Humans may be the only living things that are conscious of time. Not time as it refers to the routines or appointments we keep, but growing old and dying. Then we fear time; we grieve it in calmer moments; we fill our days with activity to avoid it; we may even position ourselves around the energy of children. However we may cope, we have few alternatives to carrying on. And so we make our choices the best we know how.
How do we spend our time? Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” In this spirit, we chose to look at our time as it refers to living and growing older, and how we might respond to and express the concept of aging musically.
Our Time, Quadre’s fourth album, is the culmination of a two-year journey to commission new composers and to collaborate with non horn-playing artists to create and record music within the gamut of Thoreau’s “highest of arts.” During our time together, composer Jamie Keesecker wrote a horn quartet, The Impetuous Winds, which might represent those raw emotions we all sometimes experience: anger, anxiety, aggression upon waking up, say, on the wrong side of the bed.
Composer, Mark Carlson’s Night Music for flute/alto flute and horns, featuring Molly Barth, is a soulful song full of longing and grief, something like trying to resist acknowledging a familiar scent in the night air that hints of an impending and distinctive change of season-like summer to fall-carried by a deliberate and melancholy wind.
Composer and performer, Daniel Wood’s new work, In Time, for horns and percussion, featuring James Kassis, is a song cycle without words. This poignant piece catalogues a specific yet familiar event in a life-the emotional undulations within a broken heart in the aftermath of a failed love. Moments of Luck, Love, Lies, Loss, and Laughter punctuate the plot of this painfully familiar story. Yet the context with which Daniel has treated this triteness is anything but trite. The hope, strength, and lightness we are left with are testaments to the resilience of our not-so-fragile hearts.
Composer and performer, Nathan Pawelek’s new composition, Midlife Crisis, for horns and marimba, highlights the emotions middle agers face upon reaching their 44 1/2 birthdays. At once, such people are left with a choice as their bodies deteriorate: release thy earthly bonds or put on a thong and dance!
Composer and physics professor, Brian Holmes has contributed Three Hunting Songs for horns and soprano, sung by Elizabeth Weigle. Inspired by the poetry of Sir Walter Scott, Yeats, and e.e. cummings, Holmes captures three fox hunting scenes, the once prized sport of aristocratic French and English royalty. Their pursuits are encapsulated in this look back on bygone days narrated by soprano and dramatized by horns. There is one passage from this work that would underscore the concept of our time passing and a fitting response:
Waken lords and ladies gay!
Tell them youth and mirth and glee
Run a course as well as we.
Time, stern huntsman, none can balk
Staunch as hound, and fleet as hawk.
Think of this and rise with day,
Gentle lords and ladies gay.
In acknowledging the relative brevity of our time, our worthiest response is to waken, lords and ladies, and keep ourselves awake to the amazing moments of our days, the most amazing of which is cherishing each breath, even in our lowest and most challenging moments. For being conscious of our consciousness is the gift of being present, which is the best we can hope for, and the only time of our time over which we have any sort of influence.
Mark Carlson is a versatile composer whose nearly 100 works include art songs, chamber music, choral music, concertos and other large ensemble works, and songs for musical theater. The recipient of over 50 commissions, his works have been premiered and recorded throughout the world. He resides in Los Angeles, where he teaches composition and theory at UCLA.
Brian Holmes, hornist, composer and professor of physics at San Jose State University, usually writes for chorus or solo voice. He has published twenty compositions, won a dozen composition contests and completed a dozen commissions. He is a nationally recognized expert on the physics of brass instruments, giving many invited talks all over the country.
Jamie Keesecker is a composer of new music who writes for a variety of musical ensembles. He resides in Durham, North Carolina, where he is a James B. Duke Fellow pursuing a Ph.D. at Duke University. Jamie is also a horn player who enjoys performing new music whenever possible.
Composer and hornist, Nathan Pawelek is interested in humor, technical challenge in performance, and the preservation of the endangered melody. He has written numerous works for orchestra including a symphony, a clarinet concerto, a song cycle, and a children’s program for narrator and orchestra, as well as chamber music for woodwind quintet.
Daniel Wood, hornist and composer, founded Quadre in 1998 after working as a music contractor in Los Angeles. He has composed for all four of their albums as well as many other ensembles, including jazz and concert band. He also presents solo shows as an improvisational musician using the horn, piano, and electronics.
Quadre - The Voice of Four Horns has been pioneering the brass chamber music genre by composing, commissioning and arranging new music for horn quartet since 1998. In addition to their mission to explore and expand the dynamic potential of the horn quartet, Quadre is committed to educating and reaching out to diverse audiences across the country.
Described as “ferociously talented” (The Oregonian), Grammy-Award winning flutist Molly Barth is an active solo, chamber, and orchestral musician, specializing in the music of today. A founding member of the new music sextet eighth blackbird and, more recently, Beta Collide New Music Project, Molly has performed throughout the world and recorded numerous CDs. She is the Assistant Professor of Flute at the University of Oregon.
Percussionist James Kassis, an active freelance musician and teacher in the San Francisco Bay area, is a faculty member of Santa Clara University and the Mountain View Community School of Music and Art. James has performed with the San Francisco, California, San Jose, Monterey, and Santa Cruz Symphonies, Opera San Jose, the California Shakespeare Festival, the American Musical Theatre of San Jose, and the Cabrillo Music Festival.
A native of Harrisburg, PA, soprano Elizabeth Weigle has earned critical acclaim for her “fine-spun performance”, with her “exquisite control of volume, pitch and line and her easy adornments” (San Jose Mercury News). An enthusiastic advocate for music of her own time, Elizabeth frequently premieres works written for her. She has recorded for the Nonesuch, Erato, Koch, Albany, New Focus Recordings, and BMOP Sound labels.
Recorded August 17-21, 2008 in Beall Hall, University of Oregon in Eugene, OR
Producer: Brian McWhorter
Recording Engineer: Lance Miller
Assistant Recording Engineer: Matt Greco
Mixing and Editing Engineer: Lance Miller
Recorded and Mastered with Sequoia 9.0 software
Microphones: Schoeps CMK21, Shure SM141, AKG 414, ADK TL II, ADK Area 51,
Neumann184, Beyer M 160 Ribbons
Console and Recorder: Grace Preamps, Yamaha OIV96 Mixer
Liner Notes: Nathan Pawelek
Sleeve Design: Ina Johnson
Photography: Dmitri von Klein, Monovita Photography