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Concert program for Stenberg|Cahill Duo

Sunday, October 11, 2020 at 4 pm

Download a copy of the program here.

Stenberg|Cahill Duo
Kate Stenberg, violin
Sarah Cahill, piano


Somei Satoh (b. 1947)
Birds in Warped Time II (2003)

Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983)
from Sonata No. 2 (ca. 1948)

Ruth Crawford (1901–1953)
from Violin Sonata (1926)

Ronald Bruce Smith
Ascent and Horizon (2020) (World Premiere)

Mary Watkins
Summer Days (2020) (World Premiere)

Lili Boulanger (1893–1918)
Nocturne (1911)

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912) arr. Maud Powell
Deep River (1904)

Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)
Sonata in A major, Op. 100 (1886)
            Allegro amabile
            Andante tranquillo — Vivace — Andante — Vivace di più — Andante — Vivace
            Allegretto grazioso (quasi andante)

About the music

Somei Satoh Birds in Warped Time
My music is limited to certain elements of sound and there are many calm repetitions. There is also much prolongation of a single sound. I think silence and the prolongation of sound is the same thing in terms of space. The only difference is that there is either the presence or absence of sound. More important is whether the space is “living” or not. Our Japanese sense of time and space is different from that of the West. For example, in the Shinto religion, there is the term ‘imanaka’ which is not just the present moment which lies between the stretch of past eternity and future immortality, but also the manifestation of the moment of all time which is multi-layered and multi-dimensional …. I would like it if the listener could abandon all previous conceptions of time and experience a new sense of time presented in this music as if eternal time can be lived in a single moment. -note by Somei Satoh

Germaine Tailleferre Adagietto
Germaine Tailleferre is best known as the only female member of Les Six, the group of adventurous French composers which also included Francis Poulenc and Darius Milhaud. Her career spanned more than half a century, from 1917 when Erik Satie proclaimed her to be his “musical daughter,” to the many works she composed in her seventies and eighties. The Adagietto is the central movement of her Violin Sonata No. 2, a reworking of her 1936 Violin Concerto.

Ruth Crawford Buoyant from Sonata for Violin and Piano (1926)
Buoyant is the central movement from Crawford’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, composed when she was 25. One of the major works of Crawford’s early years in Chicago, this powerful sonata nearly perished in 1932 when the composer, in a fit of depression, burned her copy of the score along with some 200 of her early poems. Fortunately, composer colleague and confidant Vivian Fine saved her copy of the manuscript and revived it in 1982, later recording it with violinist Ida Kavafian. Allied in spirit and style with her taut and pungent piano preludes, the Violin Sonata achieves a “high drama of expressionist intensity,” in the words of Crawford’s biographer Judith Tick. “The violin sweeps through free-ranging lines in which leaps of sevenths, octaves, and ninths abound. In the other movements such as heard in the second movement Buoyant, certain signature formal characteristics appear, among them the use of an ostinato containing some compelling syncopated or dotted rhythms and an exposed dissonant interval.” -note by Charles Amirkhanian

Ronald Bruce Smith Ascent and Horizon (World Premiere)
Ascent and Horizon (2020) are from a set of pieces in progress for solo violin. Similar to a set of guitar pieces that I began in 2018, there is not a predetermined number of pieces in the collection. The idea is to add pieces as they are composed while ultimately leaving it to the performer to decide which ones to program and the order. Ascent was the first piece I completed following the COVID-19 lockdown in Toronto where I live part of the year. It seemed that the complicated and anxious situation asked for a searching yet uncomplicated contemplative response. Horizon is seeing things in perspective relative to a focal point. These two pieces were written for and are dedicated to Kate Stenberg. -note by Ronald Bruce Smith

Mary Watkins Summer Days (World Premiere)
Summer Days is a reflection of a summer day when kids are being kids out of school safely playing together without a care in the world – the way it was when I was a kid!! The music makes me think of children between the ages of 6 and 9 on a a hot summer day freely playing in the water of a sprinkler, bouncing, running, wrestling, yelling, laughing, and screaming with delight. -note by Mary Watkins

