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Program for Sarah Cahill

Friday, July 16, 2021 at 8 pm

Download a copy of the program here.

Sarah Cahill, piano


Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (b. 1947)
Music for Piano (1989/1997)

Hannah Kendall (b. 1984)
On the Chequer’d Field Array’d  (2013)

Anna Bon (1738–?)
Sonata op. 2, no. 5 in B minor (1757)

Agi Jambor (1909–1997)
Sonata (1949)

Leokadiya Kashperova (1872–1940)
from Au sein de la nature (1910)
from Deux roses
      Le murmure des blés                                                                          

Zenobia Powell Perry (1908–2004)
Rhapsody (1960)

Madeleine Dring (1923–1977)
from Colour Suite (1963)
      Blue Air
      Brown Study

About the music

Music for Piano: Franghiz Ali-Zadeh was born in Baku, Azerbaijan. In recent years, she has devoted herself to study of the Azerbaijani virtuosic improvisatory style called mugham. She has received international acclaim for her compositions, which fuse characteristics of traditional Azerbaijani music with modern Western techniques. As a pianist she is known for her performances of twentieth century composers including Schoenberg, Cage and Crumb, whose music she performed in Baku for the first time. For this piece, Ali-Zadeh lays a beaded necklace on the strings of the piano to evoke a traditional instrument, the tar.

On the Chequer’d Field Array’d: Hannah Kendall grew up in London, and her music is often inspired by social and political themes. For her Tuxedo series, a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat provides one of many graphic scores that Kendall has used as inspiration throughout her career. Rather than create ‘representations’ of these images, she uses them to spark her writing process.

She writes: “The title On the Chequer’d Field Array’d is taken from the 1763 poem Caissa by Sir William Jones and depicts the three sections of a game of chess (the opening, middlegame, and endgame), each taking inspiration from different sources.” The sources for the three movements come from Albert Einstein, Marcel Duchamp, and David Janowski.

Sonata op. 2, no. 5 in B minor: Italian composer Anna Bon di Venezia was four years old when she started studying at a convent music school and began touring with her parents as a musical wünderkind. When she was sixteen, Bon and her parents accepted a position in the Bayreuth-based court of Princess Wilhelmine of Prussia, who was an accomplished musician, and Bon published her Six Keyboard Sonatas, Op. 2 at the age of nineteen. Her death year is often given as 1767, but that is apparently the year she got married; after that she disappears from the historical record. She wrote all her surviving compositions before age twenty.

From Au sein de la nature: While she has been remembered primarily as Igor Stravinsky’s piano teacher, Leokadiya Kashperova was a brilliant pianist and composer in her youth. She was considered the best student of the legendary Anton Rubinstein at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. When she was in her forties, she impulsively married a Bolshevik revolutionary who was one of her students, and they managed to escape the imminent Revolution. Her compositions were never performed or published, but a British musicologist, Dr. Graham Griffiths, is working with Boosey & Hawkes to make her scores available. These are two pieces from a suite titled In the Midst of Nature.

Sonata: Agi Jambor was born in Budapest, Hungary. She studied with the great pianist Edwin Fischer and played Mozart sonatas with Albert Einstein, and won the 1937 Chopin competition in Warsaw. When the Nazis came to power, she and her husband hid in the homes of friends and moved frequently, and Jambor worked in the Resistance. After she and her husband finally arrived in the United States, she played for President Truman in the White House and became an activist against McCarthyism and the Vietnam War. She composed her three-movement Piano Sonata, dedicated to the victims of Auschwitz, after the death of her husband. Dr. John DesMarteau edited the sonata with Jambor’s guidance, and it is dedicated to him.

Rhapsody: Zenobia Powell Perry grew up in the town of Boley, Oklahoma, and studied piano with R. Nathaniel Dett, who encouraged her to compose. She acted as assistant to choral conductor William L. Dawson at the Tuskeegee Institute in Alabama. Eleanor Roosevelt became her friend, ally, and mentor, and she was active in the Civil Rights Movement. Her symphonic works and operas explore her own African American and Native American heritage. She dedicated her Rhapsody to her daughter, who she managed to raise alone while teaching college and studying composition.

Colour Suite: Madeleine Dring grew up in London, and from a young age, she acted and enjoyed writing music for the theater and radio. She wrote cabaret songs and West End Revue material, as well as music for ballet and children’s plays, theatrical works, and chamber music. She also acted on ITV Television Playhouse, for which she also wrote music. Her Colour Suite, subtitled “Five Rhythmic Studies for Piano,” reflects her interest in jazz, calypso, and other vernacular forms, combined with her classical training.

About the musician

Called “A leading light of the new-music piano scene” by The New York Times, Sarah Cahill has commissioned new works from Frederic Rzewski, Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, Mary Watkins, Roscoe Mitchell, Annea Lockwood, and many other composers. Upcoming concerts include the Barbican Centre in London; the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida; Gualala Arts, with Regina Myers; Mills College; and the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive. She will perform again at Old First Concerts, in programs with multiple pianists, on September 17th and October 29th. She was named a 2018 Champion of New Music, awarded by the American Composers Forum (ACF) at a recital at Old First Concerts. Her radio show Revolutions Per Minute can be heard every Sunday on KALW-FM, and she is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. For more information about Sarah Cahill, please visit her website.

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