On 06, Sep 2023 | In Music in the Hall | By Joel Friedman
Sweet Stillness is a plea for peace and understanding, to find that sorely needed space for contemplation and grounding in our dark and troubled world. I compiled the text from an excerpt of Barthold Heinrich Brockes’ poem Süße Stille, sanfte Quelle, in a translation my dear friend and colleague Kay (Dr. K. M. Knittel) offered to me years ago, and newly written words of my own. The work is scored for SATB soloist, SATB chorus, piano, and strings and is dedicated “To Kay Knittel who still lights the world around us.” Sweet Stillness was commissioned by Catholic University of America’s Rome School of Music, Drama and Art.
And I have a request: please watch DREAM (it’s just 4 minutes long) and share it WIDELY. I would like it to make a constructive difference for our upcoming midterm elections on November 8th. Democracy and freedom – and all that follows – are on the ballot. We need to “sing that out” loud and clear, and art can help. Thank you. — Joel Phillip Friedman (composer/lyricist). Special thanks for the talents of Alex Gallows (voice) and Scott Thureen (video).
Uncle Hokum’ s Fiddle is a fun, virtuosic solo violin “fiddle” piece with a Blue Grass flavor – think Wieniawski meets Orange Blossom Special! – originally 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. In 2022 Karen Bentley Pollick asked for a 2 violin version for her Virtuosos De Camara’s Fiddlefest (Karen Bentley Pollick and Philip Brezina, violins) which will be rescheduled in 2023. Video will be posted on Virtuosos De Camara’s YouTube page. Audio is HERE.
The score is available through Grey Bird Music. To see a perusal score click here.
Both the revised solo (V. 2.0) & duo (with parts) versions are now bundled together as one 10×13″ PDF download for purchase for a total of $8.00 USD. Please contact me directly due to the recent changes in PayPal’s coding that have disabled the creation of new payment buttons. Payment can be accepted via Venmo until this site is updated.
On 29, Sep 2021 | In Music in the Hall | By Joel Friedman
There is a long history behind the genesis of this brief work. “The Horizon Beyond” has its roots in works that I composed for the Klein International String Competition (“Triptych,” for solo cello), and a work commissioned by Maestro Angel Gil-Ordoñez for his Georgetown University Orchestra premiered in 2014 (“The First Step of the Journey”). With “The Horizon Beyond,” I revisited the earlier works and fashioned a new brief, concert opener. “The Horizon Beyond” is in an arch form – moving from a quiet restlessness to more joyful, buoyant, and declamatory music, and then back to a quiet, unsettled close. The piece captures a mixture of hope and unease, a sense of reaching for something that’s just out of reach – the horizon beyond. It is dedicated to my friend and colleague, Angel Gil-Ordoñez
On 03, Jan 2019 | In Music in the Hall | By Joel Friedman
Double Concerto for Viola, Cello, and Chamber Orchestra
World Premiere: March 29, 2020 – POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19
Hear about Inferno from the members of the team…
On 26, Jul 2018 | In Music in the Hall | By Joel Friedman
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.