Cohn/Goldstein/Davis/Stalvey: Music for String Quartet





California Composers


Cohn, Goldstein, Davis, Stalvey






STEPHEN COHN was born in Los Angeles into a family of accomplished musicians. He graduated from California State University at Northridge where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in classical guitar and composition. He spent a year in graduate school at UCLA studying composition and musicology. After leaving college, he became involved in the music industry as a songwriter, singer, guitarist and record producer with many recordings of his songs by his own groups and by others on labels such as MCA, CBS and Motown. His early work in film scoring, which included feature films and award winning documentaries, led to a renewed interest in more serious forms of symphonic and chamber composition. He was commissioned to write orchestral works by The New American Orchestra and by CBS Cable. In 1991 Eye of Chaos, his first string quartet, was premiered by the Arditti Quartet in Los Angeles and has, since then, received its European Premiere in Burssels by the new quartet, Chroma. His chamber orchestra work Noah's Rhythm was premiered in spring of 1994 at Bing Auditorium in The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He received an Emmy Award for his chamber orchestra score for the documentary, Dying With Dignity. He was also recently invited to compose for the theater; a new score was written for a play entitled The Sea Jewel.




Eye Of Chaos




Eye of Chaos is a single movement in which the order but not the direction of the structural elements is presented in a mirror image. There are four thematic areas which lead to a center piece and then appear in reverse order in freely developed form, following the center piece. The term thematic areas is used because the ideas, although distinct, will not all be heard as themes in the classic sense and one of the areas contains three ideas, broken into fragments, juxtaposed and then later developed separately.




There is a strong commitment to the communicative and emotional aspects of composition and an aversion to those that would attempt to bypass or omit the whole human being by focusing only on the cerebral. This being an early work by the composer, it shows this point of view, which blends tonal and atonal techniques with a new perspective, in its seminal stage.




The piece was inspired, in part, by two principles from Chaos Theory. One, that there is a predictable alternation in nature between patterned and apparently random movement and two, that self-same patterns in nature repeat themselves at different scales of size from micro to macro. This latter principle can be heard in the development of the third thematic area which is presented in counterpoint with itself at different levels of augmentation and diminution but generally the concepts are reflected emotionally and intuitively rather than literally. The discipline adhered to in the creative process is the Jungian principle of striving for a point of universality through focusing on the personal intuitive flow.




BURT GOLDSTEIN has been active as a composer, teacher, music administrator and computer consultant. He has written for concert stage, film and television. He holds a PhD in Composition from the University of California at Los Angeles, where he studied under Henri Lazarof and others, receiving many awards, including: the Henry Mancini Scholarship for Motion Picture/TV Composition, the Axel Stordahl Prize, the Intercampus Cultural Exchange, the Regents Patent Fund and the BMI Award. He received an NEH Fellowship for research at the Schoenberg Institute under Leonard Stein, and has twice been a Fellow at the Aspen Institute for Advanced Compositional Studies under Jacob Druckman and Bernard Rands.




For 17 years he taught theory, composition and electronic music at UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, El Camino College, Scripps College, and the California State University campuses at Long Beach and Los Angeles.




He currently lives in Santa Monica, where he composes, acts as president of the Independent Composers Association and runs a computer consultation business, which serves musicians and small businesses. He writes for Keyboard and Electronic Musician magazines, and Que Publications for Prentice Hall. He has composed and produced synthesizer scores for documentaries on A&E, and for trailers for MGM/UA, Samuel Goldwyn and others.




He has also won a 1994 commission sponsored by the S. Mark Taper Foundation, two American Music Center (Margaret Jory) Grants, two Pacific Composers Association Competitions and a 1992 Fellowship at the Ernest Bloch Festival in Oregon. His works have been performed at the L.A. Festival, (Peter Sellars, Artistic Director), the L.A. County Museum of Art, the Pacific Rim Festival, at the Gran Place in Brussels, the CalArts International Music Festival, the SCREAM Festival, the Aspen Festival, the CMS National Meeting in San Diego and elsewhere by such groups as XTET, the California E.A.R. Unit, the Chroma Quartet, and the Arditti Quartet.




