Music eX with Dror Biran and Paul York

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Paul York, professor of cello and Dror Biran, professor of piano at University of Louisville joined Daniel Gilliam in the studio to talk about their upcoming concert on Sunday February 22nd at 3:00pm. The concert will take place in Comstock Concert Hall on UofL’s campus as part of The Music eX Series. They will perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor BWV 1008 and Felix Mendelssohn’s Sonata for Cello & Piano in D Major, Op. 58, No. 2.

Kuniko Kato’s Cantus

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Percussionist Kuniko Kato’s album Cantus brings two of my passions together: Percussion and minimalism. This album follows her album Kuniko Plays Reich which was released in 2011. After receiving much praise for that album, she “wanted to make minimalist music more accessible.” She achieves this spectacularly in Cantus which was released in 2013.

The album opens with Für Alina by Estonian Composer Arvo Pärt. This piece is normally about 11 minutes in length, but Kato opts out of repeating phrases and shortens it to 4 minutes. She recorded the piece in a small ancient church, which is a perfect environment for the resonate tones of the vibraphone and crotales to sing at this slow and contemplative tempo.

New York Counterpoint by Steve Reich is one of his most popular compositions. It is a piece originally scored for amplified clarinet and tape. She utilizes the entire range of the five octave marimba and various types of mallets and methods of striking in order to mimic the clarinet perfectly.

Pärt’s Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten It is a threnody written to mourn the death of Composer Benjamin Britten, who Pärt admired dearly. It is originally scored for string orchestra and bell. This work translates to marimba very clearly. Kato rolls the notes on the marimba throughout the whole piece, creating a giant resonate sound.

Purl Ground by Hywel Davies is the only piece on the album that is originally scored for marimba. The piece stays very quiet and has a humming quality, never surpassing the half-way point of the marimba. Kato calls this piece “deeply evocative.”

Fratres and Spiegel im Spiegel are two more compositions from Pärt featured on the album. Fratres was written in 1977 and many versions exist today, from piano and cello to string orchestra and percussion. Her arrangement for marimba uses soft mallets on the low end of the marimba, harder mallets on the mid and high range, and bowing of the marimba keys throughout. The bowing is quiet, you have to listen closely. Spigel im Spigel was originally scored for piano and violin. It is repetitive and played at a slow walking pace. Kato rolls the melody notes on the marimba while the repetitive tonic triads are played on the high end of the marimba. Bells chime in brightly throughout the piece.

You can purchase your own copy of Cantus from Kuniko Kato on iTunes, Amazon, or from the record label Linn Records.

SOLI’s Portraits

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SOLI Chamber Ensemble from San Antonio Texas recently released a new album titled “Portraits.” This album features four newly commissioned works from composers Erich Stem, Peter Farmer, Elliott Miles McKinley, and Diego Vega. Composer Erich Stem is also Associate Professor of Music at Indiana University Southeast and produced the album at New Dynamic Records. It was recorded in Louisville, Kentucky at TNT Productions. Daniel Gilliam interviewed Erich Stem and spoke with him about the concept for the album and the story behind each composer’s piece. You can listen to the interview below and you can purchase SOLI’s “Portraits” on iTunes and CD Baby.

Sebastian Chang and a New Symphony

Sebastian was commissioned by Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra for a new symphony. Mr. Chang was in town for the performance and talked with Daniel Gilliam about the creative process surrounding his first major work.

Jinjoo Cho In-Studio

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Violinist Jinjoo Cho joined us in the Performance Studio of Classical 90.5 to perform a concert on February 3rd. Ms. Cho received the gold medal at the 2014 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis in September. The Gheens Great Expectations Program welcomed her and the administrator of the Gheens series pianist Jeff Jamner accompanied her. She gave an outstanding concert of “Grave and Fuga from Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003″ by J.S. Bach, “Sonata in E Minor, K. 304″ by W.A. Mozart, and “Fantasy for Solo Violin” by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Daniel Gilliam hosted the concert, and spoke with Ms. Cho and Glen Kwok, Executive Director of ICVI.