The new full-length album comprised of composer/clarinetist Evan Ziporyn's orchestral works.
Created in partnership with director Gil Rose's heralded Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Frog's Eye finds Ziporyn applying his global ear - honed by 25 years of experience with Balinese Gamelan and world fusion - to the sounds and structures of the western orchestra.
The four pieces that make up Frog's Eye form a vibrant narrative of sound and emotion. The album showcases Ziporyn's ability to reinvent standard ensembles through the savvy addition of Hawaiian guitar, electric piano, Tang dynasty poetry, and his own unique virtuosity on the bass clarinet. Together, these diverse musical influences ultimately create an album of expansive musical scope.
Evan Ziporyn on Frog's Eye:
These four stand-alone pieces, composed for different occasions and different ensembles, are an inadvertent symphony. Before this recording, I thought of their connection as simply chronological, i.e., a record of what's been on my mind for the past five years. Two are for orchestra and two are for wind ensemble; two involve soloists, one involves text. All were conceived for live performance, and yet the diversity of forces (electric piano in one piece; Hawaiian guitar in another) would make a complete, continuous performance unwieldy both logistically and financially. All have programmatic underpinnings and references of diverse and diffuse phylum. They aren't meant to go together. Yet as this disc took shape, Gil Rose's formidable Boston Modern Orchestra Project and NEC's perfect Jordan Hall unearthed a continuity of sound and feel, and then something more emerged: an emotional narrative of sorts, a clear four-movement topography. Life-affirming opener, meditation on death, a scherzo (dialectical and schizoid, though not in triple meter), and a final romp to the finish line. The four pieces take on an inevitable ordering: my Symphony #0, just in time for the end of the CD era.
In 2001, it was time to visit home, to re-engage with these "conventional forces," even if it meant writing music that wouldn't fit on my computer screen. Music is social, and the orchestra concert is a gathering point, a kind of village commons. It's place to say what one has to say, clearly and directly. Composers have access to the soapbox, and that made the task straightforward: find the common ground. The various Boston-based ensembles who commissioned these pieces locate themselves outside the standard new music ghetto, yet hardly luxuriate in the high rent district: all have committed themselves in one form or another to a particular patch of real estate that involves championing new work while reaching out to larger audiences. This is true not just of BMOP but of the groups which premiered three of the four pieces on this CD, musician-driven, independent Pro Arte Orchestra and Fred Harris' remarkable, innovative MIT Wind Ensemble. I owe a debt of gratitude to these three groups, who collectively gave me the opportunity to speak in my own voice while still allowing the musicians to do what they do best.