Friday, March 5, 2010

Designed by Thomas Jefferson to represent the “authority of nature and the power of reason,” the Rotunda is the architectural and symbolic center of the University of Virginia, founded by Jefferson in 1824 as the first secular Liberal Arts university in America. Inspired by these now threatened ideals, composer Judith Shatin and filmmaker Robert Arnold have created a sound and video portrait of the Rotunda that juxtaposes its timeless majesty with the every-changing hum of daily life. Judith Shatin, a University of Virginia professor of music, conceived of the project while looking out her office window at Jefferson's Lawn and Rotunda. Noted filmmaker Robert Arnold, was the ideal collaborator for this work, because his films often deal with time in fascinating ways. For an entire year, a remote controlled camera installed on a building facing the Rotunda captured digital time-lapse images throughout each day. These were then uploaded to Arnold’s studio in Boston every night. During this same time period Shatin collected sounds, both in and around the Rotunda, and recorded unscripted interviews about what the Rotunda meant to a variety of people. Participants ranged from students to architectural historians, Jefferson experts, UVA alumni, professors and administrators. The sound world of the piece was based on these recordings. With nearly half a million images to work with, Arnold and Shatin decided to build their piece around the idea of one day on the Lawn unfolding over the course of a year. The resulting fifteen-minute video moves from sunrise to sunset as the year moves from season to season. The video juxtaposes the timeless ideals represented by the Rotunda with the constant flux of life and nature. Watch an excerpt of Rotunda (2009) . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

Frank Ticheli's music has been described as being "optimistic and thoughtful" (Los Angeles Times), "lean and muscular" (New York Times), "brilliantly effective" (Miami Herald) and "powerful, deeply felt crafted with impressive flair and an ear for striking instrumental colors" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel). Ticheli joined the faculty of the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music in 1991, where he is Professor of Composition. From 1991 to 1998, he was Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony, and he still enjoys a close working relationship with that orchestra and their music director, Carl St. Clair. Ticheli is well known for his works for concert band, many of which have become standards in the repertoire. In addition to composing, he has appeared as guest conductor of his music at Carnegie Hall, at many American universities and music festivals, and in cities throughout the world. Hear Ticheli talk about his life and music . . . our COMPOSER PORTRAIT for the week.

The Emerson String Quartet: The Bartók Quartets, explores the six string quartets of Béla Bartók through the vision of the Emerson String Quartet in this amalgamation of video footage, written commentary, and animated musical score. Much of the video was taken during a workshop given by the Emerson Quartet members in 2003 and has been supplemented with additional video of Emerson members and others speaking about the quartets. The site is intended for performers who are preparing these pieces, as well as listeners and concertgoers who wish to learn more about the Bartók quartets and about the many musical decisions that must be made in order to perform these demanding works. . . . check this all out at our current FEATURED NEW MUSIC WEBSITE.

Tom Flaherty’s Trio for Cello & Digital Processor (1991) plays with rhythmic hockets and explores the sonorous possibilities of the cello. The digital processor is not intended to actually alter the cello sound in any significant way; rather, it sends the cello sound to left and right speakers a half second and a full second later than the original acoustic sound. The resulting piece is in effect a cello trio, although it would be virtually impossible to accurately coordinate three live players to the degree required in the piece. Watch composer/cellist Flaherty in a performance of his work . . . this week's FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES.

Explore, Listen and Enjoy!
Vinny Fuerst
Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music

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