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The BOX – music by living composers
Friday, September 12, 2008
Biographies and Poems
Founded with the goal of creating a single, small ensemble capable of representing the full scope of
today’s musical diversity, Fireworks Ensemble ( combines the talents of
eight classically-trained but musically omnivorous young virtuosi who pride themselves on being able
to play just about anything, regardless of style, time period, or instrumentation.  Fireworks burst onto
the music scene in 2002 with its striking, rock-inspired reinvention of Stravinsky's iconoclast
masterpiece, The Rite of Spring, which quickly drew critical attention and diverse, enthusiastic
audiences.  Since then, the ensemble has developed a national reputation as one of the premiere
ensembles of its kind with its acclaimed programs such as Dance Mix (featuring seven hundred years
of dance music from around the world), Cartoon (celebrating music inspired by and written for classic
shorts from the golden age of animation), and its portrait of maverick composer Frank Zappa
(including the composer’s challenging instrumental rock).  This season the ensemble will tour across
the United States, with performances and residencies in Minnesota, Idaho, Texas, Florida, New York,
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Pennsylvania, and will record its Cartoon
project for Koch Classics.  In its 2007-08 season the ensemble toured the west coast with its Dance
project, performed its acclaimed composer portrait of Frank Zappa on the Philadelphia Chamber
Music Society series (including a live performance on NBC’s “The 10 Show”), and presented new
programs on its home series at Symphony Space in New York, showcasing major new works written
for the ensemble by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici, Robert Kyr, and Adam
Silverman.  Other recent highlights include Carnegie Hall and the Miller Theater in New York City,
The Lied Center of Kansas, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Deer Valley Music Festival in
Salt Lake City, Utah.  In the course of its eight year history, the ensemble has premiered over a
hundred new works, ranging from young talents to established masters such as Glenn Branca, Scott
Johnson, and Nick Didkovsky.  Passionate about its work with students of all ages, the ensemble
devotes a large part of its time each year to outreach activities, and has provided a doorway into
contemporary and traditional classical music for hundreds of students in elementary, middle and high
schools.  This season, the ensemble will also conduct a major residency based on its Cartoon program
in Peekskill, New York as part of Chamber Music America’s Residency Partnership program.  Over
the course of a nine-week residency, high school band students will learn improvisation techniques,
compose a soundtrack to a short animated film, and give an eight-minute joint performance with
Fireworks at Peekskill’s Paramount Center for the Arts.  The ensemble will also conduct residency and
outreach activities at almost all of the stops on its East Coast and Midwest tours.  Fireworks’ three
popular recordings: Dance Mix, First Tracks, and The Rite of Spring, have received airplay worldwide
from WNYC in New York to Lo Otra Musica in Spain and RadioRock in Italy.
Brian Coughlin ’95 is best known as the bassist and director of the Fireworks Ensemble, the
acclaimed New York new music ensemble. Hailed as the “hottest classical band in New York,”
Fireworks performs at major venues across the United States each season, with a repertoire relying
heavily on Coughlin’s compositions and arrangements. In her review of the ensemble’s sold-out tribute
to maverick composer Frank Zappa at the Miller Theater in February, Anne Midgette of the New York
Times wrote, “Brian Coughlin, Fireworks’ director and bass player, produced some hell-for-leather
arrangements that the players, now relaxed and grooving, played the heck out of… Finally labels did
indeed cease to matter: this was just music, and it sounded like music to keep.” Mark Greenfest of the
New Music Connoisseur described Coughlin’s music as “like great Beatles standards”, and wrote,
“Captivating, but impossible to pin down, Coughlin’s music is pleasurable as well as subtle.” Tom
Manoff of NPR wrote of the premier of his String Quartet “Brian Coughlin is certainly a talented andinteresting composer. He also possesses something that cannot be taught: a real gift for melody.”Since 2000, Brian has arranged and composed extensively for Fireworks Ensemble. Majorcontributions to the ensemble’s repertoire include Big Mama Thornton, Stevens Songs, and hiscelebrated, rock-inspired arrangement of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. In addition to his music forFireworks, Brian has also written for ensembles such as The Eugene Opera, The Berkshire Symphony,Basso Bongo, Oboist Humbert Lucarelli, Cygnus, The Pacific Rim Gamelan, Non-Sequitur, The IslandBreeze Steel Drum Band, and the rock band Oneida. Recent awards include the 2008 BakersfieldSymphony New Directions Composition Competition (winner for the chamber music piece Sextet) andthe 2008 Long Island Arts Council Composition Competition (winner for the song America). He iscurrently composing dual commissions for the Hudson Trio and the Creviston/Fader Duo. As a doubleand electric bassist, he has performed hundreds of concerts throughout the United States in venuesranging from venerable classical music institutions such as the Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, toprominent jazz venues such as the Saratoga Jazz Festival, to major rock clubs such as Toad’s Place inNew Haven. Brian holds both a Master of Music degree in Composition from the University of Oregonand a Master of Music degree in Double Bass Performance from the Hartt School. His teachers includeRobert Black and Milt Hinton (bass), and David del Tredici, Robert Kyr, and George Tsontakis(composition).
