Cube Calendar Articles from 2001

CCP's 2000-2001 Season

Since its founding in 1964 by renowned composer and conductor Ralph Shapey, the Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago has been an active and prominent force in the presentation of new music. Two years ago the program was restructured to include both a rotating conductorship and a resident core ensemble. At that time the University appointed the Pacifica Quartet as the first ever Artists-in-Residence in the institution's history. Their multi-faceted residency, which includes a separate season of quartet concerts and one-on-one interaction with musicians in the University community, has been a fruitful musical relationship. The CCP welcomes the Pacifica back again this season and expands this initiative with the appointment of the award-winning contemporary sextet eighth blackbird as Associate Artists-in-Residence. For the 2001 season, the CCP steering committee appointed as Resident Conductor Barbara Schubert, conductor of the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New Music Ensemble, and DuPage Symphony Orchestra. Schubert's plans for the CCP's 37th anniversary season include two culturally-themed programs billed as Crosscurrents concerts. These focused concerts will take an in-depth look at Latin-American and Polish contributions to new music and will also forge new artistic and scholarly partnerships within the University and beyond.

The first concert, Friday, January 19 at 8 pm, presents the CCP debut of eighth blackbird. With their first CD Round Nut Tool and a string of critical raves under their belt, this young sextet is already a major force in new music. The ensemble's members will present a program of works written in the last couple of years by emerging composers. The composers will be present for both the concert and for the 7pm pre-concert discussion "A Panel of their Peers," moderated by advanced graduate students and recent graduates of the University of Chicago's composition program.

The February 11 concert at 8PM, South of the Border, is the first of the CCP season's Crosscurrents programs. Writes resident Conductor Barbara Schubert: "It's been utterly fascinating to delve into these two contemporary cultural repertoires, which have intrigued me for so many years. The multitude of well-crafted, engaging works I've discovered; the distinctive national perspectives they reveal; and their intersections and divergences from so-called "mainstream" Western European music of the late twentieth century Ñ it's been an enthralling process of discovery, which I look forward to sharing with CCP audiences!" The program will explore the blended influences of Mexican folk melodies, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and Western Classical traditions. Featured performers include Chicago Symphony Orchestra bass clarinetist J. Lawrie Bloom and Artists-in-Residence the Pacifica Quartet. A pre-concert discussion with guest composers will be moderated by recent University of Chicago graduate Ricardo Lorenz at 7 pm. The program celebrates a new collection of musical resources housed in the University's Center for Latin American Studies.

The second Crosscurrents program, East of the Wall on Sunday, April 22 at 3 pm, will focus on the complex balance between folk traditions, poetry, and the musical avant-garde in Poland. Witold Lutoslawski's 1965 masterpiece Paroles tiss"es: es: Quatre Tapisseries anchors the program. Two singers, mezzo-soprano Constance Beavon and tenor Kenneth Gayle, will be featured on the program, along with cellist Brandon Vamos and harpist Alison Attar. Marta Ptaszynska, Professor of Composition at the University of Chicago, will moderate the pre-concert discussion with guest composers at 2 pm. This concert is presented in conjunction with a four-day University of Chicago conference entitled "Poland -- Lyric, Music, Nation."

The final event of the CCP season is an annual tradition: the Katherine A. Abelson Young Composers Concert. This year six University of Chicago graduate student composers will have their works performed by members of eighth blackbird, the Pacifica Quartet, and mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley. One of these composers, third-year graduate student Mark Volker, remarks that "this opportunity to write for such a fabulous group of performers is a great one for our artistic and career development. The [musicians] are not only teaching us about their instruments, but also about performers of contemporary music and their relationship to composers.

See the events listings for more information about the concerts. Subscriptions for the series are $30 ($15 for students) and may be ordered by calling (773) 702-8098. Tickets for individual programs are $15 ($8 for students) and may be purchased by calling (773) 702-7300


New York Report: Unlikely Spaces

by Janice Misurell-Mitchell

In New York, even more than in Chicago, new music performance occurs in unlikely spaces. Although one can find new and improvised music in the well-supported venues such as Merkin Hall, the Columbia University series, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Knitting Factory and the Kitchen, it is the smaller and unusual places that help make the scene here as rich and varied as it is. Downtown Manhattan is filled with buildings which were part of the city's early history of manufacturing and commerceÑbuildings which now house lofts, shops, galleries, and performance spaces. My December concert wanderings turned up the following:

Engine 27, in Tribeca (below Soho) is a small nicely refurbished engine house. A recent concert there featured vocal music by baritone Thomas Buckner and electronic music/voice processing by Tom Hamilton. The audience sat on either side of the room, and the singer performed in the center and around the edges of the audience, while the electronic sound surrounded us. The group of about forty people who filled the space sat silently for the performance, which lasted over an hour.

