Urban jungle music - Philip Glass, Unsuk Chin and Oskars Herliņš
On Friday, April 28, Sinfonietta Rīga invites to listen to the heartbeat of urban jungle at the Great Guild Hall, in a concert that includes Philip Glass' cinematic, minimalist violin concerto “The American Four Seasons” and Korean composer's Unsuk Chin “Graffiti”, revealing the fervour of the European capital of avant-garde, Berlin, where she currently resides. Last but not least – the premiere of the chamber symphony “8-BIT CONCERTO” by the extraordinary Latvian philosopher and composer Oskars Herliņš, attempting to bring together orchestral instruments and the electronic voice of a sound generator.
Perhaps the most revered among the drivers of New York's legendary yellow taxis, and also one of the best-known contemporary composers is Philip Glass (1937). Through the decades he has managed to immortalize and canonize the rhythm of American metropolises; their unusual poetry, the alienation, poignancy and loneliness, interspersed with unwavering vitality.
“The music of Philip Glass possesses great universality that allows for the imagination to unfold without limits and take us far, far away. Therefore, there are plenty of both passionate devotees and sulky deniers of his music. The most wonderful trait of Glass' music, however, is its ability to lift you up. It seems that one could swim in it for hours and hours. It offers a fantastic opportunity to retreat from the often tiring contemporary pace of life,” said Normunds Šnē, the artistic director of Sinfonietta Rīga and conductor of the upcoming concert.
On April 28 at the Great Guild Hall, Glass' musical personality will be revealed in his Violin Concerto No. 2, with Jana Ozoliņa as the first violin. The gifted musician, former student of professor Romāns Šnē, now living in Switzerland, has performed with Kremerata Baltica, COE (Chamber Orchestra of Europe) and YES (Young Eurasian Soloists Chamber Orchestra) among others. Ozoliņa has shared the stage with many luminaries of classical music, including Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Evgeny Kissin, Mischa Maisky and Martha Argerich.
Inspired by the timeless sonnet cycle of the Baroque genius Antonio Vivaldi, Philip Glass has titled his violin concerto “The American Four Seasons”. But what do seasons mean in New York? This is not a question that can be answered with certainty, and the composer too provides a multitude of ambiguous moods, an observation of a city through a window of a car or a skyscraper, detached from the passing of time or climatic seasons.
Winner of the Arnold Schönberg Prize for composition and the best-known contemporary Korean composer Unsuk Chin (1961) in her piece “Graffiti” views the urban artifacts through the prism of pantomime, arranging the contents of the music according to complex interactions among urban subcultures and social groups. The determining factor is the modality of expression, intricate contrasts of the social groups, masks emulating natural expressions and 21st century canons of behaviour and appearance.
Philosopher and composer's Oskars Herliņš chamber symphony “8-BIT CONCERTO” has been specially commissioned by Sinfonietta Rīga and will be premiered under the baton of Normunds Šnē at the Great Guild Hall as part of the concert programme. Herliņš' turn to electronic music is not accidental – he has always been interested in the multiplicity of means of artistic expression and sound generation. Notably, before turning to philosophy and professional musical composition, the composer studied radioelectronics at the Riga Technical College.
“When at the age 14 I got my first ZX-Spectrum computer, I was fascinated by the possibilities of its AY-3-8910 sound generator, first revealed in computer game music. Today, after trying out many different means to create music, I've decided to return to the basics and find out how this archaic source of sound can interact with acoustic instruments and reveal its yet undiscovered possibilities,” told Herliņš.
Sinfonietta Rīga has put forward promotion of chamber music in Latvia as one of its goals, and twice a year the orchestra commissions a Latvian contemporary composer to write a new chamber music piece. The premiere of Oskars Herliņš' opus will be a striking and remarkable testimony of this mission.