Paul Freeman IntroducesÂ… Volume 9



Paul Freeman Introduces. . .


Exotic Concertos




Jan Bach


Morton Gould


Gustavo Leone


Ricardo Lorenz




Czech National Symphony Orchestra


Paul Freeman, Music Director


Liam Teague, Steelpan Lane Alexander, Tap Dancer


Jana Bouskova, Harp Ed Harrison, Maracas






Jan Bach Concerto for Steelpan and Orchestra


Jan Bach was born in Forrest, Illinois in 1937 and studied at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where he received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition. He has been a member of the music faculty at Northern Illinois University since 1966. Dr. Bach has received numerous awards, grants, and commissions, and has written for virtually every live medium of vocal and instrumental music. The composer writes the following notes about his Steelpan Concerto:


“The solo part of the Steelpan Concerto was actually written for soprano pan, a steel instrument which usually plays the primary part in the Caribbean steel bands. The work was composed in the late summer of 1994 for Liam Teague, a young musician from Trinidad whose musicianship inspired the work, and with the financial assistance of the Woodstock Chimes Foundation, Garry and Diane Kvistad, presidents. It is also an homage to Al O'Connor and the NIU Steel Band — one of the oldest such university groups in existence —and to the artistry of steel drum builder Cliff Alexis, whose instruments feature incredible intonation and tone.


The work was conceived in terms of three distinctly different accompaniments to back up the solo pan player: piano, steel band, and full orchestra. It was also written in such a way that additional parts from the steel band could be added to augment the soloist and his accompanying forces in orchestral performances. Its idiom is a popular one, similar in some extent to the music indigenous to the Caribbean.


The work is in two main sections connected by an extended solo cadenza. The title of the first movement, Reflections, is a description of its musical content, style, and tempo. It also carries additional meaning: in some countries, `reflection' is a synonym for pealing, the action of striking a bell. The second movement, Toccata (touch piece) also carries a double meaning. It is not only an opportunity for the soloist to display his machine-rhythm speed, accuracy and phenomenal dynamic control; it is also a connection to that Baroque past with which the name of the composer — despite all efforts to the contrary — is eternally associated.”


Hailed as the “Paganini of the Pan,” Liam Teague has distinguished himself as the recipient of many awards in his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago. In the fall of 1992 he was the co-winner of the National Steelband Festival solo championship, and has also won championships for his skill on the violin and the recorder. Along with performing for heads of state and dignitaries of his country, Teague has also performed for Prince Edward of Great Britain and Carlos Andres Perez, former President of Venezuela.


Teague's international performances include appearances in the United States, Italy, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Taiwan, Canada, Barbados and Jamaica. Under the baton of Dr. Paul Freeman, Teague with the Chicago Sinfonietta gave the world premiere of Jan Bach's Concerto for Steelpan and Orchestra in 1995. He has since played the piece with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in Prague, the Sinfonia Da Camera, the Northwest Indiana Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and with the Chicago Sinfonietta at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. In April 1998 Teague won the Saint Louis Symphony Volunteers Association Young Artists Concerto Competition and made his debut with the symphony in November of that year. To date Teague has recorded three compact discs: Hands Like Lightning (1993), Emotions of Steel (1996) and Impressions (1998). Many of his original compositions appear on these albums. Liam Teague graduated in May 1997 with a Bachelor of Music degree from Northern Illinois University and completed his Master of Music degree at the same institution under the tutelage of Dean G. Allan O'Connor and Clifford Alexis in May of 1999. He is presently a member of the NIU faculty.


Morton Gould Concerto for Tap Dancer and Orchestra


In a career spanning six decades, Morton Gould has made a significant contribution to nearly every aspect of American music. As a composer, he has convincingly mixed elements of jazz and folk music with the classical tradition. His music has been performed by major orchestras in the US and Europe, often under his own leadership, and he has been a prolific creator of radio, film and television scores. He is the past president of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).


Gould's music derives much of its character from his fertile rhythmic imagination, and many of his finest scores have been written for the dance medium. Writing for both ballet and Broadway, he has worked with such luminaries as Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine. Gould's flare for Americana and his passion for dance came together in his unique composition of 1952, the Tap Dance Concerto. Inspired by the percussive quality of the tap medium, Gould's concerto is typically inventive in mixing musical tradition with modern American culture. While Gould notates a throughout designed part for his soloist, he allows the dancer great freedom in elaborating the written rhythms and in creating his or her own body movement and choreography. The concerto begins with a Toccata in which the talents of the assembled musicians are vividly displayed, highlighted by the sharp rhythmic presence of the tap dancer. In the Pantomime, the most theatrical of the four movements, the tap of the dancer's shoe is barely heard. Instead, the soloist creates an original pantomime based on the composer's stage directions and rhythmic indications. Gould looks to tradition in the Minuet, interlocking the three-beat dance pattern with the relaxing tapping of the soloist. In tandem with the orchestra's musical strings and a singing solo violin, this movement draws a wonderful lyrical effect from the dancer's subdued accents. Gould again pays homage to the concerto tradition with a concluding Rondo. Over the orchestra's exuberant accompaniment, the dancer is showcased in a vigorous and rousing conclusion.


