“I’ve been working on ways to obey the spirit and the letter of [Cerrone’s The Pieces that Fall to Earth, from 2015],” says Greif, praised by The New York Times for her “luminous, expressive voice.” An Orlando favorite, she last performed with the Orlando Philharmonic as Adina in The Elixir of Love and as Papagena in The Magic Flute. She was also part of the Philharmonic’s Women in Song Series debut concert. Greif’s performance with Alterity.co marks the Central Florida premiere of The Pieces that Fall to Earth. “Working with a living composer is the best,” she adds. “You can ask questions, you can work together to make a piece fit you better idiomatically, and you can know when you are taking too much liberty—or not enough—with the spirit of the piece.”
--A slowly-unfolding work of meditative beauty for soprano and 14 players, The Pieces that Fall to Earth sets to music select poetry by San Francisco Bay poet Kay Ryan. Cerrone, winner of a 2015 Rome Prize and a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize, weaved text and song into a cycle that creates “a kind of monodrama, where the work becomes more and more personal as the piece proceeds,” according to his notes.
--The youngest composer the Metropolitan Opera has ever commissioned (Two Boys, 2010), Nico Muhly stands on the cutting edge of crossover classical music. For By All Means, he was inspired by the Anglican choral tradition to write a response to atonal music, particularly that of Austrian composer Anton Webern. Muhly’s synthesis of late-Renaissance madrigals and 12-tone composition is riveting.
--Workers Union, by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, downplays tonality and melody in favor of rhythmic intricacy. According to Andriessen’s notes, the experimental piece is “a combination of individual freedom and severe discipline: its rhythm is exactly fixed; the pitch, on the other hand, is indicated only approximately, on a single-lined stave,” which demands precise musicianship for the piece to cohere, “like organizing and carrying on political action.” Andriessen was the winner of 2011 Grawemeyer Award.
--Hailing from Iceland, Anna Thorvaldsdottir depicts large expanses of space and time with transcendental soundscapes. Awarded composition of the year at the Icelandic Music Awards 2011, Hrím (which means hoarfrost: ice crystals forming white sediment) was inspired by the spatial property of dispersion, according to the composer’s website. Applied to a tight instrumentation, dispersion is manifested in Hrím “as release and echoing in the sense that single elements in the music are released and spread through the ensemble in various ways.” Thorvaldsdottir received the New York Philharmonic’s Kravis Emerging Composer Award in 2015, and Lincoln Center’s 2018 Emerging Artist Award and 2018 Martin E. Segal Award.
--“I want people to have a chance to get the same emotional fulfillment from contemporary music that they do from the old music and the non-classical music they love,” comments Greif, excited to share contemporary music with Orlando audiences and to perform the Cerrone selection for the first time. “Many singers are taught by their voice teachers in school to avoid all contemporary music for a variety of pseudoscientific reasons, but it turns out that contemporary music is a part of every modern career.”
--The Pieces that Fall to Earth, Chris Cerrone
--By All Means, Nico Muhly
--Workers Union, Louis Andriessen
--Hrim, Anna Thorvaldsdottir
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