TheHenry Brant Collection, Volume 9
spatial events for sixteen percussionists
Pulse Percussion Ensemble
Gamelan Son of Lion
Tropical Soul Steel Drums
With Pheeroan akLaff and Michael Veal, solo percussionists
Henry Brant, conductor
Performed September 11, 1998, Crowell Concert Hall, Center for theArts, Wesleyan University, Connecticut, during a Tribute to Henry Brant on his85th Birthday.
DormantCraters, a one-movement piece for 16 percussionists,was commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., for LincolnCenter Out-of-Doors. It had its premiere in Damrosch Park on August 13, 1995.
The instruments used include two jazz drum sets (one on cymbals only,the other on tom-toms only), a gamelan ensemble of four, a steel drum group offive, eight timpani, seven Chinese gongs, seven Thai Ňbutton gongs,Ó threepairs of pot covers (rotated, and sometimes sawed), glockenspiel, chimes,vibraphone, two sets of cowbells, two sets of Chinese blocks, three orchestralbass drums, three pairs of crash cymbals and four snare drums. Also required isa three-octave chromatic set of hand bells (distributed among the 16players—two bells per player.)
Whether or not the sound of this piece has any connection with dormantvolcanic craters, I am hardly in a position to say; but the craters I mean arethe latent explosions we donŐt know about yet, both in the human sphere and inthe natural world. -H.B.
PheeroanakLaff is one of the finest jazz drummers of hisgeneration. Former member of theNew School/Mannes music faculty, he has taught at Wesleyan since 1993,succeeding the late Ed Blackwell. He regularly performs with Jay Hoggard and many other fine musiciansincluding Oliver Lake, Henry Threadgill, Anthony Davis, Carlos Ward, AnthonyBraxton, and Geri Allen.
GamelanSon of Lion is a Balinese gamelan ensemble consistingentirely of composers. Directed byWesleyan alumna Barbara Benary, the group has premiered hundreds of workswritten especially for these instruments. In this performance Barbara Benary is joined by composer-performersDavid Demnitz, Patrick Grant, and David Simons.
Pulse, directed by Claire Heldrich, is the percussion ensemble in residenceat the Manhattan School of Music where she is the principle percussionteacher.
Pulse is famous for its performances of new American music and hascommissioned and premiered hundreds of new works since the group was founded in1975. In this performance ClaireHeldrich is joined by Michael Lipsey, Eric Phinney, William Trigg, and PaulVaillencourt.
TropicalSoul is the successor to Pandemonium (directed by Gage Averill), the first steel drum ensemble at WesleyanUniversity. Graduate student AmyIngram is the director; other members include Aaron Mulvany, Jay Pillay andSusan Tveekrem. For thisperformance Tropical Soul is joined by Pandemonium alumnus Brandon Patton, lead, and Neely Bruce, on bass pans.
MichaelVeal is  finishing a Ph.D. inethnomusicology at Wesleyan and has recently been hired to teach courses inworld music at Yale University. Heis known throughout Connecticut as an excellent jazz drummer.
University of California, Santa Cruz Orchestra
Nicole A. Paiement, conductor
Doanna Weissgerber, soprano
Svetlana Kagan, mezzo
Laurent Martin, tenor
Adam McLearan, baritone
Instrumentation& Spatial Plan:
Fourwidely-spaced trios on stage: solo violin with 2 flutes, solo oboe with 2 clarinets,solo cello with 2 bassoons; piano (4 hands), timpani and xylophone. In backbalcony corners: chimes—glockenspiel. In center back balcony, equallyspaced: soprano voice w/trumpet, mezzo w/trpt, tenor w/trombone, baritonew/trb.
Commissionedby Columbia University for its Bicentennial in 1954.
The three instrumental soloists (violin, oboe, and cello) might be thecelebrated professors X, Y, and Z, each attended by his large and enthusiasticclass of two students. The foursingers could represent a high-level faculty committee meeting, in whichcorrect protocol and procedure are strictly enforced by the trumpets andtrombones. Glockenspiel and chimesdivide the university day into appropriate time-sectors for fanatical study orstrenuous relaxation.
From time to time, the pianists, timpani, and xylophone may perhapsindicate the dormant volcanoes of student political protest apt to explodeunexpectedly at any moment.
(Personally, I donŐt believe that abstract music without text canexpress anything in particular). -H.B.
