Beethoven Sonatas Opus 102

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Yellow Barn is pleased to announce the arrival of faculty member Natasha Brofsky's recording of Beethoven's Opus 102 sonatas for cello and piano, which she recorded with Seth Knopp as part of a long personal journey with these pieces. A glimpse of her musical exploration can be found in her liner notes below.

Beethoven Sonatas Opus 102 is available online and at Yellow Barn summer concerts.

The terrible fire that consumed Count Rasumovsky’s palace in 1814 caused the palace’s famed resident quartet, the Schuppanzigh, to disperse to find new work. As a result, the quartet’s cellist, Joseph Linke, spent the summer of 1815 with Beethoven’s great friend and supporter, the Countess Marie Erdödy, at the Erdödy summer residence at Jedlesee. The Countess, though an invalid, was a fine pianist. As for Linke, he was a superlative performer. According to his obituary, published in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musikin 1837, his musical interpretations could be variously ‘flattering, capricious, passionate and so on, his playing capturing the critical essence of Beethoven’s music’.1No wonder Beethoven was lighthearted and joyful in his letters to the Countess - letters in which he contemplated the prospect of visiting Jedlesee and bringing with him the new sonatas he had just composed.2

Years later, a reviewer for the Berliner Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung1 (1824) would praise these sonatas as a “a work of the newest inspiration of our great master. It is not necessary to say that, like all his works, its originality distinguishes itself not only from all products of other composers, but also, remarkably enough, from his own works. Everywhere the inexhaustible source of his glowing genius pours out, fresh and bright, a new outburst of his feelings, and with each new gift one must admit after repeated hearings not only its beauty, but novelty, as something previously unheard from him and, naturally, from others.”3  

In a gradual process that began with Beethoven’s earliest trios and sonatas, the emancipation of the cello from the left hand of the piano is fully realized in Opus 102, making the cello an independent voice in the musical conversation.

Sonata No.1 in C Major

In the autograph of the opening of the C Major sonata, the word teneramente(tenderly) is written in large letters in Beethoven’s hand.  In the printed score, it is none so prominent, although perhaps it should be; for throughout his life, Beethoven increasingly used descriptive words in his scores.  The reason is implicit, perhaps, in the commentary of Ferdinand Ries, who studied piano with Beethoven: “If I made a mistake in passages or missed notes and leaps which he frequently wanted emphasized he seldom said anything; but if I was faulty in expression, in crescendos, etc., or in the character of the music, he grew angry because, as he said, the former was accidental while the latter disclosed lack of knowledge, feeling, or attentiveness.”4

In the title of the C Major Sonata, Beethoven originally wrote “free sonata,” seemingly conceiving ofthe pieceas unbound by traditional forms.  The words are a reminder that Beethoven was celebrated in his time as a great improviser. As in his Sonata in A MajorOpus 69, he opens the C Major with the cello alone, improvising, as it were, on a C Major scale. The simplicity and inventiveness here are remarkable. The piano joins the cello on the last three notes of this opening phrase with a mini-scale of its own, as if playfully commenting on the cello’s scales while also harmonizing the descending motive. Famously, the motivic material for the entire sonata is derived from this opening phrase. In the Andante sections of the work, the instruments seem to be improvising together with a sense of freedom and timelessness. In contrast, the a minor Allegro vivace movement, which follows the opening Andante, is compact and driving. The Adagio, originally intended to follow without pause, begins with a whimsical cadenza as if the pianist is ruminating on the opening motives of the piece. The cello answers, taking us into a dark and mysterious mood. It is only after a succession of stormy and troubled crescendos that Beethoven gives us the most tender phrase of the piece. Then, like a memory that has been embroidered in its retelling, the opening Andante returns in a more ornamented form.  The final Allegro vivace is a playful, boisterous and virtuosic movement. It provides a vivid example of Beethoven's genius in portraying a huge range of emotion while achieving compositional unity.

