Composer David Rakowski loves to write piano etudes. He’s created 100 of them. Etudes developed in the 19th century as short practice pieces . They help musicians focus on a technique or build strength or dexterity. Many -- like the etudes of Frederic Chopin -- were also beautiful. David has carried the tradition into the 21st century, writing etudes based on funk riffs and cell phone rings. And one of the pianists who helped him do it is Amy Briggs -- a Boulder-based musician who runs extreme distances in the mountains when she’s not performing or teaching. Hear Amy play five of David Rakowski's etudes, and get the story behind them, in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.
“Centennial Sounds” spotlights contemporary classical music performed in Colorado.
The episodes also feature interviews with 21st-century composers who call Colorado home as well as internationally renowned composers whose work is performed here.
Composer Benjamin Park felt exhausted during the 2016 election. He remembers the nonstop political coverage and the growing tension within the United States. He decided to write music that embodied the disconnect -- and addressed the division. Ben used portions of the melody from "America the Beautiful" to write a piece about the harsh political divide in our country. He also took inspiration from the majestic landscape of Boulder. You'll hear a recording of Benjamin Parks's "For Purple Mountains" in the CPR Performance Studio -- played by musicians from the Flatirons Chamber Music Festival -- on this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.
Composer Paul Lansky was a pioneer in computer music -- sounds generated and manipulated by a computer. And then, after decades as an innovative composer of computer music, Paul stopped. He switched his focus to writing for live musicians. He's particularly fond of working with percussionists. This is the story of Paul's journey from the frontier of computer music to the pieces he writes now. You'll also hear a complete performance of "Travel Diary" -- a percussion piece played by the Meehan/Perkins Duo, recorded live at the Bravo! Vail music festival -- in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.
Composer Jessica Meyer recently had the kind of experience that gives musicians nightmares. She traveled to the desert in northwestern Colorado to perform a new piece in concert on her viola. It was built on layers of electronic loops. But the unique acoustics at the venue -- known simply as The Tank -- caused those loops to dissolve into a squall of feedback. So Jessica tossed aside the music she’d carefully composed and created something unlike anything she’d written before. She called it “Luminous Prison.” Hear the world premiere of the piece, and the emotional backstory, in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.
Daniel Kellogg, who teaches composition at the University of Colorado, loves the string quartet. Some of history's greatest composers wrote their most extraordinary music for two violins, a viola and a cello. So Daniel took the job seriously when he set out to write a big statement that he ultimately called String Quartet No. 1. He had worked up to it. He wrote a half-dozen pieces for string quartet before he composed this one. Hear a recording of the world premiere of String Quartet No. 1 -- played by the Grammy-winning Pacifica Quartet at the Aspen Music Festival & School -- in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.
Composer David Ludwig wrote his piece "Pangaea" as a "prehistoric 'Carnival of the Animals.'" It's about a time in Earth's history when there was one supercontinent, a vast ocean and a frightening die-off that wiped out most species on the planet. Hear the haunting "Pangaea," performed at the Bravo! Vail music festival by Anne-Marie McDermott, Calder Quartet, Lyris Quartet, Aeolus Quartet and bassist Rachel Calin -- and get the story behind David's piece -- in the Season 2 premiere of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.
Centennial Sounds -- a podcast about modern classical music, and what inspires some of today's most talented composers -- returns soon for its second season. The series, hosted by Brad Turner, features exclusive recordings of music by 21st century composers and stories about what inspires the music. The new season features a twist: It's a musical road trip through the Rocky Mountains, with recordings from outstanding summer music festivals and other venues around Colorado.
Composer Nathan Hall is fascinated with the huge, vibrant paintings of abstract painter Clyfford Still. Nathan recently set out to compose music about about Still, and combed through the painter's writings to set some of the colorful passages to music. Hear "Notes From Clyfford Still," performed by the Playground Ensemble in the CPR Performance Studio -- and hear how Nathan created the piece -- in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.
Composer Michael Ippolito tried an unusual approach when he wrote a piece for the Altius Quartet. He sat down with a cello, instrument he'd barely played since middle school. His experiments with an instrument he’d largely forgotten how to play took his music to surprising places. Hear Michael Ippolito’s String Quartet No. 4 performed by the Altius Quartet in the CPR Performance Studio -- and the backstory of this new piece -- in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.
Composer Julia Wolfe lives in Lower Manhattan, just blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood. She and her family watched 9/11 unfold around them, and dealt with the aftermath. She wrote one of her most stark, concise works as a response. She called it “Compassion.” Hear the piece performed in concert by pianist Conrad Tao at the Aspen Music Festival and School -- and more of Julia's story -- in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.