The Final Die Bibliomusik of the 2014-2015 Season
What an event! With rain keeping the participants and their weather-sensitive pieces of equipment in the Performing Arts Center, the last Die Bibliomusik ended in spectacular fashion.
The concert seated a variety of active students and faculty in the PAC Art Gallery, all ready to enjoy the slightly extended concert program to accommodate a large number of interested performers. Aside from one composer on the program list, every contribution to the concert was made by a student composer. A variety of instrumentations and the occasional incorporation of electronics showed new attendees the fearlessness in what is allowed to be presented. These concerts invite the audience into a workshop, with different musical inventors welcoming the critique of their projects.
A great new addition to the collective of musicians involved in the concert series were the Bassment Brass Boys, including Nikolaus Schroeder (composer, euphonium), Julia Bovee (euphonium), Lukas Schroeder (tuba), and Matt Langlois (tuba). These players performed a piece by John Stevens (b. 1951) entitled Moondance. The piece made very effective use of these low brass instruments’ ranges while also including jazz harmonies, something rarely seen for an instrument arrangement of this type. A great inclusion of a living composer’s works and a fine display of a strong brass ensemble!
The bulk of the program included works by frequent contributors, including Matthew Finch, Richie Arndorfer, Ashlee Busch, and John Jansen. Each composer brought a new arrangement of a previous work, brand new works, or returning works that have been performed on different concert programs. John Jansen, running sound the entire concert, used the PA setup to play his ambient electronic piece entitled Cloudy Day on a Grassy Hilltop, where he used elements of an electric guitar, electric razer, his voice, and specific electronic process to create a sonic depiction of his home on a cloudy day. Richie Arndorfer included Ultraviolet, a piece performed by Arndorfer (oboe), Amy Zuidema (clarinet), Jenna Michael (violin), Nate Bliton (viola), Baily Groendyke (vibraphone). This movement of three capturing different aspects of light also has been arranged for solo piano, a work titled We Sat Around in a Torpid State. Arndorfer also premiered a duet for oboe and clarinet called Disassembly Required, where Arndorfer and Zuidema had to perform a variety of noise combinations and textures while slowly disassembling their instruments with each new section. This created a fun visual for the audience as the performer constraints became even more limiting, yet defying expectations of what the listener assumes is only capable of each instrument.
Matthew Finch wrote a work, originally for vibraphone trio, titled Overlapping Horizons, which focused on playing around with rhythmic ideas centered around a single melody. The piece was performed by Wade Selkirk and two additional parts in an electronic backing track. He also premiered a snapshot version of his larger work Fragile Thought, performed by Richie Arndorfer (oboe), Julia Gjebic (English horn), Wade Selkirk (vibraphone), Kevin Flynn (cello), and myself on piano. Composer and teacher Ashlee Busch expanded on the ideas in one of her sixty-second entries for this year's GVSU Composition Competition. The piece, Euphony, originally arranged for the GVSU New Music Ensemble, was presented as a trio for viola (Nate Bliton), cello (Kevin Flynn), and poetic recitation (Julia Gjebic). Not only was the music expanded to include a lot more beautiful, interweaving melodic lines between the stringed instruments, but the poetry was written by Busch herself, showing a desire to work with a variety of artistic mediums and have them interact.
Julia Gjebic, Die Bibliomusik coordinator and student composer/performer, contributed a couple of pieces. The leading program piece, 01303, was basically an artistic statement on the frustrations and emotions behind trying to play the oboe. As Gjebic sat carefully crafting an oboe reed, something oboists do countless times in their career, a backing track filled the space with careful snapshots of a lecture regarding the oboe. Scattered quotes like “the oboe” and “painstakingly whittled” are fed through electronic processes to create an accompanying texture to her reed crafting, which can now be seen as performance art. Gjebic also included a piece for solo cello and electronics titled Where the World Falls Away, detailing the experience of rising above the clouds in an airplane and seeing where the horizon meets the skyline. The piece was performed by Kevin Flynn (cello), and, fun fact, the numbers titling the piece were picked to mimic the spelling of the actual word "oboe."
Overall, it was another successful concert and a great way to end the season. Since Julia Gjebic will be graduating, along with many of the performers and composers typically involved, the job of organizing and hosting has been passed along to Kevin Flynn, who will no doubt recruit a variety of new, talented players and composers to continue this great concert series. I join a lot of players and composers leaving GVSU, and to have this great concert as my final Die Bibliomusik was great. Concerts like these always remind me to keep collaborating, keep striving for excellence in performance, and to always give credit where it is due. Composers need performers to realize their vision and performers need composers to keep expanding the repertoire on their instrument. It will be great to check in a year from now and see how the tradition will continue.
If you want to read up on some of the composers mentioned, check out these links:
Richie Arndorfer: https://dutchersnedeker.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/piece-by-piece-piano-patterns-1-pop-snacks-winter-and-recital-highlights/
Matthew Finch: https://dutchersnedeker.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/featured-composer-matthew-finch/
Performance of Euphony: http://youtu.be/-dZnRp9fhTU