Sonata No.2 in D Major

The D Major Sonata has the more standard three-movement form. Like the a minor Allegro vivace of the C Major Sonata, the first movement is not only terse, but also full of dramatic contrasts as well as beautiful lyrical moments. The second movement begins with a soft and sad hymn in minor with a touch of major harmony that brings a glimmer of hope. The music of the middle section of the movement is tender and lovely, made all the more fragile because it is preceded by music that is so unsure and searching. Beethoven returns to an improvisatory quality with the harmonic wanderings at the end of this glorious slow movement.  The famous fugue that is the third movement of this work begins with the playful trading off of a one octave scale. This coy dialogue was added by Beethoven after he completed the whole movement. From this simple scale he creates a fugue subject, and as each voice enters, the fugue becomes a riotous cacophony.The dissonance of this third movement was challenging for Beethoven’s audiences; it still sounds modern, even in the 21stcentury.

This recording represents only a snapshot of our lifelong effort to capture the spirit and essence of Beethoven’s music.  While playing together in the Peabody Trio for nearly two decades, we performed all of the Beethoven Trios. In addition, we played the Cello Sonatas and coached our students on these pieces.  In grappling with these works over many years, we have become increasingly familiar with the medium and ever more obsessive about the ways in which our instruments speak to each other in Beethoven’s music. The instruments sing together, argue, reminisce, shout, and weep. These Sonatas have challenged us to use our utmost imagination in color and expression.  It is this challenge that has inspired us to come back to these pieces over and over, to explore them again and again.

1 Neue Zeitschrift für Musik6 (1837), 130 (21 April) as quoted in Moskovitz, Marc D.; Todd, R. Larry. Beethoven's Cello: Five Revolutionary Sonatas and Their World (Boydell & Brewer Group Ltd. Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 4521-4522.
2 This sequence of events is detailed in Moskovitz, Marc D.; Todd, R. Larry. Beethoven's Cello: Five Revolutionary Sonatas and Their World
3 Berliner Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung1 (1824), 409– 10 (1 December) as quoted in Moskovitz; Todd. Beethoven's Cello: Five Revolutionary Sonatas and Their World, Kindle Locations 6233-6238.
4 Ries, Ferdinand; Wegeler Franz. Biographische Notizen über Ludwig van Beethoven(Coblenz 1838), p. 94 as quoted in Thayer’s Life of Beethoven, ed. Elliot Forbes, editor(Princeton University Press, 1967), p. 295.

2018 Yellow Barn videos

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Watch performances from Yellow Barn's 2018 Summer Festival in Putney, Vermont.

Yellow Barn's Summer Season

Listen to recordings of Yellow Barn summer festival performances

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). Concerto Grosso in D Major, Op.6 No.5, HWV 323 (1739). Zenas Hsu, YuEun Kim, Harriet Langley, Magdalena Filipczak, Brian Hong, Leonard Fu, Mélanie Clapiès, violins; Tegen Davidge, Emily Brandenburg, Yitong Guo, violas; Natasha Brofsky, Cristina Basili, cellos; Peter Walsh, double bass; Alice Chenyang Xu, harpsichord—July 6, 2018
Larghetto e staccato: 0'
Allegro: 1.42'
Presto: 3.53'
Largo: 7.36'
Allegro: 9.44'
Menuet. Un Poco larghetto: 12.18'

John Cage (1912-1992). Solo for Voice 15 from Song Books (1970). Lucy Shelton—July 6, 2018 | Program Note

Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016). Ballad for Harp and Strings (1973/1981). Marion Ravot, harp; Violaine Melançon, Leonard Fu, violins; Lauren Siess, viola; Sein Lee, cello; Peter Walsh, double bass—July 7, 2018

Liza Lim (b.1966). Love Letter (2011). Sam Seyoung Um, percussion—July 7, 2018

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen "Songs of a Wayfarer" (1883-85) (arr. Arnold Schoenberg). Melanie Henley Heyn, soprano; Rosie Gallagher, flute; Yasmina Spiegelberg, clarinet; Emma Frucht, Juliette Roos, violins; Katherine Murdock, viola; Jean-Michel Fonteneau, cello; Peter Walsh, double bass; EunAe Lee, piano; Pedro Borges, harmonium; Sam Seyong Um, percussion—July 7, 2018
Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht: 0'
Ging heut morgen übers Feld: 5.38'
Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer: 9.48'
Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz: 13.17'

John Cage (1912-1992). Experiences No.2 (1948). William Sharp, voice—July 7, 2018