Lois V Vierk is an American composer of a wide variety of works for ensembles small and large,
usual and unusual; her works, mostly stage and chamber, have been performed all over Europe and the
USA to much acclaim. Ms. Vierk received her BA (major in piano and ethnomusicology) from UCLA
in 1974. She then studied composition at the California Institute of the Arts with Mel Powell, Leonard
Stein and Morton Subotnick, receiving her MFA in 1978. For ten years, she studied gagaku (Japanese
court music) with Suenobu Togi in Los Angeles, and for two years, in Tokyo with Sukeyasu Shiba, thelead ryuteki flautist of the Imperial Court Orchestra. Ms. Vierk has spent most of her career in NewYork City. Her music has achieved an impressive international reputation, and has been performed bythe BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Kronos Quartet, electric guitarists Seth Josel and DavidSeidel, cellist Ted Mook, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, the Reigakusha Ensemble of Tokyo, and theRelâche Ensemble, among others. Among the many performers who have commissioned Ms. Vierkare cellist Maya Beiser, accordionist Guy Klucevsek, pianists Ursula Oppens, Frederic Rzewski, AkiTakahashi, and Margaret Leng Tan, and percussionist Steven Schick. The Bang on a Can Festival,Ensemble Modern, l'Art pour l'Art, Music from Japan, and the Paul Dresher Ensemble have alsocommissioned works from her. Co-creations with tap dance choreographer Anita Feldman have beencommissioned by the American Dance Festival, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Meet theComposer, and others. Ms. Vierk's music has been performed at major venues worldwide, includingthe Adelaide Festival, Carnegie Hall, Darmstadt, the Edmonton New Music Festival, Glasgow, theHuddersfield Festival, Lincoln Center, Radio Bremen, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, and theSuntory Festival (Tokyo). Her music is available on CDs from CRI, OOdiscs, Sony Classical,Starkland Records, XI Compact Discs, and most recently, Tzadik. Her recent work includes Deep-water Waves, written for the Paul Dresher Ensemble, and a duo for cello and piano for cellist MayaBeiser.
