Spring 2008 Concert

Spring 2008 Concert Program

Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 7:30 PM
Trinity University
Ruth Taylor Hall, San Antonio, Texas

Tickets are avilable at the door: $15/ $5 for students, seniors and military with ID.

~ Program ~

Witch Hunt (2007) (World Premiere)
by s. beth may
Performed by the Tosca String Quartet

Winter Swing Set
Dance I
Dance II
Dance III

Arrows (2006) (World Premiere)
by David Heuser
On poems by Tony Hoagland
Performed by Timothy Jones, baritone, and Mark Alexander, piano

Brave World

Mountain Stream
by Dimitar Ninov
Performed by the Tosca String Quartet

String Quartet No. 2 (Sketches from a Fakebook Landfill) (2007) (World Premiere)
by Jack W. Stamps
Performed by the Tosca String Quartet

I. Introduction Freefall
II. Restless & Wandering
III. A Waltz With Intrusion
IV. Landfill Music #1
V. Blue Fragment Canon and Chorale
VI. Landfill Music #2
VII. Monk Dervish, Rosin Chaser

Composer Biographies and Program Notes

S. Beth May lives in San Antonio, where she serves as an assistant professor of music at Northwest Vista College. She is currently also a DMA student in composition at the University of Texas at Austin. Ms. May holds degrees in composition from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Yale School of Music. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia from 1998 to 2000.

Witch Hunt
This quartet is conceived as a set, with each movement containing musical materials that relate to the set as a whole. Although the musical materials are related, the images, and narratives of the individual movements are unique unto themselves. The progression of images, dances, and absolute music do not necessarily follow a specific narrative but suggest, rather, an obscure, shadowy, and dark series of events and snapshots.

David Heuser began composing almost immediately after his first piano lessons at the age of seven, writing short tunes in imitation of the exercises he was studying. He continued to write music throughout his childhood, some for piano, chorus, and wind ensemble, and some for the rock bands he was in. After high school, he attended the Eastman School of Music and then the Indiana University School of Music, where he received his doctorate degree in music composition in 1995. A native of New Jersey, Heuser has resided in San Antonio since 1997. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio teaching music composition and theory, and electronic music. One June 7th, Heuser’s orchestral work, Three Lopsided Dances will be premiered in Houston by the Texas Music Festival Orchestra, and in July, the Cactus Pear Music Festival will premiere his one-act opera The Golden Ax, based on an Aesop’s fable with a libretto by Gary Albright.

Tony Hoagland was born in 1953 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His chapbook, Hard Rain was published by Hollyridge Press in 2005. His other collections of poetry include What Narcissism Means to Me (Graywolf Press, 2003), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Donkey Gospel (1998), which received the James Laughlin Award; and Sweet Ruin (1992), chosen for the 1992 Brittingham Prize in Poetry and winner of the Zacharis Award from Emerson College. His most recent book is Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft. In April he was chosen as the second winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize. Mr. Hoagland teaches at the University of Houston and Warren Wilson College.

The three poems by Tony Hoagland which make up Arrows all revolve around sickness and health, life and death. They are infused with a awareness of our humble humanity, a sometimes awkward acknowledgement of the small things life is made up of, and a dash of humor.

In Appetite, a dinner with a friend who has “one of those diseases / known by its initials” slowly becomes a rumination by the narrator on the uncomfortable aspects of being alive, with the “wilderness outside you pressing to get in, / the wilderness inside you trying to get out,” until his friend's call for a toast brings him back to the here-and-now.

Brave World suggest a view of illness from the point of view of the microbe, the virus and the cancer cell “that breaks out of the crowd it has belonged to all its life / like a housewife erupting / from her line at the grocery store.” Hoagland’s dark humor relegates us to just being “secondary characters” in this view, where as he asks of these germs: “What about their bill of rights?” The poem Arrows is in three sections. The first two parts discuss illness and the frailty of the human form (“I sing the body like a burnt-out fuse box”), while the last reminds us of the power of the soul to say “None of this is real.” Hoagland calls up the image of St. Sebastian, looking “steadfastly heavenward / away from the...fascinating spectacle /of his own body / bristling with arrows.” (The painting of St. Sebastian by Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506) is used as the frontpiece for the work.)

Dimitar Ninov is a Bulgarian-born composer and music theorist who lives in Austin, Texas. In 2007 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Composers, United States (NACUSA). Ninov teaches theory, aural learning, and composition at Texas State University, San Marcos. He also serves as concert coordinator of the NACUSA Texas Chapter, as board member of the CMS South Central Chapter, and as music director at St. Williams Catholic Church in Round Rock.

