Program Notes by The Composer
Suite For Guitar
The melodic structure of these pieces is derived from a simple ascending sequence stated in the opening prelude. The melody is treated like a tone row and used in a serial technique. That is to say, the notes appear in the same order repetitively with variations determined by the starting point in the scale and the direction in which it proceeds. It is harmonized diatonically (major and minor) but uses the same serial principals applied to the counterpoint. The form of the work is modeled after the Baroque suite, following the prescribed types of dance movements, the contrasting major and minor keys as well as each pieces’ precise form (Free, Binary or Ternary).
“Parnassus” – Sonata For Guitar & Strings (2013)
Parnassus is a mountain in central Greece, which rises above the town of Delphi. According to Greek mythology this mountain was sacred to Apollo and home to the three original muses and so, also came to be known as the home of poetry, music and learning.
These three muses, (goddesses or nymphs) are said to be the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Their names, Melete (practice), Mneme (memory) and Aoide (song) together denote the three requirements considered necessary to obtain the best performance of poetic art.
This Sonata in the twelve-tone style is based on my wife’s name, Emily P. Holmes. While I was working on it she related to me a dream she had had in which she was trying to get to Parnassus for a music lesson. So, with this the work was dubbed with the title “Parnassus” and the three movements were named after the muses.
The twelve – tone or serial technique used here was pioneered by Arnold Schoenberg (1874 -1951). In this method the 12 tones of the chromatic scale are arranged in a fixed order. These are set within a system, which allows for forty-eight variants of the original series or row, and thereby provides a means for motivic construction and unification within the musical work.
I have taken liberties to deviate from the strict rules of this style of writing from time to time as needed to allow the musical ideas and phrases that were presenting themselves to proceed naturally and musically.
Music For Guitar by Stanley Solow (1994)
These pieces are from Stanley Solow’s opus “Jazz Solos for Acoustic Guitar” published by Mel Bay Publications in 1994. The twelve solos in this book are a collection of character pieces named after family members, dedications to colleagues, titles of interest based on the experience of living in Queens and working on Long Island. Others arise out of the shear joy of playing and teaching about not only music but also many of life’s lessons, which often intersect the arts.
This volume was dedicated in part to keyboardist, William Irwin who suggested that, “original music be composed for the guitar that would use scales, modes, harmonies and rhythms that could only have been derived from the great polyethnic society of the U.S.A”. To this end Mr. Solow displays some of the possibilities of blending the melodic and harmonic idioms of Blues and Jazz with that of the technique of the multi-voice Classical Guitar.
I began my study of the “Classical Guitar” with Mr. Solow in 1977. There was no way of knowing then that the relationship would be life long. And, that what he so generously imparted to me would become the most predominant part of my creative identity; The Guitar. A day does not go by where I do not stop to consider this and feel deeply grateful.
Three Songs On Sonnets By William Shakespeare No 1. (1999)
The most delightful aspect of these sonnets for me is the way in which Shakespeare’s metaphors get right to the heart of the matter, with language that is both deeply poignant and simply adept. These sonnets are structured in quatrain and couplet form. Rhetorically, the quatrain prepares for the conclusion in the couplet. I’ve treated them freely allowing the words and imagery to suggest the musical phrasing. Special attention was given to musically establish the mood of the poems through the use of particular modes. The imagery is further reflected by a technique called word painting in which the word meanings are depicted by corresponding musical events.
Transmigration No 1. (2010) Music by Matthew Baier with Larry Alexander, Film, by Tony Grocki
Transmigration No 1. (2010) Music by Matthew Baier with Larry Alexander, Film, by Tony Grocki
Transmigrate: to cause to go from one state of existence or place to another.
All of the sounds heard here (except for the sampled bird’s wings) have been extracted from previous live recordings of solo flute parts from a number of my compositions as performed by Jacquelyn Drechsler. The sounds were then organized into a series of parameters indicating the thematic structure and compositional techniques to be used, as well as the electronic manipulations to occur. All of these elements are arranged in Sonata form. The musical intent is to suggest that the convergence of the original work(s) would naturally generate a new work containing elements of the works collectively although dramatically very different.
Electronic music: The origins of electronic or electro – acoustic music can be found in the technological advances of the early twentieth century which led to composers to search for new instruments and sounds. The result was the invention of the Electronic Organ, Ondes Martenot and the Theramin to name just a few. In the post-war period three main mediums of electronic music developed and took hold. The first was musique concrete, which made use of the magnetic tape recorder that was able to record, store and allow a variety of natural and or electronically created sounds to be manually manipulated. Next came the synthesizer that combined sound generators and modifiers within a compact system. This wide array of sounds could be used in a less time consuming way than the previous method. Finally there is the computer, which can depict sound waves by graphs and analyze and manipulate them by numbered representation. Today all of these mediums are available within the realm of computer based sound and music programs.