Composer Scott Johnson has been a pioneering voice in the new relationship being forged between
the classical tradition and the popular culture that surrounds it.  Since the early 1980’s, he has played
an influential role in the trend towards incorporating rock-derived instrumentation into traditionally
scored compositions, and the use of taped, sampled and MIDI-controlled electronic elements within
instrumental ensembles.  His music has been heard in performances by the Kronos Quartet, the
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, and his own ensembles; in
dance works performed by the Boston Ballet, the London Contemporary Dance Theater, and the
Ballets de Monte Carlo; in Paul Schrader's film Patty Hearst, and in recordings on the Nonesuch, CRI,
Point, and Tzadik labels. Johnson's scores generally mix acoustic and electric/electronic instruments,and he has premiered most of his electric guitar writing himself.  Compositions which feature sampledvoice include the groundbreaking 1982 John Somebody, as well as How It Happens, commissioned bythe Kronos Quartet, and based upon voice recordings of the late journalist I.F. Stone.  Johnson’s recentconcert appearances include Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Japan Society, the Lincoln CenterFestival, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, Yale University, the Schleswig-Holstien Festival, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s “Great Day In New York”series.  Other premieres include works for the Bang On A Can All-Stars at Lincoln Center, and theNew Millennium Ensemble and Cygnus at Merkin Hall.  Awards include a 2006 GuggenheimFellowship and a Koussevitsky commission.  Johnson has also lectured at leading conservatories anduniversities, including San Francisco and Peabody Conservatories, Senzaku Ongaku Daigaku, NewYork University, The Manhattan School of Music, and Yale.
Since the 1968 premiere of Second Composition for Large Orchestra by the Seattle Symphony, David
has produced works in all genres, which have been performed by major orchestras, chamber
groups, as well as colleges and universities throughout the United States and abroad.
His music draws from a variety of sources including the “usual suspects” of twentieth century concertmusic, concert composers from the more distant past and present, and many forms of vernacular,popular, and ethnic musics. Although these influences are generally integrated into a consistent style,the resulting musical narratives often create sharp contrasts between lyricism, virtuosity, and dramaticgesture.
Kechley’s work has been recognized by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and theBarlow Foundation. Pieces that have received awards or prizes include Five Ancient Lyrics on Poemsby Sappho, Concerto for Violin and Strings, In the Dragon’s Garden, and Restless Birds before theDark Moon.
His most recent work, COLLIDING OBJECTS: Interactions for Piano and Percussion was jointlypremiered in spring of 2008 on the Barge Music series in Brooklyn, NY and in Chapin Hall byMatthew Gold and Doris Stevenson and will also be performed on the January BOX concert. Kechleyhas just returned from a month long residency at Copland House, an opportunity awarded to composersto work in uninterrupted solitude for an extended period. The bulk of tonight’s premiered work,MIXED MESSAGES: Variations on a Fragment, was completed during this residency.
Born in Seattle, Washington, March 16, 1947, Kechley was educated at the University of Washington,Cleveland Institute of Music, and Case Western Reserve University. His teachers include Paul Tufts,Robert Suderburg, William Bergsma, James Beale, and Donald Erb. His music is available andreleased on the Liscio Recordings, Albany Records, Reference Recording, and others.
Generally recognized as the father of the Neo-Romantic movement in music, David Del Tredici has
received numerous awards (including the Pulitzer Prize) and has been commissioned and performed by
nearly every major American and European orchestral ensemble. Stylistically, over the course of his
compositional life, Del Tredici has moved – controversially – from mid-20th-century serialism
(exemplified by his elaborate vocal settings of James Joyce) to an individualistic musical language re-
embracing tonality. The breakthrough came with his unique series of “Alice” works, based on stories
and poetry of Lewis Carroll and written for amplified soprano and large orchestra (including Final
and In Memory of a Summer Day, which was awarded the 1980 Pulitzer Prize). Beyond Joyce
and Carroll, Del Tredici in recent years has set to music a cavalcade of contemporary American poets,
producing a number of song cycles and several works celebrating a gay sensibility. OUT Magazine, in
fact, has twice named the composer one of its people of the year. Over the past several years Del
Tredici has ventured into the more intimate realm of chamber music and – harkening to his musicalbeginnings as a piano prodigy – has written a large number of solo-piano works. Most recentlypremiered was Magyar Madness, commissioned by Music Accord for clarinetist David Krakauer andthe Orion String Quartet. Still, the extravagant Del Tredici remains at large. Paul Revere’s Ride – animpassioned work for soprano soloist, large chorus and orchestra – was inspired by Del Tredici’s 9/11experience. (Recorded by Telarc, it became a Grammy Award nominee for Best New ClassicalComposition of 2006). Rip Van Winkle, for narrator and orchestra, was commissioned for LeonardSlatkin and the National Symphony. Over the next few years, Maestro Slatkin and the NationalSymphony Orchestra plan to record all of Del Tredici’s “Alice” works, beginning with Final Alice in2008-09. Distinguished Professor of Music at The City College of New York, Del Tredici makes hishome in Greenwich Village with his life-partner, Ray Warman.
