Archive for the ‘Ensemble’ Category

Prepared Guitars – Bacchanale by Cage

Bacchanale by John Cage

Prepared Piano intoPrepared Guitars

Bacchanale was Cage’s first piece for prepared piano. Finding that the stage was too small for both  dancer/choreographer Syvilla Fort and the needed battery of percussion, so Cage decided to fix weather stripping, bolts, screws and nuts into the strings of the piano to create a percussion ensemble, Fort, a colleague of Cage’s at Cornish College, asked for a composition of African inspiration. Only twelve notes are used in the piece, all of which are prepared. In the piano version preparation is predominantly weatherstripping and the performer is instructed to “determine position and size of mutes by experiment.

*click below to listen to Aaron & Adam Levin perform Bacchanale – track 14

Translating the preparations to the guitar posed a couple of challenges and I asked myself a few questions:

Q: Why prepare the strings at all, since the guitar will already not sound like a prepared piano?

A: I actually played the work completely as written with no preparations for a while. It fits on two guitars (guitar 1 = right hand, guitar 2 = left hand), without much adjustment, so I knew it was possible.

I was also not a big fan of prepared guitar with the works I had heard and seen in the past. At times I felt such works were more of an excuse to the performer to be seen as dramatic and serious. But, as I listened to more and more recordings of prepared piano and experienced the vast changes of timbre and percussion vs. piano sounds, I was inspired to experiment on my own.

Q: Isn’t guitar already considered a percussion instrument. 

A: Yes and no. A flamenco guitar has a much lower action (strings closer to the fret board), which allows the strings to hit the frets when played apoyando (reststroke) or rasgueado (flamenco strumming). In such case, yes, it is both melody and percussion.

A classical guitar has a higher action (strings further from the fret board), which allows for more timbre choice, louder individual notes, more resonance, and depending on the player, cleaner tone.

These are broad generalizations, and do not say one is better than the other. Each guitar represents a very different style of music and artists are aware of it.

As a side note, a recording engineer I work with originally didn’t want to record guitar, because to him it just sounds like a box with strings. I convinced him otherwise.

Q: What are some of the challenges of preparing the guitar? 

A: 1 – Gravity. If I clip something on to the strings and hold the guitar in the normal playing position those clips can easily flip towards the ground touching ‘higher’ strings or the wood of the soundboard. I also had to find a way to hold the substitute for weatherstripping in the strings without letting it fall out when being played.

2 – Only one string. Each note of the piano has three strings, so one can add a screw between two strings and not touch any other pitch.

3 – No slurs. Yes, if you do a left hand slur (hammer or pull off) the preparations don’t really sound.

4 – Nylon strings and no cast iron frame. Since the strings use much less tension weatherstripping will completely mute the string. I had to find a substitute that gave a percussive sound and a bit of pitch.

Q: When and where can I get the score?

A: Edition Peters will be publishing my arrangement in early 2019.

Piano Preparations

Guitar Preparations

Purchase the album on Amazon: http://a.co/d/1u6L6kk

Brilliant “Solace” Radiates

Boston Musical Intelligencer
Review by  • OCTOBER 1, 2018

“Larget-Caplan stretched the limits of the sound of the guitar, experimenting with playing positions most others do not tend to use: sul tasto, sul ponticello, finger vs. nail, etc. It’s refreshing to hear and very rewarding.”

Osvaldo Golijov (file photo)

FULL REVIEW:
Introspection and catharsis abided on the Pickman Hall stage Saturday with Radius Ensemble’s “Solace,” an eclectic set of comforting pieces highlighting composers who suffered within or escaped from totalitarian regimes along with a pairing of two living composers, an underplayed oddity, and a titan of the repertoire. Eugene Kim on cello, Aaron Larget-Caplan on guitar, Megumi Stohs Lewis on violin, and Randall Zigler on bass, joined the core ensemble.

Osvaldo Golijov compiled the majority of Lullaby & Doina from the score he wrote for the 2000 movie The Man Who Cried, taking much from “Entendre Encore” (I still believe I hear) from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers (the two different worlds met in the movie itself). Extracting score cues under the melody of “Entendre Encore,” Golijov constructed a decent hybrid of both composers’ styles, though he seemingly emphasized Bizet’s melody over his own material. Sarah Brady on flute and Eran Egozy on clarinet sounded like one instrument. The strings of Lewis, Noriko Futagami on viola, Kim, and Zigler supported the winds admirably and functioned well in the solos, especially Futagami, whose throaty C string playing complemented the clarinet well. The main star of the show, however, was Egozy. When he played, this reviewer paid full attention; his phrasing of the decidedly more folk-like and klezmer-like passages spoke to a deep understanding laid bare for everyone.

