The Roots Run Deep
Contemporaneous presents a program of music from our time, borne from some of the deepest roots of tradition in American music. From Appalachian folk music to minimalism, from the blues to the rich treasure-trove of living American composers, this music is an exciting and imperative synthesis of ourselves and of this time and place.
Gabriella Smith is a composer from the San Fransisco Bay Area, currently studying with David Ludwig at the Curtis Institute of Music. Her deep attachments to the landscape and tradition of Northern California are put on display in Kisiabaton, a grounded and moving work for oboe and string quartet inspired by a poem of the same name by the famed Northern California poet Gary Snyder. Drawing from American folk roots and Native American musical traditions alike, Kisiabaton rises from the earth with a life force of its own.
Shawn Jaeger's richly arresting rhythmic and harmonic language are profoundly inspired by his close relationship with Appalachian folk music and Old Regular Baptist Hymnody. Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Jaeger is currently a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University. Steve Smith of the New York Times writes that Jaeger's work Letters Made With Gold “memorably reset the lyrics of three folk songs to spare, enigmatic melodies that leapt and oozed unpredictably.” The piece conveys a poignant message about lovers grappling with the prospect of death in a progression from youthful passion, through denial, to ultimate acceptance. Contemporaneous will perform this work with the composer's wife, the fantastic soprano Lucy Dhegrae.
The largest work of the evening is Atlas of Somewhere on the Way to Howland Island, by Contemporaneous founding co-artistic director Dylan Mattingly. This epic and beautiful forty-minute poem for chamber orchestra is an emotional depiction of Amelia Earhart’s final journey. You can hear Earhart's journey in the music: her engine revving, crossing the endless blue, a stop in Tahiti, an elegy at the tragic end to the flight. The finale, though, features an incredible build to an overwhelmingly jubilant climax that sends Amelia's spirit out into the stars. Mattingly’s music has been described by new music pianist extraordinaire Sarah Cahill as “inspired by a diverse range of music including the blues, Bob Dylan, jazz, and the improv music that he himself performs...You get the sense he approaches these disparate idioms from the inside rather than from the outside.”
— Intermission —
Dylan Mattingly (b. 1991): Atlas of Somewhere on the Way to Howland Island (2011) — world premiere, Contemporaneous commission