American Piano Series Composers
Jennifer Margaret Barker's Moana was inspired by the streams, rivers, waterfalls, lakes and oceans of southeast Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. The title means ocean, sea, large lake in Maori.
Kent Holliday's Toccata Inquieta (Sp. restless) is a toccata-like composition featuring fleeting scale and arpeggio passages, changing meters, and rapidly repeated notes. It explores a wide variety in keyboard range and attempts to demonstrate the virtuosic elements of the traditional keyboard toccata.
Mark Hagerty's two movements from Clavier (Book Two) on this concert are Capriccio, a perpetual motion study where the theme is pulled apart and put back together, and Aria, which features an elaborate melody, a response to certain philosophical keyboard movements in Bach.
Christopher Cook's Dreamscape is a prelude inspired by a quote from Hyperion, a poem by John Keats:
As when, upon a tranced summer-night,
Those green-rob'd senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir
Byron Petty's Extractions consist of four works. Extraction no. 1 opens with an octatonic scale (alternating half and whole steps) which is developed throughout the first movement. The mood begins quietly, builds with upward motion then ends quietly – as if in the distance.
American Piano Series Volume 2
American Piano Series Volume 3
Scott Brickman's Sonata is cast in a traditional four-movement mold and draws on a continued interest in merging Western art and popular music. The pitch material is derived from 12-tone rows whose initial hexachords are subsets of the octatonic scale. There are pop music references, especially in the rhythmic vocabulary, also in the textures and chord voicings, which acknowledge the idiomatic repertoire of the piano in the 20th century.
Ssu-Yu Huang's Yearning draws on the poem by Wang Wei (c.740 AD) “In southern lands the red bean tree grows. It sprouts when the vernal breeze blows. Pick the red beans with your hands filled. Your yearning for love will be fulfilled.” The red beans elicit nostalgic thoughts and yearning for friends far away. Structured on the basis of fifth intervals, the music proceeds with variations on the inversions.
Snow on the River draws on the poem “Not a Bird in a Thousand Hills” by Liu Zong-Yuan (c.805 AD) for its inspiration: “Not a soul on ten thousand trails. An old man on a raft in straw quilts – Fishes alone with snowy chills.” The scene of a solitary fisherman evinces a mood of loneliness. Prolonged notes on the left hand describe the steadily flowing river; Scattered short notes on the right hand represent flying snowflakes. With an improvisational form, Lento and Allegro sections interweave, with a Coda of simplistic resonances to express the fisherman's perseverance.
Francis Kayali's Ten Impromptus were composed in the summer of 2015. The waltz in Impromptu No. 3 is contrasted with the fanfare of a radiant and summery middle-section. A parable on time, Impromptu No. 4 quotes from the Westminster Quarters. Impromptus No. 8 is a playful atonal humoresque. Impromptu No. 10 provides a buoyant, virtuosic ending for the set: in the spirit of a Schumann grand finale, the music stays in continuous motion through various landscapes before climaxing in a thunderous valedictory gesture.
The melodic and harmonic material featured in Keith Kramer's Sogni (“Dreams”) is based on the set (0,2,3,4,5,7), also referred to as the B all-combinatorial hexachord. The “dreams” are expressed in with facets of intensity and emotion throughout the composition, from gentle and flowing to intense and articulate.
Margaret McAllister's "Lila" was commissioned by Lukas Foss for the Festival of the Hamptons. Lila (the creative play of soul) is written in the spirit of summer, the energy and playfulness of summers present coupled with sweet memories and tender nostalgia of summers past. Dedicated to Lukas Foss, student and friend of Aaron Copland, the musical language of Lila is written to echo the spirit of that body of classical music identified as the American style.
American Piano Series Volume 4
The Sonata by Ingrid Arauco is in four movements, with the first movement establishing a fundamental harmonic tension between two identical chord structures positioned a half-step apart, which introduced and developed at the outset, create friction and energy. The friction is never truly resolved in favor of either chord; rather, these sonorities are balanced in various ways. The momentum generated by the first movement is played out first as a quick, thinly-drawn scherzo, then as a slow, lyrical set of variations, and finally as a fugue, in which variants of the two opening harmonies of the work appear linearly and continue jostling for dominance, though in a generally more light-hearted manner than at the beginning of the piece. The entire sonata is approximately nineteen minutes in duration.
12 Preludes by Timothy Melbinger
Incantation by Kent Holliday
I wrote Twelve Preludes for piano throughout the first half of 2011 at my home in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. I played the premiere at Penn State Altoona later that year. The pieces are short – it lasts 24 minutes total, although movements may be excerpted for performance. The title reflects my models, Chopin, Debussy and Martino. I kept a running list of descriptions of the music I was writing so I would avoid repetition and keep things fresh. Most of the movements explore one mood. The music is a little more transparent than I had been writing for several years before, and the textures somewhat lighter, as I had hoped to say more with less. The death of Milton Babbitt while writing prompted me to write a movement (#7) in his memory using his pitch organization ideas.