Composers Series Vol. 9: Stephen Parris, Gust Burns, Bill Monto

Monktail Creative Music Concern presents
MCMC Composers Series, Vol. 9: Stephen Parris, Gust Burns, Bill Monto
Friday March 9, 8pm
Good Shepherd Chapel
4649 Sunnyside Ave N, Seattle

Stephen Parris:
Ghost Leg (3 movements) – Performed by Adrienne Varner.
Aleatoric Etude for Overtones – Performed by Stephen Fandrich.
“March of the Infidels” and “Stinky Neck Cheese” – performed by Crystal Beth.

Gust Burns:
PEDAL 2 for piano, field recordings, and violin. Premiere performance.

Bill Monto:
Compositions arranged for wind ensemble and piano
Before the Death Scene by Mark Ostrowski
LG by John Seman
performed by Bill Monto, Kenneth Mandell, Darian Asplund, Paul Hoskin, Robert Beasley, Stephen Fandrich

Notes on the pieces:
“Ghost Leg” is a three movement piece for piano where material in some fashion was derived through the use of an eponymous Chinese system of randomly assigning one variable with another. A ghost leg is comprised of vertical lines intersected by horizontal lines that do not touch. Variables are assigned to the top and bottom of the vertical lines. Pairing of variables is accomplished by following the trail of the vertical line, and crossing at each horizontal line encountered. The first movement’s theme, placement of contrapuntal modifications, and time signature were developed using this system. All pitches and sequences in the second movement were developed by ghost legs, and then the sequences were used in an almost Webernian serial process. The third movement is in the style of a traditional Javanese Gamelan piece. The main skeletal melody was derived using a ghost leg, and then elaboration was through composed.

Each movement also provides a large amount of freedom to the performer to interpret the piece as they see fit. The first movement has no dynamic or phrasing markings. Only a tempo. The second movement has a rather loose slow tempo. Pitches can be held for as long as desired, and rests can be extended at performers discretion. The third movement has no dynamic markings, and uses the good old Italian tempo markings for tempo changes.

The Aleatoric Etudes are a series of etudes written with very loose structures that are determined by the roll of dice. They are designed to put the performer in an improvisational environment where they will have to consider their personal definitions and approaches to given criteria and limitations. For example, In the “Aleatoric Etude for Overtones”, a performer may be stuck performing with nothing but major intervals, and have to play something fast and morose for 5 minutes. The “Aleatoric Etude for Improvising Musician(s)” consists of 2 components: a drone and a scale. Number of pitches, and pitches themselves for both the drone and scale are determined aleatorically. The performer is expected to improvise using the scale over the drone until they are satisfied with what they have found, and come to an end.

“March of the Infidels” and “Stinky Neck Cheese” are loop based pieces designed especially for Crystal Beth to perform and improvise over.

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