Lisa Moore & Don Byron

Seven

Two of Cantaloupe Music's artists join forces to release an EP featuring 10 pieces composed by Don Byron and performed by Lisa Moore, "New York's queen of avant-garde piano" (The New Yorker). The heart of the release, Seven Etudes for Piano, was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Don Byron on Seven:

Originally, I conceived a work inspired by Kurt Schwitters, but I changed my mind after a pianist showed me some etudes by Brahms. I immediately knew there would be 7 (it just sounds great), and planned specific stylistic choices for each etude according to its numeric position. I love the idea of developing a pedagogy for the technical elements of your own music. Steve Coleman is great at that. Conlon Nancarrow gave up on it. I am a big fan of Bartok's Mikrokosmos. The idea of creating pedagogical music with high artistic content really appeals to me. Bartok did a great job of introducing the idea of modern controlled dissonance as a form of entertainment, in hopes of creating a new audience for the sort of music he chose to make. At this point in musical history, post-Stravinsky/Schoenberg, playing complicated rhythms correctly enough to create a groove may be the new frontier for the modern classical player. It's much simpler to play individual measures correctly than it is to make a long passage groove, especially when the measures are not exact repeats. Each etude has a different technical focus. Many of them are exercises in ambidexterity, independence, basic ear training, and singing. One movement (the first) was inspired by a famous Picasso painting, Guernica; another movement was inspired by a long-forgotten ad campaign for a soft drink; another explores the rhythmic structure of the Wiener Waltz. Overall, the pianist/vocalist is asked to reveal her inner "entertainer" as well as her mathematical musicianship. The fourth etude sets a text by E. E. Cummings.

I wrote HIMM during the period where I discovered Black Gospel Culture. I was confirmed in the Lutheran Church, and the kind of religious philosophy and music I discovered in TD Jakes preaching and Kirk Franklin's music surprised me. It was much more Dr. Phil than the "unanswered suffering + heaven" formula I grew up with, and it's changed my life in many ways.

Hyde Park (Nasty) is part of a suite commissioned by The Egg in Albany, commemorating the quadra-centennial of the "discovery" of the Hudson River. It's about FDR, Hyde Park, the Big War. I imagined the
leader of the free world sitting in his beautiful estate, trying to figure out how to win a very important victory for humanity.

Basquiat is dedicated to the great artist/downtown personality. He was a Black intellectual who was personally exoticised in the worst way possible, yet his universal artistic qualities should have been obvious; he was not a Black artist, but an artist who is Black. His work is colorful in a way that I feel connected to. I never knew him, though I saw him.

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For more information on the composer, visit the artist page for Don Byron.

For more information on the performer, visit the artist page for Lisa Moore.

For more information on this release, click here.

December 15, 2009
Cantaloupe Music
Don Byron 
Lisa Moore