Who Shall Invoke Her

Composition date: 2003  
Instrumentation: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, piano, (2) vibraphones, voice
Notes: Who Shall Invoke Her, composed in 2003, grew from the piano motif that begins the piece, into a fully realized chamber work involving a woodwind quartet, two vibraphones, piano, and voice. The title and lyrics are from a sonnet by American poet Alan Seeger. It was debuted by the Peabody Camerata, Gene Young conducting, on April 3, 2004, with Peter (Wen-Chih) Lee, countertenor.
Samples: MIDI realization MP3 (complete) - 12.8Mb - 9:07
Debut Performance MP3 - 13.8Mb - 10:04
Page 1 of the full score (PDF)
Score & Parts: Available for purchase - 35.00 USD - printed on demand.
contact me for ordering details.


Themes and Variations I from Terpsichore

Composition date: 2000  
Instrumentation: double brass choir (2 choirs of 2 trumpets and 2 horns each, antiphonally placed), percussion (5 players: timpani, roto-toms, snare drum, bass drum, bongo drums, tambourine, triangle, castanets)
Notes: Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) published the definitive collection of French dance music from the late 16th and early 17th centuries in the work for which he is probably best known - Terpsichore. I chose three pieces from this collection - La Canarie XXXI, Courante: La Mouline CVII, and Volte CCXXIX - to include in my Themes and Variations I from Terpsichore. Obviously, by including the Roman numeral one in the title, I envisioned a series of these arrangements, but to date this is the only one I have completed.

The instruments which the French dance masters of the time might encounter as they traveled about the countryside were uncertain, so Praetorius did not specify particular instrumentations in his collection of tunes. I chose modern trumpets and horns for the two antiphonally placed brass choirs in my arrangement, and a collection of percussion instruments (Praetorius did not score any percussion in Terpsichore, but it is likely some were used in improvised parts).

The original themes of each dance are stated in a call and response fashion by the two brass choirs, and gradually the musicians begin "improvising" variations on those themes, although the improvisations are clearly spelled out in this arrangement. One theme gradually blends into the next, and eventually they come back together for a restatement of the first theme.

Themes and Variations I from Terpsichore was debuted on April 24, 2002 by the Peabody Chamber Winds, Kristen Gottleib conducting.

Samples: MIDI realization MP3 (complete) - 8.6Mb - 6:09
MIDI realization MP3 (percussion only) - 8.6Mb - 6:07
Page 1 of the full score (PDF)
Score & Parts: Available for purchase - 35.00 USD - printed on demand.
contact me for ordering details.


Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h

Composition date: 1973 by Christian Vander
Transcription date: 2002-2003
Instrumentation: flute/piccolo, (2) trumpets, (2) trombones, piano, electric organ, electric guitar, electric bass, drumset, percussion (2 players: marimba, glockenspiel, sleigh bells), chorus (SSAATTBB)
Notes: I first heard the original recording of Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h, as performed by Christian Vander and his progressive jazz/rock ensemble Magma, in about 1975, and it completely blew my mind. I had never heard anything like this music before, and nothing I have heard since can quite compare to its sheer innovativeness, power, fury, and defiance of categorization. I literally just about wore out two copies of the LP over the years.

Around 2002, I became aware that Vander's publishing company, Seventh Records, had produced a vocal/piano score of the work, which I immediately ordered. While it was the best representation of MDK that was available at the time, I wondered whether it might be a viable idea to create a truly accurate transcription of this epic work based upon the original studio recording. Of course, I wasn't about to go into such a massive undertaking without the possibility of a live performance, so I enlisted the support of Gene Young, the conductor of the Peabody Camerata, which I manage.

Gene agreed to a performance of the work by the Camerata, so I approached Christian Vander with the idea via email, and he agreed, provided that I provide him with a copy of the score once I had completed my transcription. I had no idea at the time how much work I had just created for myself. It took me almost an entire year to complete my transcription - a full score of the original version of MDK, and parts for the 20 musicians it would take to perform it. The vocal/piano score that I had was a starting place, but it was woefully inaccurate and incomplete in many regards. I had to listen to the recording of the original version, fortunately now available on CD, many hundreds of times, gleaning as much detail as I could with my ears, and transcribe it note for note, for each instrument and vocal part, maintaining as much faithfulness to that recording as was humanly possible.

Then I had to gather forces together to perform it from the student population of the Peabody Conservatory, none of whom had ever heard the piece before. I created my own diction CDs for the vocalists, mostly opera students who, while they were familiar with various European languages, certainly had no experience with the Kobaian language that Christian Vander had invented to tell the story of his science fiction adventure. On top of everything else, we had to perform it after only five rehearsals.

Somehow, we managed to pull it off, and while the performance was certainly not up to the standards of a Magma performance - for one thing, Christian Vander is one monster of a drummer, and he wrote the piece, so it's hard for anyone to take his place behind the kit, and the rest of his Magma musicians are intimately familiar with the work - we did a pretty good job overall. My favorite part of the whole thing was just after the last note, a piercing electronic tone on the original recording, taken by piccolo in my transcription. The audience sat in stunned silence for what seemed to be an eternity. You could have heard a pin drop in the concert hall. In fact, they sat there for a full 19 seconds - I timed it from the concert recording - before finally exploding in tumultuous applause and cheers.

Christian Vander remarked, after listening to the concert recording of our performance, that, "It was the closest version to the original spirit of MDK I have had the chance to hear."  

Samples: Peabody Camerata - MDK sample 1 MP3 - 1.7Mb - 1:15
Peabody Camerata - MDK sample 2 MP3 - 2.1Mb - 1:30
Peabody Camerata - MDK sample 3 MP3 - 2.1Mb - 1:30
Peabody Camerata - MDK sample 4 MP3 - 2.1Mb - 1:30
Peabody Camerata - MDK sample 5 MP3 - 1.4Mb - 1:00

Page 1 of the full score (PDF)
Score & Parts: Not for sale or hire.

Copyright ę 2017 by Rich Lauver - Baltimore - Maryland - USA