Milton Babbitt Discovery Concert programme

Page 1

MOOT - music of our time presents


Concert being recorded by BBC Radio 3

Fri Feb 7:30 PM


St Nicholas Church Church Street, Brighton BN1 3LJ Part of MUSIC SCIENCE IMAGINATION series

music for voice,


Music Science Imagination February 2016

and electronic tape ÂŁ10 / UNDER 25s FREE Artistic Director Norman Jacobs

MOOT presents


on sale from March 3 – – 01273 917272

STOCKHAUSEN’S ‘INORI’ WITH ALAIN LOUAFI Alain Louafi performs the role he created for Stockhausen’s INORI using dance-mime in an exploration of religious gestures from around the world accompanied by an original score. **FREE EVENTS – Just show up!** 2pm Saturday 7th FILM: ‘LECTURE ON HU’ ** 6PM Sunday 8th ‘INTRODUCTION TO INORI GESTURES’

7 & 8 May 20:00 £5 – St Nicholas Church, Dyke Rd BN1 3LJ

100 TODAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MILTON BABBITT Broadway musical composer, jazz saxophonist and electronic music pioneer, Milton Babbitt is regarded as one of America’s foremostmusical geniuses. This 100th birthday tribute features his groundbreaking piece ‘Philomel’ for voice & tape and several rarely-performed masterpieces. *** Don’t miss it!

10 May 19:30 £5 – St Nicholas Church, Dyke Rd BN1 3LJ

KEMP DUO PLAY PIANO DUET FAVOURITES Beautiful relaxing classical music for piano duet including pieces by J.S. Bach and Schubert’s glorious Rondo in A Major - plus one or two surprises - played on St Nicholas Church’s new Steinway grand piano by Zhanna Kemp & Norman Jacobs. *** Music for all the family!

13 May 16:00 £5 – St Nicholas Church, Dyke Rd BN1 3LJ 13 May 19:30 £5 – St Nicholas Church, Dyke Rd BN1 3LJ

SHABAKA HUTCHINGS & LIGETI QUARTET Shabaka Hutchings (BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist) teams up with Ligeti Quartet to perform Shabaka’s own Clarinet Quintet, Morton Feldman’s Clarinet and String Quartet, and Milton Babbitt’s String Quartet No. 6 in this CROSSING BOUNDARIES: MUSIC AT THE EDGE event. ***** ‘5 Stars’ Birmingham Post

14 May 19:30 £5 – St Nicholas Church, Dyke Rd BN1 3LJ

Welcome to the world of Milton Babbitt Milton Babbitt was a major pioneering figure in the field of music. His Centenary provides an opportunity for musicians and audience to discover and reassess his music at this evening’s concert (being recorded by BBC Radio 3 for broadcast on May 7) and in events in the Fringe Festival on May 10 and May 14. Born in Philadelphia in 1916, Babbitt grew up in Jackson, Mississippi where by his teens he was skilled as a performer of jazz and pop music, playing saxophone, clarinet and piano. At the same time, he studied mathematics, with little recognition at first how he might find connection between the two. Babbitt’s musical output employs an atomic compositional process following on from the powerful influence of Arnold Schoenberg’s “twelve-tone serialism.” Babbitt, a self-confessed “maximalist” (as opposed to a “minimalist”), took this idea to the nth degree with so-called Total Serialism, the parameters of pitch, intervals and rhythms fused integrally with one another. The debate surrounding Babbitt’s musical practice continues to rage on, one to which Babbitt added much fuel for controversy and speculation through the many provocative, prolix, obscurate and entertaining essays he wrote in his role as spokesman for developments in Western music. - Georgina Bowden sets a couple of lines from one of Babbitt’s essays in her choir piece Breaking the Set, which receives its first performance tonight. Although Babbitt’s legacy is defined by his ‘serious’ music, his background was steeped in the cultural traditions of the American vernacular, Babbitt claiming to know the music & lyrics of over 4,000 old popular show tunes. Babbitt’s own music is an invitation to be curious. For many, the music of Milton Babbitt is a closed door from which they turn away, but I hope that you will take on the challenge that his music presents. Happy listening and I hope you will find a way into the world of Milton Babbitt, one full of innovation, inspiration and wonder.

