Fall 2023 Faculty Concert

Fall 2023 Faculty Concert - Program Notes

This concert was streamed by IUMusicLive! on September 16, 2023. We would like to thank Tony Tadey for operating the cameras, encoding the stream, and providing technical advice. Kevin Shima and Aaron Hynds led the team of students who mixed our multi-channel live sound to stereo for the stream.

Chi Wang: Aeon

The symbolic abstraction of origin, motion of circle, and the reflection of evolution can be implemented in numerous forms and timespans and can inspire provocative insights into everyday life. The composer designed and assembled Yuan, a bamboo round-shaped interactive data-driven controller and connected the sensors and the bamboo frames using conductive thread. In this piece, the composer performs with four Yuan controllers of two different sizes. Each Yuan can be performed individually or together with the other three, creating an immersive musical experience.

Alicyn Warren: Something Else Again

This nostalgic piece for the piano is dedicated to the memory of Miss Myrtle Harrell, my childhood piano teacher. The piece is in six brief sections. The second, quasi cadenza, begins with an extended passage for the piano alone; the fifth, emerge/merge, is for piano alone; and the sixth, closing, is played attacca after that piano solo. The source sounds for the electronic accompaniment were chosen for their kinetic quality: they seem to suggest motion. Only minimally processed, “homemade,” non-pitched percussion sounds were used.

Something Else Again was premiered by Martin Goldray at the University of Virginia in 1997. Goldray’s recording appears on the compact disc Music from the Virginia Center for Computer Music, released by Centaur Records. Work on Something Else Again was funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

John Gibson: Almost an Island

Almost an Island comes from my visit to a wooded peninsula at Lake Monroe, just outside of Bloomington. An early spring morning, the wind was up and driving small waves into the sandy shore at the tip of the peninsula. Such furious action, but somehow it sounded only in miniature and failed to disrupt the calm of the scene. The piece represents these small, but vigorous, waves in an imaginary close-up view, colored with superimposed harmonies. This vision clears briefly in the middle to reveal the natural soundscape.

All audio is from the recorded water, even when explicit water sounds are absent. Instead, spectral audio analysis of the water yields streams of notes that mimic the dynamic shape of the waves.

Chi Wang: Song of the Yue Boatman

In 2021, Dr. Aaron Pergram launched the project, The Dragon Dream, which seeks to commission works by composers of the Chinese diaspora to expand the canon of works for bassoon. Composers who identify as women, those of minority backgrounds, or composers from marginalized groups were especially encouraged to engage with the project. The commissioner’s genuine affection for Chinese culture, language, literature, history, and philosophy fueled the core concepts of this project. Regardless of the form, instrumentation, genre, medium, or length, the composers adhered to the vision of The Dragon Dream (龙之梦). This dream is an intangible concept seeded in the minds of Chinese youth, or youth born abroad of Chinese heritage, with knowledge of the former greatness and power of Chinese culture, which institutes a nearly insurmountable challenge to hew to, or perhaps reclaim the status of its former glory. This journey is often personal, involving spiritual, emotional, psychological, and other experiences. Regardless, receiving a calling from the honorable ancestral homeland can be experienced through oral histories, memories, dreams, spiritual connections, and unidentifiable pressures from the supernatural forces of the unrelenting dragon within oneself. Wang Chi’s Song of the Yue Boatman (越人歌), was written in 2022 and premiered by the commissioner at the Meg Quigley Bassoon Symposium in Tucson, Arizona, on January 7, 2023. Wang, a longtime friend of Pergram, wrote, “Collaborating with [Pergram] always gives inspiration, leaves deep memories, and makes you fulfilled.... [his] superb understanding and interpretation of sound, technology, and notation will give you the quintessential performance effect of this work.” Based on a Southern Chinese song from c. 528 BCE, preserved in the Garden of Stories compiled by Liu Xiang five centuries later, the text captures a boatman’s infatuation, respect, and pleasure of an attractive nobleman. With stories layered within one another, this song transcends time by replicating the same encounters centuries later.      —Aaron Pergram

John Gibson: Air Traffic

Often my inspiration for new pieces comes from observing the natural world or worrying about what’s happening to it. In Air Traffic, I’m thinking about honey bees. In his book Honeybee Democracy, Thomas D. Seeley, a scientist at Cornell, gives a detailed account of the behavior of these bees. His main idea — which seems charmingly naive, especially these days — is that humans could learn a thing or two from the social cohesion and cooperative decision-making of honey bees. But it’s his research into the honey bees’ ability to scout out a new home and navigate there, while keeping together a hive of thousands, that interests me most. Seeley and his colleagues performed experiments suggesting that certain scout bees guide the others to a new home they’ve discovered: the scouts fly quickly, in a straight line through the bee swarm, thus encouraging the other bees to follow, instead of flying randomly in all directions. My piece enacts such a swarm in its middle section, using a colony of synthetic “bees” that fly all around the concert hall, while the trumpeter, as scout bee, gets them to fly right. When the bees find their home, they break out into a celebratory song, with a swinging beat.

