Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Recorded at Heaven Gallery, Chicago, IL
Video premiered on YouTube and Facebook
Semelíami (1996) Alejandra Odgers (b. 1967)
Lonely Suite, Op. 70 (2002) Lera Auerbach (b.1973)
I. Dancing with Oneself
Spring Intermezzo from Four Seasonal Sketches (1955) Betty Jackson King (1928-1994)
"Rose" from A Flower's Life (1904-05) Dora Pejačević (1885-1923)
Impromptu, Op. 32 (1912) Dora Pejačević (1885-1923)
Stadiums (2019) Stephon Davis (b. 1999)
"Billie's Song" from Portraits in Jazz (1976) Valerie Capers (b. 1935)
Chansons de la Nature pour la clarinette (2003) Jenni Brandon (b. 1977)
I. Les Oiseaux
II. Le Poisson
III. Le Papillon
IV. Le Lièvre et La Tortue
Liena (2009) Sally Greenaway (b. 1984)
Fête Galante, curated by Gwendolyn Zabicki
On display at Heaven Gallery until October 25
Featuring works by
A Mexican-Canadian composer, Alejandra Odgers holds a double bachelor's degree in oboe and composition from the National School of Music in Mexico. She subsequently obtained a master's and doctorate in composition from the Université de Montréal. Her teachers include Mario Lavista, Arturo Márquez, Francisco Viesca, Paul Barker, José Evangelista, Alan Belkin and Jean-Jacques Nattiez.
Odgers has composed over fifty works, including a dozen for orchestra. Her compositions have been played by several orchestras in Mexico (OSN, OFCM, OSX, OSCCH, OSIPN, etc.), the Orchestra of North University (Paraguay), Montreal’s University Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra MUSAIC (Manitoba), the Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil and the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal), the latter commissioning a piece as part of the festivities surrounding the 375 th anniversary of the city of Montreal, and a second one for the inauguration of Espace 67, which was premiered on June 2019, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
"Semelíami is the word that raramuri people (Indians from the northwest of Mexico) used for dance music, for 'music that is going to be danced.'
This piece is composed as a passacaglia, and while writing it I had two images in mind. The first one was that of a snake charmer, the image of the awakening of the serpent in the basket, that goes out, dances and return to its basket. The second one was the idea of the two-way journey between meditation, dance, and return to meditation." – Alejandra Odgers.
Duration: 5 minutes
A renaissance artist for modern times, Lera Auerbach is a widely recognized conductor, pianist, and composer. She is also a published poet and an exhibited visual artist. All of her work is interconnected as part of a cohesive and comprehensive artistic worldview.
Born in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains at the gateway of Siberia, Lera Auerbach has become one of today’s most sought after and exciting creative voices. Her performances and music are featured in the world’s leading stages – from Vienna’s Musikverein and London’s Royal Albert Hall to New York’s Carnegie Hall and Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center.
The Lonely Suite is dedicated to Vadim Gluzman. According to Lera Auerbach, it is about ‘an exploration on the themes of loneliness and fragmentation’ and is a work ‘about one’s own fears, about silence, about facing oneself without escape.’
Duration: 4 minutes
Betty Jackson King was a composer, choral director, educator, pianist, and publisher who was based in Chicago. She received her Bachelor’s in piano and her Master’s in composition at Roosevelt University and taught music to many students over the years at familiar institutions around town, including Chicago Public Schools, The Lab School, and University of Chicago. She was heavily influenced by her mother, who taught music, and her father, who was a Reverend and who also wrote the libretti for her three religious operas. The spirituals that she grew up listening to also became a lasting part of her musical legacy when she arranged several of them as part of her compositional output. Her creed was, “Over my head, I hear music in the air. There must be a God somewhere.”
Spring Intermezzo duration: 3 minutes
Dora Pejačević was born in Budapest in 1885 to a noble Croatian family and is considered the composer who brought the symphonic song to Croatian music. Despite her noble bloodline and upbringing, Pejačević’s curiosity and compassion for humanity led her to rebel against the aristocratic lifestyle. During the First World War, she volunteered as a nurse and witnessed the horrors of war. She used music as a therapy and an outlet during her service and composed many works, and also began to speak out against the members of her aristocratic class who seemed to ignore the suffering of the people around them and only cared about their own wealth.
After the war, Pejačević still maintained her faith in goodness. She wrote, “I think that the surrounding and external events never take a force capable of outweighing what occupies and fills our souls.”
