Octagon (Volume I)

OCTAGON (Volume 1)

The University of California New Music Ensemble

Zelman Bokser and Nicole Paiement, Music Directors

Octagon, the new music ensemble of the University of California, offers an important opportunity to young composers and performers in the UC system. The group creates a pre-professional opportunity to explore a large body of new literature from composers at the University of California. The works chosen for performance represent a broad spectrum of styles from the most experimental to the most traditional. The ensemble tours annually throughout the University of California system, and elsewhere.

Ellen Ruth Harrison

La Cité du Globe Captif (The City of the Captive Globe) is one of several architectural projects by Ren Koolhaas that offers an interpretation of modern day urban culture as seen through the example of New York City. In his book, Delirious New York, Koolhaas describes the “City of the Captive Glove” as “the capital of Ego, where science, art, poetry and forms of madness compete under ideal conditions to invent, destroy and restore the world of phenomenal reality.”


Kevin Stevens

The Death of a Soldier was written in January of 1991 when the Persian Gulf War had just begun. Wallace Stevens' poem reflects upon the devaluation of the individual in times of war. In setting the text, I have tried both to amplify the meaning of the poem as I perceive it, and to approximate, through musical means, the beauty and structural integrity of Wallace Stevens' work.


Miguel Chaqui

Juego was written in 1991 after I learned that I had been awarded the Eisener Prize at UC Berkeley, and was first performed at a concert in honor of the prize winners. Since the occasion was festive I tried to write a short piece in an untroubled style. The playful way in which the instruments participate in the piece suggested to me its title, which means “Game” in Spanish. Although the piece is playful, the first movement has a nervous contrapuntal quality, and the second movement begins darkly, with a plaintive violin solo over the other instruments.

Kevin Doe

Solstice Fragments: The first fragment was completed on the summer solstice while I was visiting the Florida coast. This fragment is based on a single melodic line which gets “tossed around” among the five performers. I finished the second fragment on the winter solstice back home in California. While the second fragment creates a sharp contrast, it nevertheless duplicates to a great extent the harmonic progression and binary form of the first fragment.

Cesar Andres Mateus-Vasquez

A Song Cycle

I. The Argument

In Blissful solitude; he then survey's

Hell and the Gulf between and Satan there

Coasting the wall of Heav'n on this side Night

In the dun Air sublime, and ready not

To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet

On the bare outside of this World


II. Can Death Be Sleep

Can Death be sleep, when life is but a dream,

And scenes of bliss pass as a phantom by?

The transient pleasures as a vision seem,

And yet we think the greatest pain's to die.


III. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Filled with the face of heaven, which from afar,

Comes down upon the waters! all its hues,

From the rich sunset to the rising star,

Their magical variety diffuse:

And now they change—

a paler shadow strews

Its mantle o'er the mountains; parting day

dies like the dolphin,

whom each pang imbues

With a new colour as it gasps away,

The last still loveliest, till -`tis gone—

and all is grey


The first poem from Milton's Paradise Lost depicts the culmination of Satan's long and arduous journey through the outer recesses of the underworld. The second text from Keats' “Can death be sleep when life is but a dream” asks eternal questions about life and death from the temporal and ephemeral perspective of life on earth. The third poem is both cumulative and retrospective. It is from Canto IV of Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and alludes to the history of man, to his empires, his folly, his region, his artistic accomplishments, to the totality of his endeavors, and metaphorically, to the inevitable loss of God.


Jonathan Santore

Divertimento: I began this work with the title, the formal constraints historically implied by it, and the motive which begins the piece, and from which most of its musical material is derived. I happened upon this motive while “noodling” on a colleague's piano; how much more diverting can you get?


Keith Kothman

G-R-K, for flute and string trio, is divided into five sections plus a short introduction. Propelled by the flute, melodic activity makes increasing attempts to dominate the music, but these attempts give way to more static interludes, never quite resolving anything. The work is named after my son, Graham. Both he and the piece arrived at about the same time.


Angel Jelliffe

The Chinese Teapot Teaches Patience, was written in 1989. The pentatonic main theme is gradually introduced in the slow opening section, and after a contrapuntal statement of the theme, the instruments are heard in various combinations in a series of brief episodes leading to a return of the main theme in full force. This climactic section is followed by a return of the “patient” spirit of the opening, with which the piece concludes.


