Recent Works – 11/29

November 29, 2017 7:30 PM

Baisley Powell Elebash Recital Hall @ The Graduate Center - CUNY

365 Fifth Avenue @ 34st New York, NY 10016

Free Admission

93 million miles away (2016)** - Ann Cleare

Dummy Whist (2015)* - Celeste Oram

Flyway Detour (2006) - Anthony Cheung

the robot in red. (2014)** - Klaus Lang

Pietà (2017) - Peter Kramer

* = World Premiere

** = US Premiere


Flyway Detour - Anthony Cheung

Flyway Detour was written in 2006 for the Jupiter Trio, and premiered in its original form in 2009 by the Callisto Ensemble in Chicago. This revised version, written for Longleash, was made last summer. The work is in three sections, each with its unique characteristics, and the overall journey through them takes its inspiration in the natural phenomenon of migration (a flyway is a bird’s particular migration route). Avian migratory patterns are often thought of as either genetically encoded after generations of evolution or learned directly by example, with the aid of the sun or the earth’s magnetic field. Yet sometimes migrations go awry, either from unexpected natural elements like wind and rain, or when the “programming” works in reverse without explanation and the bird ends up in foreign lands. The “detour” part of the title refers to this, and has its analogues in various musical directions the work takes.  Throughout, the resonances of the piano are integral to the harmonic logic and pacing of each section, and are reinforced or resisted by the strings.

- Anthony Cheung

93 Million Miles Away - Ann Cleare

NASA estimates the Sun to be 93 million miles away from Earth. Any search engine will provide countless conspiracy theories on how this information could be false and why. In terms of my piece, the title, 93 million miles away, acts as a metaphor for two blocks of material that I juxtapose, two distant places. These distant places become like inverted realities, each driven by a search for suspension. The question of distance permeates on many levels, just as it does in theories on the Earth’s distance from the Sun: within blocks, the distance to suspension seems within touching grasp yet so difficult to reach, and between blocks, the sense of distance grows ever closer yet still so far. Always so infinitely close, and so infinitely far.

The piece was commissioned by The Fidelio Trio with funds from The Arts Council of Ireland. World Premiere on Sunday 4th December, 2016 at The Fidelio Trio Winter Chamber Music Festival, Belvedere House, Dublin City University.

- Ann Cleare

photo: Chris Holdaway

Dummy Whist - Celeste Oram


Each player follows a video score, which demonstrates actions to be mirrored by the player in such a way that sound is produced on their instrument. Although there is no physical object in the video score, players adapt as necessary the direction and position of the actions in order to execute the actions on their instrument while maintaining the actions' quality, rhythm, momentum and force. Players are especially attentive to precise rhythmic synchronicity with the score. They are also invested in achieving with the actions interesting and compelling sounds.

The video score is presented from a mirror-image perspective: e.g. if the figure in the video moves her hand on the right side of the frame, the player moves their right hand. The video score is followed both in rehearsal and performance, and is visible to performers only (not to the audience).

Each player’s video score displays two independent video panels. One panel is the player’s own part, unique and visible only to them. The other panel is the ‘dummy score’, which appears identically and simultaneously in all three players’ parts.

Play is divided into five hands (movements), with either thirteen or nine tricks in each hand. There are four suits: paper, plastic, metal, and flesh. In each of the first four hands, a different suit is trumps. The fifth and final hand is no trumps.

In each hand, a different registral handicap is imposed on the players' pitched sounds. In the first paper hand, players may use the entire range of their instrument. In the second plastic hand, the string players may only use their two highest strings, and the pianist may only use the highest half of the keyboard. In the third metal hand, the string players may only use their two lowest strings, and the pianist may only use the lowest half of the keyboard. In the fourth flesh hand, the string players may only use their highest string, and the pianist may only use the highest quarter of the keyboard. In the final no trumps hand, the string players may only use their lowest string, and the pianist may only use the lowest quarter of the keyboard. Non-pitched and non-instrumental sounds may be used at all times.

