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Music Department Hosts Composer-in-Residence Events

The SUNY Plattsburgh Department of Music will sponsor its first series of Composer-in-Residence events Thursday, April 25, when guest composer Dr. Kirk O’Riordan and guest pianist Dr. Holly Roadfeldt of Layafette College come to campus.

The highlight of the day will be a 7:30 p.m. concert in Krinovitz Recital Hall, Hawkins Hall, that will feature Roadfeldt playing works by O’Riordan, Dr. Bill Pfaff of SUNY Plattsburgh, Joan Tower, Lowell Lieberman and Arnold Schoenberg. There will be a pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m. by Roadfeldt, O’Riordan and Pfaff.

Prior to the concert and pre-concert talk, Roadfeldt, O’Riordan and Pfaff will offer a lecture demonstration at 4 p.m. in Krinvitz Recital Hall. The presentation will allow the audience to hear sections of the evening’s program and gain insight from both the performer and the composers about the nature of the individual works. Audience questions will be welcome at this informal event.

The Composer-in-Residence series was the brainchild of Pfaff. When he conceived of the program, he immediately thought that Roadfeldt would be the ideal person to begin the series.

“Her breadth as a performer and her dedication to the performance of new works is stunning,” Pfaff said. “She integrates informative and engaging dialogue into the fabric of her concerts, which provides the audience with a context for the music they are about to hear.”

The title of the concert, “It Started with Schoenberg,” was suggested by Roadfeldt. The program opens with Schoenberg’s 1911 composition, “Sechs kleine Klavierstücke, Op. 19.”

Pfaff explained that when compared with Schoenberg’s large orchestral works of that period, the pieces represent a step toward a more concentrated expression. They are miniatures, each with its own character. In one way or another, Schoenberg’s output has influenced every composer, he added.

“O’Riordan’s work is deeply expressive,” Pfaff said.

The inspiration for O’Riordan’s 2000 composition “Water Lilies” comes from his impressions of viewing Monet's “Water Lilies” at the Musée de L’Orangerie in Paris. O’Riordan noticed that when he sat in the middle of the oval gallery, it was as though he was in the middle of Monet's pond. He explained that his composition is not necessarily an attempt to reproduce each painting in sound but to reproduce the feeling of being surrounded by these images.

“From far away they seem perfectly clear and photographic, but up close they are rather blurry and repetitive,” O’Riordan said.

Also on the program is O’Riordan’s 2011 composition, “Lacrimosa,” and several of Pfaff’s earlier works, “November’s Augury” from 1996 and “Prelude” from 1998. In addition, Roadfeldt will present the world premiere of “Arcturus,” composed earlier this year.

The music of Joan Tower has been performed worldwide. Roadfeldt will perform Tower’s 1994 work “Or Like a…an Engine.” It is dedicated to the pianist Ursula Oppens who premiered it at Alice Tully Hall in New York City in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the radio station WNYC FM, which commissioned the work.

“It is a motoric piece, somewhat like a virtuosic Chopin etude,” Roadfeldt said.

The program concludes with Lowell Liebermann’s “Gargoyles, Op. 29,” a four-movement composition composed in 1989.

All Composer-in-Residence events are free and open to the public.

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