To stream my DMA recital, featuring the premiere of Of Shrapnel and Blood as well as my piano sonata and third string quartet, visit Livestream. (EDIT: the performances may now be viewed on my YouTube channel.)
SUNG TEXTS | PERFORMER BIOGRAPHIES
String Quartet No. 3 ‘After Tallis’
My third string quartet was commissioned by Da Camera of Houston, and premiered by a quartet comprised of members of the Da Camera Young Artist Program at the Wortham Center. The work is based on a famous hymn by the English Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis: “Why fum’th in fight,” a hymn which also famously inspired Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Like Vaughan Williams, I deconstruct the Tallis and recast it in my own musical language.
The Piano Sonata, my first, was composed for Brazilian pianist Eduardo Knob. Comprised of a single movement, it follows the traditional sonata-allegro form: two contrasting themes which, over the course of the piece, present a dichotomy. The sonata has been performed in the U.S. as well as at the Porto Alegre Contemporary Music Festival in Brazil.
Of Shrapnel and Blood
Composed specifically for this occasion, Of Shrapnel And Blood traces the oft-repeated sequence of events leading up to, and following, conflict: naivety and religious or political fervor leading up to war; the sudden, harsh realities of violence; and our response to the human toll of war, too-seldom considered beforehand. A version for four soloists and 12-part ensemble is underway for a performance next season.
I am indebted to the many musicians who helped make this performance possible, and who dedicated a great deal of time to polishing their interpretations.
2. Opening Chorus (The Qu’ran)
Who brings forth the living from the dead
And the dead from the living?
3. Observation Post #71 (Brian Turner)
tenor, baritone, orchestra
Owls rest in the vines of wild grapes.
Eucalyptus trees shimmer.
And from the minaret, a voice.
Each life has its moment. The sunflowers
lift their faces toward dawn
as milk cows bellow in a field of trash.
I have seen him in the shadows.
I have watched him in the circle of light
my rifle brings to me. His song
hums in the wings of sand flies.
My mind has become very clear.
4. Hymn Before Action (Rudyard Kipling)
The earth is full of anger,
The seas are dark with wrath.
The Nations in their harness
Go up against our path:
Ere yet we loose the legions —
Ere yet we draw the blade,
Jehovah of the Thunders,
Lord God of Battles, aid!
High lust and froward bearing,
Proud heart, rebellious brow —
Deaf ear and soul uncaring,
We seek Thy mercy now!
The sinner that forswore Thee,
The fool that passed Thee by,
Our times are known before Thee —
Lord, grant us strength to die!
5. Here, Bullet (Brian Turner)
If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta’s opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.
6. Interlude I
7. Ajal (Brian Turner)
There are ninety-nine special names for God,
my son, and not so long ago I held you
newly born under a crescent moon,
and gave you the name which means servant
of God, and I did not speak of tanks,
the thunder of iron, missiles flying
over the rooftops of our city — I whispered
the call to prayer once in each ear.
It should not be like this, Abd Allah.
I wanted you to see the Ctesiphon Arch,
the Tower of Samarra, the Ziggurat of Ur.
I wanted to show you the Arabic language
written on the spines of the sawtooth
I wanted to teach you our family history
and see where you might take it.
I cannot undo what the shrapnel has done.
I climb down into the crumbling earth
to turn your face toward Mecca, as it must be.
Remember the old words I have taught you,
Abd Allah. And go with your mother,
buried here beside you — she will know the
8. Sadiq (Brian Turner)
It should make you shake and sweat,
nightmare you, strand you in a desert
of irrevocable desolation, the consequences
seared into the vein, no matter what
feeds the muscle its courage,
what god shines down on you, no matter
what crackling pain and anger
you carry in your fists, my friend,
it should break your heart to kill.
9. A Soldier’s Arabic (Brian Turner)
The word for love, habib, is written from right
to left, starting where we would end it
and ending where we might begin.
Where we would end a war
another might take as a beginning,
or as an echo of history, recited again.
Speak the word for death, maut,
and you will hear the cursives of the wind
driven into the veil of the unknown.
This is a language made of blood.
It is made of sand, and time.
To be spoken, it must be earned.
10. Phantom Noise (Brian Turner)
There is this ringing hum this
bullet-borne language ringing
shell-fall and static this late-night
ringing of threadwork and carpet ringing
hiss and steam this wing-beat
of rotors and tanks broken
bodies ringing in steel humming these
voices of dust these years ringing
rifles in Babylon rifles in Sumer
ringing these children their gravestones
and candy their limbs gone missing their
static-borne television their ringing
this eardrum this rifled symphonic this
ringing of midnight in gunpowder and oil
brake pad gone useless this muzzle-flash
threading of bullets in muscle and bone this
hum this ringing hum this
11. I Knew A Simple Soldier Boy (Siegfried Sassoon: “Suicide in the Trenches”)
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.