Salvatore Sciarrino (b.1947). Le voci sottovetro, elaborazioni da Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa “Voices under glass, elaborations on music of Carlo Gesualdo of Venosa” (1998).
Gagliarda del Principe di Venosa
Tu m’uccidi, o crudele
Canzon francese del Principe
Moro, lasso
Hans Abrahamsen (b.1952). Liebeslied (2010).
Melanie Henley Heyn, voice; Rosie Gallagher, bass flute; Mark Hill, English horn; Yasmina Spiegelberg, bass clarinet; Mélanie Clapiès, violin; Jesse Morrison, viola; Coleman Itzkoff, cello; 
Sam Seyong Um, percussion; Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, piano—July 12, 2018 | Program Note

Philippe Hersant (b.1948). Usher (2016)
. Marion Ravot, harp; Juliette Roos, Emma Frucht, violins; 
Katherine Murdock, viola; Cristina Basili, cello—July 12, 2018 | Program Note

Stephen Coxe (b.1966). Entretien (2018). Maren Rothfritz, viola; Tomer Gewirtzman, piano—July 12, 2018 | Program Note

Oliver Knussen (1952-2018). Triptych
Autumnal, Op.14 (1977): 0' Eunae Koh, violin; Eunae Lee, piano 
Sonya’s Lullaby, Op.15 (1978): 8.42' Alice Chenyang Xu, piano
Cantata, Op.16 (1977): 16.52' Mark Hill, oboe; Harriet Langley, violin; Tegen Davidge, viola; Annie Jacobs-Perkins, cello—July 13, 2018 | Program Note

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). String Quintet in G Minor, K.516 (1787). Jennifer Liu, Eunae Koh, violins; Katherine Murdock, Lauren Siess, violas; Daniel Hamin Go, cello—July 13, 2018
Allegro: 0'
Menuetto. Allegretto: 8.50'
Adagio ma non troppo: 15.01'
Adagio—Allegro: 23.33'

César Franck (1822-1890). Piano Quintet in F Minor (1879). Peter Frankl, piano; Magdalena Filipczak, Claire Bourg, violins; Nicholas Mann, viola; Yoshika Masuda, cello—July 13, 2018
Molto moderato quasi lento—Allegro: 0'
Lento con molto sentimento: 17.17'
Allegro non troppo ma con fuoco: 28.29'
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904). Piano Trio in G Minor, Op.26 (1876). Peter Frankl, piano; Violaine Melançon, violin; Edvard Pogossian, cello—July 14, 2018
Allegro moderato
Presto—Poco meno mosso

Finale. Allegro non tanto

Yellow Barn Videos

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Watch festival performances from the Big Barn in Putney, Vermont.

Yellow Barn's Summer Season

Listen to recordings of Yellow Barn festival performances

2018 summer season

George Frideric Handel Concerto Grosso in D Major, Op.6 No.5, HWV 323J
John Cage Solo for Voice 15 from Song Books
Einojuhani Rautavaara Ballad for Harp and Strings
Liza Lim Love Letter
Gustav Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen “Songs of a Wayfarer”
John Cage Experiences No.2
Oliver Knussen Triptych
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart String Quintet in G Minor, K.516
César Franck Piano Quintet in F Minor

2017 summer season

Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G Major, BWV 1048
Sofia Gubaidulina Galgenlieder à 3
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart String Quartet in G Major, K.387 
Alexander Raskatov Five Minutes from the Life of W.A.M. 
Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Cello
Jörg Widmann Zirkustänze

Oliver Knussen (1952-2018)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Yellow Barn's concert this Friday, July 13 was meant in part to celebrate the revered British composer Oliver Knussen, with the performance of three of his works. It is with great sadness that these performances must now be presented in memoriam to this composer who will be deeply missed.

In the words of BBC broadcaster Tom Service, “Oliver Knussen’s sheer brilliance as composer and conductor, his support for generations of younger composers and musicians, with whom he created a performance practice for music from Elliott Carter to Helen Grime—made him an essential part of our musical life. His music is one of the life-enhancing glories of the repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries."

The Guardian published the following obituary on July 9, 2018:

Oliver Knussen, who has died aged 66, was a towering figure in contemporary music, as composer and conductor, teacher and artistic director. The relatively small size of his compositional output conceals music of exceptional refinement and subtlety—a few bars of Knussen may have more impact than whole movements by lesser composers.

Besides definitive interpretations of his own music, he must surely have given more first performances than any other conductor, alongside an outstanding body of recordings. He was the central focus of so many activities, and an irreplaceable mentor to his fellow composers, who constantly sought and relied on his advice and encouragement.

He was born in Glasgow, son of Jane (nee Alexander) and Stuart Knussen; his father was principal double bass of the London Symphony Orchestra for nearly 20 years. Although Knussen would have laughed at any idea of his being a child prodigy, this gave him an unrivalled insight into the workings of the orchestra from an early age. It culminated in his conducting his First Symphony with the LSO at the age of 15, when their principal conductor István Kertész fell ill. His father played in the first performance of Benjamin Britten’s church parable Curlew Riverin 1964. Knussen attended all the rehearsals, and Britten was very encouraging to the young composer, commissioning a work for the 1969 Aldeburgh festival.

Between 1963 and 1969 he studied with the composer John Lambert, which gave him a solid but untraditional grounding. His musical perspectives were expanded greatly by studying in the US with Gunther Schuller from 1970 until 1973 at the Tanglewood Music Center, where he met his future wife, Sue Freedman, then a horn player, later a maker of documentary films. This period saw him writing with ever greater confidence—a Concerto for Orchestra commissioned by André Previn in 1969, and his Second Symphony, commissioned by Yehudi Menuhin in 1970, the latter the first major work in which he felt fully confident of his abilities. Even at the age of 18 his musical personality seemed fully formed.

The 1970s were a period of intense creativity for Knussen, with chamber works including Rosary Songs, Océan de Terreand Ophelia Dances, culminating in the completion in 1979 of his Third Symphony, a work whose first movement had been conducted by its dedicatee, Michael Tilson Thomas, in 1973. But this activity came at a cost: his extreme scrupulousness led him to take increasing care in composing, whether the work was on a small or large scale, and the material for the first complete performance of the symphony at the Proms was delivered only at the last minute. The 70s also saw the beginning of his longstanding relationship with his publisher Faber Music.

Similar problems attended the two “fantasy operas” he wrote in collaboration with Maurice Sendak. Where the Wild Things Are (1979-83) and Higglety Pigglety Pop! (1984-85). These superbly crafted, colourful works give every impression of unaffected spontaneity, but for Knussen it was a slow and painstaking process, with both operas first performed incomplete. Higglety was finally completed to the composer’s satisfaction only in 1999.

Until the 80s conducting had been a second string for Knussen, but gradually began to take up more of his time, particularly with his appointments as artistic director of the Aldeburgh festival from 1983 until 1998 and head of contemporary music activities at Tanglewood between 1986 and 1993. In 1992 he and I founded the Aldeburgh Contemporary Composition Course, where it gave him great pleasure to work with young composers and performers, who gratefully sat at his feet. Conducting was an occupation which gave him much satisfaction, with the opportunity to programme the music of both senior and junior composers, as well as his contemporaries, but it inevitably distracted him from composing. “I certainly wish I could afford to keep the two roles, conducting and composing, in better balance,” he said in 2012.

Most of the works from the next decade were on a smaller scale, but the Whitman Settings(1991), Songs Without Voices(1991-92) and Horn Concerto(1994) stand out as major achievements. He seemed to recover something of the flair of the 70s when he composed Prayer Bell Sketch in three days in 1997 in memory of his great friend the composer Toru Takemitsu, and the Violin Concerto, composed in 2002 for Pinchas Zukerman, which seemed to come almost out of the blue.

The similar intensity of Requiem: Songs for Sue(2005-06) was his considered reaction to the death of his wife in 2003 (he had much earlier composed Sonya’s Lullabyfor the birth of their daughter, now a gifted singer, in 1977). He described this major late work succinctly: “It’s not a huge work ... but it’s a big piece emotionally.” However other works from this period remained incomplete, including the remarkable Cleveland Picturesfor orchestra begun in 2003, withdrawn for revision and still unperformed, and concertos for piano and cello. His last completed work was O Hototogisu!for soprano and ensemble, a tantalising but substantial fragment of an intended larger piece.