ZELMAN BOKSER (Co-Music Director), composer and conductor, serves as Director of Instrumental Music at the University of California, Irvine. He has guest conducted in Poland, Switzerland, and the U.S. Bokser holds the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the Eastman School of Music where he also taught as a Mellon Post Doctoral Fellow. He was subsequently appointed Assistant Conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony. A recent recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, Bokser has been engaged to conduct orchestras in Taiwan and Mainland China.

Bokser has been the recipient of grants and awards from, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Council, and the Florida Fine Arts Council, the New York State Council for the Arts and elsewhere.

NICOLE A. PAIEMENT (Co-Music Director), conductor, is Director of Ensembles at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has guest conducted in Canada, France and the US. Paiement received her doctorate from the Eastman School of Music. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants including the National Endowment for the Arts and Canada Council of the Arts and has won numerous conducting competitions. Paiement is a recording artist with both Musical Heritage Society in the US and Entrada Records in Europe and has conducted numerous recordings under these labels.

MIGUEL CHAQUI, a Ph.D. candidate in composition at University of California, Berkeley was born in Berkeley in 1964, but grew up in Santiago, Chile. He received his B.A. in music and mathematics from Berkeley in 1987 and was awarded the DeLorenzo Prize for Melancolîa en las Familias and UC Berkeley's Eisener Award for achievement in the Arts in 1991. He has studied with Professors Andrew Imbrie, Edwin Dugger, and John Thow.

KEVIN DOE, is currently a doctoral student in composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He also studied composition and guitar at California State University, Hayward. His teachers have been Janice Giteck, Robert Basart, Frank la Rocca, Edward Applebaum, Stephen Mosko, JoAnn Kuchera-Morin, and William Kraft.

ELLEN RUTH HARRISON, is presently working on a Ph.D. in composition at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has studied with Edwin Dugger, Richard Feliciano, Andrew Imbrie and Olly Wilson. Ms. Harrison has received awards from the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, June in Buffalo, the Aspen Music School, and the Darmstadt Summer Music Courses. She has received a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, two Nicola De Lorenzo Prizes and, most recently, the Holtkamp-AGO Award in Organ Composition.

ANGELA JELLIFFE, is a graduate student at UCLA, working toward her Ph.D. in composition. Her teachers at UCLA have included William Kraft, Elaine Barkin and Roger Bourland. Her compositions include pieces for chamber ensembles, choral works, and solo piano pieces. Her orchestral piece Orion was read by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute Orchestra in 1989.

A native of Texas, KEITH KOTHMAN is currently working on his Ph.D. in composition at the University of California, San Diego, where he studies with Roger Reynolds. Prior to this, Kothman was a Fulbright scholar in Sweden, studying composition and electro-acoustic music with Lars-Gunnar Bodin at the Electronic Music Studios in Stockholm. He holds a B.M. and M.M. from the University of Texas in Austin.

CESAR ANDRES MATEUS-VASQUEZ, received his BM in 1983 from California State University, Northridge and was awarded the Master of Fine Arts degree by the California Institute of the Arts in 1985. In 1988-89 he studied at the University of California, Davis, where he also taught Jazz Studies. His compositions have been performed by Elizah Garth, Seculum Musicae, Rachel Rudich, Brian Pezzone, Daniel Koppleman and Ruth Neville, and the Cal Arts Twentieth Century Players.

JONATHAN SANTORE, a candidate for the Ph.D. in Music at UCLA, was born in 1963 in Greenville, Tennessee. He began the formal study of composition with Stephen Jaffe at Duke University, and holds degrees from Duke (AB, 1985) and The University of Texas at Austin (MM, 1987), where he studied with Eugene Kurtz and Donald Grantham. At UCLA, he has studied composition with Elaine Barkin and William Kraft.

KEVIN STEVENS, is a student in the M.A. program in music theory and composition at the University of California, Riverside. He is currently studying composition with John Crawford. Kevin was the recipient of a UC Regents' Fellowship in 1990, and has also received numerous awards for his performance as a double bassist in both classical and jazz idioms.

Jyoti Prather, Production Manager

Gregory Squires, Recording Engineer and Producer

Octagon recognizes the generous support of the University of California and the Inter-Campus committee for the Arts


P.O. Box 5011, Albany, NY 12205

Tel: 518.453.2203 FAX: 518.453.2205


Box 12, Warton, Carnforth, Lancashire LA5 9PD

Tel: 0524 735873 FAX: 0524 736448

© 1994 OCTAGON