Eclogues, Op. 206 of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco sets an odd combination: flute, English horn, and guitar. Brady and Radius founder Jennifer Montbach on English horn joined Larget-Caplan in trotting out this underplayed set of bagatelles. Through the lynchpin of the flute, the strange combination of voices functioned pretty well. There were some cracks in the orchestration between the guitar and English horn, but that is not the performers’ faults. Brady and Montbach once again became a single voice, responding to one another lyrically and smoothly when in imitation and united as a single complex voice when in harmony. Larget-Caplan stretched the limits of the sound of the guitar, experimenting with other playing positions most others do not tend to use: sul tasto, sul ponticello, finger vs. nail, etc. It’s refreshing to hear and very rewarding. The piece itself, though, left a lot to be desired. Castelnuovo-Tedesco, despite having excellent melodies and a highly exploitable palette of timbres, instead crafted formulas to use over and over again: English horn states a phrase, flute responds, guitar plays like a piano and accompanies on chords. Rinse and repeat. The fourth movement broke the trend by reversing it, with much-needed freshness after stifling loops of the same ideas over and over.

Responding to the shooting of noted Islamic women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai, Elena Ruehr (in attendance that evening) wrote Liftfor solo cello. It clearly had moved Miriam Bolkosky of the core ensemble. Before she set he bow on the strings, she discussed what the work meant to her, a visual sensation that reminded her of Yousafzai’s home she had to flee for speaking out. Though perhaps that sensation did not translate to the audience as well as she hoped, Bolkosky did an admirable job with the solo. The lower register material at times mirrored that of an organ or a choir, multiple voices resonating with the help of the cello to expand the instrument far beyond any perceived limitations. At times, it sounded as though there was more than one instrument playing in the lower registers, thanks to the power of the overtone resonance. The upper register, however, did not fair as well. What was intended to be lyrical sometimes came across as choppy, bow strokes cutting the smoothness of attack that the low register basked in. Some notes also took a moment to settle, Bolkosky needing a noticeable moment to lock them in. Despite these issues, Bolkosky delivered.

Elena Ruehr (file photo)

A firework of a piano trio rounded out the evening. Shostakovich’s incredibly personal and introspective Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67 resonated with pianist Sarah Bob when she too became grief stricken (this reviewer cannot recall why), mirroring what Shostakovich felt upon the death of close friend Ivan Ivanovich Sollertinsky. Grief begetting grief. How appropriate. Lewis and Bolkosky, and Bob truly thundered, especially through the third and fourth movements, which became the brain and bite of the evening, as personal anxiety and anger mixed with the pervasive and unwanted hand of Papa Stalin through Soviet Realism. Bob and Lewis ruled here, as though they went through the composer’s tragic loss with him, filling the notes with angst in the third movement and biting grit in the fourth. It should be released on CD for the world to hear.

The radians began their 20th anniversary season with a bang rather than the soothing whispers the concert’s theme suggested. The group’s been all about dichotomy whether intentionally or. Pay attention when a performance of theirs comes up. It really can be life changing.

Ian Wiese is a doctoral candidate composer at the New England Conservatory of Music. He studies with Mr. Michael Gandolfi. Several of his friends and colleagues performed on this evening’s concert.

Inspired by Paintings with Composer Thomas L. Read

Thomas L. Read

           Thomas L. Read

I have always been intrigued by music that looked towards the visual arts for inspiration. Of course Pictures in an Exhibition by Mussorgsky is one of the most famous, but I am equally thrilled by the Joan Miró painting  Equinox, which inspired Toru Takemitsu’s guitar solo of the same title, which I recorded in 2005 and again in 2015. In 2013 composer Thomas L. Read composed a guitar and cello duo for me titled ‘Concert Champêtre’ .

Concert Champetre painting - Titian

                                 Titian

Read, professor emeritus of University of Vermont Burlington and an New England Conservatory alumni, wrote me about the piece:

“The initial concept of the duet emerged with recollection of two famous paintings: Le Concert Champêtre, c. 1509, by Titian, and Et in Arcadia Ego, 1639, by Nicolas Poussin. The music is cast in three interconnected movements played without pause.”

