The Nonet is in six movements. Movement I, III, and V are all less than a minute, and are three takes on the same materials, which are boisterous and then melancholic. The presentations are quite different in character, as appropriate for their positioning in the work, with the materials being reordered as well as varied. So the first is introductory in quality, with much doubling, and fanfare-like rhythms. This is contrasted with a moment of sweet repose. Movement III is much fuller harmonically, and is characterized by sharp syncopations, with a strong jazz-like sensibility. Movement V, the third and final take on this material, is reminiscent of the first movement, in its lean texture. At the same time, it is more rhythmically complex, with the two lines occasionally going their own way.
Movements II, IV, and VI are the real meat of the work. Movement II is marked moderato, and is a set of variations. The mood is restrained, but optimistic. Each variation is just a little more complex than the previous. It is punctuated by occasional cadenzas, the material of which sometimes invades or seeps into the variations themselves. The overall flow and structure of the movement is arch-like, with a building of energy from the beginning to the middle, and then a gradual receding to the end. Movement IV is an adagio, that is mostly meditative in quality. It is gently lyrical. Whereas other movements are sparkling with quick and rapid changes of texture and color, this movement highlights different small groups that appear for extended periods of time. Movement VI is an all-out presto, full of devilish twists and turns. It combines rapid registral shifts, dizzying changes of texture, and of course, wicked and abrupt dynamic changes. It provides a rollicking conclusion to the entire work.
DANIEL ASIA (b. 1953, Seattle, Washington) enjoys working relationships with many noted orchestras, ensembles and soloists that reflect his extensive output and wide appeal. Elliott Hurwitt writes in his Schwann Opus review of the composer’s compact disc, Ivory, “Daniel Asia is a genuine creative spirit, an excellent composer,… He is a welcome addition to the roster of our strongest group of living composers.”
The composer’s major orchestral works include five symphonies, a piano concerto, a cello concerto, two song cycles and the numerous shorter works including At the Far Edge, Black Light, Something Happened, Once Again, What About It!, and Gateways. Mr. Asia has been commissioned by the symphony orchestras of Cincinnati, Seattle, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Phoenix, American Composers Orchestra, Columbus, Grand Rapids, Jacksonville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Tucson, Knoxville, Greensboro, and Colorado Philharmonic. Asia’s works have been performed by renowned conductors including Zdenek Macal, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Eiji Oue, Lawrence Leighton Smith, Hermann Michael, Carl St. Clair, James Sedares, Stuart Malina, Robert Bernhardt, George Hanson, Kirk Trevor, Jonathan Shames, Odaline de la Martinez.
His music has been championed or commissioned by Andre-Michel Schub, Carter Brey, Alex Klein, Cypress String Quartet, Benjamin Verdery, John Shirley-Quirk and Sara Watkins, Jonathan Shames, Curtis Macomber, Gregory Fulkerson, Mark Rush, Zina Schiff, and the Koussevitsky Music Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, D’Addario Foundation for the Performing Arts/Domus, Oberlin Woodwind Quintet, Dorian Wind Quintet, American Brass Quintet, Meadowmount Trio.
Mr. Asia has been the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships in music including a Music Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Meet The Composer/Reader’s Digest Consortium Commission, United Kingdom Fulbright Arts Award Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, four NEA Composers Grants, a M. B. Rockefeller Grant, an Aaron Copland Fund for Music Grant, McDowell Colony and Tanglewood Fellowships, ASCAP and BMI composition prizes, and a DAAD Fellowship for study in Germany. He most recently received a commission from the Barlow Endowment for Music for the Czech Nonet.
Assistant Professor of Contemporary Music and Wind Ensemble at the Oberlin Conservatory from 1981-6, Mr. Asia resided in London from 1986-88 working under the auspices of the UK Fulbright Arts Award and Guggenheim Fellowship. From 1991-1994, Mr. Asia was the Meet the Composer/Composer In Residence with the Phoenix Symphony. Asia is now Professor of Composition, and head of the Composition Department, at The University of Arizona, Tucson. His music is published by Theodore Presser Co. and recorded on Summit, New World, Koch, Albany, and Etcetera.
For further information, please visit the websites www.Presser.com, www.SummitRecords.com, www.DanielAsia.net, and www.StantonMgt.com.
Sponsored by: Wesley C. Green, in memory of his wife Pearl Green