12. Ashbah (Brian Turner)
soprano, mezzo-soprano, orchestra
The ghosts of American soldiers
wander the streets of Balad by night,
unsure of their way home, exhausted,
the desert wind blowing trash
down the narrow alleys as a voice
sounds from the minaret, a soulful call
reminding them how alone they are,
how lost. And the Iraqi dead,
they watch in silence from rooftops
as date palms line the shore in silhouette,
leaning toward Mecca when the dawn wind
13. Interlude II
14. Look Down, Fair Moon (Walt Whitman)
baritone, chorus, orchestra
Look down fair moon and bathe this scene,
Pour softly down night’s nimbus floods on
faces ghastly, swollen, purple,
On the dead on their backs with arms toss’d
Pour down your unstinted nimbus sacred
(Arous’d and angry, I’d thought to beat the
alarum, and urge relentless war,
But soon my fingers fail’d me, my face
droop’d and I resign’d myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or
silently watch the dead;)
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious
passions; these chances;
Of unsurpass’d heroes (was one side so brave?
the other was equally brave;)
Now be witness again, paint the mightiest
armies of earth,
Of those armies so rapid and wondrous what
saw you to tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of
Of hard-fought engagements of sieges
tremendous what deepest remains?
15. A Dead Statesman (Rudyard Kipling)
If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.
16. Closing Chorus (Qu’ran)
Who brings forth the living from the dead,
And the dead from the living?
A doctoral conducting student at the Moores School of Music, Michelle Perrin Blair is a Houston native and recent graduate from the studio of Moores School alumnus, Dr. Clifton Evans (UT Arlington). Ms. Blair currently serves as the General Manager and Staff Conductor of the Moores School Symphony Orchestra and the Assistant Director for the AURA Contemporary Ensemble at the University of Houston. In addition to conducting, Ms. Blair maintains a busy schedule as a violinist, both performing and teaching, and she holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from Southwestern University. Ms. Blair teaches orchestra at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, and she maintains a private violin studio. Ms. Blair lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, Aaron.
Born in 1983, Laura Cividino received her violin diploma in 2004 with prof. Diego Masutti and piano diploma
in 2005 with prof. Ugo Cividino, both at the J. Tomadini Conservatory of Music in Udine, Italy.
She continued her studies in Klagenfurt, Austria, with Professor Helfried Fister and in March 2008
received violin diploma from that school. She graduated with a Master in Violin Performance with
Professor Andrzey Grabiec at the University of Houston, Moores School of Music in May 2012. In
February 2014 she received her viola diploma with Luca Morassutti at the G. Tartini Conservatory
of Music in Trieste, Italy.
During her career she has performed in various cities in Italy, Austria, France, Spain, Portugal,
Slovenia, China and United States. She has been a member of the OAO (Orchester Akademie
Ossiach), and of the SFK (Slovenia, Friuli, Kaerntner) in Austria, the Piccola Accademia in Italy,
Clear Lake Symphony, Houston Sinfonietta, the Moores School of Music Orchestras, Brazos Valley
Symphony Orchestra and “Mercury – the orchestra redefined” in the United States.
Cecilia Duarte made her main stage debut at Houston Grand Opera with the world premiere of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna in 2010, giving life to Renata, and touring with that production to Paris where she performed at the Théâtre du Châtelet and later on at San Diego Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera. An active HGOco artist, she created the role of Gracie in Ethan Greene’s A Way Home, HGO’s 40th world premiere, performing it again in a full stage production with Opera Southwest in Albuquerque, NM. As an active performer in Houston, Ms. Duarte has performed recently with Opera in the Heights as Zerlina in Don Giovanni; premiered Paul English’s piece “I am a Memorial” through HGOco; appeared as Jessie Lydell in A Cofﬁn in Egypt with HGO, and portrayed the role of Loma Williams in Cold Sassy Tree with the University of Houston. An early music enthusiast, she has often performed with the Bach Society of Houston, the Oregon Bach Festival, the Festivalensemble in Stuttgart, Germany, and Festival de Música Barroca de San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Her latest performance included her debut as Daniel in Handel’s Susanna with Ars Lyrica. Ms. Duarte has also premiered three art songs by Mark Buller, all commissioned by HGO.