In assessing this music (as well as many modern or contemporary art forms) aesthetically the following basic questions or guidelines are to be considered: Is it organized, fun, climactic, does it have a sense of space and phrase and finally does it convey meaning?
While creating the film Tony and I considered a number of ideas of how to represent “transmigration” and relate it to the human condition. As the work developed it was evident that the combination of sounds and images would speak on their own in a very personal way to each individual. Please feel free to speak with the filmmaker and composer after this performance. We would welcome your impressions.
Transmigration No. 2 (2011) Matthew Baier with Larry Alexander
This electronic work is a musical collage created from the entire open microphone cassette recording of my November 2000 recital at St. Paul’s Festival of the Arts in South Nyack in its entirety. Its themes feature that night’s audience, performers and host’s incidentals and asides in an attempt to engage the audience tonight in a way that may be somewhat unexpected.
The tape recording has been sampled and manipulated with the aide of computer software but common composition techniques in terms of form, balance and structure have been applied. As its title suggests, it is recycled. The sounds, resting spaces and vocal catch phrase may point in any number of directions in terms of meaning, which is left for you to interpret.
- “All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone… the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act”. Marcel Duchamp: (1887-1968) French Surrealist.
- The auditorium lights will remain dimmed during this performance. Please stay seated.
Versions Of A Girl (2013) Film by Tony Grocki, Music by Matthew Baier with Larry Alexander
Program note by Tony Grocki: The main premise of this film is the question – What would you tell a younger version of yourself if you could go back in time and meet them? Or in this case – what would you tell 2 younger versions of yourself, if you went back and met both of them? “Versions of a girl” is a play on this proposed meeting.
Program note by Matthew Baier: Work on this composition began organically from its title. All harmonic and melodic material in the piece is derived from the texts phonetics as aligned with a major scale. The harmony’s movement or rhythm was taken from the syllabic structure of the words and sentence. The sung portions exploit the use of the vowels while other sections employ the vowels and consonants serially. Additionally there is humming and the sound of the “A Syllable”.
The instrumentation includes electronic treatments of shruti box, shofar, acoustic guitar and voice. The parts were created, recorded in multiple layers, positioned in an improvised manner and then balanced around the film and the voice-overs. The final mix also includes some sound effects as suggested by Tony Grocki.
My Lord God (2013)
Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968) was a Trappist Monk of the Abbey of Gesthsemani, Kentucky. As a member of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.) he was part of the Roman Catholic religious order of cloistered monastics following the order of the Rule of St. Benedict whose motto is “pray and work”. He was an author, essayist, poet, pacifist social activist and student of comparative religion. One of his most well known books is his autobiographical “Seven Story Mountain” (1948) in which he recounts his conversion experience. A proponent of interfaith understanding, he wrote over seventy books and had dialogues with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, D.T.Suzuki and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh.
For more on Merton’s writings please visit: The Institute for Contemplative Practice.org
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Prov. 16:9)
Lullaby For Guitar (2005)
This piece is a companion work to my “Songs On Poems by R.M. Rilke” NO.s 1 & 2 (2005). It makes use of a G tuning on the guitar (D G D G B E) for expanding the open range of the instrument and its soothing sonority. My hope is that its sentiment and emotional effect may touch everyone’s sense of the child within.
Sonnets By William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
Sonnet 147 (1609)
My love is like a fever, longing still
For that which no longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th’ uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,
For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.
Sonnet 87 (1609)
Farewell; thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know’st thy estimate.
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate.
For how do I hold thee but by thy granting,
And for that riches where is my deserving?
The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
And so my patent back again is swerving.
Thy self thou gav’st, thy own worth then not knowing,
Or me, to whom thou gav’st it, else mistaking;
So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,
Comes home again, on better judgment making.
Thus have I had thee like a dream doth flatter,
In sleep a king but in waking no such matter.
Sonnet 98 (1609)
From you I have been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue,
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew;
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion of the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern all of those.
Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.
MY LORD GOD,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I
Think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.
I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do
That You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me to face my perils alone”
From Thomas Merton’s “Thoughts In Solitude”
1956 Abbey at Gethsemani
Nassau Community College
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(Memo) Stanley Solow Guitar Scholarship
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Stanley Solow (June 13. 1921 – April 22. 2013) was born in New York City where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and later Columbia University.
He served in the U.S. Army during W.W.II, from 1942 to 1945 with the 445 Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, 8th Infantry Division. It was during this time between deployments that he met and married Freda Borenstein of Spring Valley, New York.