Norman Jacobs – artistic director PS – If you want to learn more about MOOT please contact us via Facebook or

MILTON BABBITT AT 100 – A DISCOVERY CONCERT Friday, February 12, at 7.30pm · St Nicholas Church, Brighton Please ensure that all electronic devices are turned off during the performance. The taking of photographs or the use recording equipment are not permitted.

MILTON BABBITT (1916-2011) – Homily (1987) 4’ Adam Bushell, snare drum Babbitt habitually used puns as titles for his pieces. In the afterword to the score for this piece, there’s a quote from the homilies of St John Chrysostom, a promise of transcendence: ‘And why, it is asked, are there so many snares? That we may not fly low, but seek the things that are above.’

MILTON BABBITT – None but the Lonely Flute (1987) 4’ Helen Whitaker, flute None but the Lonely Flute owes its title, this time a double pun, to the 1944 film None but the Lonely Heart starring Cary Grant and Ethel Barrymore, as well as to Tchaikovsky’s setting of a Russian translation of Goethe’s poem ‘Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt.’ Joseph Dubiel writes: The piece speaks easily, in exceptionally long, clear phrases, whose internal variety is voluble rather than dramatic. Gradually these phrases show an increasing reluctance to end, as the potential endings are undermined again and again by resumption and extension of details that precede them. And this is the piece’s story: there are no major changes, no marked sections – just a long, long tune.

MILTON BABBITT – My Ends Are My Beginnings (first section) (1978) 6’ Steve Dummer, clarinet Written for virtuoso clarinettist Allen Blustine, this piece’s title refers to mediaeval composer Machaut’s Ma fin est mon commencement, the second half of which is the retrograde (the notes played backwards) of the first half. In this performance, only the first section is played.

MILTON BABBITT – Reflections (1975) 9½’ NEWLY RESTORED VERSION Mark Knoop, piano Newton Armstrong, sound technician Reflections was written for the pianist Robert Miller. The tape part was produced in 1975 on the Mark II Synthesizer at the Columbia-Princeton Center. The title refers to the structure and content of the work, most obviously the reflections and interchanges between the piano and the loudspeakers but also with the organisation of the twelve-tone material.

NEWTON ARMSTRONG (b.1970) – Too slow, for Milton (2011; part of a Babbitt memorial project) 5’ Mark Knoop, piano The piece borrows harmonies from Babbitt’s Composition for 12 Instruments (harmonies which Babbitt had in turn borrowed from Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon), but unfolds them as part of a musical texture characterised by repetition, resonance, and a slow rate of change. As Babbitt once told me that my music was ‘too slow’, this seemed an appropriately obstinate form of homage.

MILTON BABBITT – Soli e Duettini (1989) 12’ Jon Rattenbury & Brian Ashworth, guitars Although an instrumental duo, it is also an opportunity for each performer to play a solo role, quite independent of the other – hence this title.



MILTON BABBITT – Minute Waltz (or 3/4 ± 1/8) (1977) 1’ Julian Trevelyan, piano Minute Waltz (or) 3/4 ± 1/8 was written for a collection of modern waltzes, instigated by pianists Robert Helps and Robert Moran (published by Peters Edition) written by contemporary composers which included John Cage, Philip Glass and Joan Tower, among others. Babbitt dedicated his waltz to his composition teacher Roger Sessions for his 80th birthday.

MILTON BABBITT – Three Theatrical Songs (from Fabulous Voyage) (1946) 5’ “As Long As It Isn’t Love” (words by Milton Babbitt) “Penelope’s Night Song”, “Now You See It” Polina Shepherd, voice. Julian Trevelyan, piano Babbitt’s musical play Fabulous Voyage is an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey, the singing actress taking on the roles of Penelope, the total woman, and those of Circe, Calypso and Nausicaa, representing the three female characters encountered by Odysseus on his long voyage back home. Babbitt writes: These songs reflect that peripheral part of my musical life… which had its origins in a misspent childhood devoted in large part to the writing, arranging and performing of “popular” music, and which ended, in 1946, with Fabulous Voyage.