Hailed as “brilliant” by The New York Times and given “high marks” by The Wall Street Journal,
versatile soprano Melissa Fogarty’s wide range of experience includes performances with New York
City Opera, New York Collegium, Sequitur and Seattle Baroque Orchestra. Last season, Melissa
appeared in New York City Opera’s VOX 2007’s showcase of new opera, and returns this season in
Agrippina and King Arthur. A favorite with Seattle audiences, she appears as Serpina in La Serva
Padrona with SBO. Last season she was in demand for her interpretations of the music of David Del
Tredici for many of his 70th birthday celebrations: she performed “Dracula”, “Miz Inez Sez” (both
with the composer), “Paul Revere’s Ride” with Canticum Novum, and covered “Final Alice” at
Maverick Concerts, and two world premieres of Del Tredici’s are scheduled in New York City in
2008, written with Melissa in mind. Numerous awards and fellowships are to Melissa’s credit, mostly
recently 2006 Outmusic Award (OMA) for her recording “Handel: Scorned & Betrayed” on Albany
Records. Past fellowships include the Adams Fellowship at the Carmel Bach Festival and the Giorgio
Cini Foundation Fellowship for study in Venice.
Chris Pedro Trakas is noted for the intensity he brings to a broad and eclectic repertoire. His career
highlights include Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos at the Metropolitan Opera (James Levine), Ravel's
L'enfant et les sortileges with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Seiji Ozawa) and the title role in
Mozart's Don Giovanni with the St. Louis Symphony (Hans Vonk). Mr. Trakas is a distinguished
recitalist and has collaborated with many important pianists including James Levine (Dichterliebe,
Histoires Naturelles, Don Quichotte a Dulcinee
- Ravinia Festival), Francois Rene Duchable
(interreise - Newport), James Tocco and Ruth Laredo (Bernstein - Arias and Barcarolles, Symphony
Space) and David Del Tredici at Weill Hall in the world premiere of the composer/pianist's Three
Baritone Songs
. On Lincoln Center's Great Performers series he shared recitals with Amy Burton,
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and pianists Glenn Parker, John Musto, Michael Barret and Steven Blier. Mr.
Trakas sang the "Count" opposite Renee Fleming's "Countess" in Gian Carlo Menoti' Spoleto Festival
production of Le Nozze di Figaro and recently received critical acclaim for his performance of
"Alberich" in Christopher Alden's new production of Wagner's The Rheingold with Jonathan Sheffer's
Eos Orchestra. His many recordings include Hyperion's Complete Songs of Ernest Chausson with
Felicity Lott, Ann Murray and pianist Graham Johnson, chosen by London's The Guardian as
"Classical CD of the Week" upon it's release. Formerly on the voice faculty of the North Carolina
School of the Arts, he has also been a guest instructor at the Juilliard School, where he covered the
songs of Brahms, Barber, Wolf, Ravel and Musto. He holds B.A. and M. M. degrees in music history,
organ and voice from Eckerd College and the University of Houston.
SONJA HENIE SONNETIn high school we danced the lindy white-stylelike Sonja Henie on her skatescurvetting her way around the rinky-dinkback-first, front-first, leaving a trail of scars.
Splitting in air or dissolving in a spinshe came out holding her muff to cheeksdimpled and rosy under Bo-Peep bonnetas snowflakes starred her blond and marcelled head,and curtsying, her little behindpeek-a-booed under fluffy skirtwhen she braked to a stop before the camerasin a cloud of powdery ice.
Below, blunt feet in leather with blades of steeldug in their points and held.