Tonic, a club on the not-very-trendy Lower East Side, was developed from a store front. It has a small bookstore and a second venue in the basement, Subtonic. The main room, with unfinished cement and brick walls and a small wooden stage, becomes filled on weekends for performances of improvised music and jazz--the Susie Ibarra Trio played to a packed house of about seventy-five people the night I was there; Sunday nights bring in groups who often invite musicians in the audience to improvise with them.

The Construction Company is loft space in Chelsea, the new up-and-coming neighborhood north of Greenwich Village. It is a gallery, a performance space for new music and dance, and living quarters for the Company's director. The new music series, "Music Under Construction," is programmed by a committee of composers; the night I was there we heard music from emerging composer Nathaniel Drake, established composer Faye-Ellen Silverman, and Olivier Messiaen. The walls of the hall are whitewashed brick, the floor is linoleum, the seats are folding chairs on risers, and the hall holds about fifty people. The enthusiastic audience was a classical new music crowd familiar with the musicians and the space.

As we go to press, we have heard one last event. Washington Square, the main park in Greenwich Village, was the site of an event on December 16 created by Phil Kline, a sound artist whose latest work uses boomboxes. In keeping with the spirit of the season, Kline invited one hundred people to bring their boomboxes to the park, where they each received a cassette with the same recording of "Silent Night." At a prearranged time they all began their tapes; the rest is history.

(Editor's note: We received the following comment from a reader: "About Janice Misurell-Mitchell's New York report: the crowd gathering in Washington Square on December 16th was NOT given tapes of "Silent Night" but rather tapes of "Unsilent Night," an original 45 minute multi-channel composition/event which has been presented in the streets and parks of the Village annually for 9 years and on January 1, 2001 was heard for the first time outside New York in Berlin-Mitte.")


Laura Schwendinger in Berlin

As a winner of the American Academy in Berlin Prize, I was recently in Berlin in residence at the Hans Arnhold Center at Lake Wannsee. The Berlin musical scene is large and multifaceted. Berlin has three world-class orchestras. The best of these and one of the finest in the world is The Berlin Philharmonic. Claudio Abbado is now finishing his tenure as their director; Simon Rattle will be taking over the baton this coming year. The orchestra plays in a striking and acoustically wonderful hall in an area known as Potsdammer Place, a section of Berlin nearly flattened in the war, which is being rebuilt now at an very fast rate. The Philharmonie also hosts many fine chamber concerts, such as the Spectrum Music Group, whose Director, Frank Dodge, programs thoughtful and beautifully played concerts. In addition to the Philharmonie, there is the Deutsche Symphonie, whose new music Director is the American conductor Kent Naganowho conducts at the Opéra de Lyon and is known for his renditions of the music of Olivier Messiaen. As if that weren't enough, there is the Berlin Symphonie. I was able to hear them play a marvelous concert with works by Berg, Lutoslawski and Joshua Bell playing the Beethoven violin concerto. They play at the Old Gendarmen-Markt, some of the loveliest older architecture left standing in Berlin and well worth a visit.

There are also two great opera companies. The Deutsche Opera, housed in a large modern building, and the Staatsopera, located at Unter den Linden, near the Brandenburg Gate and part of the old "eastern" Berlin. During my time in Berlin, the Staatsopera offered fresh and innovative programs. The premieres of two major new operas, What Next? by Elliot Carter in a fully staged version and The Last Supper by Harrison Birtwhistle.


Orion Wins Programming Award

Our congratulations to Orion Chamber Ensemble and Mostly Music, Inc. for winning First Prize in the festivals category of the 2000 CMA/ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming. The award was given for Orion's Millennium Celebration entitled An Inside Look at Contemporary Music presented in January and March of 2000.



Composer/clarinetist Paul Zonn died Friday, December 8, after a long illness. He was internationally known as an innovator both in composition and clarinet performance, and his musical influences were broad and diverse. He was a composer of contemporary art music, appeared on stage as clarinet soloist at Tanglewood and Ravinia, and with many different styles of musical artists. Zonn also performed as clarinetist and conductor of the University of Illinois contemporary Chamber Players and New Music Ensemble.


Herbert Brün, a composer who helped introduce the use of electronics and computers in creating music, died on Nov. 6 in Urbana at the age of 82. Mr. Brün was a professor emeritus of music composition at the University of Illinois. He formally retired in 1988 but continued to conduct a seminar in experimental composition until his death. While continuing to write pieces for traditional instruments, he used computers to generate sound, which he integrated into his compositions. He wrote widely on the function of computers in music and on the place of music in society and politics.