Ingrid Gerling, a native of Porto Alegre, Brazil, has performed extensively as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician throughout the United States, South America, Europe, and Asia. She currently resides in Houston, TX where she is pursuing her Doctorate of Musical Arts in violin performance with Prof. Frank Huang, at the Moores School of Music. She is concertmaster of the Moores School Symphony Orchestra, as well as concertmaster of the Houston Heights Orchestra. Ms. Gerling takes an active interest in contemporary music, regularly performing as the violinist for AURA, the contemporary music ensemble at the Moores School of Music. Recently Ingrid performed with Musiqa, Houston’s premiere new music ensemble, in their Loft concert series at the CAMH and their major concert series at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
Stephanie Handal, soprano, earned her Bachelor of Music Education from the University of North Texas and her Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Sam Houston State University. She has sung and conducted both within the United States and abroad for numerous choral masters such as Helmuth Rilling, Paul Salamunovich, and Simon Carrington, to name just a few. Her operatic roles include the Third Spirit (The Magic Flute) and Despina (Cosi Fan Tutte). On the concert stage Stephanie’s most recent work includes Duruflé’s Requiem, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Mass in C Minor, and Scarlatti’s Cantata Pastorale. Her work with Houston Grand Opera’s “Home and Place” program culminated in the premier of the Houston Artists Respond song cycles. Stephanie has sung with the Houston Chamber Choir as a choral artist and soloist since 2007. As a Teaching Artist with HGOco, Ms. Handal works closely with the community and local schools through the Baker Ripley Neighborhood Center. She maintains a private voice studio at Kingwood high school, and directs the Incarnate Word Academy Choir.
William Kremer is a cellist currently finishing a Masters degree in Performance at the University of Houston, studying with Vagram Saradjian. He received his BM in Cello Performance in 2012 from the University of North Texas where he studied with Nikola Ruzevic. In addition to playing with the Moores School Orchestra, he freelances around Houston, has played with the Beaumont Symphony, the Lamar Civic Symphony, the Houston Serenade Project, and is featured on The Demigs upcoming album, slated for release in 2014. He also teaches private lessons, cello clinics, and coached chamber music groups with American Festival for the Arts.
Brett Linski was born and raised in Duluth Minnesota. In 2008 he received his Bachelor Degreein Music Performance, graduating magna cum laude, and with departmental honors, from the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) where he studied with Laurie Van Brunt. Currently he resides in Houston where he is pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at the University of Houston (UH) in the studio of Dr. Anne Leek, where he also received his master’s degree in 2010. While at UH Brett has performed as both the principal oboist and solo English horn player in all of the UH orchestras, and while in school, has subbed with several symphony orchestras including the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, and the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Professionally, Brett has played Second Oboe/English horn with the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra since 2007 and appeared last summer as a soloist, playing the Donizetti Concertino for English horn, and Copland’s “Quiet City.” Aside from those two performances, highlights of Brett’s career include performing the Strauss and Goossens Oboe concertos in his undergrad with UMD’s Symphony Orchestra, and giving the American premiere of Jan van der Roost’s Cead Mile Failte for oboe and string quartet at the University of Houston.
Baritone Trevor Martin was most recently seen in Opera in the Heights’ production of Don Giovanni as Masetto. He will be attending Seagle Music Colony this summer singing the role of Arthur in Camelot. Trevor will then be participating in the Emerging Artist Program at Virginia Opera staring in the Fall. Other notable highlights include the baritone soloist in Carmina Burana with the Rice Chorale; Count in Le nozze di Figaro, Ford in Falstaff with Moores Opera Center, Marcello in La Boheme with Kingwood Summer Opera and Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore with the Janiec Opera Company. He recently received his Masters’ degree from the Moores School of Music, where he studied with Joseph Evans.
Violinist Jisu Shin was born in South Korea. She began playing the violin when she was four years old. When she turned twelve, she studied music at the Yewon Middle School for Arts and Seoul Art High School in Korea. In Korea, she won first place in the Han Kook Ilbo and Han-Sae University competitions studying under Professor Kyung Sun Lee. Jisu entered the Korean National University of Arts in 2003 studying under Professor Sung Joo Lee. After finishing her Bachelor’s degree at the Korean National University of Arts, she worked at the Korean Symphony Orchestra as a member in the first violin section. She has also toured in Paris, Vienna and Hong Kong as a soloist. Since 2008, she has come to America to study under Kyung Sun Lee. She has received her Master’s degree at the University of Houston. She enjoys playing both concertos and chamber music and is a keen advocate of contemporary music. She has been playing numerous contemporary performances in AURA, which is dedicated to the performance of contemporary chamber music at the University of Houston, and the Bowdoin International Music Festival. Currently she continues to study to receive her doctoral degree studying under Frank Huang, who is the concert master of Houston Symphony Orchestra.