OLD ACQUAINTANCEOld friend, we’ve come throughin pretty good shape, so far,better, in fact,than during those angst-filled yearswhen you wrecked my life and I wrecked yours. Remember?But, back then, we didn’t appreciate each other,did we—like an ill-matched couple,a bad job by an incompetent marriage broker,or who just got married out of general horninessrather than any real compatibility.
I never liked your looks or your sizeand you had ideas of your ownI couldn’t figure out,though I responded to your goadingand roamed the nights away.
My God, what you led me into,and I got you into some pretty tight fixes myself.
Life is less strenuous now.
In our golden years, you make few demands.
We’ve both come to like a bit of a wank,with none of the old recriminations after.
And I’ve even learned to admire,as I pose in the mirror,your silky length,respect your sulky independence.
I wonder that I ever thought youinsufficient, myself under-endowed—or else you’ve grown.
Best of all, I’m impressedby how good we look together—the proportions seem just right.
So, Good Cock, dick, prick, dong,lul, bite, schwantz,wang, willie, weenie, and all your other names,if you’ve a mind to, now,and I’d say you’ve earned it,stand up, old friend, with meand take a bow.
THE BOOK OF SORROWThis notebook, empty.
What shall be written in it?It is waiting for the words of pain,the life to come without my dear one.
The record of a wanderer without a home.
So many pages and eacha day of loneliness.
How long can this go on?After this book is filledthere will be another, and another,and another…The story of my life.
BESIDE A POOLIn the poolthere are polliwogsso there must be something else here,something that eats polliwogs, or maybe nothing bothers to eat polliwogs.
Come on, you know something is eating those polliwogs.
Nothing’s too insignificant to be eaten,like who’d think anyone would botherto eat sunflower seeds—you crackand there’s hardly anything therebut a mouthful of shells.
Still, half the world is seed-eatersand the other half lives off the seed-eaters,those innocents. Really,you have to be half-innocent at leastto eat seeds by the hour.
I sit here by the pool where the polliwogs wiggleand tiny ants are eating menot to speak of landlord, government, gnats, and devils:Nobody’s too insignificant to be eaten.
SWEET GWENDOLYN’S TALE[This is the sad tale of sweet Gwendolyn and the Countess in her black and dirty leatherFoolish poor Gwendolyn, dreadful Countess]*The Countess rode out on her black horse in springwearing her black leather riding costume.
She was scouting for disciples in the countrysideand flicked with her whip the rosebuds as she passed.
Sweet Gwendolyn in her white dresswas out gathering May flowers.
Under sunshade hat, her pale face blushed to the singing bees,and her golden curls lay passive on bent shouldersas she stooped to pluck a white lily.
The Countess passing by took one look,galloped up, and reined her stallion sharply in,high over the modest figureof Sweet Gwendolyn with the downcast eyes.
She leaped down from her horse and knelt,laying the whip in tribute before the golden girl.
That foolish one swooned forward to the groundin a great white puff of dress fabricand a scattering of flowers. At that,the Countess rose in all her black prideand put her dirty leather boot on Gwendolyn’s bent neck,pushing down the golden head to the grass,and gave her a smart lash across her innocently upturned behind.
Gwendolyn looked up with begging eyesand a small whimper of submission,as the Countess pushed her over and threw the skirt up,exposing legs and bottom bare,and shoved the leather whip handle between squeezed thighs of virtueforcing them apart to reveal the pink pulsing maidenhood.
Foolish Gwendolyn for not wearing pantiesbut how could she have known what was in store?Her skirt fell over her head like petals of a fully-opened flowerand her legs waved in the air like stamen and pistil,inviting the bee of the Countess’s tongueto slip in and sip nectar in the golden fuzz.
Poor Gwendolyn moaned with shame and painas she lay back crushing her May flowers, exposed and unresisting—until the Countess, in full charge, pulled her to her feet,tied the whip end around her neck,remounted the big black horseand slowly trotted off,leading the sobbing girl a captive behind heroff to her dark castle.
*introductory words by the composer


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