MILTON BABBITT – Accompanied Recitative (1994) 2’ Huw Wiggin, soprano saxophone Julian Trevelyan, piano In his youth, Babbitt learned to play a dozen musical instruments, mostly to play jazz. One of his favourites was the saxophone. This piece is included to try to cast light on how a mature Babbitt wrote for an instrument he had played as a teenager.



MILTON BABBITT – Quatrains (1993; setting of a poem by John Hollander) 5’ Sarah Gabriel, soprano Steve Dummer & Neil Greig-Smith, clarinets Composed for Mary Wiegold and The Composers Ensemble, this piece was first performed at Dartington International Summer School in 1994 where Babbitt led a class in advanced composition.

Night beside me, I turned from her toward day, Cloyed with the stillness of our common clay, And twitted in the morning by the birds For not delighting in their brightened gray. This dream was broken by my opening eyes: Flowers in pots… Among them, butterflies Tiny, and like the flowers in color, swarm Before resemblance in the daylight dies. Extract from John Hollander’s poem Summer Day

MILTON BABBITT – An Encore (2006) 1½’ EUROPEAN PREMIERE Mandhira de Saram, violin Julian Trevelyan, piano Babbitt wrote An Encore, which was to be his last work, for David Fulmer, one of his former composition students and a violin virtuoso. By calling it An Encore he may have been thinking of its diminutive size, but in the context of his life and the poor state of his health, it is possible he thought it might be his final musical utterance. Yet there is no trace of morbidity or exhaustion in its engaging, scherzando character. [Programme note by Dr. Joel Sachs, Juilliard School; used with permission.] With thanks to Peters Edition, New York for providing a copy of the manuscript for this piece (as yet unpublished) and to Julian Trevelyan for creating an engraving of the work.



INTERMISSION Babbitt factoid: Stephen Sondheim studied with Babbitt for two years studying shows,

individual songs such as those of Jerome Kern and classics like Mozart symphonies. Sondheim said that he learned, ‘how to structure a piece of music so that it will make a coherent whole whether it goes on for three minutes or forty.’ He said of Babbitt, ‘I am his maverick, his one student who went into the popular arts armed with all his serious artillery.’

MILTON BABBITT – Manifold Music (1995) 8’ Ryan Kennedy, organ The title is taken from a line in Robert Browning’s poem Abt Vogler: ‘Would that the structure brave, the manifold music I build… Bidding my organ obey, calling its keys to their work.’ While writing this work, Babbitt recalled his months assisting Carl Weinrich, Princeton University’s organist, as he worked towards a performance of Schoenberg’s monumental Variations on a Recitative. Ryan Kennedy is a student at Juilliard School, New York. Thanks are extended to his teacher Paul Jacobs for granting permission to Mr. Kennedy to take time off from his studies to be here tonight.

MILTON BABBITT – Madison Round (2004; setting of words by President J. Madison) 2’ – EUROPEAN PREMIERE Ensemble Kantores conducted by Alex Roose Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob. For conductor Judith Clurman’s Sing Up, Mr President! project, a selection of composers were invited to write a choral piece on a presidential quote.Babbitt chose a line from James Madison’s Federalist Papers, a series of essays commenting on the United States Constitution, of which Madison was the lead author. Madison addresses how many people should be a part of the New York House of Representatives since he’s worried that too many representatives would cause confusion. As Clurman underscores, ‘There’s sarcasm in this text.’

MILTON BABBITT – Music for the Mass: Kyrie section (1941) 5’ – EUROPEAN PREMIERE Ensemble Kantores conducted by Alex Roose Shortly after starting to teach at Princeton University, Babbitt was commissioned to write a piece for the university. A Schoenbergian string trio was rejected, so he wrote a more traditional, tonal piece for choir. It won a prize then was filed away - until the early 21stcentury when it was rediscovered, performed and published in 2010.

