Dear Friends of UC Berkeley Music,
It has been such a vibrant and wonderful semester of music making here at Hertz Hall! Serving as Chair of the Department of Music this year has given me the great honor to interact with the many enthusiastic, diverse and talented musicians that make up our extended Berkeley community of musical artists and scholars. I am particularly grateful for the thousands of patrons who come to enjoy our live performances and who join us as we foster a more peaceful and just community through musical performance and creation. It is a privilege to bring music to this campus and community and we thank you for being there!
Although the winter rains are on their way, thankfully there are a few more chances to come see our ensembles this semester! We will wrap up the 65th year of free noon concerts with our beloved Holiday Choral Concert on December 6th, featuring the Chamber Chorus, University Chorus, and P5 in a varied program of new seasonal music. Also at 8pm on the evening of December 6, Christine Brandes will direct the Baroque Ensemble in a concert featuring Italian masters including Vivaldi and Corelli. Lastly, the venerable Symphony Orchestra led by David Milnes will wrap up a notable year, which included a tour of Spain, with two performances on December 8th and 9th with works from Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky and Dutilleux.
This installment of Music’s newsletter contains some exciting stories of Professor Myra Medford’s performances with Jazz at Lincoln Center, Graduate Student Selim Göncü’s recently announced Composer Residency at Ensemble Échappé in New York, and news round-up on some recent department happenings.
As we continue on our mission to provide a combination of academics and performance opportunities to our students, we are buoyed by your financial support. Contributions small and large are welcomed and truly appreciated.
Wishing you and your family a happy and safe holiday season,
Chair, UC Berkeley Department of Music
Melford’s Peformance on “Handful of Keys” Released
UC Berkeley Department of Music Professor Myra Melford’s acclaimed performances with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra is now available to download. Entitled A Handful of Keys – A Century of Jazz Piano, the concerts chronicled the progression of jazz piano over the last century and featured works from the likes of Jelly Roll Morton, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, and Marcus Roberts.
“The Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater is a home for jazz in the broadest sense,” noted Melford in the liner notes. “The performances have welcomed everything from ragtime and dixieland to swing and bebop, the blues and gospel traditions, and the experiments and innovations of the 1960s and beyond.”
Melford’s piece titled “The Strawberry” features renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. A nine-time Grammy winner and National Medal of Arts recipient, Marsalis currently serves as director of the Juilliard Jazz studies program. Fellow pianists on this recording include Indonesian prodigy Joey Alexander (now 14) and American jazz pioneer Dick Hyman (now 90), who is currently serving as National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters fellow.
The diverse programming and talented pianists of A Handful of Keys were especially exciting for Melford. “Backstage during the performance, listening with and to the other pianists, I felt a palpable sense of not only enjoyment and appreciation for the gifts each had to offer, but inspiration—the possibility of trying something new or different heard in the others’ playing,” said Melford. “What struck me was the unique way in which each guest soloist revealed yet another facet of the rich legacy of jazz piano.”
A recording of A Handful of Keys was released by Blue Engine, a label started in 2015 by Jazz at Lincoln Center. “Handful of Keys” is a reference to jazz pianist Fats Waller’s 1929 seminal jazz piano composition. Jazz at Lincoln Center was established in 1986, and in 2004 they opened the Frederick P. Rose Hall, the first music venue in the world designed specifically for jazz performance.
Melford has been a mainstay as a Professor of Composition and Improvisational Practices since joining UC Berkeley in 2004. Her student ensemble, the Berkeley Nu Jazz Collective, is slated to perform two times during the spring 2018 semester: a noon concert on February 21 in Jazz x 2, sharing the bill with an advanced UC Jazz ensemble; and an evening performance on April 14, opening for a quartet with clarinetist Ben Goldberg, bassist Michael Formanek, drummer Hamir Atwal and Melford on piano.
Graduate student announced Composer-in-Residence at Ensemble Échappé
UC Berkeley Department of Music Graduate Student Selim Göncü has been announced Composer-in-Residence at Ensemble Échappé from 2018-2020. The announcement was made in November at Ensemble Échappé where his piece Widerklang made its US premiere.
Born in Istanbul (Turkey), Göncü began his musical career studying piano as a child. After a year of study with Zoltán Jeney in Liszt Academy of Music, he became Reinhard Febel’s student in the University Mozarteum of Salzburg where he also served as assistant to the department for composition. Currently studying for his Ph.D. in composition, Göncü has worked closely with Music faculty members Franck Bedrossian, Ken Ueno, and Austrian composer Clemens Gadenstätter of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz.
“The support from faculty, combined with the excellent education we have at UC Berkeley results in many composition students getting prizes, performances and residencies,” said Göncü “ None of this would be possible without this wonderful atmosphere the UC Berkeley Music Department created.”
Based in New York City and founded by Nina C. Young and Jocelin Pan, Ensemble Échappé’s stated mission is to create and perform new music undefined by genre or style. Featuring 17 core performing members and directed by Jeffrey Milarsky, Ensemble Échappé’ embraces the frontiers of new music. While Göncü’s projects include works for guitar, keyboard/synthesizer, and a variety of other instruments, perhaps the most exciting opportunity of his residency with the Ensemble Échappé is the chance to form collaborative relationships with the ensemble members over his two year residency.
“No art form should be isolated from other forms, neither should be any composer,” explained Göncü. “This residency doesn’t only mean that I will talk to performers, write for them and they will perform some works of mine. EÉ is an ensemble extremely open to suggestions, concepts and new ideas that are relevant to my music.”
Göncü is also working on a new ensemble piece with keyboard/synthesizer for the UC Berkeley Department of Music’s ECO Ensemble to be directed by David Milnes. He was quick to note the department’s New Music Program an essential tenet of his development as a composer. “We are so lucky to have ECO, our incredible ensemble in residence, that allows us to work with (the same musicians) throughout our doctoral studies,” noted Göncü.
In the News
Campion debuts piece for Korean National Gugak Center’s Creative Traditional Orchestra
- Edmund Campion Composes New Work for Ancient Korean Instruments –California Magazine
- New technology meets ancient instruments in ‘Audible Numbers’ –BerkeleyNews
- Five-day Pacific Rim Music Festival to feature historic collaboration with Korean performing artists –UC Santa Cruz News Center
Carillon marks 100th anniversary
- Tower’s 12 oldest bells, first played a century ago, to be celebrated –BerkeleyNews
- Carillon Marks Centennial in November; Looks Forward to Future –Berkeley Music
- Berkeley, A Look Back: A century of Campanile bells and ties to Springfield, Mass. – East Bay Times
Jimmy Lopez to Collaborate with playwright Nilo Cruz, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London on “Dreamer”
- Politically charged ‘Dreamer’ oratorio coming to Berkeley –Mercury News
- Hewlett Foundation Announces First Winners of 50 Arts Commissions Initiative –San Francisco Classical Voice
- Cal Performances and Jimmy López –The Hewlett Foundation
Professor Emeritus Richard Taruskin awarded Kyoto Prize
- Taruskin accepts Kyoto Prize in Japan –BerkeleyNews
- Former campus professor wins Kyoto Prize for music -Daily Californian
- Music professor wins prestigious Kyoto Prize – BerkeleyNews
Mason Bates Ph.D. ’08 named Musical America’s 2018 Composer of the Year; more on Mercury Soul