Presented as part of ARTSaha 2004
11 September, 2004
At the Loft, Omaha, NE
Bringing to life the enigmatic atmosphere of the Analogue Project, Joe Drew presented one of his trademark narrative recitals, centered around his program-length ritualization of Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question, which culminates in his Electronic Suite from 2000. The recital featured the Omaha premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Upper Lip Dance and the world premiere of The Ballad of Julefor, which is based on the groundbreaking work of The Analogue Project.
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Entrance and Formula
Giacinto Scelsi, Four Pieces
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Upper Lip Dance
Peter Milligan, The Ballad of Julefor
Joseph Drew, Suite for Trumpet & Tape
Joe Drew, trumpet & electronics
Rudolf Kamper, trumpet & electronics
Entrance and Formula [Eingang und Formel] (1980): One of the first works excerpted from the largest cyclical work in western music, Light, this short trumpet piece contains a staggering amount of the motivic material from Stockhausen’s seven-opera cycle. Culled from the first opera to be completed, Thursday from Light, the piece was premiered at La Scala by the composer’s virtuoso son, Markus, who trained both Mr. Kamper & Mr. Drew.
While almost completely unknown to American audiences, Stockhausen’s Light relies on a method of composition which is closely related to the serialism which the composer helped to indoctrinate in his youth. A formula is used instead of a row, and each of the allegorical figures in the cycle, Michael, Eve and Lucifer, have a formula which is uniquely their own. The formula from the title is Michael’s, and Entrance and Formula is the introduction to the second act of Thursday which is a trumpet concerto called “Michael’s Journey Around the World”.
It may seem odd to think that an instrumental work should form an entire act of a dramatic work, but bear in mind that an entire scene of Wednesday from Light calls for a string quartet to play in four separate helicopters, circling a thousand meters above an opera hall. Stockhausen has never shrunk from the strangeness of his inner voice, and he has managed a singular feat in the completion of his cycle by funding it entirely through commissions, which were completed by adapting material from Light.
Four Pieces [Quattro Pezzi] (1984): Scelsi wrote many cycles of four pieces for a variety of instruments, with his most famous being the cycle for orchestra. In that cycle, each of the four pieces famously deals with a single note. Indeed, in 1959, with the premiere of Four Pieces for orchestra, Scelsi beat the minimalists to the punch by several years, but much like Ives’ unnoticed invention of polytonality, which got credited to Stravinsky, Scelsi’s innovations continue to lie in the dustbin of musical history. Much of his obscurity, like Ives’, was due to the inescapably personal nature of his artistic development. Though both men studied proper composition methods with famous teachers, both invented at the pace of their own, alien, personal discovery, which for Scelsi, was inextricably linked to his spiritual development.
Each of the four trumpet pieces focus on one or two notes. Scelsi explores the full possibilities of each pitch center with different mutes, articulations, and microtones.
Upper Lip Dance [Oberlippentanz] (1983): The lineage of this masterpiece for the solo trumpet is a fine example of the utilitarianism of Stockhausen who freely recycles his own material with such a staggering range that the only fair comparison lies outside of music, in the work of William S. Burroughs. Upper Lip Dance is the trumpet obbligato from “Lucifer’s Dance” in Saturday from Light. Stockhausen first excerpted this obbligato in an arrangement for four horns, trombone, two percussionists and solo trumpet. He also allows for the solo performance of the obbligato as a concert piece. He further arranged the piece for synthesizer, two percussionists and trumpet. Should another commission arise, he would surely find another way to arrange the piece which never diminishes the material, but rather, finds new strengths in it.
Upper Lip Dance requires just about everything of a trumpeter that can be requested in performance. The expanded range of the part is only the beginning. As with Entrance and Formula, the performer must wear the mute belt of Stockhausen’s design, to facilitate the rapid mute changes. The use of the mutes is so refined that there are actually six different phonetic indications for the harmon mute, so that Stockhausen has effectively turned what is commonly known as a “wah-wah” mute into a “wah-woh-wee-wi-woo-waa” mute. The middle section of the piece, which is a cadenza both in its group arrangements, and in the original scene, requires the performer to drop to his knees, and then eventually roll onto his back.
The Ballad of Julefor (2032): By all accounts, julefor was the most notorious fugitive of the 21st century. After exploding into the global spotlight with a dramatic escape during a prison transfer, her bizarre blog entries captivated millions of readers as she made her northern trek and struggled with the emerging realization of her coincarnation. Milligan created the prerecorded element of his most famous piece from five elements, which he lists in the score.
“The whirring drones are shades of the processed ambient noise on the tapes from julefor’s first interrogation after her arrest. The manifold bursts of static and obscured voices are heavily processed samples of julefor desperately trying to explain her confused state of mind to the unsympathetic officers. The climactic sample is of the rotor blades of the helicopter from which julefor jumped, shortly after takeoff, during her transfer to prison. The ‘drum beat’ is composed entirely of processed samples from the various trawlers and machinery which were used in the subsequent search for the escapee, and the infamous ‘Escape’ entry of 28 June is presented both in its entirety and in its retrograde.”
Milligan’s only instructions to the performer are to use clusters and ring modulation to improvise on the simple motif which signified julefor in all of his music. Much like David del Tredici’s obsession with setting Lewis Carroll, Milligan found his muse in julefor and would never compose on a different theme for the rest of his life. Most of the sound sources and archival material used in the piece are on public display at aproject.us.
Electronic Suite (2000): Set in three stages, Drew’s suite is the conclusion to a program-length ritualization of Ives’ The Unanswered Question, where the stasis of the string projections represent the universe, and the programmed works take up the role of Ives’ winds, which vainly attempt to answer the question of existence. The first stage centers on the sacred. The second stage centers on the secular, and the third is an electronic arrangement of Ives’ original piece.
-- Notes by Rene Edmunds, ANALOG annotator