GEORGINA BOWDEN (b. 1989) – Breaking the Set (2016; setting of words by Milton Babbitt) 7’ Ensemble Kantores conducted by Alex Roose Commissioned by MOOT for this concert with funding support from HINRICHSEN FOUNDATION [Am I] to be called an enemy of the people because I create a standard to which people might aspire?

From Babbitt’s essay ‘On Having Been and Still Being an American Composer’ Georgina Bowden writes: I wanted Breaking the Set to be a portrait of Babbitt in every sense. I was interested in him as an enigma, a man who loved jazz, but chose as his language the greatest extremity of serialism - seemingly the opposite end of the scale. Breaking the Set celebrates the different facets of Milton Babbitt’s personality and musical interests, looking beyond categorisations imposed upon him, and the polarisation of opinion surrounding his music.

MILTON BABBITT – Autobiography of the Eye (2004; setting of a poem by Paul Auster) 3’ EUROPEAN PREMIERE Sarah Gabriel, soprano Rohan de Saram, violoncello Invisible things, rooted in cold, and growing toward this light that vanishes into each thing it illumines. Nothing ends. The hour returns to the beginning of the hour in which we breathed: as if there were nothing. As if I could see nothing that is not what it is. At the limit of summer and its warmth: blue sky, purple hill. The distance that survives. A house, built of air, and the flux of the air in the air. Like these stones that crumble back into earth. Like the sound of my voice in your mouth. Paul Auster, Autobiography of the Eye from Disappearances

Babbitt and Igor Stravinsky



MILTON BABBITT – Philomel for Soprano, Recorded Soprano, and Synthesised Tape (1964) 19’ NEWLY RESTORED VERSION Poem by John Hollander Juliet Fraser, soprano Newton Armstrong, sound technician

r o t c e v n o i t i t r a p d r o ial hexach ory time-point e h t t s e e s o g m t s i o s l l a b e r s o a t b c s e y v a r n r o a i t i t r a p d r o h c a x t e n h i l o a p ori e m i t y r o e h t t lism se seball so it goes r o a t b c s e y v a r n r o i t i ea t r a p d r o h c a x t e n h i l o a p ori e m i t y r o e h t t alism se aseball so it goes or t b c s e y v a r n r o a i t i t te r a p d r o h c a x t e n h i l o a p i r e to m i t y r o e h t t ialism se aseball so it goes tor b c s e y v a r n r o a i t i t r ate a p d r o h c a x t e n h i l o a p i r o e t a m i t y r o e h t t s e e s o g m t s i i l a o i r ls l a b e r s o a t b c s e y v a r n o i t i t r ate ar a p d r o h c a x t e n h i l o a p i r o e t m i na t y r o e h t t s e e s o g m t s i i l a o i s l er l a b e r s o a t b c s e y v a r n o i t i t r a gate ar p d r o h c a x t e n h i l o a p i r o e t m i t ina y r o e h t t s e e s o g m 10 t s i i l a o s l l seri a b e r s o a t c e v n o arrays b i it

Philomel, a serial composition composed in 1964, combines synthesizer with both live and recorded soprano voice. It was planned as a piece for performance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, funded by the Ford Foundation and commissioned for soprano Bethany Beardslee. Babbitt created Philomel in the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Center, of which he was a founding member. The three sections of the piece are based on Ovid’s myth of Philomela, a maiden without the capability of speech, her escape from King Tereus, and her transformation into a nightingale. In the second section, John Hollander, the librettist, has Philomel communicate with some of the inhabitants of the woods in echo verse. In fact, Hollander had written a book on Echo Poetry, so the section is written not in straight echo but in very elaborate and intricate poetry. The third section is a series of five arias where Philomel finally regains her voice and sings about her life.





