Scale Variable

Scale Variable 2013

Downtown by Etica

7.30 pm Wednesday 25 September
Music Auditorium, WAAPA

$24 – Full
$20 – Concession/Friends
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In the wake of so-called “Post-Minimalism”, American composers have embraced the contemporary sextet’s blend of instruments as an outlet for different musical influences. Etica showcases some of the more recent repertoire that smudges the line between genres, performing works by David Lang to Carlo Boccadoro.


David Lang: Cheating, Lying, Stealing
Jennifer Higdon: Zaka
Roshanne Etezady: Damaged Goods
Carlo Boccadoro: Zingiber

The Ensemble

Conductor: Jon Tooby
Flute: Emily Clements
Clarinets: Philip Everall
Violin: Semra Lee
Cello: Louise Mackay
Piano: Adam Pinto
Percussion: Paul Tanner

Presented by The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and Tura New Music

As part of Tura New Music’s Scale Variable New Chamber Music Concert Series 2013

Etica is supported by the State Government of Western Australia through the Department of Culture and the Arts and Lotterywest and operates under the auspices of Tura New Music.

Etica is the 2013 Ensemble in Residence at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

Program Notes

David Lang cheating, lying, stealing (1993, rev. 1995)

Musical America’s 2013 Composer of the Year and recipient of Carnegie Hall’s Debs Composer’s Chair for 2013-2014, Lang is one of America’s most performed composers.  Many of his works resemble each other only in the fierce intelligence and clarity of vision that inform their structures. His catalogue is extensive, and his opera, orchestra, chamber and solo works are by turns ominous, ethereal, urgent, hypnotic, unsettling and very emotionally direct. Much of his work seeks to expand the definition of virtuosity in music even the deceptively simple pieces can be fiendishly difficult to play and require incredible concentration by musicians and audiences alike.

A couple of years ago, I started thinking about how so often when classical composers write a piece of music, they are trying to tell you something that they are proud of and like about themselves. Here’s this big gushing melody, see how emotional I am. Or, here’s this abstract hard-to-figure-out piece, see how complicated I am, see my really big brain. I am more noble, more sensitive, I am so happy. The composer really believes he or she is exemplary in this or that area. It’s interesting, but it’s not very humble. So I thought, what would it be like if composers based pieces on what they thought was wrong with them? Like, here’s a piece that shows you how miserable I am. Or, here’s a piece that shows you what a liar I am, what a cheater I am. I wanted to make a piece that was about something disreputable. It’s a hard line to cross. You have to work against all your training. You are not taught to find the dirty seams in music. You are not taught to be low-down, clumsy, sly and underhanded. In “cheating, lying, stealing,” although phrased in a comic way, I am trying to look at something dark. There is a swagger, but it is not trustworthy. In fact, the instruction in the score for how to play it says: Ominous funk. David Lang

Jennifer Higdon Zaka (2003)

Commissioned as part of the national series of works from Meet the Composer

Commissioning Music/USA, which is made possible by generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Helen F. Whitaker Fund, the Target Foundation, and through fiscal sponsorship of Concert Artists Guild

Pulitzer-prize winner Jennifer Higdon (b. Brooklyn, NY, December 31, 1962) started late in music, teaching herself to play flute at the age of 15 and then beginning formal musical studies at 18, with an even later start in composition at the age of 21. Despite this late start, Higdon has become a major figure in contemporary classical music and makes her living from commissions, completing between 5-10 pieces a year. These works represent a range of genres, from orchestral to chamber and from choral and vocal to wind ensemble. Hailed by The Washington Post as “a savvy, sensitive composer with a keen ear, an innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure esprit,” the League of American Orchestras reports that she is one of America’s most frequently performed composers.

As the dictionary might say: Zaka, pronounced “za!- ka”…verb: To do the following almost simultaneously and with great speed: zap, sock, race, turn, drop, sprint. Jennifer Higdon

Roshanne Etezady Damaged Goods (2000)

A Pennsylvania native (b. 1973) now living in Chicago, Roshanne Etezady finds inspiration in many musical worlds, from the musicals of Steven Sondheim to 1980s power ballads and the Europop of her teenage years. One fateful evening in 1986, she saw Philip Glass and his ensemble perform as the musical guests on Saturday Night Live, an experience that set her on a path to become a composer.

“Isn’t it about time?”

“Is this the eleventh hour?”

Perhaps a man is hurt by psychological trauma. Or a package is crushed in transit. Or maybe, a love-scarred partner carries troubling emotional baggage. The title of this work will mean different things to different listeners. Damaged Goods is a four-movement work, and was written for eighth blackbird as part of a collaborative project with the Minimum Security Composers Collective. Roshanne Etezady

Carlo Boccadoro Zingiber

Carlo Boccadoro – composer, conductor, pianist, percussionist and musicologist – studied at the Conservatory “G. Verdi” in Milan, where he graduated in piano and percussion. He is the founder and conductor of Italian ensemble Sentieri Selvaggi and an eclectic figure of contemporary Italian culture.

Zingiber, which is Latin for “Ginger”, underlines the irreverent character of the piece – a dash of ginger with frantic bells, cows, mechanical birds, whistles and polyrhythmic clashes of various objects.