Aspen Quartet




Begun at the Aspen Institute for Compositional Studies, and completed at the request of the Arditti Quartet after they gave it a public reading at USC, the work is dedicated to the group. An American Music Center Margaret Jory Composer Assistance Grant is also gratefully acknowledged.




Donald R. Davis has enjoyed a successful and widely varied musical career, not only as a seminal and prolific composer of contemporary orchestral and chamber works for the concert stage, but also as a versatile dramatic composer and conductor of film and television music. He was born in 1957 in Anaheim, California, where he began the study of instrumental music at the age of nine, and composition at the age of twelve. Serious musical education followed at the University of California at Los Angeles, in addition to individual study with numerous composers including Henri Lazarof. His compositions have most recently been performed at the Monday Evening Concerts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as at numerous contemporary music concerts and festivals by ensembles such as XTET, the Arditti Quartet, the Rundfunk Kammer Orchester of Amsterdam, and at recitals of artists such as Elizabeth Baker and Roger Lebow from whom he regularly receives commissions.




Mr. Davis has earned a great deal of recognition of achievement including a first prize in the ICA Commission Competition (funded by the S. Mark Taper Foundation), a Prize in the 1983 International Gaudeamus Musicweek, a Second Prize in the 1983 Valentino Bucchi Composition Competition for String Quartet, three BMI Awards to Student Composers, two ASCAP Foundation Grants to Young Composers, a Second Prize in the Symposium V for New Bank Music, and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Dramatic Television Series.




Bleeding Particles




Bleeding Particles for String Quartet emerged from a search for a new form of expression that both embraces tradition and


aggressively looks to the future. The work is based on a tripartite structure formed by a prelude, interlude and postlude, which are variations on a metered glissando in a unison rhythm, in between which free, episodic statements are interwoven. These metered glissandi were meant to interfuse in the manner of watercolors bleeding together when applied to a wet surface, yet retaining the particulate texture of a coarse brush. Bleeding Particles was a prizewinner in the Valentino Bucchi International String Quartet Composition Competition, and also received an ASCAP Grant to Young Composers.




Dorrance Stalvey was born in Georgetown, South Carolina and is largely self-taught in composition, a pursuit that he began in his mid-twenties after receiving a Masters degree in clarinet from the Cincinnati College of Music. He has since created works in various media and forms: chamber, solo, vocal, orchestral, electronic, music-theater, multi-media, and dance. His works have been performed throughout the world, including performances at major music centers in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Australia, Japan, China, Russia, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and England.




Stalvey has also been actively involved in the promotion of contemporary music through the many concerts he has produced and presented as the director of Los Angeles's venerable Monday Evening Concerts (the series received a 1991 and 1994 ASCAP-Chamber Music America Awards for Adventuresome Programming). In addition, he has been on the music faculties at Immaculate Heart College, Pomona College, and the University of Southern California. Among his honors and awards are three NEA Composer Fellowship Grants (the most recent one for 1994-95), a League-ISCM Commendation, and a Prince Ranier de Monaco Composition Award. He is currently active as composer and concert producer, and is Director of Music Programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.




String Quartet 1989




String Quartet 1989 was composed in the fall of 1989 for Irvine Arditti, and is dedicated to the Arditti String Quartet. It was first performed January 29, 1990 by the Arditti String Quartet on the Monday Evening Concerts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.




