Alvin Singleton Named Karel Husa Visiting Professor of Composition Amidst a Flurry of Performances
Sep. 18, 2020
Alvin Singleton has been named the Karel Husa Visiting Professor of Composition at Ithaca College for the 2020-21 academic year. The Karel Husa Visiting Professor of Composition is a position awarded annually to a major figure in music composition today. Visiting Professors lecture on their music and issues relevant to contemporary composition and conduct private lessons with the School of Music's composition majors. During the course of the Professorship, several of Alvin Singleton's works will be studied and performed by Ithaca College School of Music faculty and students.
Listen to Alvin Singleton's PraiseMaker (1998):
(PraiseMaker/Alvin Singleton/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Robert Spano, conductor)
This month, Alvin Singleton's After Choice is being streamed as part of the Bard Music Festival's "Out of the Silence" series. Commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University for the Orchestra of the League of Composers, Alvin Singleton's 8-minute After Choice is a true gem -- one of his most resourceful pieces. This extremely listenable work for string orchestra utilizes licks from the late violin master Leroy Jenkins in a manner at once austere and opulent. This work, in memory of Mr. Jenkins, juggles and juxtaposes a recurring pizzicato phrase against arco lines as it relentlessly grows. The elements of sudden silences and suspense are, as in many of Singleton's works, major players.
Additionally, on September 26, the Locrian Chamber Players will perform In My Own Skin as part of their "Online Festival of Solos." The title of this one-movement highly-pianistic creation lets us know clearly where the composer is comfortable. But within that skin in this work are two competing sonic worlds. Beginning chorally in big harmonies, that mood is soon interrupted by loud, running 16th note octaves. The drama of In My Own Skin lies within these disjunct phrases, as each seems to argue as to what the whole piece should be about. Jazz and classical implications also keep things interesting. Some might hear those opening chords not so much as a classical chorale as like jazz big-band brass and winds, the running 16ths as something out of Lenny Tristano or Thelonious Monk. Of course Singleton fans know that it is about both, sonic and cultural worlds which live in his skin in comfortable equality.
Finally, on October 18, Seth Parker Woods will play Argoru II as part of the livestreamed Bang on a Can Festival. Argoru II for cello is the second in a series of solo pieces for various musical instruments. This composition, like all the Argoru pieces, provides a musical platform for sheer virtuosic display. The title, Argoru, comes from the Twi language (spoken in Ghana) and means "to play."
Performers may wish to explore Alvin Singleton's entire Argoru collection, recently released on PSNY.
To learn more about Alvin Singleton, visit: schott-music.com.
After Choice (2009)
for string orchestra
In My Own Skin (2010)
Argoru II (1970)
for solo cello