Honours came to him in later years—appointment as CBE and honorary membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1994, honorary membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2002 and its conductor award in 2010, the Ivor Novello classical music award and the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2016. He was associate guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1989 onwards and their artist in association, 2009-12; artist in association with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group from 2006; and associate artist of the South Bank Centre in 2006. In 2014 he was made the inaugural Richard Rodney Bennett professor of music at the Royal Academy and was awarded an honorary doctorate there very recently.

But any sense of Olly (as everyone knew him) belonging to the establishment would have been an illusion. He was too big a figure to fit into any easily defined category. He had a voracious appetite for knowledge, with a special love for films—he was a Hitchcock obsessive and became friends with Jim Jarmusch—and painting: he had a fascination for obscure artists such as Joachim Patinir and Ivan Bilibin. But above all his consuming passion was for music. I can think of no composer into whom he could not offer insights, although his taste was very much for the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a love that could and did get in the way of composing: it was as if every bar that he wrote was measured against all the music that he knew, and this explains the almost painfully slow process by which his music was written, and the number of fragments left behind.

He had close friendships with most of the major 20th-century composers—Takemitsu, Hans Werner Henze, Elliott Carter (whose late works he championed), Mauricio Kagel, Harrison Birtwistle and Alexander Goehr, among many others. He even established a relationship with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and loved to tell the story of how, when he said to him “You can call me Olly”, the reply came back “You can call me Stockhausen.”

Although he leaves a wonderful legacy of performance, it is primarily as a composer that he would want to be remembered. It makes it all the more regrettable that, although he gave less time to conducting, due to the ill health which dogged his last years, this did not mean—as he said to me in hope only a couple of months ago—that he would have time to write the music that was in his head, and which would undoubtedly have taken him in new and rewarding directions.

He is survived by Sonya.

—Colin Matthews for The Guardian (July 9, 2018)

Video program note: Four Iconoclastic Episodes

Saturday, June 23, 2018

In 2003, during Steven Mackey's first composer residency at Yellow Barn, violinist Anthony Marwood proposed the idea of a double-concerto for violin and electric guitar with string orchestra. Six years later, Steve and Anthony premiered Four Iconoclastic Episodes. On July 26, 2018 the double-concerto comes home to Yellow Barn for a performance with Steve and Anthony in the Big Barn. Steve describes the genesis and composition of his piece in the following video program note:

Songs of Refuge and Resistance

Friday, June 22, 2018

In advance of Yellow Barn's 2018 Summer Gala, The Westerlies offer the following notes for their program with Theo Bleckmann, Songs of Refuge and Resistance, which was developed during a Yellow Barn Artist Residency in June 2018:

In June of 2018, Theo Bleckmann and The Westerlies worked in residence at Yellow Barn to pair songs of resistance with songs of refuge, seeking to balance music’s integral role in protest movements with the power of songs to provide internal solace amidst external turmoil.

This balance is perhaps no better demonstrated than in the two pieces that bookend the evening, those of Joni Mitchell and Judee Sill. Joni Mitchell first recorded The Fiddle and the Drum on her 1969 album Clouds, and its anti-war message has been associated with a number of resistance movements since the 60’s. A contemporary of Mitchell, Sill released two albums in the early 1970’s before her untimely death from drug overdose in 1979. Her 1973 song The Kiss is a demonstration of her remarkable lyricism and Bach-influenced harmonic sensibility.

The protest song is given a fresh, new take in the work of American composer Phil Kline. A veteran of New York’s downtown scene, Kline’s work has been hailed for its originality, beauty, subversive subtext, and wry humor. 3 Rumsfeld Songs come from his 2004 work Zippo Songs, a statement on war and the politics of war based on the Pentagon briefings of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The song cycle was written for Theo Bleckmann and was one of the most talked-about records of 2004, winning “Best of the Year” citations throughout the world, from The New York Times to The Guardian, from CNN to NPR. His song Thoughts and Prayers was written for Theo Bleckmann and The Westerlies during their June 2018 residency at Yellow Barn, and sets the words of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivor and activist Emma Gonzalez’s speech addressing the NRA.

