NACUSA Member Awards & Reviews

Adrienne Albert : Awards & Commissions

Adrienne Albert : Reviews

Animalogy: Element of surprise'Animalogy' premiers at Pratt MuseumBy Casey YordyHomer TribuneJune 21, 2006Despite the drizzle, “Animalogy” was a hot performance.Gray clouds swirled overhead as Adrienne Albert prepared for the world debut of “Animalogy.” The bloated cumulus cast an ominous shadow over the assembled masses. Shortly before the show started, rain descended, harassing the crowd of at least 80 people awaiting the performance at the Pratt Museum’s Forest Amphitheater.Homer Tribune/Sean PearsonA Japanese fishing float hangs from a tree in the forest behind the Pratt Museum as part of the 'Facing the Elements' exhibit.Albert was commissioned last year to create a musical representation ofthe southern Kenai Peninsula. “Animalogy” is the first of three worksby the composer. The piece debuted at the opening reception of thePratt Museum’s “Facing the Elements” outdoor art exhibit. “Animalogy” lasted for about 20 minutes, and started with an abandonedstage. As Albert introduced the piece, her musicians slunk off into theunderbrush. When she turned around to give the go ahead, the theaterstage stood empty.Homer Tribune/Sean PearsonRyjil Christiansen's work with colored rocks creates an interesting contrast of nature.“We will just have to see where they went,” mused Albert as she took her seat in the front. Shortly after, squeaks, squeals and whistles resonated through theforest. Call and response was initiated between bassoon, horn, flute,oboe, and clarinet. Homer Tribune/Sean PearsonSeveral artists used natural elements within the trees to create their works of art, including tree barks, metal and ceramics.As the piece shape up, musicians crept from behind adjacent foliage andconverged upon the stage. Bird-like squawks and honks were held down bya uniting and simply elegant melody. The music swelled, its avian sound slipped into the ears, bewitchingthe gray matter of the listeners with an ephemeral beauty. The rainbegan to taper off, and the show ended. Stray notes lingered on the airbefore slipping into the ether. As quickly as “Animalogy” started, itconcluded and everyone wanted more.

    -- Casey Yordy, Homer Tribune

Karen Amanda Amrhein : Awards & Commissions

Karen Amanda Amrhein : Reviews

Sonata for Horn and Piano: "Seriously worth investigating for study and public performance.... Succinct in style and scope, it provides the audience a capsulized aroma of mid-twentieth century harmonic idioms as well as some fresh melodic direction.... [and it] leaves the listener wanting more."

    -- The Horn Call, The Horn Call

chamber music by Karen Amrhein: "Amrhein is tonally oriented, lyrical, and composes with an insightful sense of instrumental possibility. She is also a fine contrapuntalist who is equally adept at thinking both vertically and horizontally. Her lines are enlivened by quirky rhythms, and the harmonies that their convergences generate at key points are never less than pleasingly surprising."

    -- William Zagorski, Fanfare Magazine

Deborah Jane Anderson : Awards & Commissions

Lori F Ardovino, DMA : Awards & Commissions

Greg Bartholomew : Awards & Commissions

Greg Bartholomew : Reviews

String Trio for George Crumb: Greg Bartholomew (born 1957) studied at the College of William and Mary and at University of Washington. His sole direct contact with George Crumb appears to be his participation in a composition workshop. Of his String Trio for George Crumb, Mr. Bartholomew writes that it was commissioned by the Oregon Bach Festival composers’ Symposium in honor of George Crumb [FN 2] on the occasion of his 75th birthday and was premiered by the Third Angle New Music Ensemble at Beall Concert Hall, Eugene, Oregon, 3 July 2004. A revised score was premiered in Chicago on 20 April 2005. The composer explains that the first movement is constructed almost entirely from the initial and final letters of Crumb’s name, the pitches G,E,C and B (“GEorGE CrumB”). The second and third movements each extend 75 bars, marking Crumb’s 75 years. The second movement is based on the “Sarabanda” theme from Crumb’s extended work for electric string quartet Black Angels. The G E C B motif recurs in the third movement but this time it is G# E C# B, “as the piece concludes with a bit of fun.” None of this gematria would seem to be very musical, but the result is quite beautiful, better than much of Crumb’s music. “G E C” is the descending C major triad (G# E C# is the descending C# minor triad), and much of the music sounds remarkably as if it were written in the Renaissance. You will enjoy this work immensely and want to hear more by this “youthful” (50 years old!) composer.[FN 2:] 2. Besides Black Angels, famously recorded by the Kronos Quartet of San Francisco, George Crumb is known for his orchestral work Echoes of Time and the River for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1968; I don’t have to hear this work because the way you win a Pulitzer Prize is to sound exactly like Elliot Carter. In 2001 a recording of his Star Child won a “Grammy” award for Best Contemporary Composition. The Naxos website describes his music as “hauntingly beautiful;” my observation is that this is true of the Three Early Songs (1947) and Dream sequence (Images II) of 1976. Ancient Voices of Children (texts by Federico Garcia Lorca who is no longer around to complain) sounds to me exactly like a mouse ran up the soprano’s leg and got into her knickers. A Little Suite for Christmas sounds to me like a three-year-old doing terrible things to a piano while crawling all over it. Perhaps Mr. Bartholomew’s joke is that George Crumb would never have written a piece so tonal and relaxed as his.Read more:

    -- Paul Shoemaker,

Al Benner, DMA : Awards & Commissions

Marshall Bialosky : Awards & Commissions

Robert J. Bradshaw : Awards & Commissions

Mr. Thomas Howard Bramel : Awards & Commissions

Dinos Constantinides : Awards & Commissions

Sylvia Constantinidis, M.M. : Awards & Commissions

Ken Davies : Awards & Commissions

Ken Davies : Reviews

Antiphonal Music for Two Trumpets: This three-movement suite for two trumpets was conceived in a modern style reminiscent of the writing of Anthony Plog. Characteristics lending to this depiction include interesting counterpoint, whimsical motives in a pointillistic style, and quick exchanges of rapid notes in alternating parts. As the title suggests, the three duets should be performed antiphonally, with players at least fifteen feet apart on a concert stage.... These duets are ideal for undergrtaduate students. There are some interesting rhythmic challenges, and a good command of double tonguing is required. Om addition, the pointillistic motives require good ear training; however, since endurance is not much of a consideration and the range is quite reqsonable (the parts rarely ascend above the staff and there is only one c'"), advanced high school players will likely find the duets accessible. University professors will find these short works to be useful additions to their library of duets for sight-reading in lessons. Undoubtedly, the works are suited for concert performance as well, possible either commencing or concluding a recital.(see ITG Journal/June 2005 for complete review)

    -- Luis C. Engelke, Music Reviews Editor, Towson Univ., Towson, MD., International Trumpet Guild Journal

Quietudes: Sacred Music for Organ: This cycle of four soft, slow pieces for solo organ, each about four minutes in duration, comes to us from ken Davies, a composer whose credits include the commissioned work, "God, The Artist of Creation" (SATB and organ) for the 1998 AGO National Convention. Each piece is prefaced by a scriptural quotation, and while each is slightly more difficult than the one before, the technical demands are moderate. The harmonic language recalls Hindemith with its shifting modes, and the Impressionists with the emphasis on quartal sonorities. Mr. Davies often employs the practice of building up chords from a low tone and adding higher ones, and then releasing tones while sustaining others, which sounds to good effect on the organ. While the harmonies are rife with added notes and seventh chords, the language is never harshly dissonant. The work shows a strong sense of melodic contour, pacing, and contrast despite the lack of quick motion or of dynamics above mezzo-piano. Registrations are given, but the composer makes it clear that these are suggestions and not demands. The composition is playable on any organ of two manuals or more with typical resources in terms of 8' flues. My personal favorite is the second of the four, with its far-ranging, expressive, rhapsodic, and sparsely accompanied quartally based melody in the outer sections of an arch form. In general, a worth addition to the recital repertoire, as well as for practical use as church music.

    -- Christopher M. Wicks, CAGO, The American Organist, February 2006, page 90

Amplitudes: This recent composition by Ken Davies is a welcome addition to the brass quartet literature. The work develops a number of ideas to create moving "sound blocks and contours," as well as timbral variety. These ideas include glissando gestures, note repetition, dynamic manipulation, and a number of tricky but playable muted sections. Mutes required include straight, cup and plunger. A marvelous effect is the contrasting timbres created during the independently muted sections. The color of one trumpet and trombone with straight mute while the other trumpet and trombone use cup mute is particularly effective. During the note repetition sections, superior ensemble work is required to match parts both dynamically and rhythmically. In one instance, the note repetition involves measured tremolos, and on a second instance, coordination of the plunger mute between the two trumpets and tenor trombone is required. Each quartet member must have excellent independent rhythm and time to perform the work successfully. In many instances, each part has awkward rhythmic figures that abruptly resolve on a unison rhythmic figure. Although challenging, the effect is excellent. The trumpet and tenor trombone parts do not have taxing ranges; the bass trombone does extend to f-sharp. The parts are easy to read, and the helpful cues will save time in rehearsal. This seven-minute work is well crafted and will keep the attention of the listener and the players. The rehearsal time required is a good investment.

