Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi
About the Works
American Players Theater in Spring Green, WI
Photographer David Nevala
"Spring Green: the inspiration was the aforementioned American Players Theater."
A three movement work, Three Summer Sketches, presents sonic impressions of three Wisconsin towns—Black Earth, Mineral Point, and Spring Green—through which I would drive each summer, en route, primarily, to performances by the American Players Theater. In some cases, the remarkably colorful and evocative names of these towns—Black Earth for example, suggesting the rich, deep, resonant music of the first movement—provided the aural inspiration for this score. In other cases, the history of the town was instructive: Mineral Point served as a principle mining town in the early part of the 19th century (and retains that aura to this day), hence the moto-rhythmic music of the second movement.
For “Spring Green,” the inspiration was the aforementioned American Players Theater. I will always equate Spring Green with the American Players Theater, and more specifically, with Shakespeare. Nights spent under the stars in that rustic outdoor theater enjoying Hamlet, Othello, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream left an indelible imprint on my Wisconsin summers. For that reason, this third movement draws on music of Shakespeare’s contemporary, John Bull, from whom fragments of his keyboard works, Walsingham and Pavana of My Lord Lumley (both drawn from the first volume of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book), intertwine with my own language, creating a sound world that links the 16th and 21st centuries. A brief return to the opening chords of the first movement concludes this portrait of what is for me, a very magical Wisconsin memory. -GG
Geoffrey Gordon’s list of works includes orchestral and chamber music—vocal and instrumental—as well as scores for theater, dance and film. A 2009 winner of the Aaron Copland Award, his music has been called “brilliant” (Boston Globe), “stunning” (Milwaukee Journal), “wonderfully idiomatic” (Salt Lake Tribune), “haunting” (Strings Magazine) and “remarkable” (Fanfare). Chicago Tribune music critic John von Rhein called Mr. Gordon’s lux solis aeterna “a cosmic beauty…of acutely crafted music.” And music critic Lawrence Johnson, of Classical Review, called Mr. Gordon’s work Tiger Psalms, “a very impressive and significant world premiere … the composer makes the music sing magnificently.” Over the past several seasons, Mr. Gordon’s works have been performed more than fifty times on three continents, including premieres conducted by rising stars including Rory Macdonald, James Gaffigan, Christophe Mueller and Ilan Volkov, and featuring soloists Toke Møldrup, Moshe Aharonov, Megumi Kanda and Carol Wincenc. Next season and beyond, highlights include new orchestral works for the Copenhagen Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the English Symphony Orchestra, the Portland Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, Ligetti Quartet, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Escher Quartet, AKOM Ensemble, Voices of Change, Le Train Bleu, Ensemble Zeitfluss, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, among many others. He serves as composer-in-residence for the Boston-based Xanthos Ensemble and is a staff composer for the American Composers Orchestra in New York City. In March of 2015, he will serve as composer in residence at the International Centre for Composers in Visby, Sweden.
Three Summer Sketches for Solo Piano