My thoughts and feelings about the ensemble of string quartet are conditioned by a double sense of the medium: the homogeneity of this unique consort of instruments which has the ability to "speak" as a single voice, on the one hand; and the distinctive separateness of its individual parts, each of which may have its own unique personality, on the other. So when I began thinking about the piece, my initial focus was drawn to finding a way to utilize and enhance this duality, structurally as well as dramatically. I therefore created sets of pitch-source-units (melodically and harmonically) that would be unique to each of the participant components of the medium: in this instance, the individual members of the ensemble, and, the quartet as a group. The resultant shifting back and forth of four individuals in dialogue and the four in group monologue often creates sudden dramatic changes in the emotional flow of the music from discourse to concourse to discourse, etc. Repetitions of the different pitch-source-units within these repetitive juxtapositions create the eventual recognition of certain "objects" of identity, as they return again and again: individual chords and sequences of chords, and even entire sections (the latter perhaps giving the illusion of


rondo-like form).




The work is in one movement and sectional in its larger formal structure, but the sectioning is not always discernible, especially if there is no sudden dramatic shift. The music is in a state of continuous flow and development, as are the individual components of the medium, as the drama of the dialogue unfolds; the sections relating to the whole in much the same way as do the individual units, from which all the material grows.




The Arditti String Quartet




Since its foundation by Irvine Arditti in 1974, the Arditti String Quartet has acquired a world-wide reputation as preeminent interpreters of contemporary music, and of earlier Twentieth-Century music. With a handful of exceptions, the Quartet has worked with every contemporary composer whose music they play: they consider this vital to the process of interpreting modern music. Part of their objectives is to encourage composers of all styles to compose for the string quartet. As a result, each season brings a fresh crop of first performances for the Arditti Quartet. New premieres in recent years included works by Aperghis, Boesmans, Bryars, Bussotti, Cage, Carter, de Pablo, Donatoni, Dusapin, Feldman, Ferneyhough, Gubaidulina, Rihm, Scelsi, Sciarrino, Sorensen and Xenakis. Future commissions to be premiered by the Arditti String Quartet include works by Birtwistle, Carter, Ligeti, Stockhausen, and Takemitsu.




The Arditti String Quartet has given masterclasses in many countries for performers and composers, and since 1982 its members have been resident string tutors at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music. The Quartet discography numbers well over 30 compact discs available worldwide. Many of these have been awarded prizes by the world's press: among these are the 'choc' given by le Monde de la Musique for their compact disc of John Cage's music, the Grand Prix du Disque Academie Charles Cros and the International Record Critics' Award for their Elliot Carter recordings, and the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis for their recording of Henze, Rihm and Xenakis string music. In January 1991 their second compact disc for the New York based Gramavision was nominated for a Grammy Award.






The Independent Composers Association has been a non-profit corporation since 1978, supporting composers by producing concerts, workshops and a newsletter, and awarding grants and commissions. Membership is open to all.




For information: 2511 California Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90403




ph: 310-828-3004 fax: 310-829-5923 Internet: drburt




Eye of Chaos and String Quartet 1989 were recorded at All Saint's Church in Touting, England. Francois Eckert, engineer. Aspen Quartet and Bleeding Particles were recorded in the Warren Studios of the University of California, San Diego. Ron Quillen, engineer. Record Mastering: Guy Costa. Audio sequencing: Donald Davis.




Produced by Stephen Cohn and Burt Goldstein for the I.C.A. This project made possible by the sponsorship of ASCAP, Joan Palevsky, the William H. and Mattie Wattis Harris Foundation and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.




Cover art: Untitled Painting by Sharon Ellis, 1989. Private Collection, Pasadena, California. Courtesy of Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, California.




Photo credits: Evie Sullivan (Cohn); Cynthia Fruchtman (Goldstein); Aaron Rapoport (Davis); Leo Smit (Stalvey)




The ICA wishes to thank Barbara Scales of Latitude 45 Arts Promotion in Montreal for her assistance.








The Arditti Quartet




Irvine Arditti, David Alberman, violin


Garth Knox, viola · Rohan de Saram, cello






Stephen Cohn




Eye of Chaos (11:55)




Burt Goldstein




Aspen Quartet (7:19)




Donald Davis




Bleeding Particles (12:52)




Dorrance Stalvey




String Quartet 1989 (18:03)




Total Time = 50:20