Composers' series delves into 20th century


CLASSICAL music fans weary of the works of long-dead composers will have little reason to complain when the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra invites nine living American composers here and plays their music over a 12-day period.

The American Composers' Showcase, which will include public talks, is divided into three segments: The Discovery Series, featuring computer music; a Celebrity Series premiere by Christopher Rouse; and the Live, Gifted and Black series, featuring the works of black composers.

* Computer music by four young composers will be presented at 8:15 p.m. Nov. 1 at Peabody Institute's Friedberg Hall. The concert will explore the combination of pop, rock and classical music. Pieces scheduled to be played are "Hammer Music" by Kamran Ince, "Towards the Center" by Tod Machover, "MXYZPTLK" by Michael Daugherty, and "Thrust" by William Doerrfeld. Tickets are $5.

Doerrfeld will discuss his music Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. in Peabody's Leakin Hall. Born in Chicago in 1964, Doerrfeld studied at the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Eastman School of Music and the Yale School of Music. His "Thrust" has a heavy rock beat played on a piano and two keyboards.

Daugherty, born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1954, is a professor of composition at Oberlin. His "Snap" was played by the BSO in 1989. The title of the Nov. 1 music, "MXYZPTLK," comes from the imp of the fifth dimension in Superman, according to the composer, who says the acoustic instruments for his piece "show a sense of humor."

Machover is an associate professor and director of the Experimental Media Facility at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His "Towards the Center" uses an electronic keyboard and an electronic percussion instrument combined with acoustic flute, clarinet, violin and cello.

Ince, born in Montana in 1960 to Turkish-American parents, was trained in Turkish conservatories, Oberlin Conservatory and the Eastman School of Music. His "Hammer Music," he says, uses pop elements fashioned by the synthesizer and a chamber ensemble.

* The world premiere of Rouse's "Karolju" will take place in the Celebrity Series concert at 8:15 p.m. Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The BSO and chorus will perform a new work described by Rouse as "straight forward in its melody, harmony and orchestration."

Rouse is an old BSO hand, having been the symphony's composer-in-residence from 1986 to 1989. His "Karolju", dedicated to his daughter Alexandra, was inspired by Christmas carols and Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana."

Rouse will answers questions about "Karolju" during a light dinner before the Nov. 7 concert, at 6:30 p.m., in the Green Room at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Dinner tickets are $12 and reservations are required. Concert tickets are $12 to $40.

* Music by four black composers will be presented at 8:15 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Meyerhoff. The works to be performed during the concert will include "The Girl With the Golden Bloomers" by Rafael Aponte-Ledee, "Let Peace Be Free" by Ed Bland, "Crosscurrents" by Anthony M. Kelley, and "Variants on the Holiday Season" by Gary Powell Nash. Tickets are free but should be reserved by calling the BSO ticket office.

During a symposium before the concert, at 7 p.m., Elam Ray Sprenkle and the four black composers will discuss African-American composers and the American symphonic world.

Aponte-Ledee, born in Guayama, Puerto Rico, in 1938, teaches harmony, orchestration and composition at the Conservatory of ZTC Puerto Rico. He is also music director of the Latin American Foundation for Contemporary Music.

Bland, who lives in Los Angeles, has composed and arranged music for the major networks and six record companies. He wrote the score for the PBS production of "A Raisin in the Sun".

Kelley is a 26-year-old free-lance composer who just received a master's degree in composition from Duke University. His 14-minute "Crosscurrents" is a scherzo for string orchestra. A scherzo (Italian for joke) is a lively, fast movement.

Nash is studying for a Ph.D. in composition at Michigan State University. His "Variants" is a symphonic poem for full orchestra based on five Christmas songs, including three medieval tunes.

This is BSO music director David Zinman's second American Composers Showcase. Last year, the BSO featured Michael Torke's music, which was recently released on the Argo label.

For tickets for all concerts and the Nov. 7 dinner, call 783-8000.

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