Lili Boulanger Nocturne
In her brief life of 24 years, Lili Boulanger composed for chorus, orchestra, chamber ensembles, and opera. She was seventeen when she wrote her Nocturne, for either violin or flute with piano. On the original manuscript, written in her own hand, is the notation “Composed September 24th and 25th, 1911.” While she was preparing to enter the Prix de Rome competition (she was the first woman to win it), she took only a couple of days off from her studies to write the nocturne. It was later orchestrated in another version that included strings, plus harp and clarinet. Unfortunately, the orchestral transcription was never published and has been lost.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Deep River
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a talented violinist before devoting himself to composition at the Royal College of Music at the age of fifteen. In 1904, he wrote a collection of 24 Negro Melodies, including Deep River, for the piano. He explained: “What Brahms has done for the Hungarian folk music, Dvořák for the Bohemian, and Grieg for the Norwegian, I have tried to do for these Negro Melodies.” Deep River was arranged by violinist Maud Powell (1867–1920), a brilliant performer who studied in 1884 with Joseph Joachim, and who concertized in nearly every major American city and many smaller ones between 1885 and 1920 when she died. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor dedicated his Violin Concerto to Powell.

The words of the spiritual are:

Deep river,
My home is over Jordan.
Deep river, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.

O don’t you want to go
to that gospel feast,
That promised land
Where all is peace?
O don’t you want to go
To that promised land,
That land where all is peace?

Deep river,
May home is over Jordan.
Deep river, Lord
I want to cross over into campground.

Johannes Brahms Sonata for Piano and Violin in A major, op. 100
While on vacation in Thun, Switzerland during August 1886, Johannes Brahms found himself so refreshed and musically invigorated that he proclaimed the area to be “so full of melodies that one has to be careful not to step on any.” During his time there Brahms composed three of his greatest chamber works in just a matter of days. Op. 99 is the second of his two cello sonatas, and Op. 101 is the C minor piano trio; in between these is Op. 100, the Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 2 in A major. By giving the work the formal title of “Sonata for Piano and Violin”, rather than the more usual “Sonata for Violin and Piano”, Brahms indicated the piano part was just as important as the violin part, and also followed the examples of Mozart’s and Beethoven’s sonatas for piano and violin. He also gives the piano the opening theme. Motives from three of the songs Brahms wrote that summer appear briefly in the sonata: Wie Melodien zieht es mir leise durch den Sinn, Op. 105/1 (“Like melodies it steals softly through my mind”) makes an appearance in the second subject of the first movement. Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer, Op. 105/2 (“Ever gentle is my sleep”) and Auf dem Kirchhofe, Op. 105/4 are quoted in the final movement. The song Komm bald, Op. 97/5 (“Come soon”) is also said have provided thematic inspiration. The sonata was premiered in Vienna on December 2, 1886 by Brahms on the piano with violinist Joseph Hellmesberger.

The Performers

The Stenberg|Cahill Duo is committed to promoting American experimental music and expanding it through the commissioning of new works. “It’s difficult to believe that the Stenberg|Cahill Duo was formed in 2016: These two musicians sound as though they have been collaborating with one another much longer. Contemporary music fans are fortunate to have this simultaneously authoritative and approachable pair…” San Francisco Classical Voice. Recent appearances include performances at the San Francisco Performances PIVOT Series with percussionist William Winant, Berkeley Chamber Performances, Cal State Fullerton New Music Festival, Berkeley Museum of Art and Pacific Film Archive, Other Minds New Music Séance and Garden of Memory at the Julia Morgan Chapel of the Chimes.

Violinist Kate Stenberg is a leading interpreter of contemporary chamber music. She has premiered over a hundred solo and chamber works, including pieces incorporating multi-media and improvisation. Her performances have taken her across the globe to a dozen countries, including China, Korea, and locales in Southeast Asia. Stenberg has premiered new works by renowned composers Mason Bates, Gabriela Lena Frank, Tania León, Jack Body, Chinary Ung, Per Nørgård, and Kui Dong, among others. Her CD Scenes from a New Music Séance, produced on the label Other Minds Records with pianist Eva-Maria Zimmermann, received widespread praise. It features groundbreaking, innovative works by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Ruth Crawford Seeger and George Antheil, as well as works dedicated to her by living composers Charles Amirkhanian, Amy X Neuburg, and Ronald Bruce Smith. She has also received dedications from Robert Honstein, David Evan Jones, Aaron Gervais, and most recently in 2020 from Larry Polansky on New World Records. NewMusicBox describes Stenberg’s playing as “highly virtuosic and deeply communicative…full of character and presence.”