‘Le Concert Champêtre’ (The Pastoral Concert) is an oil painting of c. 1509 attributed to either of the Italian Renaissance masters, Titian or Giorgione. It is in the Musée du Louvre in Paris

Et-in-Arcadia-ego

                         Nicolas Poussin

‘Et in Arcadia ego’ is a 1637–38 painting by Nicolas Poussin. It depicts a pastoral scene with idealized shepherds from classical antiquity clustering around an austere tomb

I gave the first performance of Concert Champêtre at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia with cellist  Anton Andreev on May 22, 2014. I have since performed it in Boston, New Hampshire and again in Russia. The Spanish premiere is being planned for summer 2016 and there is hope for a near future recording. The work is published by the American Composers Alliance and the guitar part is edited by me.

Here is a video in Boston with cellist Anton from November 2014:

 

‘Six Melodies’ Published by Edition Peters!

Exciting news!

Aaron’s Arrangement of ‘Six Melodies’ for violin & guitar by John Cage is now published and available through Edition Peters!

http://www.edition-peters.com/product/modern/six-melodies-for-violin-and-guitar/ep68526?TRE00000/

    Six Melodies by John Cage

Written in 1955 and originally for violin and keyboard, Aaron’s arrangement is the first John Cage composition featuring the guitar to be published by Editions Peters, the official publisher of the music of John Cage.

For those not experienced in the early writing of John Cage, the Six Melodies are a wonAaron & Cagederful introduction to a vibrant musical mind whose influence cannot be underestimated. The Six Melodies are quite approachable and audience friendly though their ability to transport listeners to other realms must be considered when programming. The arrangement explores and expands on the timbre (color) qualities of the guitar in place of the keyboard, and the guitar’s more intimate sound compliments the unique violin playing for a truly complimentary duo. Music progressions and hierarchy of pitches take a backseat to an expansive exploration of timbre and rhythm.

Cage_ScoresDuring this period of his composition, John Cage was greatly influenced by the I-Ching, Book of Changes, creating many works based on ‘chance-operations’ during the composing process. The influence of Asian music through rhythm patterns can be heard with the works written in rhythmic structures: 3½, 3½, 4, 4, 3, 4.

The work is not easy for violin with many harmonics and jumps due to the exact string indications given. Cage also asks for no vibrato and minimum weight on the bow. The guitar part is somewhat demanding with a few unusual chords, timbre directions and counting. As a duo there are some wonderful hockets especially in Melodies 3 and 4.

A recording of ‘Six Melodies’ is being planned for 2016-2017. Special thanks to Stephen Drury for the idea of this arrangement and to Sharan Leventhal in giving the first performance at the Boston Conservatory in 2012.

The score is available for purchase through the Edition Peters website:  http://goo.gl/Lj3L8g

For those who do perform or hear it live, please let me know by commenting on this post or via my Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/aaronlcguitar

A Very Busy May from San Francisco to Russia

I can say the spring was quite busy for me; hence, this is my first post since late April.  It was a very exciting time taking me to both the west & east coasts of the US and then back to Russia for my Moscow debut concert and then St. Petersburg.

May 2 – 405 Shrader, San Francisco with mezzo-soprano Betany Coffland (watch video HERE)

May 4 – Oysterville, Washington for a literally packed house solo performance.

May 10 – Saco River Theater, Buxton, Maine

May 13 – Arrive in Moscow for Days of American Culture in Russia, an exchange organized by the Educational Bridge Project

May 14 – Solo Recital, Oval Hall at the State Foreign Library – Russian premieres by Ken Ueno and Francine Trester, Moscow premiere by Kevin Siegfried (Video Here

Luba Kostenko

Luba Kostenko

).

May 16 – Master class at the State University of Arts and Culture; Collaborative Recital with Russian actor Georges Devdariani at the Actors House; Red Arrow overnight train (former part of the Orient Express) to St. Petersburg.

May 18 – Luba Kostenko’s Art Studio Salon

May 18-21 – Rehearse Concert Champêtre by Thomas L. Read with cellist Anton Andreev of the Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet for world premiere concert.

May 20 – Solo performance at Baltic State University; sit, play and be drawn by Artist Luba Kostenko.

May 21 – Performance at St. Petersburg Izmailovsky Library.  Night tour of open bridges over the Neva River.

May 22 – Performance at Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory.  SPB premieres of New Lullabies by Ken Ueno and Francine Trester, and the world premiere of Concert Champêtre by Thomas L. Read with cellist Anton Andreev.

May 23 – A tour of Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, Russia.

With Catherine at Catherine's Palace

With Catherine at Catherine’s Palace

May 24 – Depart Russia.  Hope to see you soon!

