Sept. 18, 2000 8 pm
Fine Arts, Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall
Artspree Performing Arts Series
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Michael Carenbauer, guitar
Concerto for for Violin and String Orchestra
Michael Carenbauer, guitar
Quartet Opus 19, No.
Lento sensibile sostenuto
Michael Carenbauer, guitar
By the Bank of the Yili
Connie Ng, zheng
Battle against Typhoon
Connie Ng, zheng
Butterfly Lovers Zheng
1995 version by Ho Zhanhao
Connie Ng, zheng
Sextet for Guitar, Zheng
and String Quartet
Mountain Meditation/Rain Dance/Cabin Creek
Kam Tin Song
The conditions of a solitary bird are five:
the first, that it flies to the highest point;
the second, that it does not suffer for company, not even of its own kind;
the third, that it aims its beak to the skies;
the fourth, that it does not have a definite color;
the fifth, that it sings very softly.
Although the Carmelite monk>San Juan de la Cruz lived in the guitar rich Andalusian region of Spain, it is unlikely that he had a guitarist in mind when he wrote this verse in the 16th century! There are many similarities between the musical life of the classical guitarist and the austere life the monk was espousing. Classical guitar is not included in the community of orchestral instruments and is rarely heard in smaller chamber music combinations. The modern classical guitar is only about 150 years old. A few guitarists elevated the status of the guitar as a solo instrument in the early part of the 19th century, but there is little important repertoire for the guitar and other instruments from most of the major style periods. The first half of this program addresses this unfortunate set of circumstances through the transcription of a work that predates the instrument and the presentation of a major work by a neglected guitarist/composer.
"One can never say enough of their beauty."
Joseph Forkel, Bach's first biographer, writing of the concertos for violin and strings.
Bach's compositions for solo violin, cello, and lute are among the most demanding and rewarding that the solo guitarist will encounter. Less commonly transcribed are his great concerto works. The emphasis on Bach's legendary status as a keyboard virtuoso leaves us with an incomplete picture of his instrumental capabilities. Perhaps the greatest testimony to his understanding of the violin is his set of Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, whose intensity and polyphonic nature continue to challenge the modern virtuoso. In 1717 Bach was employed by Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen, a music enthusiast who played the violin, the viola da gamba and the clavier. Bach wrote much of his most cherished chamber music during his stay in Köthen. Some accounts mention that he often directed Prince Leopold's court orchestra while playing violin. The Concerto in E Major, BWV 1042, is particularly suited to guitar performance and was arranged by Bach for harpsichord and string orchestra as well.
Musicologist Simon Wynberg notes that, "Of the many composers who wrote for the guitar in the 19th century, Francois de Fossa is among the most obscure...he receives no mention in any of the major music reference books and only a few sketchy notes in the more specialist guitar biographies."
Recent research has uncovered a substantial body of literature by de Fossa that is worthy of critical review. His music for guitar and strings is particularly important. De Fossa considered himself to be a modern&" composer and wanted to liberate guitar from the formulaic writing that dominated the time. His quartets were greeted enthusiastically in Madrid and he was dubbed the Hayden of the guitar&". Predictably enough, when he tried to sell and publish the works, the best offer he received was less than the cost of the music paper he used to compose them. He lamented that I was obliged to content myself with the reputation that my compositions gave me, and as reputation does not fill one's belly, I have given up this sort of work forever. "Opus 19, No. 3" was actually composed for 2 guitars, violin, and cello. This evening's performance uses the alternative viola part De Fossa scripted to replace the 2nd guitar. In both versions de Fossa successfully integrates guitar into the ensemble in a refreshingly modern manner and allows it to participate as an equal in the exchange and development of thematic material.
By the Bank of the Yili River is based on an ancient song and dance, Sai Nai Mui", from the Zinjiang area of China, where the Uygur nationality lives. The Sai Nai Mui" consists of 2 or more songs performed primarily by plucked instruments with a hand drum accompaniment. It typically depicts the happiness of labor and life, admiration for sincere love and yearning for a bright future. The composer attempts to trace the historical musical exchange in the Han and Tang Dynasties. A scene of people singing and dancing on the bank of the Yili River at the foot of the Tianshan Mountain is pictured by combining the the melody of the western part of China with the instrument from the central region.