"Rose" duration: 3 minutes. "Impromptu" duration: 4 minutes
Stephon Davis is a Boston based marimbist, composer, and cultural activist focused on creating art for social justice and political change. They are currently completing their final year of undergraduate studies at the Boston Conservatory, where they will earn a B.M. in Percussion Performance. They study marimba and percussion with Nancy Zeltsman and Sam Solomon, in addition to composition studies with Marti Epstein.
Stephon has premiered several pieces for marimba, ranging from solo music to large chamber works. As a soloist, Stephon's repertoire choices reflect their passion for social justice, with a focus on composers from marginalized communities. In addition, they have composed and arranged works for solo marimba and marimba in the chamber setting, including several African-American Spirituals arranged for marimba and voice. Stephon was a semi finalist in the International Artist Competition hosted by Southern California Marimba.
Stephon composes music that explores Black/Queer identity and challenges injustices in our society. They have been commissioned by Cameron Denby, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Modern Marimba, Prism Percussion, and Spectrum Ensemble.
"Stadiums" was inspired by the following quotation from White Privilege by Kyla Jenèe Lacey:
"The only time thousands of white people are cheering for the Black kid to win is in the stadium." "This piece is, in part, a reflection of my personal experience of being Black and Queer. This piece does not intend to speak for the experiences of other Black and Queer folks. With this in mind, I ask performers to not intend to replicate the same performance twice. Rather, the piece should exist in the current moment, with sensitive reactions to the performer's environment and personal feelings." – Stephon Davis
Stadiums duration: 7 minutes
Dr. Valerie Capers was born in the Bronx and received her early schooling at the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School of Music, the first blind person to do so. For several years she served on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music. She was also a member of the faculty in the Department of Music and Art at Bronx Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY) where she introduced several jazz courses to the music curriculum. From 1987 to 1995 she served as department chair, where she is now professor emerita.
Among the awards and commissions she has received are the National Endowment for the Arts, including a special-projects grant to present a jazz series at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Meet the Composer, the CUNY Research Foundation, the Smithsonian, and The Fund for Artists of Arts International. Dr. Capers was the first recipient of Essence magazine’s “Women of Essence Award for Music” where she was in the elite company of fellow honorees Oprah Winfrey and Marla Gibbs. She has been recognized by the Bronx Music Heritage Center as a Bronx Living Legend for her “enduring legacy to the American jazz tradition,” and she is a distinguished member of the Bronx Walk of Fame. In fall 2015, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio appointed her to the city’s prestigious Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission.
"Billie's Song" is from her widely lauded collection Portraits in Jazz, which Capers composed so that classically trained students could be exposed to jazz. This short piece is a tribute to the great Billie Holiday.
Duration: 2 minutes.
Jenni Brandon is a composer and conductor, creating music in collaboration with other
musicians and artists. She writes music that is beautiful and lyrical, telling stories through
memorable musical lines often influenced by the collaborator’s story, nature, and poetry.
She has been commissioned to write music for soloists, chamber ensembles, concertos, opera
and orchestra. Her music appears on over 20 albums, and has been awarded the Sorel
Medallion, American Prize, Paderewski Cycle, Women Composers Festival of Hartford
International Composition Competition, and Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition
As a conductor she often conducts her own works and works by living composers. She
conducted her one‐act opera 3 PADEREWSKIS in the Terrace Theater at the Kennedy Center in 2019. She also presents workshops and talks on collaboration and the business of music, striving to create a supportive environment where collaboration leads to an exploration of ideas.
When she is not making music, Jenni is often on her yoga mat, either practicing or teaching
yoga. Jenni also loves walking her dogs and traveling with her husband to snorkel in tropical
waters. Visit jennibrandon.com to learn more.
Chansons de la Nature duration: 10 minutes
Sally Greenaway is a multi-award winning composer hailing from Canberra, Australia. She has earned herself the reputation of being a versatile and diverse musician, and as a result is highly sought after as a musical director, jazz and classical pianist, teacher and composer/arranger. Greenaway's writing spans a wide assortment of styles and genres, including classical solo, chamber and orchestral works, jazz ensemble and big band works, as well as film, advertising and documentary soundtracks.
As a pianist Greenaway has toured and performed around Australia performing at festivals and special concerts. During her time living in London she played jazz piano at the London Chopin Festival on Steinway's unique 'Ferrari' grand piano, and at the Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair on Liberace's rhinestone grand piano. Greenaway is well known in the Australian music scene, having worked with many of Australia's music ensembles, ranging from school and community ensembles to Australia's leading orchestras and chamber ensembles. She is regularly invited to give masterclasses and workshops and adjudicate competitions, including the Young Virtuoso Awards for the Fine Music Network.
Liena duration: 3 minutes