Maggie Parkins, Cello: "Stellar Remnants"

Sunday, December 8, 2019, 7 p.m.
Drinkward Recital Hall

A half body shot of Maggie Parkins playing the cello.
Maggie Parkins. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Khse Buon for cello solo (1980)
Chinary Ung

Stellar Remnants (2017)
   For solo cello and electronics
Ellen Reid

Grāmata čellam, Das Buch (1978)
Pēteris Vasks

N.N. (premiere 2019)
   For solo cello, electronics, and video
Federico Llach

Maggie Parkins is equally at home in chamber music, orchestral music and the avant-garde. She has performed throughout the Americas and Europe and her work currently ranges from concert recitals to multimedia, multi-genre collaborations. Always an advocate for new and experimental music, Parkins, along with the Eclipse Quartet, has commissioned or premiered numerous works from composers, including Carla Kihlstedt, Zeena Parkins and Fred Frith. As a chamber musician, in addition to the Eclipse String Quartet, she also is a member of the Mojave Piano Trio and Brightwork newmusic. In the orchestra world she has performed under the batons of Seiji Ozawa, Leonard Bernstein, Simon Rattle and Andre Previn performing with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Syracuse Symphony, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Pasadena Symphony, the Riverside Symphony and the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra. She has been on the Pomona College faculty since 2016.

From 1976 to 1980, Chinary Ung who was residing in the U.S., was completely cut off from communication with relatives in his homeland, Cambodia. After 1980, when word of survivors began arriving from Thai refugee camps via the Red Cross, he discovered that at least half of his family had perished from execution, starvation, and suicide. As a result, Ung wrote no more music for eleven years—with an exception, in 1980, of the solo cello work, Khse Buon—but instead began a serious study of his native Khmer musical traditions. He learned and became an active performer on the roneat-ek, a Cambodian xylophone, and he compiled two volumes of Cambodian music for Folkways Records. He also became active in helping Cambodian refugees during perhaps the most difficult and tragic period in his country’s history. During this decade of soul searching, Ung devoted himself not just to the study of Cambodian culture but to Asian aesthetics in general. While teaching at Northern Illinois University in the late 1970s, he also continued to perform with Western performers and became involved with group improvisation. All of these experiences found their way into Khse Buon, written for solo cello. The transformation of the cello into an Eastern sounding instrument is of course immediately apparent to the listener, especially in the invocation of the Indian bowed instrument, the sarangi. More important, though, was the freeing of Ung’s musical language, which he claims was a result of his experience with improvisation.

Ellen Reid is one of the most innovative artists of her generation. A composer and sound artist whose breadth of work spans opera, sound design, film scoring, ensemble and choral writing, she was awarded the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her opera, p r i s m. Along with composer Missy Mazzoli, Ellen co-founded the Luna Composition Lab. Luna Lab is a mentorship program for young, female-identifying, non-binary, and gender non-conforming composers. Since the fall of 2019, she has served as Creative Advisor and Composer-in-Residence for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Ellen received her BFA from Columbia University and her MA from California Institute of the Arts. She is inspired by music from all over the globe, and she splits her time between her two favorite cities – Los Angeles and New York. Her music is released on Decca Gold.

Pēteris Vasks was born on 16 April 1946 in Aizpute in Latvia as the son of a Baptist pastor who was well-known in Latvia. Vasks suffered under the repressions of Russian cultural doctrine due to his beliefs and artistic convictions, but the Latvian composer’s works have swiftly achieved widespread recognition during the past few years. Vasks's compositions incorporate archaic, folklore elements from Latvian music and place them within a dynamic and challenging relationship with the language of contemporary music. The works are frequently given programmatic titles based on natural processes. Frequent reference is made to his personal biography and the recent history of suffering on the part of the Latvian people. At the early age of 10, Vasks had already composed a freedom-fighting choral song in reaction to the sufferings of those who had been expelled from their houses and sent to detention camps overnight.

Raised in Buenos Aires as a jazz performer, music for media producer and classical composer, Federico Llach creates music that seeks to combine the old and the new, as well intimacy of concert music with the energy of popular music. His sound palette has been forever changed as a result of his experience with modular synthesizers, samplers and electronics of all kinds, which usually appear uniquely blended with acoustic instruments in his music. His works have been presented at venues of such geographical and aesthetic diversity as Festival Internacional de Jazz Buenos Aires and Darmstadt Ferienkurse. Llach’s compositional interests are enriched from the perspective of the musicologist, the music technologist and artistic practice as research. A multidisciplinary artist himself, he has suggested in recent writings multidisciplinarity as way to overcome inward-focused approaches in music composition. Llach has founded and directs Now Hear Ensemble, a group of classically trained musicians collaborating with composers working with electronics and intermedia and serves as faculty at the University of California Merced in the Global Arts Program. N.N. is a work about the experience of invisibility and the limitation of expression of recent migrants in the US in a context in which population monitoring is shifting from the real to the virtual realm.

HMC is deeply grateful for the generous support that created The Ken Stevens ’61 Founding Class Concert Series.

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