Biographies and Links for some CUBE Season Composers

Bruce J. Taub was born in New York City on February 6th, 1948. He began studying the bassoon at an early age with David Manchester of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and attended the High School of Music and Art. He was an active performer for many years as a member of the Composers Ensemble in New York. He has studied composition with Mario Davidovsky, Vladimir Ussachevsky, Jack Beeson, Chou Wen-chung and Charles Dodge at Columbia University, School of the Arts where he was one of the first two recipients of the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1974.

Mr. Taub's prizes and awards include: the Marc Brunswick Award in Musical Composition (for String Trio, 1969); Columbia University Fellow of the Faculty, National Defense Education Act Fellowship, 1969-71; the Joseph H. Beams Prize in Music (Variations, 1971); BMI Award (Six Pieces for Orchestra, 1973); National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (chamber opera, Passion, Poison, and Petrifaction, 1975); Fellowship to the 1975 Composers Conference in Johnson, Vermont and the 1985 Composers Conference in Wellesley, Massachusetts; Commission from the Criterion Foundation (Of Things Past, 1976); Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (full length opera, Waltz on a Merry-Go-Round, 1981); Fellowship to the Charles Ives Center for American Music, 1984 and 1985; Friends of Harvey Gaul Composition Contest (Extremities II, 1984); Finalist, the 1987 Kucyna International Composition Contest (Extremities II, 1987); Commission from Sigma Alpha Iota (Inter-American Music Awards) (Three Preludes, 1987); Commission from the Cleveland Chamber Symphony (Edwin London, Conductor) (An Often Fatal Malady, 1990 and Lady Mondegreen Sings the Blues, 1995); Commission from the Fromm Foundation (Adrian's Dream, 1995).

From 1974-76 he served as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the American Society of University Composers and from 1977 through the present he has been the Editor of the SCI (A.S.U.C.) Journal of Music Scores. Mr. Taub has taught at the City College of the City University of New York and at Columbia University. In 1974 he served as a Delegate to the International Conference on New Musical Notation at the University of Ghent in Belgium and was Assistant to the Director of the Index of New Musical Notation at Lincoln Center.

Mr. Taub has written over sixty compositions including pieces for orchestra, solo instruments, chamber ensemble, tape, computer, the ballet and two operas. His compositions have been performed by many contemporary music ensembles and at universities throughout the United States. His music is published by the American Composers Alliance, Music for Percussion and C.F. Peters Corporation. He is a member of BMI, the American Music Center, NACUSA and has been a member of the Board of Governors of the American Composers Alliance. In 1990 he was made a National Arts Associate of Sigma Alpha Iota.

Mr. Taub is currently the Editor in Chief for C.F. Peters Corporation, Music Publishers, and a freelance computer engraver.

Robert Zuidam (Gouda, 23 September 1964) studied composition with Philippe Boesmans and Klaas de Vries at the Rotterdam Conservatory. In 1989 he was awarded a grant by Rosamund Olivetti and Leonard Bernstein to study with Lukas Foss and Oliver Knussen in Tanglewood, United States. In the same year he received the Koussevitzky Composition Prize for a piece he originally wrote for Orkest De Volharding, Fishbone. For the same work and the composition Pancho Villa he received the Incentive Prize of the Amsterdam Arts Fund in 1991. Over the past few years he has been living alternately in New York and Amsterdam.

Apart from concert music he also writes music for film and theatre and regularly reviews new developments in American music for Dutch daily and weekly papers. His music, written for diverse ensembles ranging from symphony orchestra to flute solo, is performed by various ensembles both at home and abroad. The opera Freeze, written for the 1994 Munich Biennale, is his first effort in music theatre. Freeze was also performed at the Staatstheater Braunschweig, and at the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, as part of the Holland Festival.

A native of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Russ Grazier lived and worked as a composer in Chicago for six years from 1994 – 2000 while pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. Dubbed a “polished craftsman” by the Chicago Tribune (May 1999), The Portsmouth Herald said “his music soared” following the June 2000 world premiere of Celebrations and Remembrance. Conducted by the composer and performed by ten combined community choruses, totaling more than 350 singers, Celebrations and Remembrance was a millennium commission from the city of Portsmouth, NH. Other recent commissions include a piano trio, “…the nature of their shadows…”, for the Magellan Trio, and Dream of a Better Life, part one, for Eine Kleine Konsort, a Boston-based recorder ensemble. Mr. Grazier’s many awards and honors include the Randolph Rothschild Award in Composition and First Prize in the Virginia Carty deLillo Composition Competition.