Lane Alexander is an internationally acclaimed tap dancer, choreographer, and teacher whose career spans over three decades. He co-founded and directs the world's largest annual festival of tap and percussive dance — the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, directed the 2000 PBS documentary Juba! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance, and currently teaches at Northwestern University. Alexander first performed Gould's Tap Dance Concerto in 1992 with Chicago Sinfonietta Music Director Paul Freeman. This performance — hailed as “virtuoso” by Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune — celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Concerto's premier with the Rochester Philharmonic in 1952. He has been commissioned by Warwick University in England to premiere a new concerto to be written by David N. Baker and performed at Warwick in 2004.


Gustavo Leone Harp Concerto


Gustavo Leone was born in Buenos Aires in October 1956 and grew up in Argentina and Costa Rica where he was strongly influenced by the popular music of Latin America. He studied at the Catholic University of Argentina with Gerardo Gandini and Marta Lambertini and at the University of Chicago, which awarded him a Ph.D. degree, with Ralph Shapey and Shulamit Ran. Presently Leone is a Professor of Composition at Columbia College in Chicago. He has been in residence at the International Harp Congress in Seattle (1997) and with the Chicago Philharmonic (1998). Leone is a recipient of the Walter Hinrichsen Award given by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Paul Revere Award given by the American Society of Music Publishers. Many ensembles have performed and commissioned his music including Concertante di Chicago, the Rembrandt Chamber Players, and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. His music is included in the catalogues of C.F. Peters, New York and Lyon and Healy, Chicago.


Leone's Harp Concerto was commissioned and premiered in 1994 by Concertante di Chicago with Elizabeth Cifani as soloist. This concerto is in three movements in a fast-slow-fast design. The first movement, Danza, is based on two contrasting motives, one of five notes and the other of six. These motives follow each other in an interaction that leads to the cadenza and climax of the movement. The second movement, Canción, is a three-part song form with its apex in the tutti section towards the end of the movement. The third movement, Marcha, is a march in five beat meter. This movement starts with the repetitive martial section followed by a lyrical one that brings back the theme from the second movement. After alternating new material with that previously heard, the movement ends with an orchestral gesture based on its first rhythmic motive. The work has strong rhythmic content, showing the influences of the dance, and is extremely complex and virtuosic for the soloist.


Jana Bouskova has won a number of coveted awards including top prizes in the USA International Harp Competition (1992), Maria Damm Rensch Prize in the USA International Harp Competition (1989), Concours International de Musique de Chambre de Paris (France 1998) and TM Torneo Internazionale di Musica (Italy 1999). Jana Bouskova was born in Prague in 1970 to a musical family. She finished her studies at the Prague Conservatory and the University of Ostrava with her mother, Prof. Libuse Vachalova, and studied at the prestigious Indiana University with Prof. Susann McDonald. Ms. Bouskova has appeared as solo artist with many of the world's leading orchestras and has been invited to many international music festivals. She has performed widely in concerts around the world (USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Israel, Spain, etc.). Her debut recital at Lincoln Center in New York in 1993 was a great success. She has made many recordings as well as radio and TV appearances, and is a professor at the Prague Conservatory. Ms. Bouskova was appointed as the Artistic Chairman of the Seventh World Harp Congress (Prague 1999).


Ricardo Lorenz Pataruco: Concerto for Maracas and Orchestra


Ricardo Lorenz was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela in May 1961 and is considered one of the most prominent Venezuelan composers of his generation. Lorenz's orchestral compositions have been performed in the USA by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, New World Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, among others, and by orchestras in Venezuela, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Sweden and the Czech Republic. He has received awards and commissions from Meet-the-Composer Midwest, Barlow Endowment, ASCAP, Concert Artists Guild, Ravinia Festival, and the Organization of American States (OAS). Lorenz is on the music faculty at Richard Daley College, holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Chicago, and studied composition with Juan Orrego-Salas and Shulamit Ran. His works are published by MMB Music and can be heard on Arabesque Recordings, Doublemoon Records, Urtex Digital Classics, and Indiana University LAMC series. He writes the following about Pataruco:


“I admit, the idea sounds preposterous at first. A concerto for maracas and orchestra? You have to be kidding! I guess that's why I titled this work Pataruco, in order to cater to the skeptic. In Venezuelan slang, Pataruco is the nickname given to someone or something provocative and cocky to the point of appearing ill-mannered or in bad taste. However, when one considers the unusual circumstances surrounding the gestation of this concerto for maracas, the idea seems only natural, almost inevitable.


