WOMEN’S WORK AND PLAY includes four exciting new orchestral works by established and emerging women composers. The works were premiered and recorded by the Community Women’s Orchestra during its 25th season in Oakland, California, 2009-2010. REIBO by Hilary Tann, PARADE OF LIFE by Mary Watkins, and ORCHESTRAL SUITE FOR THE YOUNG OF ALL AGES by Martha Stoddard were commissioned by the CWO in honor of its 25th anniversary. The fourth selection is the new orchestration of June Bonacich’s RUMPLESTILTSKIN, which she had originally composed for chamber ensemble in 2008. Each of the composers worked closely with the orchestra, attending rehearsals and the performances heard on the recording.
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the COMMUNITY WOMEN'S ORCHESTRA (CWO) was founded by conductor Nan Washburn in 1985. It was originally formed as an adjunct to The Women's Philharmonic, and by 1990 became its own entity. The CWO is a volunteer, all-female orchestra that provides opportunities for women instrumentalists and conductors, while bringing more exposure to the works of historic and contemporary women composers. CWO performs seldom-heard works by women composers, as well as other well-known pieces, while giving audiences the opportunity to experience performances of those works. With this, CWO's first CD, four new works by women composer are made available to an even wider audience.
REIBO by Hilary Tann
Program Note: “The word, reibo, appears in the titles of many solo pieces for the Japanese vertical bamboo flute – the shakuhachi. Rei means “bell” and bo means “yearning”, so a rough translation is “Yearning for the Bell”. The tone poem, Reibo, takes the idea of “bells” and applies it to the bells of journeying (opening section), the bells of prayer (slow middle section), and the bells of meditation (closing section). Composed in 2009-2010, Reibo was commissioned by the Community Women’s Orchestra directed by Dr. Kathleen McGuire, for its 25th Anniversary Season, with funding provided by the Open Meadows Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation, Jacqueline Hoefer Fund.” – HT
Dedication: Reibo is dedicated to intrepid conductor and women’s music advocate, Karla Lemon, 1954-2009.
Biography: Welsh-born composer, Hilary Tann now lives in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York where she is the John Howard Payne Professor of Music at Union College, Schenectady. Her early musical studies were with Alun Hoddinott at the University of Wales, Cardiff, and with J. K. Randall at Princeton University, USA.
Her music continues to be influenced by her love of Wales and by her strong identification with the natural world. A deep interest in the traditional music of Japan has led to private study of the shakuhachi and guest visits to Japan, Korea, and China.
Numerous organizations have supported her work, including the Welsh Arts Council, New York State Council on the Arts, Meet The Composer, and National Endowment for the Arts.
Ensembles that have commissioned and performed her works include the European Women’s Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony, North American Welsh Choir, Tenebrae, Presteigne Festival, American Guild of Organists, North American Saxophone Alliance, Louisville Symphony Orchestra, Women’s Philharmonic, Meininger Trio, Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Thai Philharmonic, and KBS Philharmonic in Seoul, Korea.
PARADE OF LIFE by Mary Watkins
Parade of Life was commissioned by the Community Women’s Orchestra to honor its 25th Anniversary Season.
Program Note: “For me, even when the most simple of a certain melody or harmonic passage can and often does produce a flash of an ancient memory, unspeakable, and elusive stirring deep within that defies description to the conscious mind.
As a composer I am compelled to compose the music from my heart that the mind agrees with; this is my gift to the listener hoping that upon hearing, she or he experiences that flash of joy, peace, mystery of self knowing that expands the soul.” – MW, Feb. 2010
Biography: Mary Watkins is a composer and pianist with a vision. Although her training is classical, she moves fluidly and masterfully within and between the classical and jazz traditions, blending them seamlessly and incorporating other styles of music into her original works. You will hear strands of blues, gospel, folk and jazz in her compositions. At the piano, she becomes a master improvisationalist, giving a huge range of emotion, form and substance, and composing many works spontaneously. All of this has led her to write with equal skill for different media, including symphony orchestra, chamber and jazz ensembles, film, theater and choral groups. She has written many songs. She has also made her mark as an accomplished arranger and producer of numerous albums. She currently composes, performs, teaches and conducts Music workshops in Oakland, California.
ORCHESTRAL SUITE FOR THE YOUNG OF ALL AGES by Martha Stoddard
Orchestral Suite for the Young of All Ages (2009) by Martha Stoddard was commissioned by the Community Women’s Orchestra to honor its 25th Anniversary Season, with funding provided by Roy and Ayako English.
Program Note: “It was composed for [CWO's] Family Concert, and I strove to make it accessible to young audiences, though I believe listeners of all ages will enjoy the playful, direct character of this work.
The suite comprises five movements: Parade Day, Windsong Variations, Hop- Skip-Jump, Cowgirl Rondo and Waltz for the Fun of It. The individual movements are designed to display the uniqueness of each section of the orchestra, as well as to unite its full instrumental forces.
Parade Day begins with a brief orchestral introduction. This is followed by brass and percussion in extended soli episodes, a lyrical interlude featuring solo trumpet and horn, and a return to the orchestral tutti. Windsong Variations introduces the woodwind section one instrument at a time in a simple chorale melody, weaving the instruments together in a rich texture with simple variations. A contrasting middle section rejoins the winds with brass, percussion, and strings in an energetic but somewhat dark and mysterious interlude.
