This CD contains three different musical journeys through time. We hope that
listeners will feel they have spent that day on Monhegan Island, experienced the
brief but passionate relationship of the Apache lovers and traced the evolution of
the Tango over the course of a century.
Monhegan Suite by John Kusiak was commissioned by Jill Dreeben to depict the
moods and tones of different places on Monhegan Island in the course of a summer
day. The rest of this booklet will be devoted to the thoughts of the composer.
Katherine Hoover described Canyon Echoes as the story of two young Apaches from
a large canyon “where the streams ripple and the wind sings in the cottonwoods.” In
Dance they meet and have eyes only for each other. Serenade marks the growth in
their friendship. She Mourns when her young lover leaves for the hunt. When He
Returns he is stricken to learn she has fallen ill and died.
In Histoire du Tango, Astor Piazzolla traces the evolution of the Tango from its
origins in Buenos Aires in Bordel 1900 to Cafe 1930 then to Club 1960.
Prelude – 12 Nautical Miles – This movement
opens with the guitar emulating the sound
of distant bell buoys that gradually come
closer. An introduction leads to a dreamy
anticipation of the day; the main theme with
its Lydian mode character is stated by the flute.
Excitement over returning to Monhegan builds
as I imagine the Laura B ferry making the 12-
mile trip from Port Clyde over open sea, a trip
sometimes accompanied by harbor porpoises,
whales, and seals.
Sunrise at Burnt Head – The summer day begins with a sunrise that can be best
experienced by rising a half-hour before dawn, walking a half mile across the island
to the eastern cliffs (in this case, Burnt Head) and waiting for the sun to appear over
the ocean. The dawn is shared with seagulls and scrub pine. The flute gradually climbs
as the sun ascends and the mood is serene and reverent, finishing with a chorale-like
section in Eb.
Lobster Cove – Lobster Cove is on the
southern tip of the island and is mostly
flat and rocky. It sports a wreck of the
D.T. Sheridan rusting peacefully by the
surf. In the music, I have tried to create
a feeling of the rolling waves with guitar
arpeggios and odd meters. The flute
melodies contain and develop some
of the bird songs that I recorded while
walking to the cove.
Day Trippers – This is a fun movement for mid-day that illustrates the chaotic and
sometimes humorous activity found on the dock, Main Street and the beaches when
tourists converge on Monhegan for a few hours.
The Trails to the Headlands –
Monhegan is famous for its trails. This
movement evokes the haunting beauty of
the forest. It is quiet and dark with shafts of
light illuminating green moss. In foul weather,
these trails can be treacherous, but in August
they are magical. The trail ultimately leads to
the Headlands, opening onto bright sunlight
and dramatic cliffs. Waves crashing against the
rocks below are suggested by cascading flute
arpeggios and dramatic guitar strumming. Few
who fall in on this side of the island have been
rescued. The danger is real for the reckless and
The Library/Jackie and Edward –
Jackie Barstow and Edward Vaughan were
two of the unlucky ones. In 1926, Edward was
supervising Jackie’s eleventh birthday party
picnic on a flat rock at the base of Black Head
when she was swept out to sea by a rogue wave.
Edward jumped in to save her. Both were lost.
The Monhegan Memorial Library was dedicated
to them and provides a quiet place to read
and reflect. Here the main theme is stated and
developed by both instruments in turn; a simple
meditation on the tragic loss of two innocents.
Sunset at the Lighthouse – One of the great pleasures of Monhegan is viewing the
sunset from lighthouse hill. This movement is related in tone and tempo to the Sunrise
movement, building in intensity with the setting sun through quiet expectation,
dramatic light and clouds, and vibrant colors. It reprises the reverent chorale of the
Sunrise music as the sun descends into the horizon, ending with a promise of return
through the use of unsettled seventh-chord harmony.
Evening: Friends and Family – Here, the theme loses its Lydian character as it is
set to a simple accompaniment in B Major expressing the warmth of family, friends
and laughter. Music that describes the boat journey to the island is recapitulated in
portraying the journey back to the mainland.
Epilogue –Dream: Winter on the Island – Back home on the
mainland – “inshore” as year-rounders call it – the
island is still with me in my imagination. Dreaming
about what the island is like in winter is reflected
musically in a new theme played by solo guitar.
When the flute enters, hints of previous themes
return in an extended quasi-improvised section.
As the movement concludes, guitar themes from the prelude are repeated. The bell
buoy sounds a positive chord as it fades away beneath undulating flute arpeggios.
Jill Dreeben has performed in numerous solo flute and chamber music
concerts throughout New England. She is a founding member of Solar
Winds Woodwind Quintet and a member of Kaleidoscope Chamber
Ensemble. She has played with the Lumen Contemporary Ensemble,
Composers in Red Sneakers and has been a soloist with The Boston
Secession. She premiered music written for her by composer John
Kusiak and recorded some of his commercial works as well as works by
local composers Pasquale Tassone, Armand Qualliotine, Betsy Schramm
and James Ricci. Jill Dreeben plays with the New England Orchestra in
Lowell and she has performed with Emmanuel Music of Boston. Ms.
Dreeben studied with Craig Goodman, Louis Moyse and Lois Schaefer.
She earned a BA in Music from Cornell University (1983) and an MM in
Flute Performance from New England Conservatory (1987). Currently
Ms. Dreeben teaches flute at Brandeis University and maintains a private
studio in Arlington, MA.
Peter Clemente has performed solo and chamber music throughout New England and has completed
successful concert tours in California and in the southwestern United States. He has been featured live in
concert/interview radio broadcasts on WGBH, Boston, and KPFK, Los Angeles, and in 1990 made his New
York debut at Weil Hall with soprano Katherine Emory. A native of Massachusetts, Mr. Clemente studied the
guitar with Richard Provost at the Hartt School of Music, where he is the only guitarist to have received
the prestigious Applied Music Award for outstanding musical performance. Later training was with David
Leisner at New England Conservatory and with Neil Anderson at the Boston Conservatory. He was the firstprize
winner in both the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Solo Competition in 1986 and the
Ovation Classical Guitar Competition in 1981. He is currently a Lecturer in Music at Assumption College
in Worcester, MA.
John Kusiak composes music for film, television and live performance.
He has scored hundreds of projects, including television documentaries
(HBO, IFC, PBS and Sundance), large-screen exhibitions (Yellowstone
National Park and the Smithsonian) and feature films (Tabloid, Secrecy,
The Singing Revolution and additional music for the 2004 Academy
Award winning documentary The Fog of War). His score for Errol Morris’
“Tabloid” won the 2012 Cinema Eye Honors Award for Outstanding
Achievement in Original Music