The Days of American Culture in Russia was organized by the Educational Bridge Project, Ludmilla Leibman, Director, and with financial support from the Eleanor Hale Wilson Summer Scholarship from the Mu Phi Epsilon Foundation.

 

 

 

2013 – A Listen Back on a Musical Year

Until I put this together I hadn’t realized what a year 2013 was… it was awesome!

A big thanks to all of the Artists who shared in the creative process this year.  I have great gratitude to the listeners from around the world who came to concerts, watched videos, bought CD and downloads and made each evening extremely special.   Special thanks to my wife Catherine and her sister Caroline for being my partners in this amazing adventure that is a musical life.

To 2014!  Another year of Music in Life and Life in Music!

Besides some amazing cups of coffee, here are a few of my musical happenings:

My Greater Boston House Concerts showcased five outstanding Artists: author Glenn Kurtz, pianist Sarah Takagi, Archguitarist Peter Blanchette, The AronBerkner Duo, and composer Kathryn Salfelder.

GBHConcerts on the web:  www.GBHConcerts.com
GBHConcerts on FB: www.facebook.com/gbhconcerts (lots of photos)

PREMIERES:

  • Capricci by Thomas L. Read for string quartet and guitar (iTunes)
  • Pravasa – Travels of the Guitar by Vineet Shende for SATB choir and guitar (FB photos HERE)
  • Six Pieces for Violin and Keyboard by John Cage (arrangement by Aaron L-C) 
  • White Potatoes by Charles Turner (New Lullaby Project)
  • A World of Your Own by Jim Dalton (New Lullaby Project)
  • Lullaby for Ewe by David Patterson (New Lullaby Project)
  • Ed è Subito Sera by Ken Ueno (New Lullaby Project)
  • Wheaton College Composers: Siv Anderson, Gordon Jones, Tim Larson, Montana Rogers (New Lullaby Project)

COLLABORATORS:

Boston Conservatory Feb. 2013

Boston Conservatory Feb. 2013

  • Sharan Leventhal, violin
  • Irina Muresanu, violin
  • Robert Sheena, English horn
  • Oratorio Chorale of Maine
  • Meghan Jacoby, flute
  • Betany Coffland, mezzo-soprano
  • Nicole Parks, violin
  • Farley Kelly-Masterton, violin
  • Faith Jones, viola
  • Nora Karakousoglou, cello
  • Andrea Nolin, flute
  • Colin Davis, violin
  • Natalie Favaloro, violin
  • Kenneth Stalberg, viola
  • Sarah Freiberg, cello
  • Berit Strong, guitar
  • Olav Chris Henriksen, guitar
  • Wheaton College Residency

PLACES:

  • St. Petersburg, Russia with the Educational Bridge Project (FB photos HERE and Read Blog HERE)
  • Messina, Reggio Calabria and Mantova, Italy (FB photos HERE)
  • Monaco
  • France
  • Highway 101 Tour: Oregon Coast (FB photos HERE)
  • Highway 101 Tour: Sacramento – San Jose- San Francisco – Willits – Chico – Petaluma
  • Maine
  • New York City
  • Louisville – GFA
  • Boston and New England

VIDEOS

  • Granada by Isaac Albeniz
  • España Cañi by Pascual Marquina
  • Shard by Elliott Carter
  • Six Pieces for Violin and Keyboard by John Cage (arrangement by Aaron L-C) 
  • A World of Your Own by Jim Dalton (New Lullaby Project)
  • Tango en Skai by Roland Dyens (with string quartet)
  • Japanese Program http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRsdqstthxA
  • Fugue, BWV 962 by J.S. Bach

Watch them all at: http://www.youtube.com/aaronlcguitar/videos

Fun with camera:

NEW LULLABY PROJECT

The New Lullaby Project turned 7 in December!

Read the Blog post:

www.aaronlc.com/blog/new-lullaby-project-celebrates-7-years/

Meet the 41 composers at www.NewLullabyProject.com

SOCIAL MEDIA

 

There’s probably a few more items that I missed, but I got to get back to practicing.

Best,

Aaron

Symposium celebrates Italian composer, Brown Univ.

“[Aaron] impressed the audience with his rapidly changing chords and trill movements.”

Read the complete article in the Brown University Daily Herald:

http://browndailyherald.com/cm/2.11957/symposium-celebrates-italian-composer-1.2771596#

Watch a preview video of the October 6th concert in Boston with Schola Cantorum:

http://youtu.be/LFoDWabO-rk

Aaron w/Schola Cantorum, Fred Jodry Director Sayles Hall, Brown University, Sep. 28, 2012