But there are real bees in this piece, too! To help me get a better sense of what honey bees are like up close, I met with IU biologists Lílian Caesar and Chris Robinson at the university hives. I dropped microphones in a hive and witnessed a terrifying, claustrophobic, and frenzied sound world, some of which you will hear accompanying the trumpet. I even donned a bee suit to better see what they were up to. You will hear a bit of my conversation with Lílian at the end of the piece. She is not intimidated by them. I thank Lílian for allowing me to use her voice.

Unfortunately, honey bees, while essential for agriculture, tend to out-compete our native pollinators, which are also under threat from climate change and pesticides. If you want to help native bees, and you have some kind of yard, replace some of your grass with native plants. Bees will show up for asters, bee balm, boneset, and others. Most of these bees are solitary, not living in huge hives, so they will be happy to visit you.

Guest Performer Bios

We thank our guest performers for participating in this concert.

Bastian Windisch

Born in Freiburg, Germany, Bastian Windisch pursued his pianistic education first with Prof. Dr. Margit Haider-Dechant (Bonn) and Prof. Josef Anton Scherrer (Cologne). He later studied with Prof. Peter von Wienhardt at the Musikhochschule Münster, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree. In addition to his soloist training, participation in chamber music projects in various formations always played a major role. He also gained important artistic impulses through participation in numerous master classes with Prof. Gilead Mishory, Prof. Matthias Kirschnereit and Jerome Rose.

Since the fall of 2021, Bastian Windisch has been studying with Prof. Jean-Louis Haguenauer at the Jacobs School of Music, where he is currently pursuing a Performer Diploma in Piano Performance.

Aaron Pergram

Bassoonist Aaron Pergram is an international artist who performs avant-garde music written by composers of the Chinese diaspora. Pergram’s devotion to repertoire expansion is evidenced by the growing number of new works forged from collaborations with composers of East Asia. His musical journeys have taken him to Vietnam, Brazil, Cambodia, Australia, Thailand, Canada, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico, and Mainland China. As a global performer, Pergram has appeared on stage with the Shanghai World Master Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Natchez Opera Festival, Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Mozart Players, and other ensembles. He has been a featured performer at several notable venues, including the Suzhou Poly Grand Theatre, Jinji Lake Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Shanghai Symphony Hall, Hangzhou Grand Theater, and Music Hall in Cincinnati. Fluent in Mandarin, he refined his Chinese studies in the nation’s capital at Beijing Normal University and received degrees from the University of Kansas (BM), Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music (MM), and the University of Oregon (DMA). His prominent teachers include Eric Stomberg, William Ludwig, and Steve Vacchi. Pergram teaches bassoon and world music at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Eddie Ludema

Eddie is Assistant Professor of Trumpet, Music Theory and Tech at Idaho State University. He’s principal trumpet with the Idaho State Civic Symphony and performs with the Portneuf Brass Quintet and the ISU New Music Faculty Ensemble. He and Prof. Jon Armstrong formed and co-direct the acoustoelectric Video Game Music Ensemble as a part of the exciting Commercial Music Program at Idaho State. He works with the trumpet studio, trumpet ensemble, brass ensemble and teaches music theory, music technology and improvisation. Prior to moving to beautiful Pocatello, he taught at Indiana State University and was an associate instructor at Indiana University. He was principal trumpet with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and Terre Haute Symphony and was the Jazz Ensemble director at Indiana State. He’s performed with the Utah Symphony, The Orchestra at Temple Square (Utah), the ORSO Rock Orchestra (Germany), the Classical Music Festival Orchestra (Austria), the Carmel (Indiana) Symphony, and the Indiana University New Music Ensemble. He was a founding member of the Mirari Brass Quintet and toured internationally with the ISU (Indiana State University) Faculty Ambassador Brass Quintet. He produces the “Anthony Plog on Music” podcast (give it a listen!) and — as a professional coder (some would say “hacker”) — has built the intonation practice app “Dr. Drone” (a collaboration with Dr. Jason Sulliman) and the “Set Class Calculator” for his music theory students. He received doctoral and masters degrees from Indiana University with John Rommel, an Artist’s Diploma with Anthony Plog at the Freiburg Music Conservatory (Germany), and a bachelor’s with Nick Norton at the University of Utah. He also performed on masterclasses with Wolfgang Guggenberger, Frits Damrow, Karl Schuhwerk, Bernhard Bär, Allan Dean, Josef Eidenberger, Stanley Friedman, Balázs Nemes, Steven Verhaert, and Allen Vizzutti.