Queen of Heaven, April 16 (premiere)

Queen of Heaven (piano and electronics)
@ KcEMA: Unity
Saturday, April 16, 7:30pm
Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, MO
Kari Johnson, piano; Richard Johnson, electronics

$10, students $5

More information:

Unity Temple on the Plaza
707 West 47th Street
Kansas City, Missouri

Program note:
The Blessed Virgin Mary has been an object of devotion and a source of comfort and inspiration to Christians from the earliest years of their history. Throughout this time, many artists and musicians have dedicated their efforts to her reverence, adding their voices to the generations who have ever called her “blessed.”

Each of the five movements of Queen of Heaven is in a sense conceived as an icon: each concerns itself with a single idea, turning it over and over, meditating on it from different angles. The first movement, “Hail, Holy Queen,” imagines the greeting of the Virgin by the hosts of angels, in enormous, sonorous and terrifying voices like immense chimes. The second and fourth movements each take their inspiration from titles for Mary: “Full-of-Grace” from kecharitomene, the Greek word of greeting spoken by the Archangel Gabriel in Luke 1:28; and “The-One-Who-Gives-Birth-To-God” from Theotokos, an ancient Mariological title used in liturgical contexts. These two are divided by “The Unburnt Bush,” based on an icon of the same title that connects the Virgin and the burning bush of Exodus, as expressed in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: “Let us honor the Pure Theotokos! She accepted the Fire of Divinity in her womb but was not consumed!” The fifth and final movement returns to the heavenly setting of the first, now drawing its imagery from Revelation 12: “And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

Yard Pears, April 8

Yard Pears (bass clarinet, amplified pears, electronics)
@ Exchange of Midwestern Collegiate Composers
Friday, April 8, 8pm – FREE
UMKC Student Union Theatre, Kansas City, MO
Brad Baumgardner, bass clarinet and fruit; Scott Blasco, electronics and fruit

More information:

UMKC Student Union
5100 Cherry Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64110


Program note:
“Yard Pears is a collaboratively composed structured improvisation for bass clarinet, electronics, and amplified pears from the backyard of a friend’s former neighbor. Brad and Scott have both been offered these pears in the past, which Scott ate and Brad gave away. Given that yard’s inaccessibility, the grocery store has provided our fruit instruments for tonight’s performance. The work itself explores gestural and timbral transformations at the nexus of live bass clarinet, live processing and sampling, and the amplification and abuse of fruit.”

December 2010 performances

De Profundis
@ UMKC Composers Guild Concert
Wednesday, December 1, 7:30pm, White Hall (address below)

@ Kevin Maret doctoral percussion recital
Sunday, December 5, 5:00pm, White Hall

James C. Olsen Performing Arts Center
University of Missouri-Kansas City
4949 Cherry St.
Kansas City, MO 64110

For both performances, the performers will be:
Hayes Bunch, conductor
Katie Woolf, soprano
Katherine Crawford, mezzo-soprano
Jedd Schneider, tenor
Grace Lai, flute
Sharra Wagner, clarinet
Paul Roberts, horn
Brendan Bondurant, electric guitar
Brian Padavic, electric bass
Kevin Maret, drum set
Spencer Jones, glockenspiel
Chris Howard, vibroaphone
Kari Johnson, piano
Katie Benyo, violin
Lizz Hougland, viola
Stamos Martin, cello

October 2010 performances

Four Songs from The Caucasian Chalk Circle
@ SCI Region V Conference
Friday, October 2, 2:00pm, Denkmann Hall
Augustana College, Rock Island, IL
Katherine Crawford, mezzo-soprano; fixed-media electronics

Four Songs from The Caucasian Chalk Circle
@ Electronic Music Midwest 2010 Festival
Saturday, October 16, 5:00pm
Lewis University, Romeoville, IL
Katherine Crawford, mezzo-soprano; fixed-media electronics

Review of Four Songs

My favorite piece of the night was the most “traditional” even though the accompaniment was computerized. The song cycle Four Songs from the Caucasian Chalk Circle, written by Scott Blasco and performed by versatile mezzo-soprano, Katherine Crawford.  Originally written for a theater group performing the Bertolt Brecht play by the same name, and it was, in my opinion, nothing less than phenomenal.

Read it all here.

Four Songs recording

A recording of Four Songs from The Caucasian Chalk Circle has been posted on UMKC Conservatory’s InstantEncore page as part of the Best of Spring 2010 Performances playlist. The performance is by Katherine Crawford, from the February 2010 Composers Guild concert.


The songs themselves are also available on my profile page, and the complete playlist is here (the pieces by my friends Chris Biggs, Caroline Miller, and Brad Baumgardner are all top notch).