I Dream of Coloured Inks.

IMG_4312Once upon a time, I was given the opportunity to perform a work called Improvisation for Flute and Computer by Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf.  [You can read about that multimedia experience and listen to a recording here.]

Since then, Dr. Rothkopf kindly composed me a work  for two flutes and computer.  His source of inspiration: the Hungarian poem “Mostan színes tintákról álmodom” (“I Dream of Coloured Inks”) by Kosztolányi Dezső.  As theIMG_4317 work evolved, the opportunity arose for the piece to become multimedia artwork with the
addition of a visual component!  A lighting program (influenced by the artwork of James Turrell) was generated by four Design & Production students at UNCSA, with the help of their lighting instructor Norman Coates.

In a performance of Improvisation or Coloured Inks, the computer (Max/MSP) listens to six elements of the sound being generated by the two flutes and makes decisions pertaining to how it will respond musically. Now, however, with the addition of the lighting program in Coloured Inks, the computer also responds visually.

The work was premiered on April 30, 2014 at UNCSA and received a second performance at UMBC in May 2014.  Because the lighting program is being further developed, a link to the work will be available after a third performance late this year.


Freischütz and Nostalgia.

Opera glovesPrepare yourselves for some opera!  Now’s the time to pull on your dress gloves, should you have them.

Der Freischütz, composed in 1821, was an extremely influential opera in its day, propelling the genre towards its evolution from the opera of the classical period to the through-composed operas of the late Romantic period.  Richard Wagner and his contemporaries were certainly inspired by its composer, Carl Maria von Weber.  The opera itself draws upon Faustian ideas, telling the tale of a man who tries to damn the soul of a friend in an effort to keep his own soul.  (Some friend, right?)  In contrast, the opera’s heroine, Agathe, personifies prayerfulness–and, you guessed it, Agathe is in love with the guy that’s doomed.  Opera wouldn’t be opera without a love interest–it’d be Einstein on the Beach.  The themes from the opera Taffanel uses in his Fantaisie sur le Freischütz revolve primarily around Agathe’s character.  The first theme, “Leise, leise fromme Weise” (or, “Softly, gentle air”) is a prayer of hope.  “Und ob die Wolke” (“And even if clouds veil it”) is a prayer in which she pleads for protection.  The last theme is a coy tune that a friend sings to Agathe in order to cheer her up, called: Kommt ein schlanker Bursch gegangen” or “Whenever an attractive boy walks by.”

I guess I’m in a bit of a nostalgic mood today.  This was the first piece I learned in my time at UNCSA, and it will be the last piece I play representing UNCSA at the Rosen-Schaffel Competition–so I thought I’d post my recording of the piece from last summer.