Mr. Grazier’s new work for Chicago’s CUBE Ensemble features the violin in a solo role, with members of CUBE and guests serving as a chamber ensemble compliment. Mr. Grazier writes: “The CUBE Ensemble gives me the opportunity to do something I’ve longed to do for some time: create a virtuoso work for violin and chamber ensemble in which the solo violin is the only string instrument. The challenges of such a situation are far overshadowed by the wonderful possibilities!” The accompanying ensemble is made up of a woodwind quintet (including french horn, of course!), piano (which the composer views not as a stringed, but a percussion instrument), and one percussionist (in addition to the pianist!).

Russ Grazier performs throughout the United States as a saxophonist and has had his music performed by, among others, the New Hampshire Brass, the Contemporary Chamber Players, The Magellan Trio, The Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble, the West End String Quartet, Eine Kleine Konsort, and the Peabody Camerata. His Helices 3, for solo oboe, has been performed no less than four times (in different Chicago venues) by CUBE’s Patricia Morehead.

Mr. Grazier has taught at the Boston Conservatory, Roosevelt University, The University of Chicago, The Merit Music School, and the Bell Center for the Performing Arts. Mr. Grazier holds degrees from The Boston Conservatory and The Peabody Conservatory. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in Composition at The University of Chicago.

Russ Grazier returned to his home in New Hampshire in the summer of 2000, where he spends as much time as possible playing baseball with his sons Max and Jake, and enjoying the seacoast with his wife, Katie.

Sebastian Huydts [L'Ironie du Sort, March 14; Three Serious Songs (world premiere), April 20]
(b.1966 studied piano in Amsterdam with Edith Lateiner Grosz at the Sweelinck Conservatory, from which he graduated in 1989. In his native country, The Netherlands, he was active as both a performer and a composer of solo and chamber music. As a composer he has written repertoire for solo instruments as well as various ensembles ranging from duo to orchestra. His style combines innovations that the 20th century provided and the rich expressive means that were developed over centuries of Western music. Many of his works include the piano, either solo or in an ensemble.

Notable events in his career include the award of a four-year stipend to study at the University of Chicago, from which he received his Master's Degree in 1995. He has studied Composition with John Eaton, Jay Alan Yim, Andrew Imbrie, Shulamit Ran and Marta Ptaszynska, Computer Music and Composition with Howard Sandroff, and Conducting with Barbara Schubert. He also regularly performs 20th century music with various ensembles. In April of 1995 his Concerto For Piano And Double String Orchestra was premiered by the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The concerto was awarded the Paul and Olga Menn prize for original compositions. In 1995 he was commissioned by the “Rhijnauwen Chamber Music Festival” to write a song cycle for alto mezzo, string quartet and piano on texts by the American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. In May of 1996 his Concerto da Camera for solo viola and 7 instrumentalists received its first performance by the Contemporary Chamber Players in Mandel Hall with violist Keith Conant under the baton of Barbara Schubert. Andrew Patner from the Sun-Times described the Concerto da Camera as “...a work of astonishing maturity...”

Other recent works include “Memento Amare” (in memory of the bassoonist Bruce Grainger) for bassoon, viola and piano, a Concerto for Sitar-Guitar and Orchestra, commissioned by the DuPage Symphony Orchestra and acclaimed soloist Fareed Haque, a String Quartet, Music for Flute and Piano, and the Octet commissioned and performed by the Chicago Chamber Musicians in 1998. Future projects include a sonata for piano and percussion and a duet for Clarinet and Bass-Clarinet.

During the last two academic years, Mr. Huydts has taught at the College of the University of Chicago, Lake Forest College and The Merit Music Program. From 1997 until 1999 he taught ear training and theory review at Northwestern University. As of Fall 1998, Mr. Huydts has been appointed Artist-in-Residence at Columbia College in Chicago where he teaches Computer Music, Music Theory and Composition. For the 1999-2000 season

Mr. Huydts serves as Composer in Residence at the Music in the Loft concert series.

Deborah Kavasch, [Double Double, April 20]
Coordinator of Theory Studies and Composition at California State University, she is noted for her pioneering work in modern vocal music, particularly in extended vocal techniques. A founding member of the Extended Vocal Techniques Ensemble at UC San Diego, she has continued to develop a solo and ensemble repertoire which encompasses extended techniques for instruments and voices. She has had works commissioned and performed in North America and Europe and has appeared in concert in major international music centers and festivals. She has received grants and residencies in composition and performance and was a 1987 Fulbright Senior Scholar to Stockholm, Sweden. Kavasch holds degrees in German and Music Theory/Composition from Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and the Doctor of Philosophy in Music from the University of California at San Diego.

