Thunderstuck

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Thunderstuck is a one-movement orchestral composition by the American composer Christopher Rouse. The piece was completed December 29, 2013, and premiered October 9, 2014, in Avery Fisher Hall, New York City. [1] [2] The premiere was performed by conductor Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, and the work is dedicated to both. [1]

Orchestra large instrumental ensemble

An orchestra is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which mixes instruments from different families, including bowed string instruments such as violin, viola, cello, and double bass, as well as brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments, each grouped in sections. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes appear in a fifth keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for performances of some modern compositions, electronic instruments.

Christopher Chapman Rouse is an American composer. Though he has written for various ensembles, Rouse is primarily known for his orchestral compositions, including a Requiem, eleven concertos, and five symphonies. His work has received numerous accolades, including the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, the Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Rouse was the composer-in-residence for the New York Philharmonic from 2012 to 2015.

Conducting directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.

Contents

Composition

Styles and influences

The style of Thunderstuck celebrates rock and roll music of the 1970s. In the program notes, Rouse called the work "a nine-minute concert opener that reflects my continuing love of the popular music of my younger years. Rock music has had an influence on several of my works, but none more so than this one." [1] Its conception is similar to that of Rouse's 1988 percussion ensemble piece Bonham , a tribute to rock drummers and named after Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. [3]

Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues, along with country music. While elements of what was to become rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954.

Percussion ensemble

A percussion ensemble is a musical ensemble consisting of only percussion instruments. Although the term can be used to describe any such group, it commonly refers to groups of classically trained percussionists performing primarily classical music. In America, percussion ensembles are most commonly found at conservatories, though some professional groups, such as Nexus and So Percussion exist. Drumlines and groups who regularly meet for drum circles are two other forms of the percussion ensemble.

Bonham is a percussion ensemble piece for eight musicians by the American composer Christopher Rouse. It was composed in 1988 and first performed in Boston, Massachusetts, the following year by the New England Conservatory of Music Percussion Ensemble conducted by Frank Epstein, to whom the work is dedicated.

Thunderstuck directly references the 1978 Jay Ferguson song "Thunder Island", which partially inspired the work's title. [1] David Allen of The New York Times has also compared the piece to the music of Jefferson Airplane. [3]

John Arden "Jay" Ferguson is an American rock/pop musician, known for his work with Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne, and his 1978 solo hit "Thunder Island". His later career has been as a composer of music for television programs and films.

"Thunder Island" is the lead single off of the album Thunder Island by American musician Jay Ferguson. The song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of April 1, 1978. The recording features Joe Walsh on guitar.

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 125 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

Instrumentation

Thunderstuck is scored for three flutes, three oboes, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four French horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, harp, timpani, percussion (three players), and strings (violins I & II, violas, violoncellos, and double basses). [1]

Western concert flute transverse woodwind instrument made of metal or wood

The Western concert flute is a transverse (side-blown) woodwind instrument made of metal or wood. It is the most common variant of the flute. A musician who plays the flute is called a flautist, flutist, flute player, or (rarely) fluter.

Oboe musical instrument of the woodwind family

Oboes are a family of double reed woodwind instruments. The most common oboe plays in the treble or soprano range. Oboes are usually made of wood, but there are also oboes made of synthetic materials. A soprano oboe measures roughly 65 cm long, with metal keys, a conical bore and a flared bell. Sound is produced by blowing into the reed at a sufficient air pressure, causing it to vibrate with the air column. The distinctive tone is versatile and has been described as "bright". When oboe is used alone, it is generally taken to mean the treble instrument rather than other instruments of the family, such as the bass oboe, the cor anglais, or oboe d'amore

Clarinet type of woodwind instrument

The clarinet is a musical-instrument family belonging to the group known as the woodwind instruments. It has a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight, cylindrical tube with an almost cylindrical bore, and a flared bell. A person who plays a clarinet is called a clarinetist.

Reception

Reviewing the 2014 premiere of Thunderstuck, music critic Lewis M. Smoley lauded the work, saying, "Permeated with syncopated and chugging rhythms, brash outbursts and colorful orchestration, the music splashed across the sonic spectrum, energized by youthful vigor, and at times evocative of the music of Aaron Copland or Roy Harris." [4] Despite criticizing the premiere performance, David Allen of The New York Times also praised the piece, saying, "It's designed to be a fun concert opener, and it is." [3] Eric C. Simpson of the New York Classical Review was slightly more critical, saying, "Rouse says the work is meant to be 'engaging and fun.' It is both those things to some degree, though it is also completely out of left field, both in general and for Rouse specifically. Suave, punchy, and almost oppressively consonant, it sounds as though it could accompany a training montage in a boxing movie." [5]

Aaron Copland American composer, composition teacher, writer, and conductor

Aaron Copland was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later a conductor of his own and other American music. Copland was referred to by his peers and critics as "the Dean of American Composers". The open, slowly changing harmonies in much of his music are typical of what many people consider to be the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit. He is best known for the works he wrote in the 1930s and 1940s in a deliberately accessible style often referred to as "populist" and which the composer labeled his "vernacular" style. Works in this vein include the ballets Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid and Rodeo, his Fanfare for the Common Man and Third Symphony. In addition to his ballets and orchestral works, he produced music in many other genres, including chamber music, vocal works, opera and film scores.

Roy Ellsworth Harris was an American composer. He wrote music on American subjects, and is best known for his Symphony No. 3.

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Berceuse Infinie is an orchestral composition by the American composer Christopher Rouse. The work was commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and was completed on July 1, 2016. It was first performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Marin Alsop at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on November 30, 2017. The piece is dedicated to Marin Alsop.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Rouse, Christopher. Thunderstuck: Program note by the composer. 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  2. Huizenga, Tom (September 3, 2014). "Great Expectations: A New Season Of New Music". NPR . Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 Allen, David (October 10, 2014). "The Rock Beat of His Youth, Echoing Again in August Precincts: Rouse's World Premiere and Batiashvili Plays Brahms". The New York Times . Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  4. Smoley, Lewis M. (October 9, 2014). "New York Philharmonic/Alan Gilbert; world premiere of Christopher Rouse's Thunderstuck, Haydn's Drum Roll Symphony; Lisa Batiashvili plays Brahms". Classical Source. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  5. Simpson, Eric C. (October 10, 2014). "Batiashvili and Brahms triumph in mixed Philharmonic program". New York Classical Review. Retrieved March 4, 2015.