Tricia Dawn Williams is a concert pianist with an unusual and colourful profile. As a dedicated promoter of music by living composers, she has commissioned, premiered, recorded and broadcast numerous new works, and is a frequent collaborator on the creation of interdisciplinary projects with new technologies.
Her international performances include, amongst others: Les Invalides in Paris, the Béla Bartόk Memorial House in Budapest, the Festival International de Carthage in Tunisia, the John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, Abbaye aux Dames de Saintes in France and Festival di Castel dei Mondi in Italy. In Malta she has performed in various festivals and prestigious venues: the Malta Arts Festival, Għanafest, the International Spring Orchestra Festival, Contemporary Sounds Series, Science in the City, Evenings on Campus, Notte Bianca, Żigużajg – Arts Festival for Children and Young People, the Valletta International Piano Festival, Modern Music Days, The Three Palaces Festival, Teatru Manoel and San Anton Presidential Palace.
Born in Malta, of Irish and Welsh descent, Williams started playing the piano at a very early age with Rita Micallef and was further mentored on 20th century music by Pawlu Grech. In 2010 Williams was appointed secretary of the ‘Malta Association for Contemporary Music’ committed to establish new heights in its goal to promote the performance and understanding of contemporary music in Malta. In 2015 she joined the team of Encore – the recently launched arts and culture magazine in Malta – in her role of sub-editor.
Soliloquy by John Cage (1912 - 1992)
Soliloquy is a short piano solo which Cage wrote to accompany Merce Cunningham’s solo of the same title. It is extracted from the dance score, Four Walls, Cage’s magnum piano opus of the previous year, which is an hour-long exploration of the disturbed mind and an uncanny precursor to minimalism.
Mariella Cassar Cordiina (b. 1979): Oriental Prints
Oriental Prints starts with a slow octave introduction that gives the skeleton of a theme. This theme is developed and remains the principal focus throughout the piece. The clashing harmonies and the use of the uppermost register of the instrument are intended to be modes of my personal interpretation of non-Western sounds. The non-western mood is brought out by the clashing harmonies and by the use of the uppermost register of the instrument. Much of the colour of the piece in fact results from the contrast between the sonorities produced by the deep bass at one extreme of the instrument and the high treble at the other. The mood is essentially relaxed and is not even broken by a più mosso section. A tremolo in the left hand over which the theme continues to be stated with insistence precedes a short final coda that fades away into nothingness in a reverberant atmosphere.
Makiko Kinoshita (b. 1956): Preludes Nos 7 & 9
In the world of contemporary music, it is still perhaps customary for composers to write technically demanding music that can be played only by a small number of virtuoso performers and to search for sounds that no one has heard before. But I am not really interested in doing this myself. My aspiration is to create new music based on my own aesthetic sense by writing works which are both modern and beautiful, universal and individualistic. My book of Preludes aims to do just that.
John Cage (1912 - 1992): A Room
A Room with its almost elusive character is quite different from former loud bangings, and resembles a flowing, cautiously performed gamelan music of an introverted, downsized kind. Composed in 1943, originally conceived as the third part of She Is Asleep. May be performed with or without preparations, which involve 11 notes. Most are to be prepared using bolts, one new material is a penny. The music is written down on a single staff and follows the structure 4, 7, 2, 5, 4, 7, 2, 3, 5 (numbers denote the number of bars dedicated to a particular part of the section), repeated twice.
Konstantia Gourzi (b. 1962): Aiolos Wind
I. Hommage à Helmut Lachenmann
II. Hommage à György Kurtág
III. Hommage à Peter Raue
IV. Hommage à Claudio Abbado
V. Hommage à Daniel Barenboim
VI. Hommage à Dieter Rexroth
In Greek mythology Aiolos (or Aeolus) is the King of the Winds who kept the stormy Anemoi Thuellai and Aellai locked away inside the hollow heart of the floating island of Aiolia. Homer's God of the Winds, Aiolos, bears quite a few similarities to Hesiod's Ouranos. Both are described as having six sons and daughters joined in wedlock, and both trapped the storm-winds behind a bright wall of bronze.
The composition Aiolos Wind is reminiscent of a sketch, a type of a diary inspired by Greek mythology. It consists of six miniatures that are both, question and answer, beginning and end. The six pieces are dedicated to six different persons who have inspired the me and who played an important role at certain periods of my life. Their energy has been with me for a long time and still is. Every piece contains a special tone or action: Hommage à Helmut Lachenmann is an acoustic parody of the piano. More than the others, Hommage à György Kurtág recalls a complete small composition. In Hommage à Peter Raue the focus is on rhythm and accents, the tune in Hommage à Claudio Abbado shows extreme sensibility and refinement, performed by the strings of piano. Hommage á Daniel Barenboim treats a ‘romantic’ emphasis, while Hommage á Dieter Rexroth is airy, somewhat jazzy and full of rhythm.
John Adams (b. 1947) : China Gates
China Gates is a short piano piece composed in 1977. Adams wrote this work as a companion piece to Phrygian Gates, dating from the same period. Phrygian Gates is the longer of the two pieces and uses many of the same techniques as China Gates, but in terms of structure the two pieces have little in common.
This piece is one of his first mature works, which he wrote for the then 17-year-old pianist Sarah Cahill during a rainy season in northern California. Adams himself has suggested that the constant eighth notes of the piece reflect the steady rainfall of the time. The bass notes of the piece form the root of the mode, while the upper voices oscillate between different modes. K. Robert Schwarz has noted how the style of China Gates is in keeping with the ideas of ‘process music’ of Steve Reich.
Adams has described the structure of the work as an ‘almost perfect palindrome’.
Veronika Krausas (b. 1963): UN-intermezzi
UN-intermezzi are solo piano pieces inspired by the novel Un Lun Dun by the English writer China Miéville. The story presents an alternate and parallel universe to the city of London. China’s writing is so wonderfully poetic that I’ve stolen (with his permission!) several of his phrases as the titles for each of the pieces. The pitches of each piece are based on the names of each of the dedicatees.
The first un-intermezzo, Each dreams the other, is inspired by the floating quality of Brahms’ Intermezzo Op. 119 no. 1 in B minor.
The second, Somewhere very else… is inspired by the Gigue from Bach’s Bb Major Partita with its energetic bounce and hand crossing. It’s written for and dedicated to Aron Kallay who premiered the whole set.
The third un-intermezzo, A bowl for shadows … is an homage to the whimsical style of Erik Satie, specifically his fourth Gnossienne.
Storyladder is the fourth un-intermezzo and is dedicated to China Miéville. Its canonic and climbing idea is inspired by Ligeti’s L’escalier du diable and Jeffrey Holmes’ 5 Microtonal Studies iii for guitar duo.
The final un-intermezzo, Chorus of night-things, is dedicated to Thomas Adès, with the night-things moving between calm reverence and energetic activity.
Graham Fitkin (b. 1963) : Relent
This piece is about time. It is about the composer’s perception of time, its various manifestations and ultimate inevitability. He thinks about the way he uses his time, how much he needs and just how long it feels like. Fitkin thinks about continuous time, circular time and our society’s preoccupation with marking the passage of time. And then he thinks about the relentless addition of time and how for him some day it will just stop.
02 December 2016 - 04 December 2016
APS Teatru Unplugged 19