Ninov has produced a body of works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, voice, and piano. Some of his keyboard music is published by the FJH Music Company, Inc. Recently, Ninov’s violin and piano piece “A Lonely Man’s Prayer” has been selected for recording on the “Made in the Americas” CD series, a co-production of ERM Media and Naxos. In 2007 Ninov’s piano piece Golden Leaves was included in volume six of the Festival Collection; the FJH’s most representative piano series “Succeeding with the Masters” which comprises music from the Baroque era to the twenty-first century. His piano album was chosen for the 2007 Music Teachers Association of California “Certificate of Merit” Syllabus.

Ninov holds a doctoral degree in composition from the University of Texas at Austin (2003), and master’s degrees in theory (1992) and composition (1996) from the National Academy of Music in Sofia, Bulgaria. He has previously taught theory and ear training at the University of Texas at Austin and at the University of South Carolina.

Mountain Stream is a one-movement string quartet in which I have tried to evoke (as much as the abstract art of music let me do so) the picture of waters flowing freely down in a picturesque mountainside. To accomplish this task, I created a background of trills and tremolos upon which I juxtaposed different rhythmic figures and motivic imitations. The waters stream down the mountain with speed and splashes and, at places they reach a wider runway, they slow down and move more calmly through the terrain, only to resume their dynamic course with renewed energy.

String Quartet No. 2 (Sketches from a Fakebook Landfill)
This work is a kind of soundtrack to a dream. In this dream, I fall from a plane, from a very high, into an enormous landfill containing nothing but discarded jazz fakebooks. After I hit the ground, I get up, staggering and a little dazed. I walk around. As I regain awareness, I begin to pick up random fakebooks and flip through them and throw them back down, as if looking for something meaningful. At times, I pick up wet, pulpy handfuls of loose pages and pick through them. Other times, I find myself staying a while in certain passages from cleaner sheets that I pick from the air as they slowly blow by.

The work is not meant to tell a linear account of the dream, but rather act as a kind of collage of the sketchy memory of it; a wet, pulpy handful itself, in which the various elements of the traditional string quartet structure might behave nomadically and become rearranged in non-traditional ways.

I remember the declarative voice of the pilot of the plane over the intercom, just before I fell, quoting Zappa… "Jazz isn't dead. It just smells funny."

Performer Biographies

Acclaimed throughout the United States, Canada, South America and Europe, Timothy Jones is rapidly emerging as one of the leading bass-baritones of his generation. His eagerly anticipated performances combine intelligent musicianship, commanding vocal technique and a unique ability to connect with audiences. He is a champion of opera, the concert stage, chamber music, solo recitals and the premieres of contemporary works. Jones is a native of Shreveport, Louisiana; he is on the faculty at the University of Houston Moores School of Music.

In addition to his many solo performances, pianist Mark Alexander is widely known for his collaborative work on the keyboard. This summer he returns for a third time to Graz, Austria on the staff of the American Institute of Musical Studies. He has performed with baritone William Warfield and flutist Bradley Garner. He has also accompanied the San Antonio Mastersingers, the Choral Society of San Antonio, Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble, and the Austin Civic Chorus and also has served as an orchestral pianist for the San Antonio Symphony. Alexander holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Texas at Austin, and he is currently an adjunct Professor of Piano at San Antonio College and Our Lady of the Lake University. He is a native of Caledonia, Michigan.

Since 1997 the Tosca String Quartet (Leigh Mahoney, Sara Nelson, Ames Asbell, and Tracy Seeger) has built an international reputation by collaborating with renowned artists from a variety of genres. The quartet first met while pursuing classical music degrees at the University of Texas at Austin, and soon after began a relationship with composer Glover Gill. Because of their constant interaction with a variety of local musicians in the “Live Music Capital of the World,” they feel at home both in concert halls and nightclubs. The Tosca String Quartet has performed and/or recorded with national artists Ray Benson, Willie Nelson, John Cale, Alejandro Escovedo, Lyle Lovett, Ray Price, Ian Moore, Double Trouble, Friends on Dean Martinez, Shawn Colvin, Austin favorite Bob Schneider, and Russell Crowe’s band Thirty odd Foot of Grunts. They also appear on the Dixie Chicks’ Grammy-winning album, Home.

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