Pianist Yan Shen is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Houston Moores School of Music, where she studies with Timothy Hester. Prior to this, she was a faculty member at the Conservatory of Music in Guang Zhou, China. She has performed at a number of respected venues and festivals, including Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall), Guang Zhou Xing Hai Concert Hall, Wu Han Concert Hall, Bei Jing Concert Hall, French “Polyphony” Music Festival, the Basel Music Festival in Switzerland, Canada’s Power River Music Festival, Hong Kong City Hall, and the Hong Kong Quan Wan Concert Hall. She has also received awards at several competitions: Protégé International Competition, New York; Guang Zhou International Piano Competition, Bei Jing First International Piano Competition, and the Bei Jing National Piano Competition, China.
As a second year graduate student, Brian Yeakley has appeared in leading roles at the Moore’s School of Music, notably Fadinard in The Italian Straw Hat and Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville. Earlier this month he also played Camp Williams in Carlile Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree. Coming out of his degree he will be heading off to do Brighella in Glimmerglass’s production of Ariadne auf Naxos and couldn’t be more excited for his budding career to take off. He would like to thank his family and friends that have supported him endlessly in his endeavors. And a special thank you to Mark for an unmatched opportunity to premiere this work!
The music of composer Mark Buller has been performed around the country and internationally, in venues and art spaces as varied as Carnegie Hall, the Wortham Center (Houston), the Menil Collection, and Movimento (Munich). Initially a pianist, Buller earned his bachelor’s degree in piano performance before turning to composition for his Master’s degree. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Houston, where he studies with Rob Smith and Marcus Maroney.
Buller has been commissioned by a variety of organizations, including the Houston Grand Opera (a 45-minute opera, as well as several art songs), the Liminal Space Contemporary Ensemble (Apparatus), and Rivertree Singers (In Freezing Winter Night). He was for two consecutive years a member of the prestigious Da Camera of Houston Young Artist Program, for which he wrote a number of chamber works (including String Quartet No. 3; the string trio Chiaroscuro; and Nuages). Buller was also accepted into the 2010 highSCORE Festival in Pavia, Italy (where he studied with Chris Theofanidis, Paul Moravec, Giovanni Albini, and Mario Garuti); the festival subsequently commissioned EDGE for electric guitar and string quartet. He was the winner of the 2010 Vanguard Voices Composition Competition; the winning work, Sicut Cervus, is published by Hinshaw Music and has been performed across the country, including at Carnegie Hall. In 2012, Buller made his Carnegie Hall debut when the Guam Territorial Wind Band premiered Embers as part of the New York International Music Festival. Embers has since been performed by several other wind ensembles, and was recently performed at the Pacific Northwest Wind Band Festival. Upcoming performances of Buller’s works include a cycle of piano works in the U.K. and South Africa, as well as an opera and flute concerto in Houston.
(Jisu Shin, violin I)
(Ingrid Capparelli Gerling, violin II)
(Laura Cividino, viola)
(Will Kremer, cello)
(Yan Shen, piano)
Of Shrapnel and Blood
Stephanie Handal, soprano
Cecilia Duarte, mezzo-soprano
Brian Yeakley, tenor
Trevor Martin, baritone
Anna Diemer, Jessica Gann (sopranos)
Michelle Girardot, Laura Lisk (altos)
Zachary Lacy, Tyler Resto (tenors)
Samuel Hunter, Kody Pisney (basses)
Becca Walters Poole (flute); Brett Linski (oboe); Jennifer Dennison (clarinet); Robyn Watson (bassoon); Cameron Kade Kubos (trumpet); Stephen Wadenpfuhl, Jacob Wiggins (horns); Jose Salazar (trombone); Jared Tyler (bass trombone);
Bailey-Siamone Mason (harp); George Heathco (electric guitar); Cody Breaz, Zach Gutierrez (percussion); Ingrid Gerling, Laura Cividino, Behnam Arzaghi, Laura Callon, Carly Galloway, Gio Fuentes, Desiree Sanchez, Dustin Shaw, Jisu Shin, Rachel Smith, Matthew Suarez (violins); Aaron Bielish, Faith Magdalene Jones, Jake Sustaita, Shelby Thompson (viola); Will Kremer, Brittany Leavitt, Miriam Salinas (celli); Drake Eckhart, Gracie Ibemere, (double bass)
Michelle Perrin Blair, conductor