SONOR Ensemble plays Steiger, Ferneyhough, Yuasa & Reynolds

for woodwind sextet


When the founders of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) set out to develop a Department of Music, they decided to start with composers and to leave it to them to attract performers and scholars to an environment that could be a home for exploration and invention, and unceasing challenge and debate. The intention was to have musicians as committed to new perspectives and discoveries as, say, UCSD's physicists. Even before the department was established, Harry Partch was invited for a stay as visiting artist, and in a matter of days he had undergraduates happily clanging away on his singular instruments to the dismay of those who had anticipated string quartets. Then in 1966, things really began with the arrival of the first faculty members, Will Ogdon and Robert Erickson, who promptly recruited Kenneth Gaburo, Pauline Oliveros, and, a little later, Roger Reynolds.

To test their ideas, the composers added top-flight instrumentalists, several of whom were themselves composers. Together, in a dilapidated building that had once been a Marine Corps mess hall and that still smelled of mutton, they made music that often confounded the physicists. And more was to come. In 1975, after the department moved into decent quarters, Bernard Rands organized the ensemble SONOR to present not only the music of the UCSD vanguard, but also that of contemporaries such as Crumb, Foss, and Wuorinen. Since then, the ensemble has hosted an annual festival, bringing to the campus figures as diverse as Krenek and Cage, Nancarrow and Xenakis.

The spirit of the department, the promise (now fulfilled) of exceptional facilities, and the opportunity to associate with invigorating colleagues have helped to bring in Josi Yuasa, Brian Ferneyhough, Rand Steiger, and, most recently, Harvey Sollberger. Over time, the department has been extended to include research and instruction in music humanities, psychoacoustics, and the most advanced electronic and computer technology. But, as in the beginning, it is the composers such as those represented here who, most of all, have established and maintained its definitive character and development.

- John L. Stewart


The title, Double Concerto, refers not just to the two soloists and the two orchestras, but to the work's form as well. Within the piece are two concertos, one for each soloist. Both use similar harmonic material but differ in context and mood. There are ten sections:

1. introduction

2. piano concerto

3. piano cadenza

4. episode and transition

5. percussion concerto

6. percussion cadenza

7. development (weaving all previous sections)

8. double cadenza

9. simultaneous recapitulation (of sections 2 and 5)

10. finale

Double Concerto was premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in November, 1987, with John Harbison conducting. The soloists, to whom the work was originally dedicated, were Daniel Druckman and Alan Feinberg, who subsequently performed it with the American Composers Orchestra in New York.

Rand Steiger (b. New York City, 1957) has conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, CalArts 20th Century Players, SONOR, and the California EAR Unit, including many premiere performances. As a composer he has received The Rome Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Composers Fellowship, and commissions and performances from many ensembles including the St. Paul and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras, Speculum Musicae, Zeitgeist, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with which he served as Composer Fellow for two seasons. He joined the UCSD music faculty in 1987. His works are recorded on Crystal, New Albion, and New World.


Prometheus for woodwind sextet was composed in 1967 and given its first performance by the Arradon Ensemble, directed by the composer, in London in the same year. As its title obliquely suggests, the piece is concerned with the nature of creative volition, freedom of choice, and their manifestation as sonic form. It is broadly divisible into three main sections, the second of which, an incisively mercurial scherzo, is followed by a darkly ruminative third section culminating in a harmonically hyper-saturated "chorale." The work's highly-wrought polyphonic textures are framed by cadenza-like solos for clarinet and piccolo respectively, the work being concluded by a third such passage assigned to the piccolo E-flat clarinet.

Brian Ferneyhough (b. Coventry, England, 1943) received formal training at the Birmingham School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, London, and was subsequently awarded a scholarship to study with Klaus Huber in his Master Class at the Basel Conservatory, Switzerland. After his move to mainland Europe, his works began to receive wide recognition and were performed at many major international festivals, such as Royan, La Rochelle, Donaueschingen, Holland Festival, Gaudeamus, Huddersfield, Paris Autumn Festival, ISCM, Strassbourg, etc. In 1984, he was made Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and was named honorary Associate of the RAM in 1990. In addition to his regular teaching at the Freiburg Musikhochschule (1973-86), the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (1986-87) and the University of California at San Diego (since 1987), he has given courses in many European and North American institutions, most notably the Darnstadt Summer School, where he has been Composition Course Coordinator since 1984.

Mutterings by Joji Yuasa

Mutterings was composed for the Elsinor Players and premiered by them at the Lerchenborg Musik Tage in Denmark in July 1988. It was commissioned by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. The work is based on the psychotic text from R.D. Laing's collection entitled Do You Love Me? The text consists of five sections; each movement is indicated by the composer as follows: 1. Erratically 2. Loosely 3. Confidently 4. Under Obsession 5. Catastrophe. This composition is located in the extension of one of the composer's keen interests, namely, meta-communication in spoken language as musical conveyance.

Joji Yuasa (b. Koriyama, Japan, 1929) is a self-taught composer who worked in the group "Experimental Workshop" in Tokyo in the early 1950s. He has received a Japan Society Fellowship and was composer-in-residence in the Berlin Artist Program sponsored by the DAAD. He has been awarded commissions from the Koussevitzsky Music Foundation, Saarland Radio Symphony Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra, et al. Yuasa has participated in New Music Concerts in Toronto, the Asian Pacific Festival in New Zealand, and Composers Workshop in Amsterdam. His music has been performed at the ISCM World Music Days and the Warsaw Autumn Festival. Yuasa has taught in the Department of Music at UCSD since 1981.

