On 03, Jan 2019 | In Music in the Hall | By joel
Exciting news is coming on an exciting new project! Watch this space. #Inferno
On 26, Jul 2018 | In Music in the Hall | By joel
Watch Michal Balas perform the work HERE.
All Things Are Set Ablaze (text by Hildegard von Bingen, compiled by Joel Phillip Friedman and based upon translations by Nathaniel Campbell and Barbara Newman)
Instrumentation: soprano, soprano, & mezzo-soprano, plus hand percussion
Review in The Washington Post HERE.
All Things Are Set Ablaze (soprano, soprano, & mezzo-soprano, plus hand percussion) was commissioned by Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek for her new ensemble ModernMedieval Trio of Voices (Martha Cluver & Eliza Bagg, sopranos; Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, mezzo-soprano) and is based on the writings of famed German abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath Hildegard von Bingen.
I am imagining my own made-up and modernized version of Hildegard von Bingen rising up and returning to warn us all: we have lost our way, are facing destruction, and we must listen to her now, or face the consequences as she warns … “all things are set ablaze… from me!” My invented Hildegard is a mixture of the real and prescient woman of many enormous talents and startling visions, Wagner’s Valkyrie warrior Brünnhilde, the Oracle of Delphi prophesying the future, and perhaps a bad-ass Wonder Woman. Most of the words I set are Hildegard’s own, in English translations by Medieval Latin scholars Nathaniel Campbell and Barbara Newman. Perhaps Hildegard’s writings initially had…a slightly different context, but it doesn’t take much to feel the potent currency of her words as we look at what is happening today. I have added some non-Hildegard text: short cautionary Latin fragments (“Monitum… Praedictum… Ignifer… Audi me”) as well as, fittingly, a single line from Wagner’s opera Die Walküre – the famous Valkyrie war cry (“Hojotoho! hojotoho! heiaha! Heiaha!”). If Hildegard were to return today I imagine she would like the spirit of these added words. Perhaps she’d join singing them as well!
I’d like to thank Nathaniel Campbell and Barbara Newman for allowing me to use and adapt their Hildegard translations, and for Nathaniel’s invaluable help wordsmithing the Latin portions.
Uncle Hokum’ s Fiddle is a fun, virtuosic solo violin “fiddle” piece with a Blue Grass flavor – think Wieniawski meets Orange Blossom Special! – commissioned for the 2013 Irving M. Klein International String Competition and performed by all the semifinalists (and some finalists). The title comes from two main sources. The first is the word “hokum,” which basically means nonsense, bunk, or something silly. It was also used in theater to describe some sort of stage gimmickry designed to elicit a response from a jaded audience. Perhaps a crowd pleaser? The second source is a type of bowing typical of virtuosic country fiddling pieces: hokum bowing (also referred to as the “double shuffle”). Check out Orange Blossom Special as an example of this “trick bowing.” I wanted to graft the traditions of 19th Century virtuosic violin writing with country or bluegrass fiddling. This performance was by semifinalist Yanghe Yu. Uncle Hokum’s Fiddle works really well as a recital encore!
The score is available through Grey Bird Music. To see a perusal score click here.
You can purchase a 10×13″ PDF copy of the score below:
Commissioned by the Irving M. Klein International String Competition for the duo Soliloquy – Klein Laureates Ariel Horowitz, violin & Lauren Siess, viola. NEW REVISED VERSION!
Instrumentation: violin and viola (NB: this piece requires some singing and movement)
Duration: Ca. 20″
My fierce little solo viola piece When the World Disintegrates Before Your Eyes was commissioned for the 2013 Irving M. Klein International String Competition. Performed here at its Washington D.C. premiere by the superb Derek Smith, principal violist of the New Orchestra of Washington, at Georgetown University. It is a virtuosic, intense, fractured, scherzo-like piece with echoes of Beethoven. The film is by Francisco Campos-Lopez of CinÉ/Company E. You can also hear a blisteringly brilliant performance by 2002 Klein winner and now principal violist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Teng Li at National Sawdust Here. The original remarkable World Premiere performance by 2013 Klein winner Dana Kelley Here. Want to hear Andrew Gonzalez play it at the Heifetz International Music Institute? Click here! Read what Strad Magazine had to say. The score is available through Grey Bird Music. To see a perusal score click here.
You can purchase a 10×13″ PDF copy of the score below:
Movable Home for String Orchestra
Instrumentation: string orchestra (184.108.40.206.0 solo, plus 220.127.116.11.1 absolute minimum, more preferred – see below)
Duration: 18 minutes
Excerpt 1 (click here): Bright and energetic: The opening. A fast, energetic, and in-your-face introduction to the piece’s basic material: descending scales and a syncopated rhythm. (Mm. 1-33)
Excerpt 2 (click here): Ethereal (un poco rubato): A final distillation of the descending scales mixed with nostalgic melodic fragments from earlier variations. (Mm. 314-335)
Excerpt 3 (click here): Tenderly (poco rubato): Part of the expressive “central core“ of the piece as thematic bits coalesce into long melodic lines… which are then abruptly undercut by an unpredictable jazzy treatment of the scalar material (Mm. 177-225)
Excerpt 4 (click here): A tempo, intense: A further development of the opening rhythms plus an important expressive secondary theme appears for the 1st time. (Mm. 37-71)