One of the challenges of organizing a performance is to decide what to play and what order to play it in.
At the 2013 Chicago Bass Festival, we played a short concert. And I mean, really, short. When we got done and I looked at my watch, I realized that we would not have a full set for the March 10 performance. So we added a couple of pieces.
At our last rehearsal, I wanted to make sure we would have a program of a decent length. So I sketched out the pieces in what I think is a good order, and timed each piece as we ran through it. Add ’em up and we’re just under an hour of music. (See the column of figures in the picture below.) With some conversation in between pieces, this will be a nice concert.
Program for March 10, sketched out on the blackboard in our rehearsal space
The other aspect of a program is to try to have a nice flow from beginning to end. “Wildebeests and Warthogs” by Dan Armstrong is fun way to open the concert. It will show the versatility and flexibility of our instruments, and probably many audience members will be surprised at how nimble we can be. It’s a good opener.
Next, we move to transcriptions of motets by Tomas Luis da Victoria. This is a super sharp jump in style from “Wildebeests.” Arranged for bass quartet by Michael Cameron, these three motets will sound great in a nice resonant space.
As it turns out, one motif in this concert will be the movement across time — meaning across the eras in which pieces are written. Jan Alm‘s Kvartett is a contemporary piece, published in 1988. That’s followed up by the tender and short Lullaby by contemporary composer Paul Ramsier.
The peaceful mood laid out by Lullaby is however, short-lived. Because Teppo Hauta-Aho‘s Why? is a dark and brooding lament. It may be a bit of a shock! So we will probably insert a short period of conversation with the organizer of Sounds of the South Loop, Kim Diehnelt to put some space between these pieces.
Why? is so emotionally intense that I want to offset its impact before going on. At the Bass Festival, I programmed Lullaby to follow Why?. But I’ll be honest with you, that combination was really draining. I said as much from the stage at the festival. So this time, I’m following Why? with a transcription of a Georg Philipp Telemann sonata for four violins (TWV 40:202). It has the kind of motoric rhythm and simple, classical harmonies that should serve as an antidote for the passion of Teppo’s piece.
If you look at the image on the blackboard (yes, the Chicago Waldorf School is kind enough to let us use their music room as a rehearsal space, and they have big, beautiful blackboards, lovingly seasoned by the teachers–yes, there is an art to seasoning a blackboard, but that’s not our subject now), you’ll see “Fugues 9, 5.” Joel DiBartolo arranged two fugues from Bach’s second Well-Tempered Clavier. Since number five has a motif very very similar to the final movement of the Telemann sonata, I decided during our rehearsal to play the ninth fugue before the fifth, in order to avoid a repetitive feeling.
Finally, we’re reprising Tony Osborne‘s Rocket Man, a piece the Chicago Bass Ensemble had a hand in commissioning, and which we premiered last month. Due to its high energy and virtuosic playing, it’s a good closer!
So, that is a summary of my thinking behind the program. I’m posting this at 9:30 pm on Thursday, and haven’t taken the time to link all the pieces — though most of them do have links somewhere on the web. If you read this before I get back and add all the detail, you can enjoy finding more information via our friends at Google. I do intend to get back here shortly and add more links for you.
Cheers! I hope you enjoy Sounds of the South Loop on March 10!
(updated 8 March, 2013, with links for most of the composers, arrangers and pieces. Many links selected using the “hmm, that looks good even though I didn’t read it” method. You may use your discretion when following and reading.)