After the war he and Freda began to raise their family in Manhattan and later moved to the borough of Queens. He earned a living teaching guitar and as a musician with the group the “Skylighters” performing in venues around the northeast. During this time he also studied jazz guitar and harmony with guitarist Barry Galbraith. In 1950 he had heard Andreas Segovia and was completely taken with the Maestro, his technique and the classical guitar repertoire. In 1958 Galbraith suggested that he study with Segovia disciple, Albert Valdes Blain in N.Y.C.
In 1966 Mr. Solow auditioned for and gained the post of Instructor of Classical Guitar at Hofstra University where he taught until 1986. It was the first degreed Classical Guitar program of its kind in the area. He taught concurrently at Nassau Community College from 1970 to 1995 from where he retired and a scholarship for guitar study was begun in his name.
After his retirement he kept his teaching studio at his home in New Hyde Park, Queens receiving new students and maintaining mentoring relationships with former students as well, many who went on to become performers, composers, teachers and dear friends throughout the years.
After Freda’s passing early in 2013 after a long illness and up until the time of his death in April of 2013, Mr. Solow still managed to see a number of devoted students and friends each week.
Stanley Solow was an admired teacher, a generous friend and mentor, dearly missed by all those who had the opportunity to sit by his side to learn.
He is survived by his children Paula Nan Solow – Watkins and Harold Tobias Solow and their families.
Biographies of the Performers
Soprano Marigene Kettler has a BA in Vocal Performance from Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y. She has studied and performed at the Hochschule fuer Musik in Vienna, Austria, the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria and at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado. Marigene has been a featured soloist at the Grace Church Music Series and St. Paul’s Festival of the Arts performing Handel’s Messiah and the Brahms’ Requiem. She has also sung with the New Jersey Pops Orchestra and the Pro Arte Chorale. As a member of the close harmony trio Satin Dolls, Marigene has sung in Atlantic City and Manhattan. She is currently the Executive Director of The Rockland Conservatory of Music in Pearl River, New York.
Since moving to N.Y. from Arizona more than 20 years ago, baritone, Russell Ashley has been a familiar face to audiences in the Tri-State area. In addition to appearing as a guest soloist with the Gregg Smith Singers, The Robert De Cormier Singers, and Amor Artis in New York, he has been a featured baritone at Madeline and Chartres Cathedrals in France and at the Madeira Bach Festival. Mr. Ashley has performed frequently with the National Grand Opera, New Jersey State Opera, The Opera Orchestra of New York and The National Chorale. After beginning his career as a music teacher in Phoenix, with Kindergarten through 6th grade students, Mr. Ashley moved to Flagstaff where he worked with high school choruses until 1984. At present he is the baritone soloist at the Reformed Church of Bronxville. He is also the conductor of the P.S. 310 School Chorus in the Bronx.
Violinist – Violinist Matthew Lehmann obtained a Masters Degree from the Mannes College of Music and a post-graduate degree at the Manhattan School of Music where he studied with Glenn Dicterow. He has given concerts with many of New York’s prestigious ensembles, such as the American Symphony, the Riverside Symphony, and the New York City Opera. In addition, Mr. Lehmann performs regularly with the bands of current Broadway musicals such as “The Book of Mormon”, “Wicked”, “Matilda”, “Cinderella”, “Motown”, and “Spiderman: Turn off the Dark”. Matthew Lehmann is in his tenth year as a member of the Hofstra University String Quartet and is an Adjunct Professor of Violin at that institution. As an orchestral musician, Matthew began his career as Assistant Principal Second of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in 2000. He is currently a tenured member of the Grant Park Symphony in Chicago, as well as the Assistant Concertmaster of the Harrisburg Symphony. In addition, Mr. Lehmann has performed concerts with the Rochester Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. Matthew recently accompanied the Philharmonic on its 2013 European Tour.
Martha Colby – Cellist, pianist, writer, singer, arranger, and teacher, Martha Colby, “scrapes, glides and plucks her way like a flame” (Performing Songwriter magazine). Having spent her summers since 2007 with the Lake Quartet at Yellowstone Park, Martha left her freelance career in NYC to be out in the mountains with the bears, bison, mountain goats, wolves and spaciousness of the west. She is currently a musician in residence (cello and piano) in Yellowstone National Park at the historic Old Faithful Inn, winters at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, and continues to perform with the Lake String Quartet at Lake Village. She has performed in such ensembles as the band October Project (Bury My Lovely), with singer-songwriters Anna Dagmar, Sloan Wainwright, Gregory Douglass, a Latin trio Rosewood and Rhythm, in jazz bands The Llama Dollies and Lyric Fury, and was principle cellist of the Hudson Opera Theater, the Spirit of America Pops and a soloist with the S.U.N.Y. Orange County Community Orchestra. Her debut album, Across Two Rivers, appears on the LWR Productions label, as well as an off-the-wall collaboration with Steve Raleigh, Christmas Present. She earned her BM at Berklee College of music and was a recipient of the Joe Venuti Jazz Masters Award and several Meet the Composer grants. Martha has worked with world-renowned musicians including Matt Glaser, Julie Lyonn Lieberman, Billy Hart, and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Martha Colby music is what you get from a kid who wanted to be a lead singer and a bass player and wound up playing the cello. She grew up listening to classical music, progressive rock, thrash, 60’s folk rock, Dixie, Swing, and avante garde jazz. She started off as a child in Guilford, CT.
