Tuesday, September 6, 2011

9/11: Timothy Kramer

I was shocked as we all were about 9/11. My wife is from Manhattan, and my mother-in-law still lived there, so the impact was very personal. Also, at the time, we just received word that my wife's step-mother had passed away suddenly on 9/9. I remember having lunch with composer Ken Metz on 9/10 who was also having some problems. At the time, we asked ourselves "what else can go wrong?" I had nearly 6 months before and 8 months after 9/11 without writing a single note. But I had to finish a commission from the local Alamo Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. That piece, Meditation (Noel Nouvelet), was 9/11 inspired. The notes are as follows:

This work is the first work of mine written after the tragedy of September 11 and it is as much a meditation on how our world has changed as it is a personal reawakening for my work as a composer. The hymn tune Noël Nouvelet is associated with rebirth, renewal, and growth, and in that light this piece begins in a dark environment and moves toward that melody. The melodic arabesques in the center of the work are integrated with elements of the old French carol and eventually the hymn tune emerges in the pedal. At the end, the ascent continues on and hovers in quiet stasis. The text (often sung with this melody) echoes in my memory “…now the green blade rises…”

I had this work played at festival in Florida, with no program notes. After the performance, a composer, who was Egyptian, came up to me and asked me about the piece. He thought it must have a program behind it. He said that the mode that I used at the opening sounded like the Arabic mode Saba, a melancholy mode used for mourning, loss, and grief. Wow. I was amazed at what popped up in the music.

You can hear a portion of Meditation (Noel Nouvelet) here.

Timothy Kramer
Timothy Kramer's works have been performed widely throughout the United States and Canada – from Carnegie Hall to college campuses - and in Europe, South America, and Asia with performances by major symphony orchestras (Indianapolis, Detroit, Tacoma, San Antonio) chamber groups (North/South Consonance, SOLI Chamber Ensemble, ONIX Ensemble, Luna Nova, Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings) and university ensembles (Michigan State, Arizona State, Indiana University, Florida State). He has also been a featured composer at the San Antonio International Piano Competition, the Mostly Women Composers Festival in New York City, the Midwest International Clinic in Chicago, and at national conferences of the American Guild of Organists, the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, the Society of Composers, Inc. and the College Music Society.
He has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Meet the Composer, Broadcast Music, Inc., ASCAP, the American Guild of Organists, and the American Music Center among many others. His degrees are from Pacific Lutheran University (B.M.) and the University of Michigan (D.M.A.), where he studied with William Albright, Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, and George Wilson. He was also a Fulbright Scholar to Detmold, Germany, where he studied with Martin Redel.
Originally from Washington State, Kramer began playing the piano at a young age, and, although trained as a pianist, organist, and harpsichordist, he spent many years as a youth playing bass guitar in jazz and rock ensembles. Kramer often incorporates rhythmic elements of popular music in his works, and he embraces the idea that the composer should not lose touch with the performer or with the audience. After teaching at Trinity University in San Antonio for 19 years - where he also founded CASA (the Composers Alliance of San Antonio) - he accepted a post in 2010 as Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois.

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