Monday, November 10, 2014

Composer Jeffrey Mumford on 'wending' on Sono Luminus CD 'Permutations': 'The recorded performance here by Eliesha nothing short of stunning!'


Eliesha Nelson, Viola,
James Howsmon, Piano
Sono Luminus

Jeffrey Mumford
(Ronald Jantz)

On Nov. 8, 2014 AfriClassical posted:

Jeffrey Mumford,, sends notes on his composition on Eliesha Nelson's forthcoming Sono Luminus recording Permutations:

Here are the program notes with addendae:

Re: "wending", as part of the scenario of the work’s ongoing development, slower moving material is often interrupted by sharply accented chords or single notes which in and of themselves, establish an independent layer of activity. In addition, more rapidly moving passages reveal themselves periodically and eventually transform into tremolos at which point aspects of the more ethereal material from the opening reassert themselves.

The work is prevailingly rhapsodic and is in one movement.

The recorded performance here by Eliesha Nelson (with whom I have happily worked on many occasions)  is nothing short of stunning!

My work is inspired by cloud imagery, and the qualities of light, and time of day. I am fascinated by the layers that result from the differing rates of speed, at which these clouds move. I find compelling the speed with which clouds move; splitting off and recombining with one another; reforming and sometimes dissipating entirely.  This, I think, is an operative analogy to the approach I take in my work.  I am interested in setting up layers of simultaneous activity in which musical lines often develop independently of each other. This developmental scenario (which can be seen as analogous to being at a party where one person “holds court” and others try with varying degrees of success to “get a word in edgewise”) involves many different kinds of activity, including dialogues between layers, which constantly vie for prominence.

            I am very excited about the current direction my work is taking. Over the past few years, I have been focusing on images from my childhood - specifically, the energy and particular journey daylight (either direct or reflected) took through my bedroom window. In addition, I have more keenly focused on gradations and intensities of light as communicated by sound. I imagine distinct worlds within clouds as they define distance, which greatly fuels my imagination. In particular and most recently, pieces such an expanding distance of multiple voices (for violinist Lina Bahn), through dancing echoes spreading softly (for the Chicago Symphony), toward the deepening stillness beyond visible light  (for the Pacifica Quartet and pianist Amy Briggs) a focused expanse of evolving experience (for the Empyrean Ensemble at UC Davis) and . . . and symphonies of deepening light  . . . expanding  . . . ever cavernous, (for the Cincinnati Symphony), through a stillness brightening (for violinist Miranda Cuckson and the Argento Chamber Ensemble), a dance into reflected daylight (for the Sphinx consortium),  two rhapsodies for ‘cello & strings, eight aspects of appreciation II (for violinist Miranda Cuckson & ‘cellist Julia Bruskin) and still air (piano quartet) attempt to address these elements.

As an African American composer, I take my position and responsibility seriously. When I teach, I encourage all of my students to speak with their own voice, and not succumb to the limitations others may try to give them. I believe that for too long, African Americans (and many others) have been pigeon-holed (both by their own constituency and by others) by limited assumptions of the scope of their creative activity. I want to explode this. I believe that the artist must be a citizen aware of the context in which he/she lives both politically and culturally. Then he or she must define his or her own world with frames of reference unique to him or herself and invite people into that world at appropriate times.

The opportunity to share my work with the larger community is one that I cherish.

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