Ralph Shapey, Composer, Conductor and Teacher

A Tribute by Patricia Morehead, Composer and Oboist

Ralph Shapey — an extraordinary composer and teacher — revealed the exciting world of composition to me. His basic course in composition developed my compositional technique in a way that is unique for each of his students. The course was revealed week by week in a manner that was exciting, and by the third week it occupied most of our time devoted to composition. He dealt with each parameter of music in a manner that could only develop one’s technique. By the end of ten weeks one was spending at least thirty hours per week to complete all the exercises required. This included five-note chords, motives, perversions (or variations) of motives, a study of all the inversional possibilities, melodic techniques, an exhaustive study of rhythm from one to four parts and a thorough study of counterpoint for two to four parts from a twentieth century perspective. His method did not dictate style; each of us was encouraged to use the course to our own best advantage. The Shapey basic composition course will be published by Theodore Presser Music Publishing Company in the near future.

The basic course gave me an approach to composition that was solid in terms of variety and method. This gift from Ralph has made it possible for me and many of his other students to lead an active compositional life. I am able to compose with confidence in my technique, under pressure and quickly when necessary. I am able to draw on a large number of possible ideas/motives and follow through with confidence.

In addition to the composition exercises, Ralph’s students were all required to study conducting. We were trained to examine and conduct every detail of a classical score by Beethoven and a demanding twentieth century work by Dallapiccolo. He warned us all that in the future we might be required to conduct one of our own works and that we should be ready. This indeed happened to me at an international composer’s festival in Europe a few years ago. If I had been unable to conduct, my piece would never have been performed at the festival.

Ralph is a passionate and disciplined composer. As he approaches eighty years of age he still works at his desk every day. His body of work speaks for itself. Ralph Shapey is a unique American composer. His compositions speak deeply and passionately in a dissonant and complex language, yet in certain ways his musical language is very romantic. He has composed many string quartets for The Juilliard Quartet, the vast and wonderful Concerto Fantastique (almost an hour long) for the Chicago Symphony of which he conducted the premiere, and many other works for diverse ensembles.

His chamber works for oboe include a wonderful quartet for oboe and strings, a woodwind quintet, an oboe sonata, a fantasy for oboe and piano, music for soprano, oboe and piano and most recently a new work for oboe, piano and percussion. These works are unique in the chamber music repertoire for the oboe and are among the most interesting, rewarding and demanding repertoire that I love to play.

His integrity and dedication to the art of composition know few equals.

Forum: “The State of Avant-Garde Jazz and Improvised Music in Chicago”

On Saturday, May 12th HotHouse will host “The State of Avant-Garde Jazz and Improvised Music in Chicago” a series of round-table discussions with the purpose of exploring ways to build audiences for creative jazz and improvised music. Musicians, presenters, record label owners, funders, critics and members of the media will gather to serve as “conversation initiators” and share their insights and experiences with other stakeholders in the community.

The forum will begin at 11AM and conclude at 3PM.

HotHouse, The Center For International Performance and Exhibition is organizing this forum with the intention of bringing together the many disparate players in improvised music under one roof in order to more comprehensively understand current trends in this genre of music, and to work towards the creation of more collective audience development strategies. We recognize that there is an explosion of talent in Chicago at the moment, with many serious musicians, critics, et. al. focused on creative improvised music. The New York Times devoted an entire page in its Sunday March 18th issue to this phenomenon, yet locally there remains room for greater visibility and institutional support. We hope that this initial forum will serve to foster an ongoing dialogue and a vehicle for positive communication for those working in this field.

The topics discussed will include:

 • Defining the moment - Where is the improvised music community now and where do we go from here? How did we get here, who's missing?

• Building Audiences - How do you do it? How do you define success? What is to be done?

• Media - What role do the critics play? How public is public radio?

• Trends in the Recording Industry

 “Conversation initiators,” who will open up each topic for discussion, will lead the panels. Confirmed speakers to date include:


• Peter Taub (Museum of Contemporary Art)

• Lauren Deutsch (Jazz Institute of Chicago)

• Neil Tesser (freelance writer and president of NARAS)

• Richard Steele (radio personality WBEZ)

• Bettina Richards (Thrill Jockey records)

• Mike Friedman (Premonition Records)

• Kevin Whitehead, John Corbett, Art Lange (freelance journalists)

• Rose Parisi (artists services- The Illinois Arts Council)

• Laura Samson (WPWR Channel 50 Foundation)

• Alana Rocklin (Delmark Records)

• Peter Margasak (Critic, Chicago Reader)

• Michael Orlove (Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs)

• Jean Ulrich (Ravinia)

• Malachi Thompson, David Boykin (Musicians)

• Susanne McCarthy (Flower Booking)

 We would be delighted if you, or a representative of your organization, could attend to participate in the conversations.

