the mysterious knight (in shining armor), the Keeper of the Holy Grail, who comes to Antwerp, Belgium, in disguise, to rescue its inhabitants from barbaric invaders under the condition that the duchess (Elsa) marries him. Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral, underscores Elsa’s long and anxious procession to her wedding, after which audiences would hear Wagner’s famous Bridal Chorus.

University Symphony Orchestra & Symphonic Chorus feat. Mozart's "Requiem" • Saturday, May 11, 2024


L’Arlésienne Suite No. 1| GEORGES BIZET

Georges Bizet’s L’Arlésienne  was a short story by Alphonse Daudet, included in his 1869 collection Letters from My Windmill, which depicts life in Southern France. In the story, Jan, a young man from from the village, has fallen in love with a woman from the larger, coastal town of Arles (near Marseille). More cosmopolitan (perhaps), she has had other lovers, and the towspeople disapprove—he is forbidden to see her. (So is the audience—she never appears in the play!) Heartbroken, Jan commites suicide, a very common plot point in the Romantic era, with its penchant for tragic romantics. Bizet, himself, was to die at 36. From the 27 pieces of incidental music he wrote for the play form of L’Arlésienne, Bizet arranged an orchestral suite (Suite No. 1). After Bizet’s death, his friend, Ernest Guiraud, arranged a Suite No 2. Both suites have become standards of the orchestral repertoire.


Polovtsian Dances and Chorus (from Prince Igor) | ALEXANDER BORODIN

     Alexander Borodin was a self-described “Sunday composer:” a scientist by day, he wrote music in his free time but nonetheless won enough acclaim as a composer of Russian art music to gain a position among the country’s “Mighty Handful.” He began writing music as a devotee of Mendelssohn, but quickly changed his language to something of a more nationalistic bent. Still, echoes of Mendelssohn’s style, particularly his talents for lyrical, melodic writing, remain an underlying theme in Borodin’s later, folk-influenced works.

     Because of his lifelong work in chemistry and medicine, Borodin’s output is, relative to other composers, exceedingly small. His primary works include his Second Symphony, a handful of songs, a particularly notable String Quartet (the Second) and his opera Prince
, for which he wrote both the music and the libretto. Borodin worked on the opera for some two decades, but left it unfinished at his death in 1887. His colleagues Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov finished the work (including recreating the overture from sketches that Borodin had sung to his colleagues, a feat that Glazunov is said to have done from memory) in time for an 1890 premiere. The opera, though posthumous and largely filled in by others, took a respected position as an emblem of Russian nationalist music, and although the opera’s plot may more accurately be called a series of sketches, the total effect is still vibrant and unified.

     By the end of the second act of Prince Igor, the title character has been taken prisoner by the Polovtsian Khan Konchak. The Khan, intrigued by his depressed captive, calls in a group of slaves to liven Prince Igor’s spirits. The servants’ songs begin as sentimental recollections of their homeland, but gradually gain vigor and become shouts in praise of the slaves’ royal master. The process takes roughly 11 minutes, during which a flurry of energetic winds and percussion join in a sparkling, rhythm-driven dance. The instrumentation is brilliant and crystalline, reliant upon powerful brass and soloistic woodwinds to brighten the already exotic, lithe melodies.

     Borodin was not an ethnomusicologist; his sketches contain a handful of melodies that he apparently considered to be equally appropriate for both the main body of the opera and those parts which concern the nomadic Polovtsians. But in spite of a general disdain among the Mighty Handful for incorporating explicitly “ethnic” signatures (César Cui, a close friend of Borodin’s, was particularly emphatic about this), the Polovtsian scenes in Prince Igor do contain a smattering of appropriate rhythmic and melodic influences. In addition, Borodin’s bright tone colors, graceful melodic lines, and energetic rhythms create a general feeling of celebration and enthusiasm that make the work appropriate as a piece for both the operatic stage and the concert hall.

-Program Notes by Jessica Schilling


On the wings of gentle zephyrs

Seek thou, O tender song, my native country,

The land where many a time I used to listen

To songs most sweet and dear to freeborn maidens.


Where soft airs around us

were so gently wafted

Where the mountains slumber by the sea, enwrapped in clouds.


Or in turn greenclad the mountains,

Glowing in waves of light, are bath’d in sunshine

Where roses blow and scent the air around them,

Where in the leafy woods the birds are singing,

In woods so green:

Where berries sweet are early ripe.

To that land hast thee, my song!


Glory, honor, to our mighty chief!

Glory, honor, to our master! Hail!

Hail our chief! Hail!


Bright as sunlight is his mighty power!

Nowhere shall you find his equal! Hail!


Comes the Khan, far!

Flies the foe, far, far!

Nowhere shall you find his equal! Hail!

Bright as sunlight is our mighty Khan!


Like they forefathers art thou famous,

Great, mighty Khan!

Strong, dreaded Khan!


Hail, O Khan!

Hail, all hail!


For the pleasure of your Master

Dance, ye maidens,

Sing, ye maidens!


