Some Call It Home
As part of the Mayflower400 commemorations in Plymouth, Robert Taub is creating and directing a new multi-media music drama commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ Atlantic crossing that focuses upon the central issue of humans’ relationship to the land: stewardship vs. dominion. Conflict over land began immediately upon the Pilgrims’ (and other Europeans’) immigration to America and has grown as human influence over the planet increased as humans became ecological and geological agents. The critical issue of stewardship vs. dominion of our land continues today, with climate change influencing migration on a world-wide scale.
Narrative material for this drama includes archival Pilgrims’ writings, Native American accounts, documents regarding land use, and multi-media resources focused upon current issues about human immigration and the life of our planet. Important historical quotations are set to music, and additional programmatic music throughout dramatizes key points. The work brings to life issues that started with the Pilgrims and Native Americans from which we can all learn, and which affect us on a global basis today.
Performances: Theatre Royal Plymouth: 24th and 25th March 2020
Composers: Jane O’Leary, composer, Galway, Ireland and Jonathan Dawe, composer, New York
Soloists: Randall Scarlata, baritone/narrator and Deborah York, soprano/narrator
Ensemble: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra musicians, Mark Forkgen, conductor
Musica Viva Concert Series - Randall Scarlata, baritone Robert Taub, piano
12 October 2019 - Sherwell Centre, University of Plymouth Pre-concert talk 7pm; Performance 7:30pm
Brahms – Fantasias Op.116
Scriabin – Sonata No. 5
Schoenberg – Klavierstück Op.33a
Babbitt – Reflections for Piano and Synthesized Tape
Babbitt – Canonical Form (commissioned for Robert Taub by the Fromm Foundation)
Beethoven – Sonata Op. 53 “Waldstein”
Pre-concert informal talk:
“Why We Play.” All music was once new; some pieces fade, others transcend time. Why? How does an iconoclast – like Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, or Babbitt – fit into this spectrum?
Post-concert discussion: Questions and Answers.
I studied composition with Milton Babbitt both as an undergrad at Princeton, and as a graduate student at Juilliard. Also at Juilliard, I worked up the courage to learn one of his piano pieces, and haven’t looked back since. Prior to performing Milton’s piano works in public, I would play them through for him personally – an incomparable series of experiences in which he shared his musical thoughts and insights about his own works, and also about works of other composers that he valued. Milton Babbitt spoke often about the “continuum of music” – a spectrum of musical development and perception starting with Bach and continuing through Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and the 2nd Viennese School to the present. These programs are meant to celebrate Babbitt’s pivotal contributions within this rich panorama, and to highlight certain works and composers he especially valued.
Milton spoke passionately of the Brahms’ late piano works as concentrated miniatures, as close to perfection as a piece of music can be. He also revered the music of Schoenberg and was fascinated by Scriabin, and had an encyclopedic knowledge of Beethoven Piano Sonatas, string quartets, and symphonies. He and I agreed that the Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata was pivotal in Beethoven’s oeuvre – it was with this piece that Beethoven entered into heretofore uncharted compositional musical territory. And when I was learning Milton’s Piano Concerto No.2 and played through the piano part for him for the first time, he referred to one particularly lyrical section as “the Chopin Nocturne part of this piece.”
I try to imbue old music with freshness, as it was once new and often revolutionary; and try to play new music with the conviction that it is already classic. I shared this idea with Milton: “play old music as if it’s new, and new music as if it’s old.” He approved.
Additional detailed program notes available upon request.