WOU: Composers Workshop I

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Department of Music

June 3-5, 2004-05

General Information

Western Oregon University presents its inaugural Composers Workshop June 3-5, 2005. The workshop aims to foster the creation, growth and appreciation of contemporary music in the University’s local and regional communities by providing a forum of composition-related topics, presentations, and performances for the following clientele: Composers of any age who are at the early and formative stages of their creative activities; Studio and classroom music teachers engaged in teaching beginning composition techniques; Western Oregon University students and faculty; and Community members.

The workshop will feature two performances of contemporary works. The first public performance will take place on the evening of June 3, 2005 in Rice Auditorium on the campus of Western Oregon University and will feature the following works by guest composer Cindy McTee: Psalm 100 for choir (performed by the Western Oregon University Chamber Singers), Capriccio per Krzysztof Penderecki for solo violin (performed by Oregon Symphony violinist Ron Blessinger), Études for alto saxophone and CD (performed by Western Oregon University Professor of Woodwinds Tom Bergeron), and Einstein's Dreams for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion (performed by the Third Angle New Music Ensemble). Dr. McTee will facilitate rehearsals, coach ensembles, and engage in a post-concert discussion with the audience. The second public performance - Spectrum! - takes place on the evening of June 5 in Smith Recital Hall and will feature works by Western Oregon University students.

Guest Composer

Cindy McTee

Cindy McTee was born in 1953 in Tacoma, Washington and raised in the nearby town of Eatonville. Her father played trumpet and her mother played clarinet and tenor saxophone. Rather than leave their daughter in the care of a baby sitter, her parents took her to rehearsals of their small band, so she grew up listening to popular music and jazz from the 1940's and 1950's. McTee began piano studies at the age of six with a teacher who encouraged improvisation (the beginnings of her career as a composer), and she began studying saxophone with her mother a few years later.

Another important influence on her musical life was the eminent Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, whom she met in 1974 while a junior majoring in composition at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. Penderecki invited McTee to teach his children English in return for composition lessons. She accepted the invitation and spent an entire year in Poland living with the Penderecki family and studying orchestration, twentieth-century techniques, and counterpoint at the Cracow Academy of Music. Lessons with Penderecki were conducted informally, generally at the family dining room table.

In addition to her work with Penderecki, McTee studied with David Robbins and Thomas Clark at Pacific Lutheran University (BM 1975), with Jacob Druckman and Bruce MacCombie at the Yale School of Music (MM 1978), and with Richard Hervig at the University of Iowa (PhD 1981). While in Poland she also studied with Marek Stachowski and Krystyna Moszumanska-Nazar.

McTee taught for three years at her undergraduate alma mater in Tacoma, Washington, and in 1984 joined UNT's College of Music faculty, receiving promotion to Full Professor in 1995 and to Regents Professor in 2000. She has also participated in leadership roles at UNT, most notably as Chair of the Division of Composition Studies for five years ending in 1998. Currently, she serves on the Board of the American Music Center in New York City.

Ms. McTee has received numerous awards for her music, most significantly: two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2002 and 1992); a Guggenheim Fellowship (2001); a Fulbright Fellowship (1990); and a Composers Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1994). She was also winner of the 2001 Louisville Orchestra Composition Competition, and in 2002 was selected to participate with the National Symphony Orchestra in "Music Alive," a residency program sponsored by Meet The Composer and the American Symphony Orchestra League. In 2003, she was elected to the Board of the American Music Center, a national nonprofit service and information organization that advances new American music.

Her work has been commissioned by the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra (2005), James Setapen, music director; the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (2004), Andrew Litton, music director; Bands of America (2003), Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor; the National Symphony Orchestra (2001-2002), Leonard Slatkin, music director; the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (2000), Andrew Litton, music director; Northern Arizona University (1998); the American Guild of Organists (1993); the Barlow Endowment (1993); the College Band Directors National Association (1993, 2000); and the Pi Kappa Lambda Board of Regents (1990).

McTee's compositions, which according to critic Charles Ward, reflect a “charging, churning celebration of the musical and cultural energy of modern-day America” have received performances by leading orchestras, bands, and chamber ensembles in the United States, Japan, South America, and Europe.