Battle Against Typhoon is another programmatic work for zheng written in the 1970's. It musically depicts scenes of the Shanghai pier. After the introduction there are 5 sections:
1. Allegro - expresses the lively scenes at the pier.2. Imitates the typhoon
3. The workers fight against the typhoon
4. Adagio - a lyrical melody expresses the courage of the workers
5. Allegro, recapitulation - depicts the heroic image of selflessness of the workers
The Butterfly Lovers is a very famous melody based on an ancient Chinese love story. Two school friends fall in love. The zheng melodies evoke the closeness of the two lovers. The soloist and the accompaniment illustrate the joy and freedom that they feel. This version is based on a score for string orchestra, piano, oboe, clarinet and flute.
The Concerto for Guitar, Zheng and String Quartet reflects my eclectic musical interests and elicits the interaction of musicians with diverse backgrounds. This unusual instrumental combination presented a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The zheng has has much in common with the guitar, albeit from a different musical perspective. Both instruments produce sound in similar fashion, have a rapid decay and have the ability to play in between the 12 pitches associated with the western intonation system. Interestingly, the zheng is tuned to the pentatonic scale, a universally popular pattern which is the predominant melodic component of much of blues and American popular music. These performance similarities of the zheng and guitar are offset by different historical paths. The zheng has a distinguished 5000 year history. It was considered archaic at the beginning of the Chinese republic and almost sank into complete obscurity during the May Fourth movement. The brief history of the classical guitar has been overshadowed by the incredible emergence of the electric guitar that has transformed popular music throughout much of the world. I thought it would be interesting to combine the sounds of the zheng and guitar with the fullness of the string quartet.
The first movement of this work is divided into 3 sections. Mountain Meditation recalls the Chinese visual landscape tradition and programmatic musical emphasis. A brief exchange, (like drops of rain), between the guitar and zheng is followed by an ostinato figure and held notes in the strings. The arpeggiated figure of the guitar provides a harmonic foundation that changes the aural landscape much as the morning light may change a mountain scene. A transitional dance section is followed by an Appalachian-like theme, and an improvisatory exchange between the guitar and zheng.
Kam Tin Song features the zheng in a childlike melody that embraces the sentimental and nostalgic side of Chinese music. The harmonic support and accompaniment supplied by the guitar and strings is very much in the American popular music style, as is the overall song form and use of 4 bar phrases throughout.
The Finale is very loosely based on a Chinese folk song. The primary theme is introduced at the start by the zheng with a guitar counterpoint. The harmonic basis of the counterpoint becomes the ground for the syncopated violin figures when the melody reappears with the cello. The theme and accompaniment are reintroduced in retrograde and inversion subsequent to a rousing finale.
Michael Carenbauer began playing guitar while attending Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. After he completed a dual degree in Economics/History at Bowdoin he received a performance degree in Jazz Guitar from Berklee College in Boston, where he studied with Pat Metheny, and a Masters of Music in Classical Guitar from the University of South Florida. He was appointed to the faculty of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1982. He has since performed as a soloist and in ensemble throughout much of the United States and internationally in Mexico, France, Italy and Hong Kong. He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Faculty Excellence Teaching Award from UALR's College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and a Fellowship Award in the area of music composition from the Arkansas Arts Council. He has been selected twice to be a presenter at the Guitar Foundation of America's International conventions and has published articles for the Journal of the American String Teacher's Association and the Guitar Foundation of America. He is currently Director of Guitar Studies at UALR and holds the rank of Professor of Music.
Connie Ng has performed to critical acclaim in Hong Kong, Hawaii, Portugal, Japan, Taiwan and Moscow. Her CD The Butterfly Lovers&" with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Shanghai Folk Orchestra was one of the best selling CDs in Asia. Her second CD was recorded with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra and China Broadcast Folk Orchestra. She studied zheng, (also translated as guzheng), with RAO Ning-xin, Chan Chuen-yum and CHAN Nui-see and graduated from the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts in 1989. In the same year she was the winner of the guzheng solo in the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival and the Chinese Music Grand Award of Hong Kong Arts Festival. Ms. Ng currently is the soloist of the Hong Kong City Chinese Orchestra and teaches for the Provisional Urban Council, Provisional Regional Council Music Office of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Chinese University.