This forum is presented in conjunction with Trading Fours: Jazz and its Milieu, a conference presented by The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago on May 11, 2001.

“The State of Avant-Garde Jazz and Improvised Music in Chicago” will take place from 11AM until 3PM on Saturday, May 12th at HotHouse. We're located at 31 East Balbo in downtown Chicago. There is parking available on the street (or for $7.50 in a lot a 710 S. Wabash) and we are one block away from the red line stop at Harrison. HotHouse is wheelchair accessible.

This forum is free of charge and HotHouse will provide lunch for all attending. Please RSVP by May 1st so we may order the appropriate number of box lunches. You may RSVP by e-mail at We look forward to seeing you!

New Work by Janice Misurell-Mitchell

Profaning the Sacred, for flute/voice and clarinet, by Janice Misurell-Mitchell, will receive its world premiere at a concert presented by the International Alliance for Women in Music on June 10 at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Misurell-Mitchell was one of several composers who had works chosen for the annual concert, which includes music by composers from Korea, Bulgaria, Rumania, Columbia, China and the United States. She will perform with clarinetist Richard Nunemaker. The program notes appear below.

Profaning the Sacred for flute/alto flute/voice and bass clarinet/clarinet was written at the request of Richard Nunemaker, bass clarinetist of the Houston Symphony, who wanted me to write a work which we could perform together. The work is oriented around an idea: the sacred as profane, and vice versa. These concepts are reflected in the texts: “Howl,” by Allen Ginsberg; and “Blooz Man,” and “Poet Woman” by Chicago poet Regie Gibson. The Ginsberg text speaks of the biblical god, Moloch, to whom children were sacrificed, as a monster created by our political system; the Gibson text continues the theme of hatred inspired by religious dogma but finds strength in opposition through the words of “Poet Woman”. Profaning the Sacred treats the voice as an adjunct to the flute, a third instrument, one with a sound often covered or colored by the flute. The text is thus like words in a visual collage—some words and phrases are clear, while others are only implied. The actual text can be either performed before the music or read ahead of time. More abstract sections of the piece present instrumental ideas related to the text.” (JM-M)


Portrait of Chicago poet Nina Corwin

CUBE’s concert for the Chicago Humanities Festival features Down Quicksand Alleys by Co-Artistic Director Patricia Morehead, inspired by the poetry of Chicago poet Nina Corwin, who will read the three poems in connection with the performance. One of the three is printed below. Nina is a poet, therapist, musician and author of Conversations With Friendly Demons and Tainted Saints (Puddin’head Press, 1999). She has performed at numerous venues, universities, conferences and festivals around the country, including the prestigious Poetry Center of Chicago and radio appearances including National Public Radio.

Born at the butt-end of the baby-boomer generation and raised with music and theatre in her bones, Nina’s intelligent, lyrical and powerful work, from her "back-talking monologues," guitar and vocal accompaniments and ensemble productions, reflects these influences. According to Leonard Shlain, author of the bestselling book Art and Physics, "Corwin’s poems resonate like the ring of fine crystal." Her poetry reflects concerns with social justice, victims of violence and "her fascination with the vagaries of human nature, mythology, ... and the myriad ways that people search for meaning or belonging in their lives..."

Her poetry has been published in Oyez Review, Emergence III, Tomorrow Magazine; as well as in anthologies and professional newsletters. She has produced several ensemble programs, including "Conversations...," "Some Odes on the Whimsy of Gender," and "Silence and Thunder," addressing issues of trauma and abuse. Nina invites you to "Come on down to my new venue. It’s on Fridays 7:30 PM at the Gourmand Cafe at 728 South Dearborn."


by Nina Corwin

the bed is too big

The 27" screen flickers dimly from 70’s reruns to infomercials

your mouth begins its descent into the sour taste of morning

You’d sleep better with the breath of another in your ears

Better with a glass of warm milk in your stomach

the bed is too big

Two o’clock sticks like a bone caught in the throat of night

You wonder that it isn’t later than it is

Word floaters with their masked associations

interlope like burglars in the yawning house

If you don’t find your pen and chase after them

they’ll steal down quicksand alleys and away

the bed is an ocean

Too tired to rise and take a piss, you dream

about the Great Flood, the animals march half by half

You know you must have slept because you wake

Neck still damp from a sweat you can’t remember

Message from composer Lita Grier

Mathieu Dufour, first flutist of the Chicago Symphony will perform my Concerto for Flute and Orchestra with Ars Viva under Alan Heatherington at the Music Center of the North Shore, Sept. 23 at 7:30 PM. The Concerto was also recently performed by Donald Peck with the Park Ridge Symphony under Edgar Muenzer. Premiered in 1996 by the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra under Carmon de Leone, who commissioned it, it was recorded by Mary Stolper and the Czech National Symphony under Paul Freedman on the Cedille label. To say I feel fortunate doesn’t begin to convey my sense of wonder, exhilaration and gratitude at the wholly unexpected turn of events that has somehow put this work into general circulation over the past several years.