A trick comprises four discrete action events: one event per instrumental part, and one event in the dummy score. (The dummy score event is not necessarily the final event in the trick.) Within a given trick, therefore, each player will see two action events in their video score: one in their own part's panel, and one in the dummy score panel. Each player performs only one of these two events in any given trick; players may not perform both events in a trick, nor may they abstain from playing. It is the player's choice which event to perform; live decision-making will prove better game strategy than a pre-determined route through the score.

If a player elects to play the dummy score in a given trick, immediately after they complete the dummy score event they raise their right hand(/bow) and keep it raised until the indication marked SCORE. Should two players both perform the dummy score event in a given trick, a point is scored by one of the two players. Which player scores the point is determined by the following hierarchy: piano beats cello; cello beats violin; violin beats piano (like paper-scissors-rock). For example, if the piano and cello both play the dummy score in a given trick, the piano scores a point for that trick. If the piano and violin play the dummy score in unison, the violin scores a point. Should all three players play the dummy score in a given trick, all points scored so far in that hand are erased and each player's points tally returns to zero.

Points are tallied after each trick, at the moments marked SCORE and TALLY in the video score, by way of rhythmic taps: clear, crisp, brisk, resonant strikes on the body of the instrument with the fingertip or knuckle, tapped at an even tempo. These taps need not be performed at the same tempo nor position on the instrument for each trick. When SCORE flashes onscreen at the end of a trick, the player who scored a point for that trick taps out their total number of accumulated points so far in that hand. (For example, a cumulative tally of 3 points would render 3 taps.) If no player has scored in a trick, all players remain silent at SCORE. When TALLY flashes onscreen after SCORE, all players who did not score in that trick simultaneously tap out their total accumulated points so far in that hand.

At the end of a hand, a final points tally is indicated in the video score with the prompts VIOLIN TALLY / CELLO TALLY / PIANO TALLY. At each of these prompts, the respective player taps out their total number of points scored in that hand. The player with the most points at the end of a hand wins that hand. If two/three players tie for first place, there are two/three winning players.

To conclude the hand, the winning player(s) add(s) a material of that hand’s ‘suit’ as a preparation to their instrument. For example, if a player wins the paper hand, they add a paper preparation to their instrument. The exact object and technique of preparation is the player's decision to make. Players should take into consideration the registral handicap for the forthcoming hand(s) when placing their preparations.

At the end of a hand, the points tally for all players returns to zero. Play continues through each of the four trump suit hands. If players win a second/third/fourth hand, they place each additional preparation on a different part of the instrument (i.e. on a different string for the violin/cello, or on a different part of the piano). Preparations may be moved during the course of the piece if the player chooses. The winner(s) of the fourth flesh suit hand do(es) not add a preparation, but instead play(s) the fifth and final no trumps hand either without their bow, or with the lid of the piano closed.

There are no SCORE or TALLY prompts in the final no trumps hand; instead, the prompt TRICK TAKEN indicates the end of a trick. Players need not count their cumulative score. Instead, if two players play the dummy score in unison, the losing player either 'loses' their bow (if a string player) or closes the lid of the piano (if the pianist), and continues to execute the score either without their bow or percussively on the piano lid. If a player loses for a second time (or if the winner of the flesh hand loses for the first time), they 'lose' their instrument and continue to execute the score actions silently. If a player loses for a third time (or if the winner of the flesh hand loses for a second time), they are 'out', and keep still and silent while the remainder of the score plays out. If all three players play the dummy score in unison during the fifth no trumps hand, sudden death ensues and all players keep still and silent while the remainder of the score plays out.

The piece ends at GAME OVER. There is no knowing which player has won the game overall.

- Celeste Oram

Pietà by Peter Kramer

Pietà was written during the Spring and Summer of 2017 for Pala Garcia, John Popham and Renate Rohlfing for the Loretto Festival 2017.

Our father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, ...

Pour the unhappiness out

From your too bitter heart, Which grieving will not sweeten.

Poison grows in this dark. It is in the water of tears Its black blooms rise.


“...I’m tired now.

Sometimes I talk too much. That’s happiness.” ...

Give us this day our daily bread…

(Fragments from: Lord’s Prayer – English vernacular version, Another Weeping Woman – Wallace Stevens, Three Views of a Mother – John Ciardi)