All notes are by the composer unless otherwise specified
An old adage states that given an infinite number of typewriters and an infinite amount of monkey typists, eventually one is bound to create the complete works of Shakespeare. This hypothesis is meant to illustrate the nature of infinity, not the enormous artistic talent of monkeys. But what else might be created in such a fertile environment?
The Complete Works of Shakespeare was composed for Jennifer Grim, Meighan Stoops, and Héctor Sanchez.
In 1998, I co-founded a concert-presenting group called The Minimum Security Composers Collective. The name we chose for this group implied that we were edgy and tough (like prison inmates), but not terribly so (like inmates in a minimum security prison). We also chose the name because we felt that it accurately reflects the shaky career-instability of a composer in the 21 century. In this spirit, I have given this orchestral work the title Hard Knocks, which not only refers to the one-chord BAM! motive (a hard knock indeed), but also refers to the difficulty of making ones way in the composition of orchestral music. It seems to me that learning to compose music for orchestra is to study at the school of hard knocks, where only the experienced become established, and only the established gain experience.
For inofrmation on Korczak's Orphans, please visit [http://www.adambilsverman.com/korczak ]
Those Mean Reds for
From Breakfast at Tiffany's:
Holly: Listen...you know those days when you get those mean
"Quick Blood" was composed in 2001 expressly for this group, and it is mostly for mallet instruments (marimbas, vibraphones, xylophone) often in the "four hands" method of having two people simultaneously share an instrument. Melodies are passed note-bynote back and forth from one marimba to the other, creating a special kind of stereo sound that works very well on their recording of the music. The music is "tonal," meaning that it uses the sorts of diatonic harmonies that are common to much older classical music. It is rhythmically very vigorous, with a feeling of perpetual motion. There is also a very dramatic use of the large orchestral bass drum.
The title "Quick Blood" comes from Silverman's orchestra piece "Her Quick Blood Runs Dancing," of which this percussion quartet is a slightly expanded and embellished re-orchestration of the middle movement. The original, longer title is itself taken from a poem written in 1640 by Thomas Carew, a contemporary of Shakespeare. It's a love-poem sung by chorus in the orchestral work, that Silverman chose to continue a series of works that address historical conflicts between religion and science:
- note by Ted Wilks (2002) for the Delaware Symphony
Red Herring is a virtuosic piece for unaccompanied cello, comprised of three movements with misleading titles: red herrings. All three movements were composed for cellist Amy Sue Barston in very close collaboration, and she deserves much credit for the shape and form of the pieces, for refining motivic ideas on which I might build the composition, and for adapting some very awkward gestures to be more suitable for the cello. Even with all this help from such a facile player, Red Herring remains a difficult piece that, in its outer movements, creates a sense of flow through unbroken, breathless motion.
Its three movements are all inspired by different sources. Leslie was inspired by the sound of a “leslie rotating speaker,” a spinning speaker that was common in Hammond organs that created a shifting sound through Doppler effect. I love my love with a v was inspired by a Gertrude Stein poem, and was initially composed as the processional for a friend’s wedding. Oswald’s Groove was intended to give Barston a solo based on rock music to play at family-concerts; Oswald is the name of her cello.
- note by Adam Silverman (2004)
One of the best bow-strokes that string players use is called “ricochet,” in which the bow is thrown against the string to bounce repeatedly and sound a flurry of short notes. “Ricochet” itself is a great word – fun to say and to spell, onomatopoetic, French. One of the ways that I write music is to choose an instrumental technique that is native to one performer, and try to get the other players in a group to imitate that sound as best as they can on their own instruments. The resulting composition then becomes like a group of foreigners speaking the same language in different accents. So this piece is about ricochets – not only about this kind of bowing (which there is quite a bit of) but the whole idea of things bouncing off of each other – and there are parts of the piece inspired by cartoony sounds of gunshot ricochets, which, as in cartoons, never leave more than a mild sting.
A dry program note:
A touchy-feely program note:
Rondo of Sorts was composed for Kylix New Music Ensemble.
Premiere performances by the Amelia Piano Trio at La Jolla Chamber Music Society, Febuary 2002, with subsequent performances by this group at Riverhead (NY) Free Library (March 2002), Trinity Church (New Haven, CT, February 2003), and Coleman Concerts (Pasadena, CA, February 2003).
I studied at the Vienna Musikhochschule in 199495, and divided my time equally between classrooms, practice rooms, concert halls, and bars. While not practicing, studying, or attending concerts, I discovered the Austrian drink called Sturm, a young sweet wine that is served in its violent fermentation stage. This wine is truly ephemeralnot only is it available only one season per year, but a bottles potable life lasts only a week; it may be sour and fizzy, sweet and light, or rotten and bitter depending on which day it reaches you. Sturm is cloudy because the unsettled must forms swirls in the glass. It is light yet highly alcoholic, and a Sturm hangover is terrible. For these reasons, I consider Sturm to be a gamblers drink.
This piano trio is not about wine. It is, however, turbulent music that moves between sweetness, bitterness, and sourness; some parts even sound fizzy. Its melodies leave trails like the swirls in Sturm; obscured motives are repeated in other voices at very short distances. And like all art, it is riskymaybe youll like it, maybe you wont.
The title Sturm also refers to an 18th century artistic style called Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress), noted for its very emotional expression.
This work was composed for the Amelia Piano Trio in 2001, with a premiere by them at the La Jolla Chamber Music Societys Discovery Series. It is dedicated to this group and to Brian Bumby, their former artist manager with Concert Artists Guild, who has introduced me to many of his artists and has given me endless free tickets to their events.
I hope you like Sturm. May your hangover be an easy one.
Three Fell Swoops was composed for Flexible Music, a brand-new group with an uncommon set of instruments. This group – saxophone, percussion, amplified guitar, and piano – is odd for many reasons, because of the different volumes of its instruments, their colors, their home keys. It would be tough to find a group of instruments more difficult to blend together. So while composing this piece, I decided that my goal would be to blend these instruments as best as I could while trying to give them music to play that best suited each as a solo instrument. There is one exception, I think: the piano, which often works as a musical chameleon, is given the job of binding everyone together. Beyond that, I wanted to write a piece that really rocks, that has a strong groove throughout and at least one tune that will get stuck in your head,
updated March 29, 2005