New Works by Martin Bresnick, Juri Seo, Aldana with guest artist Diego Rivera (Ypsilanti, MI)
Tenorist extraordinaire Diego Rivera joins the PRISM Quartet for the Midwest premiere of Reflections by Blue Note recording artist Melissa Aldana. In her words, “Reflections is about transformation, a personal meditation on the stages of growth I experienced, and saw the world experience, over the course of the pandemic. My isolation and stillness enabled me to observe, clearly and for the first time in many years, the progression of the seasons, changes in the color of leaves, how they would fall just to be reborn stronger and more beautiful. My personal journey has been similar, as I worked though feelings of sadness, confusion, frustration, serenity, happiness and slowly transformed into the person I am today. I also wanted to know how other artists were expressing their feelings about nature, love, sadness, nostalgia, life… So I revisited some of my favorite poems by Julio Cortazar and Pablo Neruda, poems that resonate deeply with me and provided inspiration for my composition.”
Rivera also joins PRISM Quartet on Favor, a jazz waltz by trumpet virtuoso Terell Stafford newly arranged by Jack Saint Clair. JazzTimes describes the work as “like fine whiskey, mellow but with bite” and “just a touch of churchiness.”
The program features preview performances of Mending Time by Martin Bresnick and Unsung Lullaby by Juri Seo from PRISM’s Mending Wall project (February 2022 world premiere), exploring the meaning of walls in our world by giving musical form to questions about identity, community, division, and freedom.
Martin Bresnick’s commission, Mending Time, is inspired by the contradictions in Robert Frost’s 1914 poem “Mending Wall,” in which two neighbors meet yearly to rebuild the structure separating their farms. The composer writes that wall, “may be, at last, the special place where we as neighbors meet together if only to repair those walls and build them up again. But walls and barriers must also have a passage through them or what lies within and without them will surely starve and die. For the great PRISM Quartet I have written Mending Time a sounding wall to help, in a musical way, to light the lamp beside the golden door.”
Juri Seo’s Unsung Lullaby is inspired by “‘Echo Chamber’ is , in her words, “a tiny, five-line poem by the Brazilian poet Waly Salomão (1943-2003), translated into English by Maryam Monalisa Gharavi. Despite its brevity, the poem captures something essential about the nature of memory and identity. “I believe that many of the ideas in the music have a parallel meaning in the real world. As an immigrant, I have dealt with some dissonance in my identity, which is divided in two sets of memories, communities, and languages. Music, as well as poetry, provides a place where such contradictions can be resolved. Salomão’s poem investigates the boundaries within the self, between one’s immediate being and one’s memories that transcend time. We build walls within ourselves and between each other, forgetting that what seems antithetical may be revealed to be of one nature. ‘Good’ walls are permeable and flexible; their imperfections allow the warmth of humanity to flow through, just as an imperfect tone splits into a resounding harmony.”
Finally, the program includes Short Stories by our dear friend and long-time collaborator James Primosch, to honor his memory and musical legacy after his untimely passing in 2021.
Mending Time by Martin Bresnick (preview)
Unsung Lullaby by Juri Seo (preview)
Short Stories by James Primosch
Reflections by Melissa Aldana with guest artist Diego Rivera (Midwest premiere)
Favor by Terell Stafford (arr. St. Clair) with guest artist Diego Rivera (Midwest premiere)
This program is presented with generous support from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, Conn-Selmer, and Meridian Winds.
First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti
300 N. Washington St
October 17, 2021
$25 general admissions, $20 students and seniors (fees included)