Compose Yourself--Prep for the upcoming Cabrillo Music Festival, check out promising young composer.
Thursday, July 9, 1998
The travails of Superman are celebrated vivaciously in Metropolis, the five-movement symphony by Michael Daugherty which gets its West Coast premiere next month at the Cabrillo Music Festival. Daugherty''s composer''s residency at the festival will be underscored by Metropolis (already a huge CD success for Argo) and punctuated by the California premiere of his Motown Metal.
Tofurther prepare yourself for this composing phenom, collect Daugherty''s just-released opera Jackie O, "in which the events are based on history but are largely imaginary or metaphorical" (Argo 455 591-2.) A Houston Grand Opera commission and Houston Opera Studio production, Jackie O''s libretto, by the widely published Wayne Kostenbaum, refracts kaleidoscopic images from Daugherty''s musical funhouse. Leading the cast is Nicole Heaston as Jackie, with Stephanie Novacek as Maria Callas, Eric Owens as Ari Onassis, Jonita Lattimore as Liz Taylor, Joyce DiDonato as Grace Kelly, Daniel Belcher as Andy Warhol and John McVeigh as the voice of JFK. The narrative contains all the touchstones of its principals as commonly reported and selectively distilled by the media. Indeed, it makes no attempt to delve deeper.
Daugherty''s score is a glitzy media trip itself, mixing original Jackie soundbites into the musical fabric right from the start. Soon enough, the style draws on Gershwin, then Bernstein, as the action moves to "The Happening at Warhol''s Factory" where the assembled guests await the promised arrival of Jackie, the icon. Subtle textures of Saint-Saens precede her entrance. A solo saxophone and Kismet sensualities accompany "Warhol''s Painter''s Credo." Ari''s big scene, as he approaches the widow, is set as a tango. Bits of Las Vegas and Frank Zappa accompany "Stiff Drink," while Phantom of the Opera and post-rock surface in "All His Bright Light."
But, make no mistake, Daugherty''s music is finely crafted and instinctively lucid. Skillfully complementing its libretto, the piece discloses myriad enriching details on repeated hearings. Christopher Larkin conducts the Houston Grand Opera orchestra.
Among young Turk composers is an exciting find, Kamran Ince, a Turkish-American born in Montana in 1960. Ince has heard his music played by major orchestras in Chicago, Istanbul, San Francisco and Lithuania. He studied at the conservatories in Ankara and Izmir, at Oberlin and Eastman, and includes among his teachers Christopher Rouse and Joseph Schwantner, both familiar to Cabrillo Music Festival audiences.
A first-rate introduction to the prize-winning composer can now be found in The Fall of Constantinople, a 22-minute symphony in five movements that also titles a new CD release by the Albany Symphony Orchestra under David Alan Miller (Argo 289 455 151-2.) The Fall, completed in early 1994, is Ince''s second symphony and recalls the Ottoman siege of the city in the 1450s. While programmatic (the movements are called "City and the walls," "Haghia Sofia," "Speeches of Emperor Constantine and Mehmet the Conqueror," "Ship on Rails; the Marine Battle," "Fall of Constantinople"), the colorful music conveys impressions more than specific descriptions (though "Speeches" does represent sharply rhetorical tongues which synthesize with the opening movement in the finale.) The 36-minute Remembering Lycia for piano and orchestra, completed in 1996, distills memories of the composer''s travels along the southwest coast of Turkey where an ancient Lycian city was destroyed by an earthquake two millennia ago. Its movements are "Tale of the sea," "Whispering night," " Pounding waves," "Eternal tombs." It features pianist Alan Feinberg.
The generous program opens with Arches, composed in 1994 and inspired by arches in Istanbul and Rome. Its 12 minutes are surveyed by the commissioning Present Music ensemble (acoustic instruments and synthesizer) conducted by Kevin Stalheim. These works combine style, spirit, substance and technique in a highly listenable package. cw
Last Week''s Quiz: What noted singer sang at the funerals of Haydn (1809), Beethoven (1827) and Chopin (1849)? Answer: Luigi Lablache, as a boy alto in 1809, and celebrated basso as an adult.
This Week''s Quiz: What winner of the Prix de Rome wrote a symphony subtitled "City of Rome"?
California Summer Music Saturday, 7:30pm. Student concert. Keck Auditorium, Robert Louis Stevenson School, 3152 Forest Lake Rd., Pebble Beach. Free. (415) 753-8920.