notation + documentation
Saturday April 29, 2023 - 7:30pm
St James Cathedral
65 E Huron St | Chicago
notation + documentation is partially supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and sponsorship by the Katherine L. Griem and Anthony G. Montag Charitable Fund.
one idea of heaven
If you’re wondering what electroclash artist Casey Spooner could possibly have to do with Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and his song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn, then compare some of the text of “Das Himmlische Leben”, one of the Wunderhorn songs:
"We revel in heavenly pleasures,
So we shun all that is earthly,
No worldly turmoil
Is heard in Heaven,
Everyone lives in sweetest peace;
We lead an angelic existence,
And yet we are perfectly happy,
We dance and leap,
We skip and sing,
Saint Peter in Heaven looks on…” (trans. Richard Stokes)
…to some of “Butterscotch Goddam”, a 2018 song by Fischerspooner (Casey Spooner’s old band):
“I jump off the mountain, I hang off the cliff
Listen to you shower sing love scene shift
Light it up with your weedy spliff
Lovers tiff, dance around, plead the fifth
“I brought you sake and plums from Kyoto
Gift shop stickers from the Bishōnen show…
And that is just one idea of heaven…”
I find “Butterscotch Goddam” difficult to describe as anything other than an alternate queer universe - the near-nonsense lyrics, the dystopian erotic imagery and sexuality of the music video. And I’m reasonably sure St. Peter and the other saints in the Wunderhorn text - St. Cecilia, St. Martha, St. Ursula - wouldn’t exactly be the biggest fans of Fischerspooner’s work, of disco or electroclash music. But both of these texts are making the same fundamental promise: an escape to paradise.
I know I’m not only speaking for myself when I say that LGBTQ people, no matter what their sexuality or gender identity, struggle to feel safe in the world today. This fear comes from atrocities past and present, such as the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL in 2016 and the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting in 2022, or arson attacks on New Orleans gay bars in the early 1970s. But it also comes from ongoing threats, like the escalating right wing moral panic surrounding transgender people today, and over four decades of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. One idea of heaven is an attempt to create a joyous inward retreat from a disjunct, nightmarish reality of violence, hatred and chaos, one where music and imagery as incompatible as “Das Himmlische Leben” and “Butterscotch Goddam” can coexist as they provide the escapes they both promise. - Andrew McManus
copy-paste diptych for chamber orchestra
What did you hear? I heard my phone imitating a typewriter. What did you hear? I heard a voice message and thought about the people who listen to voice messages by holding the phone to their ear and the people who instead play them through the speaker. What did you hear? I heard that sound “is not the object but the medium of our perception. It is what we hear in.” What did you hear? Last year, I heard a performance of a piece by George Lewis that inspired me to write this one. What did you hear? I heard the sound my finger makes touching the screen (pıt, pıt, pıt) and realized this letter doesn’t exist in the English alphabet. I don’t know how an Anglophone refers to this sound. What did you hear? I heard the phone recordings I made of the detuned piano in Mete’s old apartment (the piano was there before he moved in and stayed there after he moved out) and thought of sending him a voice message. What did you hear? I heard that “sound is simply another way of saying ‘I can hear.’” - Alican Çamci
Quotations from Timothy Ingold, “Against Soundscape”; Ultra-red, “Organizing the Silence”
Laura Schwendinger | Christopher Taylor, piano
Second Sight for piano & orchestra
Second Sight is a dreamlike work that explores ethereal material that floats in and out, returns and is transformed. The melodic and rhythmic material once heard, is then repeated kaleidoscopically - except for a central dance section - to evoke a feeling of déjà vu, or musical “clairvoyance”.
This dreamlike landscape features various colors and textural characteristics of the soloist and seeks to feature the beauty of the instrumental registers. - Laura Schwendinger
About the Soloist:
Hailed by critics as “frighteningly talented” (The New York Times) and “a great pianist” (The Los Angeles Times), Christopher Taylor has distinguished himself throughout his career as an innovative musician with a diverse array of talents and interests. He has concertized around the globe, with the most recent international tours taking him to Italy, Germany, Korea, China, and Singapore. In the U.S. he has appeared with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, and the Milwaukee Symphony. Mr. Taylor has undertaken various unusual projects. Recent examples include: performances of the complete Beethoven symphonies as transcribed by Franz Liszt; performances and lectures on the complete etudes of György Ligeti; and a series of performances of the Goldberg Variations on the unique double-manual Steinway piano in the collection of the University of Wisconsin.
Numerous awards have confirmed Mr. Taylor’s high standing in the musical world, among them an American Pianists’ Association Fellowship, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, a Bronze Medal in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, first prize in the William Kapell International Piano Competition, and an Irving Gilmore Young Artists’ Award.
Mr. Taylor owes much of his success to several outstanding teachers, including Russell Sherman and Maria Curcio-Diamand. In addition to his busy concert schedule, he currently serves as Paul Collins Professor of Piano Performance at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He pursues a variety of other interests, including: mathematics (he received a summa cum laude degree from Harvard University in this field); computing; linguistics; and biking, which is his primary means of commuting.
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