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Alvin Singleton Joins Jonathan Bailey Holland for a Composer to Composer Talk, Hosted by the American Composers Orchestra

May. 01, 2021

On May 26, Alvin Singleton joins Jonathan Bailey Holland for a Composer to Composer Talk hosted by the American Composers Orchestra's Artistic Director Derek Bermel. Jonathan Bailey Holland will speak with Alvin Singleton about his work BluesKonzert which was commissioned in 1995 by the Detroit, Houston, and Kansas City symphony orchestras. Click here to register for this free online broadcast.

In writing about the BluesKonzert, Michael Fleming noted:

"Alvin Singleton's BluesKonzert was a triple commission by the Detroit, Houston and Kansas City symphony orchestras, made possible by a grant from the Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest Commissioning Program, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. 

Vernacular and classical traditions have often cross-pollinated in American music, both in performance and composition. A case in point is BluesKonzert, which mixes musical bloodlines as neatly as its title does language. Konzert is a German term that can mean either "concert," as in a musical program, or "concerto," as in a work for solo instrument and orchestra. Singleton, who trained in both classical music and jazz, is perfectly positioned to exploit such ambiguities and crossovers. 

The first feature that strikes the listener in BluesKonzert is the piece's extraordinary delicacy and precision. The piano begins alone, lining out the crucial interval of a minor third, with delicate tracery below. The soloist muses on this idea, as if remembering some deep hidden secret. Lower strings and winds enter almost imperceptibly, joining in the piano's reveries and expanding on its musical ideas. Once or twice, the orchestra raises its voice, then falls into a hush, the piano remaining at the center of attention. With great leisure and subtlety, the soloist takes up other ideas – a high, gentle trill, some bits of counterpoint – and without reaching a grand climax, the piece wanes until only the strings remain, fading at last to a point where, as the composer indicates, they are "barely audible." 

Additionally, click here to visit Continuum Contemporary Music's engaging "Press Play" series page for episodes highlighting two works for solo piano by Alvin Singleton: In My Own Skin (Episode 7) and Changing Faces (Episode 9).

To learn more about Alvin Singleton, visit:

Alvin Singleton
BluesKonzert (1995)
for piano and orchestra

In My Own Skin (2010)
for solo piano

Changing Faces (1986)
for solo piano