Gordon Percival Septimus Jacob CBE (1895 – 1984) was an English composer and teacher. He was a professor at the Royal College of Music in London from 1924 until his retirement in 1966, and published four books and many articles about music. He was a prolific composer, with more than 700 original works, orchestrations, and arrangements. Jacob began composing after being taken POW in 1917 during the First World War by studying a harmony textbook in the prison camp library. Among his many noteworthy students is composer Imogen Holst.
Miniature Suite for B-flat clarinet and viola was composed in 1956. It is a delightful 4 movement work exploring the textures and characters of the clarinet and viola in duet. This is a first performance of Miniature Suite and of music by Gordon Jacob at the Loon Lake Live.
Imogen Holst (1907-1984)
Imogen Holst CBE was a British composer, arranger, conductor, teacher, musicologist, and festival administrator. She is particularly known for her 20 years as joint artistic director of the acclaimed Aldeburgh Festival, and for her close working relationship to composer Benjamin Britten and his partner, tenor Peter Pears.
Fall of the Leaf is a piece for solo cello composed by Imogen Holst in 1963 for her pianist/cellist friend Pamela Hind O'Mally. It is constructed as a 5 movement suite which is bookended by her arrangement of The Fall of the Leafe, a keyboard theme by 16th century British composer Martin Peerson. The original Peerson work is one of nearly 300 keyboard pieces from the Renaissance and early Baroque (1562-1612) found in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book alongside works from a multitude of composers from that era, including a John Dowland tune arranged by William Byrd. Acclaimed cellist Steven Isserlis, who knew Holst and made a beautiful recording of her work, writes "Peerson’s theme is heard at the beginning and end of the piece, sometimes accompanied by pizzicato broken chords, to be played, as Imogen said, ‘like the lute of our friend Julian Bream’. The gently falling intervals of the melody imbue Imogen’s three ‘studies’ with an autumnal melancholy. In the first variation, we can surely hear the gusts of wind swaying the trees, in the third the fallen leaves being blown hither and thither. But the heart of the work lies in the central movement, with its poignant opening figure that (as Imogen told me, blue eyes twinkling proudly) her beloved Benjamin Britten found particularly striking." This is a first performance of Fall of the Leaf and of music by Imogen Holst at Loon Lake Live.
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004)
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson was an American composer who operated across multiple disciplines: jazz, pop, film, television, and classical music. He was named after African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912) who was himself named after Anglo-British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Perkinson was born and raised in New York City, attended the High School of Music and Art (aka the “Fame” school!), and briefly studied at NYU. He completed his studies at the Manhattan School of Music, receiving both a bachelor and master degree in composition. He continued his studies at the Berkshire Music Center in Massachusetts and at Princeton University, and spent three years training as a conductor at Salzburg’s Mozarteum and in the Netherlands. Perkinson also toured as pianist for drummer Max Roach’s jazz quartet and was music director and arranger for Roach, Lou Rawls, Marvin Gaye, and Harry Belafonte among others. Perkinson's compositional style has been described as a combination of Baroque style counterpoint and American Romanticism with elements of folk music, blues, spirituals, and filled with rhythmic intensity.
Movement for String Trio is a very short work for string trio which leans heavily into the sound world of JS Bach even as it reflects its 21st century place. It carries a sense of uncomfortable nostalgia, made even more poignant by the fact that this was Perkinson's final work. It was published posthumously in 2021, seventeen years later, which underscores the struggle Perkinson felt during his entire career just to be seen, heard, and included. In it you can hear echoes of Bach's "Air" in the walking bass cello line in contrast to the long tender melody in the violin and viola. The meter is uneven, though, disrupting the flow of that walk in a way that causes intentional deeper connection to our limbs, heartbeat, and thoughts as listeners. This is a first performance of Movement for String Trio and of music by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson at Loon Lake Live.
Irene Britton Smith (1907-1999)
Irene Britton Smith was an American pianist and composer of African, Crow, and Cherokee descent. She was born in Chicago and wanted to study composition at Northwestern University but due to her family's financial concerns she instead became an early childhood education specialist. Despite this, Smith very impressively stuck with her music education pathway, taking courses part time at American Conservatory of Music from 1932 to 1943 where she received a Bachelor of Music degree. From there she took graduate courses in composition at Juilliard, studied composition at the Eastman School of Music and Tanglewood, completed a Master of Music degree at DePaul University, and studied with internationally acclaimed Nadia Boulanger in Fontainebleu, France. To accomplish this she took sabbatical from her teaching position and used her summers when sabbatical wasn't possible. She stopped composing in 1962 and retired from teaching in 1978. She spent some of her retired life volunteering as a docent for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in elementary schools. Smith's compositional output is frustratingly small for someone with so much to say. Most of her work is for voice, vocal ensemble, and chorus. She has a handful of orchestral works, a collection of works for solo piano, and two pieces for violin and piano. Fugue in G Minor is her only instrumental chamber work for strings. Her works continued to be performed during her lifetime, and are performed and recorded to this day.
Fugue in G Minor is a single movement work for string trio composed in 1938, very likely as a study on the structure of fugue. It is Smith's only work for string ensemble. Despite its short length, the fugue is a beautifully constructed and engaging piece of music that builds from a humble beginning to a moving full sounding climax. It is currently unpublished. We are all exceptionally lucky that Smith's music and papers have been archived for study at the Center for Black Music Research in Columbia College, Chicago. Loon Lake Live thanks the CBMR for access to scanned copies of the orginal manuscript from which to prepare this performance. This is a first performance of Fugue in G Minor and of music by Irene Britton Smith at Loon Lake Live.
Riley with daughter Elizabeth in 1997
Dennis Riley (1943-1999)
Dennis Riley was an American composer, born in California, raised in Colorado and spent the majority of his career in New York. He was Composer-in-Residence for the Rockford, IL, Public Schools under the auspices of the Ford Foundation and the Music Educators National Conference, and held teaching posts at California State University and Columbia University. In the mid-1980’s, Mr. Riley was among the first group of composers to master and advocate the use of personal computer programs for the notation of music, and from that time on he earned his living primarily by preparing computer engravings of scores for other composers. Among the many honors he has received are two Broadcast Music, Inc. Awards, the Joseph H. Bearns Prize, a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, and an award and recording grant from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Dennis Riley’s music has been performed widely in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan, and has been received enthusiastically by audiences and critics alike. His earlier works were written in a rhythmically intricate and texturally lucid post-Webern style. In later years, his music, though not appreciably tonal, became more romantic in character, emphasizing his gift for melodic, lyrical writing. His many works include viola concertos, symphonies, works for solo piano, chamber groups, and a large number of works for solo voice, chorus, and two operas. Riley died at the age of 55 on May 6, 1999, in New York City, after living with HIV/AIDS for 19 years. He was survived by his partner Reynaldo Garcia, 2 daughters, and a son.
Dances and Interludes is a 5 movement work for clarinet and string trio composed in 1988. It is a set of three dances - Estampie, Tango, and Badinerie - separated by two interludes. The style is highly rhythmic and leans harmonically modernist, while drawing on the influences of the Baroque era dance forms and bringing in the contrasting Tango interest. Dances and Interludes was last performed at Loon Lake Live in 2002.
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