In its original incarnation, it was a sonata for flute and piano, written when I was a third-year student at Juilliard. I was studying flute as a secondary instrument with Julius Baker, completely under the spell of his gorgeous tone and fabulous technique, but I didn’t have the courage to show it to him. Essentially I finished it and put it away – and there it remained for nearly 30 years.

Undoubtedly, it was Mary’s performance of it at Ravinia in 1991 that got the ball rolling. Then, one of Mary Stolper’s students, Carlyn Lloyd, began playing it everywhere. I’m sure that by now she has easily logged about a hundred performances, including two at the National Flute Association Convention. She also played a key role in an unlikely recon-nection with Julius Baker. By a bizarre coincidence I had recently written to him, at the urging of my then-new publisher, Theodore Presser, who felt that including his name on the dedication would at least serve as a point of reference and interest to flutists. This time I summoned my courage and wrote, asking him if he remembered the shy 19 year old flute student. Three days later the phone rang and the message machine picked up his unforgettable and generous message to me: "What a surprise to hear from you after so many years." And, yes, he did remember me. "But now I’ve got a surprise for you. I heard your sonata last week when a student, Carlyn Lloyd, sent in an audition tape – and I thought ‘how come I don’t know this piece?’ And now, a week later, here you are asking if you can dedicate it to me! Well, you can use my name any way you like."

When Pat Morehead asked me to write some of this up for the CUBE Calendar, I agreed principally because it was a welcome opportunity to thank at least some of the people who have been so helpful and encouraging to me, specifically with reference to this work. Pat herself is high on the list – for introducing me to Mary Stolper and the American Women Composers organization – and then to Ilya Levinson, a truly wonderful teacher, whose help was invaluable in adapting the work for orchestra, and great friends at the CSO like John Bruce Yeh, who talked up my piece to Mathieu and leaned on him to listen to it until he "signed on."

– Lita Grier

Poetry corner

Four-Letter Word
for Pat & Janice

Come up, be entertained!
Complimentary ushers beckon eager
concertgoers, urged between eroded
columns until, bleary-eyed, each
collapses upon becushioned empty
chair. Upstage, beauty’s eloquence
caresses unceasingly both ears,
causing ubiquitous, beaming ecstasy.

Concerts underneath beams expose
composers unknown by ending
century. Under bow expert
Combet’s unmatched brilliance ensemble’s
commission unfolds. Barbara, expressive
chanteuse, undulates beautiful, enigmatic
cantalinas. Unfazed but earnest
Caroline unleashes breathless Exaltation.
Collins unpacks bass, excites
Carol, upstaging bearded, enwigged

Ultimately, battling, enthusiastic
Co’s, university bred, envision
consistently urbane boardwalk events.

Composers united by economics
creating untold beauties. Encore!

Philip Morehead

Interview with Robert Lombardo
composer and teacher

by Patricia Morehead

Robert Lombardo will celebrate his 70th birthday in March 2002. He was Professor of Theory and Composition and composer-in-residence at Roosevelt University from 1965 to 1999. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music from the Hartt College in the early 50’s and earned his PhD in composition from the University of Iowa in 1961. He was a Tanglewood Fellow in composition during the summers of 1956 and 1957, where he first met Goffredo Petrassi, Milton Babbitt and Lucas Foss.

His repertoire of compositions numbers close to two hundred. Many of them were written for faculty and colleagues at the Chicago Musical College (Roosevelt University) including Joe Urbinato, David Schrader and Kim Scholes, and his student, Dimitris Marinos, mandolin virtuoso. His largest works include the Concerto for Mandolin and Strings, four chamber operas, two solo cantatas, and his most recent work for the Pacifica Quartet. Former students of his in the Chicago area include John Austin, Julian Harvey and Howard Sandroff, all active composers. I have had the pleasure of knowing Bob as a wonderful colleague for the past ten years.