This segues into Hop-Skip-Jump, a playful modal tune in triple meter juxtaposed with a 6/8 accompaniment (heard first in the clarinets), then passed around the entire orchestra. A second theme featuring the strings offers melodic and textural variety. The return of the first theme is pronounced and dramatic, building to a driving rhythmic cadence for the full orchestra.
Cowgirl Rondo, for strings only, is a series of episodes in the style of a fiddle tune. A few familiar musical turns of phrase are woven into the fabric of the rondo, and a singularly odd variation in 3/8 interrupts the otherwise traditional flavor of the movement, as if to say, “it IS the 21st Century, after all.”
The Waltz for the Fun of It is just that. Based on two primary themes, major and minor, a series of thematic episodes present these short melodies in several different settings, some deliberately comical, and others more formally crafted. A more expansive coda brings the waltz to a shimmering finish in grand orchestral style.” – MS
Biography: Ms. Stoddard earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Humboldt State University and her Master of Music degree from San Francisco State University, where she studied flute, conducting and composition. She is a 2009 Recipient of the ASCAP Plus Award and her music has been performed for the San Francisco Chapter of the American Composer’s Forum, by the Avenue Winds, in London, UK, by alto flutists Carla Rees and Lisa Bost, the San Francisco Choral Artists, San Francisco Composers’ Chamber Orchestra, Schwungvoll!, the Community Women’s Orchestra, Oakland Civic Orchestra, Womensing, on the New Directions Series of the Bakersfield Symphony, in the Trinity Chamber Concert Series and the New Music Forum Festival of Contemporary Music. Her most recent commissions include today’s premiere and her Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano for the 2009 San Francisco Chamber Wind Festival at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
She has held the position of Artistic Director of the Oakland Civic Orchestra since 1997, and is Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Composers’ Chamber Orchestra and Director of Instrumental Music at Lick-Wilmerding High School. Other recent conducting activities include engagements as Conductor for the John Adams Young Composers’ Orchestration Workshops at the Crowden School, Musical Director for the operas Belfagor and Trap Door by Lisa Prosek, Guest Conductor for the San Francisco All–City High School String Orchestra and the Santa Rosa Youth Symphony Summer Academy Orchestra. She has also served as an adjudicator for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Santa Cruz Youth Symphony Concerto Competitions.
Ms. Stoddard is founding member and director of Chamber-Mix, and is a featured performer on alto flute in John Bilotta’s Shadow Tree (Capstone Records CPS-8787) and in John Thow’s Cantico (Palatino label #1001), Marika Kuzma, conductor, and as conductor for Janis Mercer’s, Voices (Centuar Recordings, CPS 2951).
RUMPLESTILTSKIN by June Bonacich, narrated by Dr. Betty L. Sullivan
Program Note: Rumplestiltskin is a character in a fairy tale of the same name that originated in Germany. The story was collected by the Brothers Grimm, who first published it in the 1812 edition of Children’s and Household Tales. It was subsequently revised in later editions until the final version was published in 1857. The story has been re-told in other countries, and translated into many languages like Swedish, Arabic and Slovakian. In the story, Rumplestiltskin strikes a bargain with a young maiden to give him her first born in return for spinning straw into gold. Heartbroken when she must fulfill her pledge, he offers to recant the bargain if she can guess his name.
This setting of the work by June Bonacich was originally composer for a chamber ensemble and narrator in 2008. In 2009, she re-worked the piece for full orchestra. CWO’s concert master and CU Berkeley professor, Anne Nesbet, edited the narration heard on the CD recording.
Biography: San Francisco Bay Area composer June Bonacich graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a Master’s degree in Composition. She currently teaches Musicianship, Composition, and Early Childhood Music classes in the San Francisco Conservatory’s Preparatory Program, and has worked with the San Francisco Boys Chorus since 1997 as Training Chorus and Preparatory Director. Her hilarious musical, Group Therapy, was premiered by the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco in 2005, and was also performed in Chicago in 2006. Ms. Bonacich newest project is a work she is preparing for International Women’s Day 2011, which CWO will premiere.
Australian-born conductor KATHLEEN MCGUIRE has led the CWO since 2005. She brings to the podium three decades of experience directing orchestras on three continents. Under her baton, the orchestra has grown in size and reputation, including multiple performances at Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, a tour to Miami, Florida, and collaborations with such organizations as the San Francisco Girls Chorus, San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, and Voices Lesbian Choral Ensemble. McGuire has studied under some of the world's finest conductors, and received her doctorate in conducting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 2010, she was awarded The American Prize in Conducting: Excellence in Music Education Citation.
YUCHI CHOU, CWO's assistant conductor 2008 - 2010, holds a masters degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Michael Morgan. She was awarded the 2009 Anshacher Fellowship by the Austrian American Foundation and the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival, and she received a grant from the San Francisco Foundation for emerging Bay Area performing artists. Also an accomplished solo and chamber pianist, Chou won many national titles in her native Taiwan before coming to the US.