Octagon (Volume II)

OCTAGON (Volume 2)

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. This particular repertoire was performed on an east coast tour in Washington, Philadelphia and New York.

Kevin Doe

crazy jay blue

crazy jay blue demon laugshrieking at me

your scorn of easily

hatred of timid & loathing for (dull all

regular righteous

comfortable) unworlds

thief crook cynic


fragment of heaven)


raucous rogue &

vivid voltaire

you beautiful anarchist

(i salute thee)

e.e. cummings

Brian Banks


Forest Echoes began as a solo piece for bass clarinet, written for an outdoor concert at UC Berkeley. After its premiere I decided to create a version for small ensemble in which the other instruments reinforce, albeit in an abstract way, the bass clarinet's slowly unfolding melody. Upon finishing the piece I recalled a quote from Thoreau's Walden which seemed to capture the essence of this process of transformation: “There came to me in this case a melody which the air had strained, and which had conversed with every leaf and needle of the wood, that portion of the sound which the elements had taken up and modulated and echoed from vale to vale.”


Timothy Melbinger

A Lullaby

The din of work is subdued,

another day has westered

and mantling darkness arrived.

Peace! Peace! Devoid your portrait

of its vexations and rest.

Your daily round is done with, you've gotten the garbage out,

answered some tiresome letters

and paid a bill by return,

all frettolosamente.

Now you have licence to lie,

naked, curled like a shrimplet,

jacent in bed, and enjoy

its cosy micro-climate:

Sing, Big Baby, sing lullay

The old Greeks got it all wrong:

Narcissus is an oldie,

tarned by time, released at last

from lust for other bodies,

rational and reconciled

for many years you envied

the hirsute, the he-man type.

No longer: now you fondle

your almost feminine flesh

with mettle satisfaction,

imagining that you are

sinless and all-sufficient,

snug in the den of yourself,

Madonna and Bambino:

Sing Big Baby, sing lullay.

Let your last thinks all be thanks:

praise your parents who gave you

a Super-Ego of strength

that saves you so much bother,

digit friends and dear them all,

then pay fair attribution

to your age, to having been

born where your were. In boyhood

you were permitted to meet

beautiful old contraptions,

soon to be banished from the earth,

saddle-tank loks, beam-engines

and over-shot waterwheels.

Yes, love, you have been lucky:

Sing, Big Baby, sing lullay.

Now for oblivion: let

the belly-mind take over

down below the diaphragm,

the domain of the Mothers,

They who guard the Sacred Gates.

without whose wordless warning

soon the verbalizing I

becomes a vicious despot,

lewd, incapable of love,

disdainful, status-hungry.

Should dreams haunt you, heed them not,

for all, both sweet and horrid,

are jokes in dubious taste,

too jejune to have truck with.

Sleep, Big Baby, sleep your fill.

W.H. Auden

Auden's “A Lullaby” seems to me a bedtime song for an adult. I have created a duet consisting of a sedated listener in the instruments which react, agree, and disagree with the reader's soothing verses. A drowsy atmosphere prevails, although one may hear many moments of musical “stretching” along the way.

Jon Vogl


Duo for Viola and Cello received its premiere in 1988 at the second annual “Four Guys with Pencils” concert in Los Angeles, California. The work incorporates many of the possible textural combinations inherent to the viola and cello and exposes the lyrical high register of the cello during a brief solo towards the end of the piece. The structure includes a recurring thematic passage which separates several contrasting interludes and closes with a climactic “ti-jai” cadence derived from the improvisatory rhythmic structure of India Raga.


Eric Sawyer


Columbine was composed in Aspen, Colorado, where the state flower, from which it takes its name, grows in abundance. Columbine is also a character in the commedia dell'arte; one of the songs from Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire bears her name. Since my short chamber work utilizes the Pierrot ensemble (plus percussion), I hoped to incorporate a bit of the sauciness of the lover of Harlequin, as well as the jagged asymmetry of the flower.


David Pereira


In Archery (1991), the playful and light-hearted flute, the graceful and lyrical clarinet, the intense and impassioned cello are each featured in turn, leading the way through three contrasting episodes. These episodes are preceded and separated by ritornello music which is based on a single recurring chord. The coda synthesizes music from the rest of the piece in a way that is both surprising and familiar. As for the title, this divertimento was originally written for three musicians - sisters - named Archer.