Bob was born and grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. I asked him what led him to composition. He said, “I lived in a neighborhood with a very strong instrumental program in the schools and was surrounded by many teenage musicians. My father often sang the Sicilian folk songs of his country of origin. I myself studied clarinet and played principal clarinet in the band at school and in the Hartt School of Music Orchestra. At the same time, I studied theory at Hartt.” During Bob’s senior year he was hospitalized with a punctured lung and as a result gave up the clarinet. However, Bob was determined to continue in music; he had written a couple of works in the style of Mozart and decided to satisfy his passion for music as a composer.

The most influential composition teacher for Bob was Arnold Franchetti, former student of Richard Strauss. Bob started studying harmony, counterpoint, keyboard harmony and orchestration with Franchetti. In keyboard harmony the students had to create real pieces — for example, the first movement of a sonata. Two part counterpoint was stressed.

One of the assignments was to write a piece for double bass and snare drum. Writing for two voices is an approach that Bob still considers an important discipline for any composer. Franchetti quoted Strauss: “You have written a really good two-part counterpoint when you don’t remember which part was written first.” When studying with Franchetti, three or four students would go to his home in the Connecticut woods and spend the whole day, staying for dinner. The students would show and discuss their works, and Franchetti would share what he had written most recently, stressing the importance of every detail. Bob remembers fondly Franchetti’s dedication to his art (rising at 4:30 AM to compose) and his outspokenness and complete integrity.

Another important memory for Bob is of his Sicilian father, a dedicated artisan who made brick fireplaces and who taught him the meaning of artistic integrity. His father would smooth out the concrete of the bricks very carefully even in the parts which could not be seen. Bob says he makes every detail of his compositions with great care, remembering his father’s work.

Bob saved the money to study in Europe by drawing maps for a fire insurance company. He met Luigi Dallapiccolo in Florence and studied composition with Guido Turchi in Rome. As the result of a Fromm commission he was able to stay in Europe another year to study with Boris Blacher in Germany. He spent his time in Berlin composing and going to concerts and plays. He heard his first Wagner Ring Cycle and attended Berg’s Wozzeck a total of 14 times.

Bob’s formative years teaching were nurtured by a Ford Foundation Grant to work in the Public Schools in Hastings-on-Hudson and Colorado Springs in 1962 and 1963 respectively. From this experience he learned how to simplify his notation to put his ideas across to young performers. He often used poetry in an imaginative way to get his students started. He would have them set a text and then take the text away and work with the material generated to make an instrumental work.

He also developed an approach to starting new composition students by beginning with rhythm pieces that they would perform themselves. This was a method for getting at the very basic rhythmic soul of music. Next they would write pieces for a gamelan-type instrument (which he made) to explore pitch relationships using a Javanese scale, chosen for its remoteness from the Western European tradition in order to give their imaginations free rein in pitch and harmony. He also encouraged students to choose two diametrically opposed ideas and try to reconcile them, leading to an approach to composition which the student might not otherwise have discovered.
Bob describes his music as first and foremost lyrical and “fat-free,” where every note “counts.” Many of his pieces are delicately detailed cameos. His wife Kathleen is his muse and the source of much of the poetry he has set to music. His early influence was Alban Berg, but his influences today come from other art forms—painting, film, and the theater.

Bob is also a wonderful painter. He started painting at their farm in Wisconsin as therapy for an intense involvement with composition, but painting has now became a passion as well, needing its own therapy. His art works have been exhibited at the Around the Coyote Festival and at the Chicago Cultural Center.
Patricia Morehead, composer, oboist and teacher

Raymond Wilding-White

Celebrated and unconventional local composer Raymond Wilding-White, who taught at DePaul University for more than 18 years, died August 24 of liver failure in his Kewaunee, Wisconsin home.

Born in England, Ray first arrived in the United States to start chemical engineering classes at MIT, but soon was studying the piano at the Juilliard School. He also studied at the New England Conservatory and Boston University, during which time he played in New York jazz bands and produced a Peabody Award-winning children’s show.

Before DePaul, Ray taught at Case Western Reserve University. In Chicago he founded the Loop Group, which for two decades showcased the talents of outstanding young Chicago musicians. Ray’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra had its world premiere with the Grant Park Symphony in 1961. Ray was also well-known as a radio personality on WFMT. (adapted from the obituary by Tom McCann in the Chicago Tribune)

Janice Misurell-Mitchell work featured on new recording

Luminaria for orchestra, by our co-artistic director Janice Misurell-Mitchell, has just been released on the compact disc "A Portrait of American Women Composers," Vol. II, MMC Recordings, 2001. The recording, which also features works by Marilyn Shrude and others, is performed by the Czech Radio Symphony, Vladimir V·lek, conductor, and can be ordered from Amazon thru the CUBE online store.