Sing and dance and all be joyful!

Dance, ye sprightly maidens,

dance now for your noble Prince!

Sing and dance for the Khan!


Requiem Mass in D minor, K. 626 | WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART

     Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, and died on December 5, 1791 in Vienna. He left the Requiem incomplete at his death, and, in the version heard at this concert, it was completed by his pupil Franz Süssmayr, to whom he had given detailed instructions. The work premiered on December 14, 1893 in the Vienna suburb of Wiener-Neustadt.

     In early July 1791, while he was busy composing The Magic Flute, Mozart received a letter testifying to the glories of his music and alerting him that he would be having a visitor with a proposal on the following day. The letter was unsigned. The visitor, “an unknown, grey stranger,” according to Mozart, appeared on schedule and said that he represented the writer of the letter, who wanted to commission a new piece—a Requiem Mass—but added the curious provision that Mozart not try to discover the patron’s identity. Despite the somewhat foreboding mystery surrounding this venture, Mozart was in serious financial straits just then and the money offered was generous, so he accepted the commission and promised to begin as soon as possible. The Magic Flute was pressing, however, and he also received another commission at the same time, one too important to ignore, for an opera to celebrate the September coronation in Prague of Emperor Leopold as King of Bohemia—La
Clemenza di Tito
, based on one of Metastasio’s old librettos—that demanded immediate attention.

     Mozart worked on the Requiem as time allowed. From mid-August until mid-September, he, Constanze, and his pupil Franz Süssmayr, who composed the recitatives for Tito, were in Prague for the opera’s premiere. When they returned to Vienna, Schickaneder pressed Mozart to put the final touches on The Magic Flute, which was first staged on September 30th. Mozart’s health had deteriorated alarmingly by October—he complained of swelling limbs, feverishness, pains in his joints and severe headaches. On November 17th, with the Requiem far from finished, he took to his bed. He became obsessed with the Requiem, referring to it as his “swan-song,” convinced that he was writing the music for his own funeral. He managed to complete only the Requiem and Kyrie sections of the work, but sketched the voice parts and the bass and gave indications for scoring for the Dies irae through the Hostias. On December 4th, he scrawled a few measures of the Lacrymosa, and then collapsed. A priest was called to administer extreme unction; at midnight Mozart bid his family farewell and turned toward the wall; at five minutes to one on the morning of December 5, 1791, he died, six weeks shy of his 36th birthday. He never knew for whom he had written the Requiem.

     Constanze, worried that she might lose the commission fee, asked Joseph Eybler, a student of Haydn and a friend of her late husband, to complete the score. He filled in the instrumentation that Mozart had indicated for the middle movements of the piece, but became stuck where the music broke off in the Lacrymosa. Franz Xaver Süssmayr, to whom Mozart had given detailed instructions about finishing the work, took up the task, revising Eybler’s orchestration and supplying music for the last three movements. Süssmayr recopied the score so that the manuscript would show one rather than three hands, and it was collected by the stranger, who paid the remaining commission fee.

     The person who commissioned Mozart’s Requiem was Count Franz von Walsegg, a nobleman of musical aspirations who had the odious habit of anonymously ordering music from established composers and then passing it off as his own. This Requiem was to commemorate Walsegg’s wife, Anna, who had died on February 14, 1791. The “grey stranger” was Walsegg’s valet, Anton Leitgeb, the son of the mayor of Vienna. Even after Mozart’s death, Walsegg went ahead with a performance of the Requiem, which was given at the Neukloster in the suburb of Wiener-Neustadt on December 14, 1793; the title page bore the legend, Requiem composto del Conte Walsegg. A few years later, when Constanze was trying to have her late husband’s works published, she implored Walsegg to disclose the Requiem’s true author. He did, and the score was first issued in 1802 by Breitkopf und Härtel.

-Program Note by Dr. Richard E. Rodda



Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,

et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion,

et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem.

Exaudi orationem meam,

ad te omnis caro veniet.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,

et lux perpetua luceat eis.


Grant them eternal rest, Lord,

and let perpetual light shine on them.

You are praised, God, in Zion,

and homage will be paid to You in Jerusalem.

Hear my prayer, to You all flesh will come.

Grant them eternal rest, Lord,

and let perpetual light shine on them.



Kyrie eleison.

Christe eleison.

Kyrie eleison.


Lord, have mercy upon us.

Christ, have mercy upon us.

Lord, have mercy upon us.



Dies Irae

Dies irae, dies illa

Solvet saeclum in favilla,

Teste David cum Sibylla.


Quantus tremor est futurus

Quando judex est venturus

Cuncta stricte discussurus.


Day of wrath, day of anger

will dissolve the world in ashes,

as foretold by David and the Sibyl.


Great trembling there will be

when the Judge descends from heaven

to examine all things closely.


Tuba Mirum

Tuba mirum spargens sonum

Per sepulcra regionum

Coget omnes ante thronum.


Mors slopebit et natora

Cum resurget creatura

Judicanti responsura.


