[COMMISSION] Wilderness of Woe: The Music of Shawn Jaeger

Thursday, May 26, 2016 @ 8:00 pm

The Carolina Lady
Ryan Muncy, saxophone 

The Cold Pane
Contemporaneous, featuring Lucy Dhegrae, vocalist
Thousands of Years to Make It What It Was
Pala Garcia, violin; Vicky Chow, piano
Wilderness of Woe [Roulette-Jerome Commission]
Contemporaneous; David Bloom, conductor

Over the past ten years, composer Shawn Jaeger has drawn inspiration from Appalachian folksong and hymnody. This concert features the premiere of two works that take a new approach to engaging with these traditions: remixing, and then freely transcribing, audio. The Carolina Lady, for baritone saxophone—commissioned by the American Composers Forum/JFund for Ryan Muncy—was composed exclusively using the audio of Dillard Chandler’s 1967 recording of the traditional ballad, “The Carolina Lady,” transformed via time-stretching, pitch-shifting, looping, etc. Similarly, Wilderness of Woe—written for Contemporaneous, and scheduled for a full premiere next season—engages with recordings of bluegrass legend Bill Monroe. By composing directly with source audio and focusing on “secondary” performance details (mandolin strumming patterns, the timbre of a slack violin bow, etc.), Jaeger seeks to develop an increased awareness of the sonic richness of these traditions, as well as a deeper engagement with their underlying structures. This direct engagement with material previously only indirectly imitated will hopefully lead to a music that maintains all the richness and complexity of these traditions, without necessarily being limited to their specific sound worlds: a kind of distant cousin.

The program will also feature The Cold Pane, a cycle of five songs on poems by Wendell Berry (recipient of the National Humanities Medal and “spiritual founder of the food movement”) commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and written for Dawn Upshaw, as well as Thousands of Years to Make It What It Was, commissioned by the BMI Foundation, Inc. Carlos Surinach Fund for Concert Artists Guild for violinist Alexi Kenney, which draws inspiration from a Berry poem about an eroded field.

[COMMISSION] Wilderness of Woe: The Music of Shawn Jaeger is made possible, in part, by the Jerome Foundation.

The Jerome Foundation, a long-time supporter of young composers, was a mainstay in Roulette’s early development and continues to help us fulfill our mission by presenting ambitious work by promising artists. Each year, the Jerome Foundation supports five artist residencies and four commissions at Roulette.