    -- Edward Bach, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, International Trumpet Guild Journal, Feb. 1996, Vol. 20, page 73

Milton's Trombones: This lyric, contemporary piece honors longtime ITA member and retired University of New Orleans band director, Milton Bush. "Milton's Trombones" was premiered July 13, 2003, by the New Orleans Trombone Choir in a concert conducted by Bush with composer Ken Davies playing tenor trombone in the ensemble. The composition opens in the key of C with a statement from the bass trombone answered by the three tenor parts. A shift in key creates mystery; then the middle two trombones begin a rising and falling obligato as background for a soaring melody beginning in first trombone and filtering down to bass. The piece concludes by returning to its opening statement and ending with a gentle, sonorous cascade. "Milton's Trombones" never rises above mezzo-forte in volume and the obligato figure further challenges performers to play softly and stay out of the way of the melody as it passes from part to part. Davies' tight harmonies demand that performers play in tune and his legato marking call for a smooth, flowing style. Audiences will enjoy "Milton's Trombones'" intriguing tonalities and thoughtful mood, particularly if programmed between louder, more boisterous compositions.

    -- Eric Nye, Diamondhead, MS, International Trombone Association Journal, April 2011, pages 49-50

Who Shall Separate Us From The Love Of Christ: The senior choral composer in this quartet is Ken Davies, a member of the Mississippi Artist Roster and winner of many awards and grants, including the Mississippi Performing Artist Fellowship in Composition and Mississippi Arts Commission grants. While Davies could not join us himself this weekend, due to his duties as president of the Southeastern Composers League (which also had a gathering this weekend) his wife and poet, Judy Davies, came to be with us in his stead. On the advice of his Episcopal priest Ken Davies embraced the beautiful text of Romans 8:35-39, so seldom set to music (I also set this text as a song in 1986). He achieved a powerful setting in the Arvo Pärt and John Taverner tradition by staying mostly in D minor and featuring a rarely-used choral texture: women in unison and men in unison, often holding long pedal notes. The stark effect of this texture makes the arrival of full four-part harmony particularly rich, artfully revealing the riches of Jesus Christ’s love for us. When he, in fact, sets “loved us,” he moves into D major’s tonic triad in the first inversion, a poignant change of mode. The tensions of this magnificent text are ably reflected in the plagal cadence reflecting both the minor and major tonality of D.

    -- Dr. Walter Saul, Blog by composer, Dr. Walter Saul on Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers Conference, March 1-2, 2013

Notasonata for trombone and digital media: Ken Davies' cleverly titled "Notasonata" is a welcome addition to the slowly growing library of music for trombone and digital media, and a performer with an interest in that combination will definitely enjoy this composition. The style used by Mr. Davies reflects his background as a freelance classical and commercial music trombonist. Such a style can best be described as a combination of music written by composers like Jim Pugh and Richard Peaslee and the dark, synthesizer-heavy score to "The Terminator," written by Brad Fiedel.The composer points out in his performance notes that, though "there are two themes, development and recapitulation, sections (of sorts), the work is not a sonata." Regardless, the outer and more technical sections employ thematic back-and-forth between the soloist and accompaniment, while the lyrical sections contain the strongest thematic material. Contrast in styles is heightened by the variety of articulation between the two sections. The overall difficulty of this work dictates that it would be appropriate for an upper level undergraduate trombonist, or higher. In writing well-suited to trombone, there are interesting and attractive moments when the soloist either must or could execute effective cross-grain slurs. Endurance should not be an issue as there are several measures of rest. Written entirely in bass cleft, range extends from A-flat to b-flat1 and the tessitura is not overly demanding. Quarter note pulse of 120 is constant throughout; some extended sixteenth note passages may challenge technique. The compact disc contains two tracks, the second of which includes trombone soloist as demonstration. Chronological cues placed every thirty seconds in the solo part are also helpful. Other attractive aspects include a wide variety of accompanying effects and instruments and the spatial effects created between the speakers, e.g. left versus right moments, sounds passing from one side, through the center, and on to the other side. The only shortcoming of this composition is its length. A nine minute piece is not too lengthy, per se, but this one almost seems to run out of gas before the recapitulation. Nevertheless, this composition is a worth and welcome addition to the repertoire.

    -- Casey Thomas, ABD, owner of Solid Brass Music and reviewer for the ITA Journal, International Trombone Association Journal, Vol 39, No. 4, page 49

Jay Derderian : Awards & Commissions

Jay Derderian : Reviews

Concert reviews: Cascadia Composers’ “Blackout” and “Crazy Jane Misbehaves”: Portland composer Jay Derderian’s austere [REDACTED] for electric viola and tape sounded the most up to date, not least because of its birth during the recent National Security Agency privacy intrusion scandal and its consequently ominous atmosphere, produced by the viola’s raspier timbres and pitch bending. Like others on both programs, its length exceeded its ideas, but the probing music offered a piercing contrast to the surrounding pieces.

    -- Brett Campbell, Oregon Arts Watch

Nancy Bloomer Deussen : Awards & Commissions

L Peter Deutsch : Awards & Commissions

Brian Fennelly : Awards & Commissions

Kenneth David Froelich : Awards & Commissions

Yalil Guerra : Awards & Commissions

Juliana Hall : Awards & Commissions

Juliana Hall : Reviews

Syllables of Velvet, Sentences of Plush: [Jayne] West's recital Sunday afternoon in the French Library with pianist Karen Sauer featured settings by seven composers of some of America's finest poets, and the results were exceptional...Juliana Hall caught much of Emily Dickinson's humor and gentle lyricism in seven songs drawn from her letters, Syllables of Velvet, Sentences of Plush. A bright, extended tonality and a moving, spare lyricism allowed the texts to breathe. Her first setting of To Susan Gilbert was the most genuinely moving music of the afternoon.

    -- Richard Dyer, Boston Globe

Night Dances: By encore time, she [Dawn Upshaw] had...given a breathtaking display of virtuosity in Night Dances, a brilliant cycle of songs to texts by women poets...Juliana Hall used every trick in the book—melodic and half-spoken, tonal and nontonal. She did this to enliven the words by Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Emily Brontë, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Elizabeth Bishop, to deepen the impact of the texts dealing with night and sleep, to explore the implicit emotions in sounds that ranged from a whisper to a scream, with the piano supplying illustrations and comment and engaging in vivid dialogue...

    -- Joseph McLellan, The Washington Post

Brian W Holmes : Awards & Commissions

Richard Hugunine : Awards & Commissions

Lynn R. Job, DMA : Awards & Commissions

Daniel Kessner : Awards & Commissions

Dr. Michael A. Kimbell, D.M.A. : Awards & Commissions

Joseph Nocella : Awards & Commissions

Dr. Deon Nielsen Price : Awards & Commissions

William Price : Awards & Commissions

Ms. Lisa Renee Ragsdale : Awards & Commissions

Dr. Daniel Robbins : Awards & Commissions

Alex Shapiro : Awards & Commissions

Alex Shapiro : Reviews

Current Events: "The new work was Alex Shapiro's Current Events, which was receiving its second performance hereabouts and deserves circulation. Her title, by the way, refers to her hobby, which has something to do with "communing with the sea life at tide pools." It's music exceptionally well made if fairly low on surprises; I found it most attractive, especially in a long, beautifully unfolding slow movement. In her pre-performance talk she kept invoking the ghost of Brahms, but I think she sold herself short on that count; her string scoring had little of the thickness with which the good Doktor was often given to burying his best thoughts. I wonder if he ever caught the romance of a tide pool."

    -- Alan Rich, The L.A. Weekly

Dr. Andrew Sigler, DMA : Awards & Commissions

Greg A Steinke, Ph.D : Awards & Commissions

Paul M. Stouffer : Awards & Commissions

Kyle Vanderburg : Awards & Commissions

Dr. Benjamin Williams : Awards & Commissions

John Winsor : Awards & Commissions

John Winsor : Reviews

Decade Divertimento: Winsor's superb Decade Divertimento was a fine tribute to the [Hardwick Chamber Ensemble's] decade of music making.

    -- Raymond Jones, Vice President, WHRO-FM, The Chesapeake Post

Final Portraits: The piece was warm and lively. It was played with elan, force, vigor, and a playful spirit. The work allowed each of the four passionate performers to shine, ending it with a flourish.

    -- Eric Feber, The Chesapeake Clipper

The Norwegian Lady: The performance was uniformly good with strong contributions by the composer himself [John Winsor] on clarinet, Jeanette Winsor on piano, Mary Tanner on cello, and especially effective (and beautiful) singing from Anita Lowry.

    -- Mary Ann McNamee, Penn Sounds

Rain Worthington : Reviews

Tracing a Dream: . A thrilling and shocking piece of more than eight minutes, where different strings and wind instruments interpret music fragments, overwhelming in some and mysterious in others, keeping the listener alert at all times.

    -- Alejandro Clavijo, Reviews New Age CD Review

Dr. Lan-In Winnie Yang, Ph.D/DMA : Awards & Commissions

Composers: 38     Awards: 266     Reviews: 18     Processing Time: 1 Seconds


John Winsor