Liber scriptus proferetur

In quo totum continetur,

Unde mundus judicetur.


Judex ergo cum sedebit

Quidquid latet apparebit,

Nil inultum remanebit.


Quid sum miser tunc dicturus,

Quem patronum togaturus,

Cum vix justus sit securus?


The trumpet will send its wondrous

sound throughout earth's sepulchers

and gather all before the throne.


Death and nature will be astounded,

when all creation rises again,

To answer to the judgement.


A book will be brought forth,

in which all will be written,

by which the world will be judged.


When the judge takes his place,

what is hidden will be revealed,

nothing will remain unavenged.


What shall a wretch like me say?

Who shall intercede for me,

when the just ones need mercy?


Rex Tremendae

Rex tremendae majestatis,

Qui salvandos salvas gratis,

Salve me, fons pietatis.


King of tremendous majesty,

who freely saves those worthy ones,

save me, source of mercy.



Recordare, Jesu pie,

Quod sum causa tuae viae,

Ne me perdas ilia die.


Quaerens me sedisti lassus,

Redemisti crucem passus,

Tamus labor non sit cassus.


Juste judex ultionis

Donum fac remissionis

Ante diem rationis.


lngemisco tamquam reus,

Culpa rubet vultus meus,

Supplicanti parce, Deus.


Qui Mariam absolvisti

Et latronem exaudisti,

Mihi quoque spem dedisti.


Preces meae non sum dignae,

Sed tu bonus fac benigne,

Ne perenni cremet igne.


Inter oves locurn praesta,

Et ab haedis me sequestra,

Statuens in parle dextra.


Remember, kind Jesus,

my salvation caused your suffering;

do not forsake me on that day.


Faint and weary you have sought me,

redeemed me, suffering on the cross;

may such great effort not be in vain.


Righteous judge of vengeance,

grant me the gift of absolution

before the day of retribution.


I moan as one who is guilty:

owning my shame with a red face;

suppliant before you, Lord.


You, who absolved Mary,

and listened to the thief,

give me hope also.


My prayers are unworthy,

but, good Lord, have mercy,

and rescue me from eternal fire.


Provide me a place among the sheep,

and separate me from the goats,

guiding me to Your right hand.



Confutatis maledictis

Flammis acribus addictis,

Voca me cum benedictis.


Oro supplex et acclinis,

Cor contritum quasi cinis,

Gere curam mei finis.


When the accused are confounded,

and doomed to flames of woe,

call me among the blessed.


I kneel with submissive heart,

my contrition is like ashes,

help me in my final condition.



Lacrimosa dies ilia

Qua resurget ex favilla

Judicandus homo reus.

Huic ergo parce, Deus,

Pie Jesu Domine,

Dona eis requiem.


That day of tears and mourning,

when from the ashes shall arise,

all humanity to be judged.

Spare us by your mercy,

Lord, gentle Lord Jesus,

grant them eternal rest. Amen.



Domine Jesu

Domine Jesu Christe, Rex gloriae,

libera animas omnium fidelium

defunctorum de poenis inferni

et de profundo lacu.

Libera eas de ore leonis,

ne absorbeat eas tartarus,

ne cadant in obscurum.


Sed signifer sanctus Michael

repraesentet eas in lucem sanctam


Quam olim Abrahae promisisti

et semini ejus.


Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,

liberate the souls of the faithful,

departed from the pains of hell

and from the bottomless pit.

Deliver them from the lion's mouth,

lest hell swallow them up,

lest they fall into darkness.


Let the standard-bearer, holy Michael,

bring them into holy light.


Which was promised to Abraham

and his descendants.



Hostias et preces tibi, Domine,

laudis offerimus.

Tu sucipe pro animabus illis,

quaram hodie memoriam facimus.

Fac eas, Domine,

de morte transire ad vitam,

Quam olim Abrahae promisisti

et semini ejus.


Sacrifices and prayers of praise, Lord,

we offer to You.

Receive them in behalf of those souls

we commemorate today.

And let them, Lord,

pass from death to life,

which was promised to Abraham

and his descendants.


Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei, qui tollis

peccata mundi,

dona eis requiem.



Grant them eternal rest.

Lamb of God, who takes away

the sins of the world,

grant them eternal rest



Lux aeterna

Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine,

cum sanctis tuis in aeternum,

quia pius es.

Requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine,

et Lux perpetua luceat eis,

cum Sanctus tuis in aeternum,

quia pius es.


Let eternal light shine on them, Lord,

as with Your saints in eternity,

because You are merciful.

Grant them eternal rest, Lord,

and let perpetual light shine on them,

as with Your saints in eternity,

because You are merciful.


back to top

This site is maintained by College of the Arts.

Last Published 5/8/24

To report problems or comments with this site, please contact
© California State University, Fullerton. All Rights Reserved.

Web Accessibility

CSUF is committed to ensuring equal accessibility to our users. Let us know about any accessibility problems you encounter using this website.
We'll do our best to improve things and get you the information you need.