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Orchestral Works by 7 American Women

Nancy Van de Vate: "Journeys was begun while I was traveling in Bali in April, 1981 and was continued in Washington, Warsaw, and at music festivals in Czechoslovakia. I completed it in Jakarta, Indonesia three years after the first sketches were made on hotel stationery. The title of the work partly reflects my travels during its creation and partly the composition's own wanderings through various musical episodes.

"Journeys consists of several contrasting sections unified by a recurring four-note motive, C B C D-flat, with variants and extensions. Two solo cadenzas, one for violin and one for cello, are among the piece's "wanderings." A long, partially aleatory section culminates in a forceful climax. This is followed by a quiet return to the four-note motive, extended and in augmentation. The concluding measures of Journeys are taken from its opening measures and are combined with a final appearance in the harp and celesta of the extended four-note motive." N.V.

Kay Gardner: "Rainforest, my first piece for orchestra, is influenced by Oriental, minimalist, and Impressionistic music. Inspired by a poem by Chrystos entitled In a Bed of Wings, I wrote the work in 1977 during a stay in California. I conducted the first performance in 1978 at the National Women's Music Festival in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois." K.G.

Libby Larsen: "Overture - Parachute Dancing was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra and premiered in New York under the direction of Tom Nee in 1984. During the Renaissance, there was a spectacular court dance involving parapluie, or umbrellas, the forerunner of the parachute. Dancers would climb atop courtyard walls carrying enormous brightly colored silk umbrellas. They would begin dancing short, hopping steps which became raucous leaps along their precarious ledge until suddenly, they would hurtle themselves off the wall, umbrellas overhead, and float down into the midst of the spectators.

"I grew up as a boat-racing sailor in Minnesota, passionately interested in everything having to do with wind, sky and water. I came across a history of parachuting in which the dance above was described. The image immediately captured my imagination as one which could inspire both good music and an engaging listening experience. It seemed full of motion and color, two important elements in music. Best of all, the precarious image of the dancers hurtling down into the waiting crowd suggested giddy danger to me. I like a certain amount of precariousness in life, and composed this derring-do into the piece, most noticeably in the trumpet solo and percussion." L.L.

Marga Richter: "Lament was written in 1956 as my mother was dying of cancer. It is dedicated to her. (She died the day I completed the score.) It is built on a single quasi-modal theme, surrounded by sometimes dissonant counterpoint and ostinati. Growing slowly through a multiplicity of almost obsessive repetitions (which one conductor characterized as 'mono-maniacal'), it reaches an intense climax, then subsides to a quiet ending on an e minor chord." M.R.

Katherine Hoover: "Summer Night was completed in July, 1985, and premiered by the New York Concerto Orchestra outdoors at Lincoln Center the following September. The flute and horn are a rather mismatched pair in many ways. To let their individual qualities sound, I began with a short soliloquy for each. This is followed by a slow dance which grows out of the soliloquies, and then a lively one, as the instruments (or characters, or thoughts) meet and interact." K.H.

Ursula Mamlok: "Elegy is the slow movement of my Concertino for woodwind quintet, string orchestra, and percussion. Bright specks of color from the percussion are woven into the background tapestry. The foreground displays successive sustained melodies with long tones of equal duration, offset by two alternating, repeated chords of varying duration. These elements are gradually intensified and twice interrupted by woodwind cadenzas." U.M.

Jane Brockman: "Perihelion for strings and computer-generated tape was commissioned by Arioso and the Hartt School of Music in 1985. Perihelion II, the string version of the work, is a piece primarily about exquisite string sonority, and is imbued with unabashed romanticism. 'Perihelion,' the point at which a comet or planet comes closest to the sun, refers to the relationship between orchestral and soloistic sections; music which is human in range of emotion is heard in contrast with other-worldly, yet quite evocative sounds. Spatially, Perihelion II recalls the orbiting notion of the title, and its musical materials are also characterized by circular, revolving motion. The piece is dedicated to Cynthia Treggor and Arioso, whose marvelous musicianship inspired the character of the string writing." J.B.



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