Violinist Chris Cardona has spent his career performing with many of New York’s finest musical institutions. He holds a BMA from The Julliard School where he studied with Joseph Fuchs. After spending two seasons as a member of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, he toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe performing and as a part of several National Touring companies. Chris has played in numerous Broadway shows. In 2005 Chris starred on Broadway as the fiddler in “Fiddler On The Roof” with Rosie O’Donnell. In 2006 he toured the country with the Sheryl Crow band and the following year with Hall and Oates. Chris has recorded and played for dozens of top recording artists and has been a featured performer on the Today Show, Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon among others. More recently he has been performing in the Broadway production of “Spider Man”. Among the many ensembles he has performed with are the Grammy nominated Eos and the Concordia and Riverside Symphony.
Tony Grocki: After working for 16 years in the editorial department in New York City on films directed by Jim Jarmusch, Abel Ferrara, Paul Schrader, Sara Driver, and Lodge Kerrigan, and working with Editors Jay Rabinowitz, Kristina Boden, and Bill Pankow, Tony moved his family to the cool, clear air and laid back country lifestyle of upstate New York. He is raising his family there while working as Editor on numerous projects, both shorts and features. He is joined by his wife, Tara Molloy-Grocki, their two sons, Conor (born in 1995), and Sean (born in 1999), and their daughter Clare (born in 2007).
Larry Alexander is an engineer/producer who began his career at 914 Studios recording such superstars as Bruce Springsteen and Janis Ian (for which he won a Grammy for Best Engineered Recording). After lengthy employment as a staff engineer at Power Station Studios, Larry began to freelance and has worked extensively in the U.S. and abroad recording music for albums, film, television and advertising.
Composer & Guitarist Matthew Baier received his Bachelor Degree in music from Nyack College, in Nyack, N.Y. where he studied composition with Paul Lilijestrand and classical guitar with Stanley Solow of Nassau Community College on Long Island. He received his MFA degree in Studio Composition from the S.U.N.Y. at Purchase where he studied composition with Dary John Mizelle. From 1999 through 2006 Mr. Baier hosted his annual original chamber music recitals at Saint Paul’s Festival of The Arts in South Nyack. From 2007 to 2013 his programs have been held at Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack N.Y. and the First Reformed Church of Nyack. In addition to composing Mr. Baier has performed solo classical guitar recitals at the Queens Public Library, Suffern Free Library and Nyack Library. Please visit the blog site to view program notes at: matthewsbaier.wordpress.com and contribute to the discussion. For other inquiries you may write directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also Matthew Baier on Facebook. Affiliations: Long Island Composer’s Alliance www.licamusic.org American Music Center www.AMC.net
Special Thanks & Acknowledgements: Marigene Kettler, Jacquelyn Drechsler, Russ Ashley, Matthew Lehmann, Christopher Cardona, Martha Colby, Marcos Sueiro, Prof. Steve Leonard and Melissa & Larry Alexander who have graciously given their time and talents in support of my musical endeavors.
Grace Episcopal Church and Thayer Woodcock for facilitating the use of this wonderful sanctuary.
William Hargrove (1926 – 2010) the former organizer of the Festival of the Arts in South Nyack / St. Paul’s who enthusiastically programmed my recital each year from 1999 through 2006.
This recital is dedicated in memory of Mr. And Mrs. Stanley Solow for their inspirational lifetime commitment to each other and for passing on the pedagogy of The Maestro, Andreas Segovia. Without their many many years of patient encouragement and friendship this program would not have been possible.
My wife Emily and my daughter Stephanie: for their love, inspiration and support.
To all of you, the audience, particularly those of you attending year after year. Please sign the guest book so I may update the mailing/e-mail list.
Guitar: by William Del Pilar 1985, Brooklyn, New York.
All Music Copyright by Matthew Baier 1996, 2005, 2010, 2011,2013
(Except Pieces for Guitar by Stanley Solow 1994)