A full-time percussionist who is as comfortable with traditional folk music and free improvisation as he is with classical music, Adam teaches for BHAMS, ESMS and is founder of the Tacet Ensemble.

Helen Whitaker flute

Helen graduated with a Masters degree in performance from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with a distinction. She was a Gold Medallist and also the winner of the coveted Harold Clarke Woodwind Prize (2012).

Steve Dummer clarinet

Founder of Talkestra! and principal conductor of Horsham Symphony Orchestra, Steve played Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time in a previous MOOT event with actress Harriet Walter.

Mark Knoop piano

Pianist and conductor Mark Knoop is known for his fearless performances and individual interpretations. He has commissioned and premiered countless new works and worked with many respected composers, and also brings fresh approaches to the standard and 20thcentury repertoire.

Newton Armstrong sound technician & composer

Newton Armstrong is a composer, performer, and occasional builder of electronic musical instruments. The focus of much of his work is directed towards practices of music-making that emerge in the composed interactions between people, technologies, and their environments. He teaches at City University London.



Brian Ashworth & Jon Rattenbury guitar duo

Guitarists Brian Ashworth and Jon Rattenbury have recently begun playing as a duo to explore both contemporary guitar duets and arrangements of more traditional music. Brian and Jon have extensive performance experience as solo players and in a variety of ensembles on both classical and electric guitar.

Polina Shepherd voice

Polina was born in Siberia and grew up in a home where songs were regularly sung at a family table. Growing up in Tatarstan placed her close to Islamic ornamentation and timbre which can be heard in her unique vocal style and four octave range.

Julian Trevelyan piano

Aged 16, Julian is currently studying for a geology degree. He is a member of Aldeburgh Young Musicians and is a keen violinist and singer. Look out for Julian in this year’s forthcoming BBC Young Musician of the Year.

Huw Wiggin soprano saxophone

Commonwealth Musician of the Year, First Prize and Gold Medal winner of the 2014 Royal Overseas League Annual Music Competition, Huw Wiggin is one of the most popular saxophonists of his generation.

Sarah Gabriel soprano

Sarah Gabriel sings music spanning 400 years. She made her acclaimed USA debut in Britten’s The Beggar’s Opera conducted by Lorin Maazel and her European debut as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady at Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris for which Le Monde described her as, ‘as fine an actress as she is a singer’.

Neil Greig-Smith clarinet

Neil Greig-Smith studied privately with Norman McDonald and Alan Hacker. He has a special interest in contemporary music.

Mandhira de Saram violin

A professional freelance violinist, Mandhira is the founder and leader of the Ligeti Quartet, resident artists at St John’s Smith Square, London. In May, the Quartet will be performing music by Babbitt and Morton Feldman in the MOOT Crossing Boundaries: music at the edge Brighton Fringe series.

Ryan Kennedy organ

Ryan Kennedy, a graduating senior at The Juilliard School in New York, studies organ with Paul Jacobs. He was a winner of the American Guild of Organists’ Regional Competition for Young Organists in 2013, and played two recitals in Boston, performing Vierne and Messiaen “with unassuming authority”. His performances of Bach have been featured on NPR’s Pipedreams. This concert represents his UK debut.

Alex Roose conductor

Australian born, now living in Sussex, Alex Roose is Music Director of The New Sussex Singers and Ensemble Kantores. He also performs nationally and internationally as a soloist and ensemble singer.

Ensemble Kantores

Ensemble Kantores comprises professional and semiprofessional singers from the south of England under the direction of conductor Alex Roose. Kat Carson, Rebecca Rees, Laura Willis, Agata Roose, Vita Bowman, Briony Lambert, Georgina Bowden, Richard Pethick, Daniel Thomson, David Waterhouse, Tim Wilcox, Roger Floyd, John Gillies, Aidan Atkinson and Reuben James. Rehearsal Pianist: Norman Jacobs.

