Joseph Hannan: Varieties of Canine Experience

Wednesday, June 10, 2009. 8:30 pm

Joseph Hannan: Varieties of Canine Experience

Wednesday, June 10, 2009. 8:30 pm

On Wednesday, June 10, Roulette will present an evening of music by composer and pianist Joe Hannan. With assisting artists, Hannan will perform four compositions.

The evening takes its title from Hannan’s Dog’s Life: Varieties of Canine Experience, a set of seven songs based on poems by or about dogs. Hannan writes, “I was amazed to learn how many poets, both classical and contemporary, had written poems in the voices of their dogs-Pope, Elizabeth Browning, Kipling, and many others. My songs focus on first-person (first-canine?) poems by contemporary poets, along with a few third-person poems about dogs. The poets include Mark Doty, Mac Hammond, Karen Shepard, and Richard Wilbur.” The songs, which range from the comic to the dramatic, will be performed by the bass Eric Barsness, with Hannan at the piano.

The evening will also feature the premiere of a vocal work on a canine-centered text by the poet Mary Griffin. The work, in five parts, will also be performed by Barsness and Hannan.

The 2002 piano solo Cymru is a portrait of Wales-both the shifting episodes of its people’s history and the unchanging aspects of the land.

Hannan wrote Mihrab in 2001 for the Delaware Valley Chamber Orchestra, which performed it in concerts in upstate New York that year. The June 10 concert will feature the premiere of a reworked version of the piece for cello, percussion, and piano. In a mosque, the mihrab is the niche that indicates the direction of Mecca, the direction in which prayers are offered. Hannan says that in the piece, “A slow, ornamented cantillation is followed by a dance that gradually accelerates in tempo. Aside from a few harmonic gestures in the introductory song, the piece is essentially monophonic. . . . Like the mihrab, this piece points to the Middle East.” In this performance, Hannan is joined by cellist Wes Tudor and percussionist Newman Baker.

The New York-based composer and pianist Joe Hannan has presented solo and ensemble concerts of his music throughout the U.S. and in Europe. In New York, his work has been presented at Roulette, The Kitchen, Dance Theater Workshop, the Brooklyn Museum, and City Center. He has composed extensively for dance and theater, including collaborative works with Eric Barsness, Eric Bogosian, Carol Clements, Bill T. Jones, Jill Kroesen, and Robert Longo. He has also written voice, solo keyboard, and chamber ensembles. His short operas on the lives of saints, with librettos by Mary Griffin, have been presented in New York City at the Whitney Museum, the Performing Garage, and Roulette, and in upstate New York by the Delaware Valley Chamber Orchestra. He has been the recipient of numerous grants and residencies, including a 1988 commission from the Rotterdam Philharmonic to mark the inauguration of the city’s new municipal theater. His composition teachers were William Brooks, Gordon Mumma, and James Tenney.