Two original pieces in the program by members of The Westerlies draw on their inspiration from the world of poetry. Trombonist Andy Clausen’s Land was composed while in residence at Yellow Barn in June 2018, and sets words from Agha Shahid Ali’s poem of the same title. Exploring the complexities of life as an Indian-American immigrant, Agha’s work colorfully illustrates the thematic and cultural poles of past and present; America and India, Islamic and American geography, American cities and former American Indian tribes. Trumpeter Riley Mulherkar’s Looking Out is a reflection on the poem of the same name by Japanese-American activist, feminist, essayist, and poet Mitsuye Yamada. Born in Japan, Yamada spent most of her childhood in Seattle until 1942, when her father was arrested by the FBI for espionage and she was interned at the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho. The poem “Looking Out” comes from her 1992 work Camp Notes and Other Writings, and is juxtaposed here with text from FDR’s Executive Order 9066, which authorized the Secretary ofWar to prescribe certain areas as military zones and cleared the way for the incarceration of 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry.

True to their Seattle roots, The Westerlies find another voice of resistance in Pacific Northwest history in Joe Hill, a Swedish-American immigrant and laborer who rose to prominence as an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World. As Hill and other IWW organizers traveled to lumber and construction camps throughout the west, they would often encounter missionaries from the Salvation Army who were attempting to convert the local migrant workers to Christianity. One of the Salvation Army’s (referred to fondly by the IWW as the “Starvation Army”) most popular hymns was “In the Sweet By and By”; in response to the Salvation Army’s overtures to the migrant workers, Joe Hill, a gifted songwriter himself, wrote a parody version of “In the Sweet By and By” called “The Preacher and the Slave”. Trombonist Willem de Koch’s arrangement juxtaposes the two songs side-by-side, highlighting Hill’s witty, cynical lyrics. 

Early in their development as an ensemble, The Westerlies found mentorship in Seattle-based composer and pianist Wayne Horvitz; their first performance was at his Seattle club The Royal Room, and their first recording was their 2014 album of his compositions, Wish The Children Would Come On Home. These two Horvitz pieces come from his 2012 work Smokestack Arias, a song cycle for soprano voice, piano and pre-recorded electronics and accompanied by dance performances with text by Robin Holcomb. Inspired by the 1916 labor uprising and resultant deaths, now known at the Everett Massacre, each song portrays the perspective of a different woman affected by the uprising and the deaths of the slain protesters, giving a personal account of a seminal event in the history of the Pacific Northwest labor movement. 

Perhaps no voice is more associated with American protest songs than that of Woody Guthrie, and his voice is channeled through The Westerlies in many iterations. One of the songs, entitled Tear the Fascists Down was recorded in 1944 but never released until 2009, when master discs of Stinson Records were discovered in a Brooklyn apartment. At the same time that Guthrie was writing his songs, Bertolt Brecht was a prominent international voice of freedom. His poem “Bitten der Kinder” was written in 1951 and set to music by Paul Dessau, originally written to be sung by a children’s choir but arranged here by Riley Mulherkar.

Amidst these voices of resistance, the original songs of refuge by members of the ensemble shine. Another Holiday by Theo Bleckmann, was written in June of 2016 shortly after the mass shooting atPulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Says Bleckmann, “Unlike my often long and intensely critical editing processes when writing music, ‘Another Holiday’ seemed to appear almost fully formed. This is a not a protest song but a song about being without refuge, of being isolated from your family because of whom you love.” Also bringing familial relationships into the program is Andy Clausen, who wrote Grandmar in November of 2017, shortly after the passing of his grandmother. Says Clausen, “the piece is a meditation on the challenges of loving someone with whom you have vehement political disagreements.”

The theme of refuge is exemplified in Wade in the Water, a well-known spiritual work song from the Underground Railroad. The meditative melody is a hymn of resistance and unification, originating from one of the (many) dark times in the African American struggle. Theo Bleckmann arranges it here next to Look for the Union Label, a TV commercial song from the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (formerly the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and other unions). Composed by R&B Soul artist Malcolm Dodds to a lyric by advertising executive Paula Green, the melody seems to strongly reference Jerome Kern’s Look for the Silver Lining.

Theo Bleckmann and The Westerlies would like to thank Yellow Barn for making this program possible.