Erik Jespersen


The engine is killing the track, the track is silver,

It stretches into the distance. It will be eaten nevertheless.

Its running is useless.

At nightfall there is the beauty of drowned fields,

Dawn gilds the farmers like pigs,

Swaying slightly in their thick suits,

White towers of Smithfield ahead,

Fat haunches and blood on their minds.

There is no mercy in the glitter of cleavers,

The butcher's guillotine that whispers: 'How's this, how's this?'

In the bowl the hare is aborted,

Its baby head out of the way, embalmed in spice,

Flayed of fur and humanity.

Let us eat it like Plato's afterbirth,

Let us eat it like Christ.

These are the people that were important—

Their round eyes, their teeth, their grimaces

On a stick that rattles and clicks, a counterfeit snake.

Shall the hood of the cobra appall me—

The loneliness of its eye, the eye of the mountains

Through which the sky eternally threads itself?

The world is blood-hot and personal

Dawn says, with its blood-flush.

There is no terminus, only suitcases

Out of which the same self unfolds like a suit

Bald and shiny, with pockets of wishes,

Notions and tickets, short circuits and folding mirrors.

I am mad, calls the spider, waving its many arms.

And in truth it is terrible,

Multiplied in the eyes of the flies.

They buzz like blue children

In nets of the infinite,

Roped in at the end by the one

Death with its many sticks.

Sylvia Plath

This is the third piece in a four-song cycle on texts by Sylvia Plath; all four poems were written January 28, 1963. TOTEM depicts Plath's rendition of an overgrown society; the song series examines conflicts between nature, man, and technology. We see the human race as an excluded middle in this work, moving away from the subjectivity of the first two songs into an objective commentary, the commentary itself becoming a structural symbolic pin, moreover a candidate not for analysis, but for worship. The natives of Western society dance around this totem of vertical faces, each reflected in every carving.


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.

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.

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

BRIAN BANKS, a native of Seattle, Washington, holds degrees from the Peabody Institute of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory, where his “Winter Song” won the school's orchestra prize in 1988. That same year his “Sextet” was requested by the San Francisco Symphony for a New and Unusual Music concert, and recent commissions include works for the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus and the UC San Diego Collegium Musicum. In 1992 he began an internship with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, under the direction of Stephen Mosko. He is currently in the Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley, where his teachers have included Andrew Imbrie, Edwin Dugger, Richard Feliciano, and Olly Wilson.

TIMOTHY MELBINGER was born in Chicago in 1968. He completed undergraduate degrees in piano and political science at UC Irvine, promptly returning to refine his compositional craft in pursuit of a Masters degree. He is currently studying with James Newton and Bernard Gilmore and is drawing inspiration from his recent marriage.

JON VOGL, a Ph.D. student at UCLA, has been active as a composer, conductor, and performer. At UC San Diego Vogl worked extensively in the electronic music studio and served as an accompanist for the dance department. He has received awards from the Henry Mancini Foundation, and the Atwater Kent Foundation. Vogl has studied composition with Paul Reale, William Kraft, Ian Krouse, and Roger Bourland,

ERIC SAWYER's music has been heard on both coasts and in Europe, including performances at Tanglewood, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Montanea Festival, and Sanders Theater in Cambridge. He has composed recent commissioned works for the New York Youth Symphony, the Boston Chamber Ensemble, and the Alaria Chamber Ensemble. He is also the recipient of fellowships from Harvard University and the Charles Ives Center for American Music. Currently, he is at work on a new opera. Sawyer holds degrees in music from Harvard and Columbia and is completing a doctorate at UC Davis.

DAVID PEREIRA was born in New York City in 1963. He received his B.A. in music and English from Oberlin College, where he studied composition with Richard Hoffmann and Edward Miller, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in music from the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied with Andrew Imbrie, Edwin Dugger, and John Thow. His music has been performed at the Midwest composers Symposium and by Earplay of San Francisco. Currently he teaches in the Music Department at UC Berkeley.

ERIK JESPERSEN received his Music Composition Bachelors Degree from Connecticut College, where he studied under Noel Zahler, David Vayo, and David Koblitz; in addition, he worked, he worked with Bernard Rands while visiting Harvard for a semester. He is presently enrolled in the M.A. program at UCSD, studying with Rand Steiger and Roger Reynolds.

Tom Adams, Production Manager

Ron Reinberg, Tour 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