Kate Stenberg’s passion for chamber music led her to develop and commission new chamber music as co-founder of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble (1993–1998) and Real Vocal String Quartet (2004–2006). From 1995–2015 she served as the first violinist of the award winning Del Sol String Quartet, where she fostered the string quartet repertoire through collaboration and the commissioning of established and emerging composers. During her two-decade tenure with the quartet, Stenberg worked closely with many composers including Joan Tower, Wadada Leo Smith, Paweł Mykietyn, Kui Dong, Mohammed Fairouz, Reza Vali, Ken Ueno and Hyo-shin Na performing at such venues as the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, Symphony Space, National Gallery of Art and on KQED’s public television Spark series. Del Sol Quartet was a two-time top winner of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming expanding its reach to numerous educational institutions including the Manhattan School of Music, Dartmouth, MIT, Chapman University, University of California Berkeley and Santa Cruz, and the San Francisco and Peabody Conservatories of Music. The quartet was hailed for their “luminous performance” (San Francisco Chronicle) on the Sono Luminus CD The Complete String Quartets with Didjeridu by Peter Sculthorpe.

Stenberg’s festival performances include the Other Minds Festival, Opera Santa Fe, Nirmita Composer’s Institute (Cambodia and Thailand), Davos Festival (Switzerland), Centre Acanthes (France), Banff Centre (Canada), Chengdu Contemporary Music Festival (China), Ojai Music Festival, Chautauqua and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. In addition to her festival performances, Stenberg can also be heard on recordings with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, New Music Works, Stratos and with tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain and sarod master Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Stenberg premiered the work of Daniel Bernard Roumain for San Francisco Performances with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company alongside cellist Joan Jeanrenaud and has played with many other ensembles including the New Century Chamber Orchestra, West Edge Opera, Earplay, San Francisco Opera and Ballet Orchestras, Rochester Philharmonic and Kammeroper Frankfurt. Currently, she plays on occasion with the San Francisco Symphony.

Sarah Cahill has commissioned and premiered over sixty compositions for solo piano. Composers who have dedicated works to Cahill include John Adams, Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, Julia Wolfe, Yoko Ono, Annea Lockwood, and Ingram Marshall. Keyboard Magazine writes, “Through her inspired interpretation of works across the 20th and 21st centuries, Cahill has been instrumental in bringing to life the music of many of our greatest living composers.” She was named a 2018 Champion of New Music, awarded by the American Composers Forum (ACF).

Cahill’s latest project is The Future is Female, a ritual installation and communal feminist immersive listening experience featuring more than sixty compositions by women around the globe, ranging from the 18th century to the present day, including new commissioned works. Featured composers include Elizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Maria de Alvear, Galina Ustvolskaya, Frangiz Ali-Zadeh, Florence Price, Hannah Kendall, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Kui Dong, Meredith Monk, Vítězslava Kaprálová, Deirdre Gribbin, Fannie Dillon, and many others. Cahill is performing this project in museums, galleries, and concert halls in current and future seasons. Recent and upcoming performances of The Future is Female include the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the Barbican Centre, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Carolina Performing Arts, Carlsbad Music Festival, Detroit Institute of Arts, Bowling Green New Music Festival, North Dakota Museum of Art, and Mayville State University.

In addition to her collaborative duo with Kate Stenberg, Cahill has performed classical and contemporary chamber music with artists and ensembles such as Jessica Lang Dance; pianists Joseph Kubera, Adam Tendler, and Regina Myers; violinist Stuart Canin; the Alexander String Quartet; New Century Chamber Orchestra; Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and many more.

Recent appearances include the Interlochen Arts Festival, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Boston Institute for Contemporary Art, a performance at Alice Tully Hall with the Silk Road Ensemble, Stanford Live, Le Poisson Rouge, and concerts at San Francisco Performances, Sacramento State’s Festival of New American Music, and Toyusu Civic Center Hall in Tokyo.

Sarah Cahill’s discography includes more than twenty albums on the New Albion, CRI, New World, Tzadik, Albany, Innova, Cold Blue, Other Minds, Irritable Hedgehog, and Pinna labels. Her 2013 release A Sweeter Music (Other Minds) featured musical reflections on war by eighteen composer/activists. In 2015, Pinna Records released her two-CD set of Mamoru Fujieda’s Patterns of Plants, a fusion of nature and technology created by identifying the musical patterns in the electrical impulses of plants. In September 2017, she released her latest album, Eighty Trips Around the Sun: Music by and for Terry Riley, a box set tribute to Terry Riley, on Irritable Hedgehog Records. The four-CD set includes solo works by Riley, four-hand works with pianist Regina Myers, and world premiere recordings of commissioned works composed in honor of Riley’s 80th birthday.

Cahill’s radio show, Revolutions Per Minute, can be heard every Sunday evening from 8 to 10 pm on KALW, 91.7 FM in San Francisco. She is on the piano faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory.