Howard Sandroff

Works for Soloists

Chant de femme (1996) for Flutes and Electronic Sounds
In June 1996, I was in Paris for a performance and some work at IRCAM. While loitering, one afternoon, in the Stravinsky Plaza right outside the Pompidou Center I was all of the sudden enveloped by a very numerous group of French women. Everyone was talking, conversations overlapped while one lone man, at the front, spoke in an authoritative manner while pointing to the Pompidou Center. The women ignored him. It finally occurred to me that he was the tour guide and that although none of the women seemed to be listening to his description of the architecture of the building, I was in the midst of a tour. What struck me as most puzzling and interesting was that although my French is "nothing to write home about", I couldn't understand a single word. The women must be from the provinces. It wasn't the Parisian French that I was used to and since I couldn't find the meaning, all those simultaneous conversations became only sounds. Beautiful, somewhat confusing, but melodic sounds; high pitched, low pitched with a myriad of articulation that hinted at some abstract organization.

It wasn't until later that evening that I realized that right before ears was Mary Stolper's piece, the one I was supposed to start immediately upon returning home.

The fruit of this experience is "Chant de femmes" (song of women or women's song) for flutes and electronic sounds was commissioned by Mary Stolper, and first performed at her recital in November 1996. The work is in three movements which are performed without pause. The first movement for piccolo, second for alto flute and the third for C flute. A short coda for alto flute follows movement three. The electronic sounds, which are played back directly from the computer, DAT or CD, are all processed flutes using a host of signal processing software/techniques. While the final product is not quite the same as the original experience, it is consistent with my musical ideal of using a single, static sound object that, rather than develop, is varied by continually changing associations.

Tephillah (1990) for Clarinet and Computer Controlled Audio Processors
was commissioned by the musical instrument division of Yamaha Corporation of America at the request of Chicago Symphony Clarinetist John Bruce Yeh. Loosely based upon Hebrew liturgical chant, Tephillah owes its inspiration to the style abstraction of the seemingly disordered and spontaneous manner in which a service is conducted by Orthodox Jewish men of the Ashkenazic tradition. The word, tephillah, is Hebrew for prayer.

The work consists of three movements which are performed without pause. Movement I is a declaration of the material. Movement II is styled like a cadenza. Movement III is also declarative in character using more robust versions of the opening sound objects. The construction and material of Tephillah is consistent with my aesthetic goal of using static sound objects that, rather than develop, are varied by their continually changing association with other sound objects. The audio processing systems consists of digital delay, reverberation and mixing systems under the control of a Macintosh computer. These systems are manipulated in real time by a second performer who essentially "plays" the sound of the live clarinet. The combination of clarinet and audio processors exists as a single instrument rather than the more traditional approach of duet between the acoustic and electronic instruments.

This work is dedicated to the memory of my maternal grandfather, Henry Faber, who though avowed atheism, knew God.

Mr. Yeh has recorded Tephillah on a recent release, "Dialogues With My Shadow" from Koch International Classics (KOCH 3-7088-2H1)

Eulogy (1989) for Alto Saxophone.
In 1989, saxophonist Frederick Hemke asked me to expand the saxophone cadenza, from my Concerto for Electronic Wind Instrument and Strings, to a solo work in memoriam to Yuichi Ohmuro. The late Mr. Ohmuro is a former student of Hemke and the past president of the Japan Saxophonist Association and was a featured composition during their 1991 annual festival. In this composition, as in other recent works, I was challenged by the notion of static musical material (sound objects) which, rather than develop, are altered by continually changing association with other sound objects. Like a mobile, which constantly changes its form as the fixed shapes continually move in relation to each other.

Eulogy was premiered by saxophonist Paul Bro in Edmonton, Alberta, February 1990. The work is published by Editions Henry LeMoine, Paris

The Bride's Complaint (1987) for Soprano and Computer Generated Electronics
was commissioned by Soprano, Susan Charles and is in keeping with my compositional ideal of using a single musical idea (sound object); portraying it in many versions and contexts without revealing its evolution from one state to another.

Using the same compositional techniques I have used in other works, I sought to create a more lyrical expression befitting an Art Song. The entire work is based upon a musical object made up of five pitches. This object is continuously manipulated to generate melodic, harmonic and timbral material. The electronic portion of the work was created using the Yamaha Computer Assisted Music System and can be performed as a digtal audio recording or MIDI sequence.

The Bride's Complaint is a setting of a poem by Lisel Mueller:

I saw the face of my love naked and that was more than my love could bear- o red-eyed bull of the sun, how many times must I cross you? My kisses are petals past his mouth and sparrows twitter away my breath- whirligig world, run slow, run down, let my love remember me!>

printed with permission of the author

Adagio for Piano (1985).
Remember the dot puzzles we all played with as children? Using a pencil to connect a series of dots, a picture slowly enfolded. What if, instead of rushing to connect the dots, you paused after each line to contemplate the image as it existed without projecting the final outcome.

In Adagio for Piano, I was challenged by the notion of static musical material (sound objects) which, rather than develop, were altered by their continually changing association with other sound objects. Like a mobile, which constantly changes its overall form as the fixed shapes continually move in relation to each other.

The opening of the work is dominated by an austere rhythmic ostinato which consists of three clusters in different ranges of the piano and a simply constructed chord. As the ostinato reiterates, it begins to change as other "sound objects" grow from inside it. The ostinato exists in an ever-changing environment, which, sometimes punctuates and sometimes dominates through a continual shifting of accents, pauses, and foreground and background relationships.

Adagio for Piano was written in response to a poem by Israel Eliraz entitled,Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber. The poem, an elegy written shortly after Barbers death, portrays Albioni and Barber in the hereafter "exchanging scores like mayors do keys". This line, moved me to reflect upon that other plane of existence, perhaps the hereafter, where what we believe to be our differences will be overshadowed by our commonality. Despite the differences of time, place and motivation, Albioni and Barber created a transcendence through their respective "Adagio's".

The work was recorded by pianists Abraham and Arlene Stokman and is available on Centaur Records (CRC 2082).

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