Not Only Night by Roger Reynolds

Not Only Night was built up around Schoenberg's dark and gripping treatment of Nacht in Pierrot Lunaire. It involved the setting of two of Otto Erich Hartleben's recastings of Albert Giraud's original fifty-poem set, texts that the master had bypassed in his work. Not Only Night was written in response to an imaginative design by Leonard Stein.

I established two outriggers to Schoenberg's central vessel, each with a song and a transitional interlude. The overall design of my miniature triptych includes two new songs: "Abend," which begins the work, and "Morgen," which brings it to and leads from my first song into the Schoenbergian heart of the matter. Complementarily, a duet of natural harmonics between the violin and the cello precedes the beginning of "Morgen," providing a second interlude that links it to Nacht. Each interlude has set into it a germinal instrumental passage: that during the first (for piccolo and E-flat clarinet) is the source of the primary accompaniment for the vocal line in "Morgen's”; that during the second (for flute alone) is the origin of "Abend's" accompanying line.

Not Only Night is a fabric woven of derivation and commentary. Prefiguration and aftermath as well as surreal shattering and rejuxtaposing were used in the newly composed music. The pitch materials were derived from Schoenberg's harmonic behaviors in Nacht.

- Roger Reynolds

Roger Reynolds (b. Detroit, Michigan, 1934) was trained in both music and science. Although his aesthetic outlook was shaped by the American experimental tradition, it was also influenced by the Second Viennese School. His active career (in Europe and Asia as well as the United States) has included not only composing but writing, lecturing, organizing musical events, and teaching. His works range from purely instrumental and vocal music to computer, mixed media and theatrical compositions. Reynolds has been honored by the Pulitzer Prize and by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Library of Congress, and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, among others. He has been a member of the UCSD music faculty since 1969.


SONOR was established in 1975 as a forum for the presentation of new music by the faculty of the University of California, San Diego. Resident composers with the ensemble have included Erickson, Ferneyhough, Francois, Ogdon, Rands, Reynolds, Steiger, and Yuasa, most of who have written new works for the ensemble. All SONOR programs, including the recordings on this disc, are presented by its extended membership of UCSD graduate students, associate performers, and guest artists.

Carol Plantamura, soprano, is considered by many critics to be one of the foremost interpreters of both 17th and 20th century music. She has collaborated with some of the leading composers of our time including Berio, Boulez, Globokar, Oliveros, Foss, Jolas, Ogdon, Rands, Erickson, and Reynolds. She has continued performing internationally since coming to UCSD in 1978.

Aleck Karis, piano, at home with both contemporary and classical works, has recently appears at festivals in Bath, Geneva, Sao Paulo, Los Angeles, Miami, Caramoor, and the Warsaw Autumn Festival. He is the pianist for Speculum Musicae and has widely recorded. His teachers include Artur Balsam, Beveridge Webster, and William Daghlian. In 1990, Karis became a member of the UCSD Music Faculty.

Steven Schick, percussion, has performed as soloist throughout the U.S.A., Europe, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand in addition to touring with pianist James Avery. Schick has received Fulbright and Annette Kade Fellowships, the Kranichstein Prize in the American Wind Symphony Competition. He recorded David Lang's The Anvil Chorus for CRI. Schick joined the UCSD Music Faculty in 1990.

Harvey Sollberger, conductor, has been active as a composer, conductor, flutist, teacher, and organizer of concerts since the early 1960s. He was a founder of the Group for Contemporary Music and, with Charles Wuorinen, served as its co-director for twenty-seven years. Recently, he has been the featured artist at the Interlink Festival in Tokyo, composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome, and composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Sollberger left his position as Professor of Music at Indiana University to join the Music Faculty at UCSD in 1992.

John Fonville, conductor/flutist, was co-director of SONOR from 1988-1992. As a flutist, he has performed contemporary music as a soloist and with ensembles in the United States and Canada. On the faculty of UCSD since 1983, he has also taught at the University of Illinois, where he received a doctorate. He has been a member of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Early Music Ensemble, Roulette, and now works with The Tone Road Ramblers, the University of California Baroque Ensemble, and Tom North.

Prometheus (1967): Publisher: C.F. Peters. (PRS) Recorded February 23 and 24, 1992.

Not Only Night (1988): Publisher: C.F. Peters. (BMI) Recorded December 1 and 2, 1992.

Mutterings (1988): Publisher: Schott Japan. (JASRAC) Recorded October 13 and 14, 1992.

Double Concerto (1986): Publisher: Leisure Planet Music. (ASCAP) Recorded May 27 through June 1, 1992.

All tracks recorded in Warren Studios, University of California, San Diego.

Producer: John Fonville

Recording Engineer: Josef Kucera

Editor: Josef Kucera

Art Direction/Production: Ladi Odeku

Cover Design: Kingsley Parker

Special Thanks: Bonnie Harkins, Kathryn Martin, and Jason Stanyek of the University of California as San Diego Music Department.