Pioneers & Premieres III

In its own way, each work on this program finds its voice through travel-forays into distant lands and connections to distinct sonic worlds. This purposeful "looking outward" to shape one's inner voice is stated clearly in Judith Weir and Dana Brayton's program notes relating the journeys that inspired their works—real trips to foreign places and imagined journeys through the music and literature of other artists. The variety of destinations to which they refer speak to the ever-widening set of influences that is our contemporary bounty. The somewhat more circumspect visits Martin Boykan makes into the music of colleagues and students with whom he shares a companionship reflect his generous and selfless ability to "usurp" incipits, which form the basis of the intimate pieces. Mark Wingate's Sombras allow for influences in real time, borrowing the rhythms of Latin America and automated computer hardware to spontaneously process his composite threads.

The historical works that open the program are a result of my own travel to Rome on an invitation from the American Academy, the same institution that nourished many great American composers through its Rome Prize—Copland, Barber, Sessions. It was a rather willing journey to a cerulean land. At the Academy I investigated music by Americans, past and present. My forays came at an historic juncture: the end of a century (and a centennial for the Academy), providing an opportunity to look back through decades and myriads of compositional style, to hear voices that flourished for years and others that flickered briefly. Already acknowledged are the emboldened strokes and iconoclasm that chartered the course of twentieth century music. Could we begin to hear the resonating voices of other masters, many significant in their day but now relatively unknown? I was pleased with what began to turn up.

Donald Berman