(1993, rev. 1997)
Henry Brant, piano, with the Onyx Quartet:
Anna Presler, violin
Phyllis Kamrin, violin
Kurt Rohde, viola
Leighton Fong, cello
and Richard Yaus, accordion
HomelessPeople was commissioned by Composers Forum (NewYork) with funds provided by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. Thepremiere was in May 1997 at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside,California. The first public performance, heard here, was on November 11, 1997during the fourth Other Minds Festival at the Cowell Theatre in Fort Mason, SanFrancisco. <Otherminds.org>
HomelessPeople is a work of spatial chamber music for piano,alone on stage (playing directly on the strings with percussion mallets) withstring quartet, each player stationed alone in a corner of the hall. In 1997Brant added a part for accordion, positioned in the hall at a distance from thestring players.
Henry Brant (b. 1913) is AmericaŐs foremost composer of acoustic spatial music.The planned positioning of performers throughout the hall, as well as on stage,is an essential factor in his composing scheme and a point of departure for aradically expanded range and intensity of musical expression. BrantŐs masteryof spatial composing technique enables him to write textures of unprecedentedpolyphonic and/or polystylistic complexity while providing maximum resonance inthe hall and increased clarity of musical detail for the listener. Hiscatalogue now comprises over 100 spatial works.
Since2005, Henry Brant has been completing his textbook on orchestration begun inthe 1940's. Textures & Timbres, a project spanning nearly hisentire career, will be published in 2008 by Carl Fischer.
Recentpremieres include Wind, Water, Clouds & Fire, a Present Music commission for St. JohnŐs Cathedral, Milwaukee,Wisconsin in November 2004. Ghosts & Gargoyles, a concerto for flute solo with flute orchestra, for New MusicConcerts, Toronto had its premiere in May 2002. Ice Field, for large orchestral groups and organ, was commissioned by OtherMinds for a December 2001 premiere by the San Francisco Symphony.
Inthe mid 1950Ős Brant felt that Ňsingle-style musicÉcould no longer evoke thenew stresses, layered insanities, and multi-directional assaults ofcontemporary life on the spirit.Ó In keeping with BrantŐs belief that music canbe as complex and contradictory as everyday life, his larger works often employmultiple, contrasting performing forces, as in Meteor Farm (1982) for symphony orchestra, large jazz band, two choruses, WestAfrican drum ensemble and chorus, South Indian soloists, large Gamelanensemble, percussion orchestra and two Western solo sopranos. BrantŐs spatialexperiments have convinced him that space exerts specific influences onharmony, polyphony, texture and timbre. He regards space as musicŐs Ňfourthdimension,Ó (after pitch, time and timbre). Brant continues to experiment withnew combinations of acoustic timbres, even creating entire works forinstrumental family groups of a single timbre: Orbits for 80 trombones, and others for multiple flutes, trumpets andguitars. This predilection for ensembles of a single tone quality dates from Angels and Devils (1932). Brant does not use electronic materials orpermit amplification in his music.
Amember of the American Academy of Arts & Letters, Brant was awarded the2002 Pulitzer Prize in Music for Ice Field. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships and was the firstAmerican composer to win the Prix Italia. Among other honors are FordFoundation, Fromm Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts and Koussevitzkyawards and the American Music CenterŐs Letter of Distinction. The Paul SacherFoundation in Basel has acquired BrantŐs complete archive of originalmanuscripts including over 300 works (1998). In conjunction with BrantŐs 85thbirthday concert, Wesleyan University conferred upon him the honorary degree ofDoctor of Fine Arts (1998).
Bornin Montreal of American parents in 1913, Henry Brant began composing at the ageof eight. After moving to New York in 1929, he composed and conducted forradio, film, ballet, and jazz groups. Starting in the late 40s, he taught atColumbia University, Juilliard, and, for 24 years, Bennington College. Since1981, he has made his home in Santa Barbara, California.
Special thanks to: Henry Brant, Kathy Wilkowski, Charles Amirkhanian,and Neely Bruce.
Henry BrantŐs music is published by Carl Fischer.
Series producer, innova director, design: PhilipBlackburn
Operations manager: Chris Campbell
Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation. This series is supported by a grantfrom the National Endowment for the Arts.
Also in this series:
The Henry Brant Collection, Volume 1 (#408):Northern Lights Over the Twin Cities, A Plan of the Air
Volume 2 (#409): Nomads, Ghost Nets, Solar Moth
Volume 3 (#410): Trinity of Spheres; Wind,Water, Clouds, and Fire; Litany of Tides
Volume 4: (#411): Meteor Farm
Volume 5 (#412): Autumn Hurricanes
Volume 6 (#413): Rainforest
Volume 7 (#414): A Concord Symphony
Volume 8 (#415): Inside Track,
Altitude 8750, Dialog in the Jungle...