California Contemporary Classical
20th and 21st Century Contemporary Classical Music from California for the World
This program concentrates on contemporary classical music composed in California, reflecting the many cultural influences that are adding to the diversity of California's contemporary art music. Along with new music by members of Ancient Future, the program features prominent California composers such as Terry Riley, famed minimalist who has performed concerts with members of Ancient Future, and Lou Harrison, father of the American gamelan movement who was on Ancient Future leader Matthew Montfort's M.A. degree committee and called Montfort's book, Ancient Traditions – Future Possibilities,
"a very useful contribution to musical scholarship."
Material from this program has been presented at venues such as the Trinity Chamber Series, Roy O. Disney Theater at CalArts, and California State University Sacramento Music Recital Hall.
Sample Program: Contemporary Art Music from California
. Studio recordings of the repertoire performed on this Ancient Future program.
Ascension by Terry Riley (1992).
This piece is from The Book of Abbeyozzud, an uncompleted series intended to be 26 pieces for guitar, multiple guitars and guitar in ensemble. Terry Riley wrote
"All of the pieces have Spanish titles and take a different letter of the alphabet to begin their names. They are also indebted to great Spanish music traditions and to those traditions upon which Spanish music owes its heritage."
El Zaffa by Matthew Montfort (2001). iTunes.
Set in the meter of elzaffa, the traditional Egyptian wedding procession rhythm, this piece employs elements from Arabic and European classical music, especially Spanish music.
Slow Melody in Bhairavi by Terry Riley (1972).
This piece, originally written for organ, is based on the East Indian raga Bhairavi.
End of the Beginning by Matthew Montfort (1990).
Alternating between four bars of seven and seven bars of four, this piece represents a rebirth of Ancient Celtic and North Indian musical concepts set at either the end of the world or the beginning of a new world. The piece was originally conceived to be placed at the end of the first side of Ancient Future's fifth LP, World Without Walls, which ironically became the first Ancient Future recording to be released on CD without a corresponding vinyl version.
A Waltz for Evelyn Hinrichsen by Lou Harrison (1977).
This piece was written for a publishing project called, The Waltz Project, and takes the form of an homage to, in Lou Harrison's words,
"a remarkable woman and friend who used to help me as music librarian when we were both young at Mills College."
Moonbath by Matthew Montfort (1977). iTunes.
This piece features multiple time signature changes and an Indian reduction pattern. It was the first piece recorded by Ancient Future in late 1978.
Nyo Nyo Gde by Matthew Montfort (1990). iTunes. .
This piece is based partly on Balinese gamelan music and features interlocking parts known as kotèkan, which require cooperation and a keen sense of rhythm to perform. The two parts of a kotèkan, which are thought of as male and female, are known as nyangsih and polos. The main accents of the nyangsih part are usually on the offbeat, while the main accents of the polos part are usually on the beat. The piece ends with an an Indian tahai, a rhythmic cadence that repeats three times and ends on the first beat of the cycle. In this case, the tihai melody is split into nyangsih and polos parts.
Tandy's Tango by Lou Harrison (1992).
Lou Harrison collaborated frequently with other artists and composed this beautiful piece for talented dancer Tandy Beale. Originally written for piano, this arrangement has been arranged for piano and guitar.
Sangria by Mariah Parker (2004). iTunes.
Inspired by the idea of blending elements from East Indian and Spanish cultures, this piece is in a 7/8 meter and has 4 movements. The introduction, called an alap in East Indian music, explores the primary mode of the piece, D harmonic minor. The first movement begins with an ostinato pattern and has an ABA form. The second, third and fourth movements are each based on a different rhythmic pattern, and highlight a different instrument in the ensemble. The fourth movement is a tabla solo which ends with a tihai, an East Indian musical devise where a musical pattern is repeated three times ending on the first beat of the rhythmic cycle.
Between the Lines by Mariah Parker (2000). iTunes.
This ballad speaks to the poignancy of separation. Written for piano, cello and guitar, the piece begins in 5/8 meter with an arpeggiated pattern on piano. The nylon string guitar and piano double on the delicate melodic line, which provides pivot points to unexpected modulations. A contrasting section shifts to a 6/8 meter and features a cello solo before returning to the original theme.
Forest Frolic by Matthew Montfort (2001). iTunes.
This composition depicts a dance of wood nymph goddesses. It utilizes techniques derived from the study of the classical music of Europe, China, India, and Indonesia. Like Montfort's "Nyo Nyo Gde," this piece also ends with a tihai kotèkan, but in this case there is also harmony employed rather than the colotomic structure used in Balinese gamelan music.
Waterwheel by Mariah Parker (2004). iTunes.
Written in 7/8, this piece begins with a piano ostinato and bowed bass improvisation. Transitional cues between sections are based on cross-rhythmic patterns.
First Flight by Mariah Parker (2006). iTunes.
The theme of this piece is the victory of the human spirit rising above the challenges of life. Written in 7/8, it makes extensive use cross rhythmic patterns in the development of the main melodic ideas.
10th Journey by Mariah Parker (2006). iTunes.
This piece is primarily in a 10/4 meter, though with segments in 4/4. Beginning with a rhythmically complex ostinato pattern on guitar and cello, the melodic ideas weave in and out of the rhythm creating a the feeling of movement, as on a long journey by camel.
Candlelight by Matthew Montfort (1983). iTunes.
This romantic composition inspired by the music of the Renaissance was written at a British Inn on the California coast.
Quiet Fire by Matthew Montfort (1984). iTunes.
This piece in two long movements fuses European classical, Spanish, Indian, and African elements. The second movement takes the themes from the first movement and expands upon them in a 12/8 rhythmic pattern based on an African bell pattern.
Matthew Montfort is the leader of the world fusion music ensemble Ancient Future and its principal composer. He is a pioneer of the scalloped fretboard guitar, an instrument combining qualities of the South Indian vina and the steel string guitar. He is also known for his work on fretless guitar, sitar, charango, mandolin, and gamelan. Matthew Montfort holds a B.A. in World Music and Composition and an M.A. in Arts and Media Technology from Antioch University. He has recorded his compositions with legendary world music figures ranging from Bolivian panpipe master Gonzalo Vargas to tabla maestros Swapan Chaudhuri and Zakir Hussain. He has performed his music in concerts world wide, including at the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra on the golden coast of Spain near Barcelona and the Mumbai Festival at the Gateway of India in Bombay.
Lou Harrison was one of the great composers of the twentieth century--a pioneer in the use of alternate tunings, world music influences, and new instruments. An innovator of musical composition and performance that transcends cultural boundaries, Harrison's highly acclaimed work juxtaposes and synthesizes musical dialects from virtually every corner of the world.
Terry Riley launched what is now known as the Minimalist movement with his revolutionary classic IN C in 1964. This seminal work provided a new concept in musical form based on interlocking repetitive patterns. Its impact was to change the course of 20th Century music and its influence has been heard in the works of prominent composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams.
Mariah Parker, while completing her degree in music at UC Santa Cruz, worked with ethnomusicologist Fred Lieberman and Mickey Hart on the "Planet Drum" project. She has studied with Rebeca Mauleon, pianist and composer at the forefront of Latin and World music. She has written and arranged for several ensembles and has worked with Dumisani Maraire (brilliant Shona musician), composer Pauline, and with tabla master Anuradha Pal (considered one of the best female musicians of India).
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