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World Premiere of Christopher Cerrone's Meander, Spiral, Explode in Chicago and More

May. 01, 2019

World Premiere of Christopher Cerrone's <em>Meander, Spiral, Explode</em> in Chicago and More

On May 12, Ken-David Masur leads the Civic Orchestra of Chicago in the world premiere of Christopher Cerrone's Meander, Spiral, Explode for percussion quartet and orchestra. The work was co-commissioned by the Civic Orchestra and the Britt Festival Orchestra, and features the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Third Coast Percussion. Christopher Cerrone describes the genesis of his new work:

"In April 2019, my friend Tim Horvath, a novelist, texted me, “Do you know Jane Alison’s 'Meander, Spiral, Explode'? It’s a book that focuses on unusual structural elements in novels.” I always trust Tim’s suggestions, and I tore through the book over the next few days, finding it unique and deeply insightful. I experienced what Melville called “the shock of recognition”—seeing someone describe your own efforts (in this case, an in-progress percussion concerto) without ever having seen a note of it.

The three words of the title seemed to pertain specifically to each movement of my concerto. The first movement—while dramatic and intense—seems to meander through different landscapes, where the gunshot-like sound of four wooden slats morphs into marimbas and bowed vibraphones while changing volume, key, and context.

The second movement (played without pause after the first) is structured like a double helix. A rising scale on two vibraphones slowly expands, speeds up, and finally blossoms into a sea of polyrhythms.

As for the last movement (again played without pause): the explosion seems fairly self-evident. A single exclamation point ejects lines of 16th notes into the ether which return, again and again, to a white-hot core. The propulsive patterns in this movement constantly shift emphasis but always maintain energy.

The end of the work brings us back to the first three notes of the piece, suggesting one more shape that Jane Alison discusses in her book: a fractal. The simple shape of the opening turns out to have contained the entire form of the work to come.

Meander, Spiral, Explode is dedicated to Third Coast Percussion, who have brought to life to nearly an hour of my music over the last three years, and the two fine conductors who will give the world premiere performances of the work, Teddy Abrams, and Ken-David Masur."

Listen to Goldbeater's Skin (2017) for mezzo-soprano and percussion quartet here:

(Goldbeater's Skin/Christopher Cerrone/Elspeth Davis, mezzo-soprano and Sandbox Percussion)

In addition, on May 17-30, Latitude 49 and the Chicago Fringe Opera join forces to present "Love Wounds" a series of works for voice and chamber ensemble including will include Cerrone's song cycles I will learn to love a person and The Naomi Songs, Cerrone’s one-act opera All Wounds Bleed, and a world premiere commission. The production is led by stage director Susan Payne O'Brien and music director, Catherine O'Shaughnessy. 

(Christopher Cerrone discusses his inspiration behind the music featured on "Love Wounds")

The Hamilton Philharmonic, led by Gemma New, perform Christopher Cerrone's The Pieces that Fall to Earth on May 23 at The Cotton Factory in Ontario. This program integrates visual and multimedia arts in an unconventional way: concert-goers are seated around the orchestra only feet from the musicians, allowing them a level of interation with the performers that is not found in the traditional concert hall.

Finally, on May 25, panSonus 2019 presents a program at Brooklyn's MISE-EN_PLACE, featuring I will learn to love a person performed by Tyler Neidermayer and Daniel Schreiner. 

(I will learn to love a person/Christopher Cerrone/Mellissa Hughes, voice, Mingzhe Wang, clarinet,
Ian Rosenbaum, percussion, Timo Andres, piano)
To learn more about Christopher Cerrone, visit:

Christopher Cerrone
Meander, Spiral, Explode (2019)
for percussion quartet and orchestra cel)-str(

All Wounds Bleed (2011)
an opera in one act
for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and piano
libretto (Eng.) by Tony Asaro

I will learn to love a person (2013)
for soprano voice, soprano saxophone or clarinet,
texts (Eng.) by Tao Lin 
percussion (vibraphone with motor and bows, glockenspiel), piano

The Naomi Songs (2015)
for voice and 11 players
text (Eng.) by Bill Knott
1.1(ca) 5 string or with extension)

The Pieces That Fall to Earth (2015) 
for high soprano and chamber orchestra