In A Composer's Insight: Thoughts, Analysis and Commentary on Contemporary Masterpieces for Wind Band, David Fullmer writes the following:

"A description of McTee’s compositional style would include humor; expectation denied; unexpected silences and rhythmic displacement; jazz textures; post minimalism. She believes, as Stravinsky, that music either sings or it dances. She characterizes her music as intentionally playful and humorous.

'As far as specific musical influences are concerned, I can say that my current interest in expressing humor through music may be attributable to Penderecki. When thinking of Penderecki's music, most people probably recall Threnody, the St. Luke Passion, the Dies Irae, and other solemn works. However, there are also several capriccio's and a comic opera. I think Penderecki may have given me the courage to break away from the notion that modern music need always express serious modes of thinking and feeling.'

Structurally, her music embraces traditional forms that are unified through unrelenting chains of ostinati which, via clever asymmetrical variations, run counter to predictable strong beat/weak beat relationships. Those variations in typical accent structures draw the listener into a deeper mode of concentration, as one is never sure where the next rhythmic displacement will occur.

There is a pervasive jazz influence in her music rhythmically, harmonically and melodically. Her technically complex melodic fragments comprised of a step-wise chromaticism as well as disjunct leaps are clearly references to the be-bop jazz era. Rhythmically, many of those melodic fragments conclude on an offbeat and are frequently broken up by brief, syncopated tutti statements. Driving bass lines, snare drum rim shots and the use of ride cymbal and hi-hat percussive effects are also hallmarks of her composition's jazz textures."

Third Angle New Music Ensemble

Third Angle New Music Ensemble is committed to the creation and presentation of musical events, works and collaborations that reflect the highest artistic expressions of our time; to instigating a creative dialogue through the works and artists presented; and to reinforcing the necessity for the voice of the living composer in our cultural heritage.

Over the past 18 seasons, Third Angle has presented more than 80 programs of contemporary music, commissioned over 20 new works and released 5 recordings to critical acclaim. These achievements firmly establish the ensemble as one of the northwest's foremost presenters of contemporary American music.

Schedule of Events

Dr. McTee will give four presentations over the course of the three-day workshop: ...And Let There Be Space, which focuses on several technical and aesthetic issues encountered while composing her most recent work Symphony No. 1: Ballet for Orchestra, among them, making the most out of the least, repetition and visual minimalism; Einstein's Dreams: Time, Music and the Creative Process. Inspired by Alan Lightman's 1993 novel Einstein's Dreams and focusing on her performed work of the same title, McTee offers a composer's perspective on time, recent music, and the creative process; Sharpening Your Edges is a six-step process designed to sharpen musical awareness and teach compositional technique to teachers and composers of all levels and music disciplines; and Composer Marketing Strategies: Academia And Beyond is an open-forum discussion covering the topics of successful preparation and strategies for entering undergraduate and graduate composition programs and successful strategies and tools for actively composing in the professional marketplace.

10:00-11:30 - PRESENTATION I: ...And Let There Be Space
11:30-1:00 - LUNCH
1:00-3:00 - Private Composition Lessons with select student composers
7:30-9:30 - Concert I with Post-Concert Talk:
Psalm 100 (McTee), WOU Chamber Singers
Capriccio (McTee), Ron Blessinger, violin
Etudes (McTee), Tom Bergeron, alto saxophone
BlueVox (Walczyk), 3rd Angle New Music Ensemble


Alsea Riverscape (Walczyk), 3rd Angle New Music Ensemble
Einstein's Dreams (McTee), 3rd Angle New Music Ensemble


10:00-11:30 - PRESENTATION II: Einstein's Dreams: Time, Music, and the Creative Process

11:30-1:00 - LUNCH

1:00-2:30 - PRESENTATION III: Sharpening Your Edges

1:00-2:30 - PRESENTATION IV: Panel Discussion: Composer Marketing Strategies - Academia And Beyond


7:30-9:00 - CONCERT II - Spectrum!: Program of student compositions


The Music Department (503) 838-8275 | or e-mail: lcaligu@wou.edu
Location: Smith Hall

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