Georgina Bowden composer

Georgina Bowden was born in West Sussex in 1989 and studied at Cardiff University. After completing a Masters of Architecture in 2012, she has spent time as a composer, alongside professional portraiture, illustration and architecture work. Georgina will be studying Composition at Masters Level at Trinity Laban Conservatoire from late 2016.

Rohan de Saram violoncello

In 2005, Rohan bid farewell to the Arditti Quartet in order to pursue his own artistic vision. He works now with a variety of artists, friends and composers, bringing together music from a range of musical periods and parts of the world, eastern and western, classical and contemporary, composed music and improvisations, with players from many musical backgrounds.

Juliet Fraser soprano

Juliet has performed as a guest soloist with Plus-Minus, We Spoke: New Music Company, London Sinfonietta, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Endymion, ICTUS and Ensemble Intercontemporain. This year she will premiere new solo works written for her by Rebecca Saunders, among others, and her recording of Morton Feldman’s Three Voices will be released on HatHut Records in June. She is also co-founder and principal soprano of EXAUDI. Photo credits: Kate Mount (Milton Babbitt, Steve Dummer), Raphaelle Photography (Sarah Gabriel), Johan de Cock (Norman Jacobs), David Jacobs (Julian Trevelyan). All performer images unless credited are the property of the individuals. We apologise for any unintentional credit errors or omissions. They will be corrected in future editions.



a p d r grega o h c a x t e n h i l o a p i r o e t a m i t y r mbin o e h t t s e e s o g m t s i i l tal seria rrays baseball so n vector o a i t i e t t r a a g p e d r o ggr h c a x t e n h i l o a p i r o e t a m i t y r o ombin e h t t s e e s o g m t s i i l a o i r s l l a b e r s otal se o a t b c s e y v a r n r o a i t i e t t r a a g p e d r r g o g h c a x t e n h i l o a p i r o e t a m i t y r o ombin e h t t s e e s o g m t s i i l a o i r s l l a b e r s otal se o a t b c s e y v a r n r o a i t i e t t r a a g p e d r r g o h ag c a x t e n h i l o a p i r o e t a m combin lism set theory ti it goes a o i r s l e l s a l b a e t r s o t o a t b c s e y v a r n r o a i t i e t t r a a g p e d r r o h agg c a x t e n h i l o a p i r o e t combina lism set theory tim it goes a o i r s l e l s a l b a e t s o t a b s y a r r a e t a g e r g g a



THANK YOU Without the support of the following organisations, this series would not have been able to take place: British Broadcasting Corporation The Hinrichsen Foundation Princeton University Music Department Thanks also to: Brighton Science Festival Peters Edition Ackerman Music MOOT Volunteers: Thomas Jones Will Kemp

Special thanks to: Dr. Joel Sachs, Juilliard School, New York Betty Ann Duggan and Paula Bushkoff Prof Wendy Heller, Princeton University Laura Karpman Gene Caprioglio, Peters Edition, New York Felix Carey, Steve Bridges, Martin Appleby, Hilary Dodds, BBC Radio Three Kate Mount Photography Richard Robinson, Rachel Strange, Hannah Chilton, Brighton Science Festival Catherine Stead, Brighton MOOT Friends & Patrons and all the musicians involved in this project

Philharmonic Orchestra Katerina Pavlakis, KAPA Productions Smith Publications Sandra B. Shorr Joanne Morrell, St Nicholas Church Dominic De Souza, Music Director, St Nicholas Church Joanne Morrell, St Nicholas Church Marion Bonce, Unitarian Church Rik Child, Brighthelm Community Centre Ben King, Brighton Jubilee Library Philip Botteley, Rutland Piano Services Maff Littlemore, drawblank design Mail Boxes Etc.

Music Science Imagination – February 2016 MOOT is a non-profit group promoting contemporary music arts education MOOT – music of our time, Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 3XG

Patrons: Pierre Boulez (1925-2016), Alexander Waugh, Dr Paul Whittaker OBE (Music and the Deaf) Committee: Norman Jacobs; Thomas Jones; Will Kemp; Dr Adam Swayne

Music Science Imagination February 2016