Those silly-looking, avocado-shaped gourds seen in vintage LP covers of pseudo-tropical music — and most often heard clumsily shaken by Carmen Miranda wannabees — do not even begin to compare to the beauty and sonic depth of the instrument. In Venezuela, the joke goes, maracas are such a cultural fixture that the name of the national's capital had to be changed to `C'aracas in order not to make this fixation so obvious. This onomastic relation is pure coincidence, of course, but the truth is that playing the maracas in Venezuela has developed into a highly virtuosic art form which is considered by connoisseurs as one of the world's most sophisticated vernacular percussion techniques.


One of these connoisseurs is Chicago's Lyric Opera percussionist Ed Harrison, for whom the concerto was composed. A native of New Jersey, Ed Harrison learned to play the maracas in the typical Venezuelan style during his tenure as percussionist of the Orquesta Filarmonica de Caracas. He didn't learn to play the maracas sitting in the orchestra, of course, but rather on the streets, in bars, and in private homes where `joropo,' the better known of the many local folk forms, is performed.


When the idea of a concerto for maracas and orchestra was suggested, conductor Paul Freeman immediately embraced it as a project suited for the Chicago Sinfonietta's goal of bringing together music and musicians from different cultures within a classical music setting. The work was premiered with great success by Ed Harrison and the Chicago Sinfonietta on March 19, 1999.


As far as the music is concerned, I did not aim at sounding authentic, that is, I did not intend for Pataruco to sound like Venezuelan folk music. Instead, while the maracas do play typical gestures, the orchestra serves as a sonic quilt which wraps around the kaleidoscope of patterns created by the maracas, at times responding to it and at other times teasing it.”


Ed Harrison is considered the leading exponent of contemporary maraca techniques. He studied in Venezuela and has expanded the authentic techniques to apply to a wide variety of musical styles. He has published articles with Modern Drummer and Percussive Notes magazines. This concerto is the first piece written to feature maracas as a solo instrument with orchestra.


Ed Harrison is a member of the percussion section of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and a member of the Bernstein/Gershwin Ensemble of the Chicago Symphony Ensembles Program. From 1994 to 1998 Ed was Principal Percussionist of the Chicago Sinfonietta. He has been featured as a soloist at the Percussive Arts Society (P.A.S.) International Convention and at P.A.S. Day of Percussion events in Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey. He has presented master classes at the Royal College of Music in London, the Birmingham Conservatory, the Welsh College of Music, the Rotterdam Conservatory, as well as music schools throughout the United States. Ed has been featured as percussionist with the University of Chicago Contemporary Chamber Players and performs as an extra percussionist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has recorded for Deutsche Grammaphon, London/Decca, and Pro Arte/Fanfare, made many radio and television appearances, and is active in the Chicago area as a jazz vibraphonist.


Ed has a Masters degree from the New England Conservatory. In 1983 and 1984 he received a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship to attend the Tanglewood Music Center.


Paul Freeman


Paul Freeman has distinguished himself as one of the world's pre-eminent conductors. Much in demand, he has conducted over 100 orchestras in 28 different countries including the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and major orchestras in London, St. Petersburg, Moscow and Berlin. Maestro Freeman has served as the Music Director of Canada's Victoria Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic and Associate Conductor of the Detroit and Dallas Symphony Orchestras. He is currently Music Director of the renowned Chicago Sinfonietta and simultaneously serves as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in Prague. With over 200 recordings to his credit, he has won numerous awards for his unique interpretations of the classical, romantic, and modern repertoire. Dr. Freeman, who studied on a U.S. Fulbright Grant at the Hochschule in Berlin, holds a Ph.D. degree from the Eastman School of Music and LH.D. degrees from Dominican University and Loyola University.


Czech National Symphony Orchestra


Since the Czech Republic's bloodless "Velvet Revolution" of 1989, the country has been riding a rapid wave of democratization, which has affected the music industry as well. Orchestras in order to survive must concern themselves with the procurement of foreign funds through recording contracts and overseas performances. These developments have necessitated the need for higher performance standards.