A person playing piano and a person playing violin

Faculty Recital: American Composers & Arrangers

Date: Fri Feb 19 2021

1 Hour Archived Performance

Location: MacPhail Live Online

Nina Olsen, Clarinet
Chi-Chi Bestmann, viola
Sarah Miller, piano

Clouds by Sarah Miller (b. 1959)

Miller writes, “I wrote “Clouds” in the spring and summer of 2020. Nina Olsen had asked for a piece for this ensemble because she felt like it is an effective grouping of instruments that has very little repertoire. I incorporated sketches from early in 2020 when I was attempting to compose textures for the piano that I had neither played nor heard before. The title came after I wrote the piece, but it fits particularly well. Much of the piano writing feels and sounds like water droplets suspended in the air, sometimes surrounding the listener as a fog, other times overhead morphing from one shape to another. The melodic writing for the clarinet and viola also shift in focus in much the way that clouds shift from looking like one thing to another. This piece was funded by a MacPhail Commissioning Grant and I thank the granting committee and MacPhail for supporting my compositional endeavors.”

Chi-Chi Bestmann, viola
Miryana Moteva, piano

Viola Sonata by Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)
I. Impetuoso
II. Vivace

Rebecca Clarke was a British-American composer, viola virtuoso and one of the first female professional orchestra musicians. Clarke was a prolific composer, including chamber music, parlor songs and choral music. Many of her works have remained unpublished but there is now renewed and growing interest in her compositions.

Clarke’s Viola Sonata caused a sensation when it tied for first place (with Ernest Bloch) in a 1919 composition competition. In the end, Ernest Bloch was declared the winner mainly because the society at the time did not believe a female composer was capable of writing something so outstanding – many believed Rebecca Clarke was a pen name for a male composer or that she simply didn’t exist! The 1st movement begins with a fanfare from the viola then moves quickly into beautiful melodies that bare signatures of Debussy and Vaughan Williams, two major influences on Clarke’s music. The 2nd movement show cases all the different “special effects” of the viola, harmonics, pizzicato, etc. With the limited time, we weren’t able to bring you the 3rd movement but we hope one day we will be able to perform all three movements of this brilliant sonata for you.

Andrea Leap, soprano
Ivory Doublette, alto
Joey Clark, tenor
Fred Steele, baritone
Jerry Rubino, piano

A Nelson Riddle Birthday Celebration!

Nelson Riddle is THE prominent arranger of songs from The Great American Songbook, and his arrangements have been made famous by singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Linda Ronstadt, keeping them in our collective consciousness for decades and decades. This year marks his 100th birthday and an excellent time to honor his work.

“I’ve Got the World on a String” by Harold Arlen (1905-1986), arr. Nelson Riddle (1921-1985)
“Falling in Love Again” by Friedrich Hollaender (1896-1976), arr. Nelson Riddle(1921-1985)
“I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by Cole Porter (1891-1964), arr. Nelson Riddle (1921-1985)
“When You Wish Upon a Star” by Ned Washington (1901-1976)/Leigh Harline (1907-1969), arr. Nelson Riddle (1921-1985)

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