Chanteys


Chanteys

Piccolo (doubling flute), 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, percussion (three players), celesta, harp, accordion, strings

Chanteys, a celebration of ships and the sea, was inspired by the 1976 gathering of tall windships from around the world in honor of the U.S. bicentennial. Supported by a grant from the NEA.

The piece consists of two movements. The first is a fantasy on the beautiful capstan chantey Lowlands, while the second introduces four short-drag chanteys, develops them independently, and then combines them in a quodlibet finale.

Composed: 1976, revised 1979
Duration: 12:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): Study Score, 0278
Full score and parts available for rental.


Reviews:

The final program of the ASUC (American Society of University Composers) conference presented the LSU (Louisiana State University) Symphony Orchestra in a program as varied stylistically as any we could have heard that weekend…. The most convincing works of the concert, however, were a taut, angular oboe concerto by Ursula Mamlock and a remarkably eclectic, coloristic study by Ronald Perera called Chanteys — integrating folk melody, minimalist repetition, many unsettling dramatic thrusts, and a sure hand for orchestration (including, appropriately, an accordion) into a satisfying whole.

Musical America 7/83

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Chanteys 2017-10-03T00:10:58+00:00

The White Whale


The White Whale

Baritone, flute (doubling piccolo), oboe, 2 clarinets (2nd doubling bass clarinet), bassoon, contrabassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, harp, piano (doubling celesta), percussion (two players), strings

The White Whale is a musical projection of Ahab’s madness as revealed in fragments of soliloquy and dialogue from nine different chapters of Moby Dick. The four movements do not attempt to mirror Melville’s continous narrative. Instead, they reflect some of the novel’s greatest discontinuities by juxtaposing paradoxical aspects of Ahab’s character — aspects which are revealed one by one in non-successive chapters strung out like beads on a chain throughout the book — in a radically compressed time frame. The compression heightens awareness of the depth and complexity of Ahab’s personality and of his relationship to the whale while creating a particular dramatic tension of its own. The text of this work was adapted by the composer from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Movements:

  1. The Prisoner
  2. In Nomine Diaboli
  3. The Symphony
  4. A Hump Like a Snow-Hill
Composed: 1981
Duration: 30:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): Piano/Vocal Score, 4098
Full score and parts available for rental.
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Chamber Concerto


Chamber Concerto

Solo brass quintet, 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), oboe, 2 clarinets (2nd doubling bass clarinet), bassoon, horn, trumpet, bass trombone, percussion (2 players), piano

Commissioned for ALEA III and the Empire Brass Quintet, Chamber Concerto does not follow the traditional three-movement Baroque concerto form, but is instead a set of six variations. It pays homage to the Baroque and Classical styles in its concern for symmetry, traditional chord structures, felt meters, uncluttered textures, and solo instrumental writing that demands virtuosity without recourse to the non-traditional playing techniques and special effects prevalent in much contemporary music.

Composed: 1983
Duration: 20:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): Study Score, 4096
Full score and parts available for rental.


Reviews:

Perera’s “Chamber Concerto” received its premiere Wednesday night. At 21 minutes it was by far the longest work on the program. It is actually a set of seven variations in which a brass quintet (The Empire) coexists, contentedly and otherwise, with an orchestra of woodwinds and percussion. Perera has an acute ear for sonority. There was a gripping opening dialogue between on and off-stage trumpets, vivid use of various mutes, some stirring bell sounds (Boris Godunov came to mind), wildly swirling wind writing, and floor-shaking bass. Despite a lack of subtlety (at least in this performance), and emphasis on sound per se, Perera’s instantly accessible music compels attention through its sheer visceral impact.

Boston Globe 3/21/84

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Chamber Concerto 2017-10-03T00:11:11+00:00

Music for Flute and Orchestra


Music for Flute and Orchestra

2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (2nd doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, timpani, 2 percussion, harp, piano, solo flute, strings

Commissioned for ALEA III and the Empire Brass Quintet, Music for Flute and Orchestra does not follow the traditional three-movement Baroque concerto form, but is instead a set of six variations. It pays homage to the Baroque and Classical styles in its concern for symmetry, traditional chord structures, felt meters, uncluttered textures, and solo instrumental writing that demands virtuosity without recourse to the non-traditional playing techniques and special effects prevalent in much contemporary music.

The music that begins and ends Music for Flute and Orchestra is marked “very rhythmic; dancing” in the score, and it presents a shifting array of sharply etched melodic motives in rapidly changing meter. That edgy, jazzy music encloses a central core of calmer music, roughly twice as slow (or half as fast), which enlarges upon the same melodic ideas. This work was written for flutist William Wittig.

The New American Scene CD cover The New American Scene: Including Ronald Perera’s Music for Flute and Orchestra, performed by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, William Wittig, flute, Edwin London, conductor. On Albany Records, Troy298.

Available on:
Albany Records
iTunes

Composed: 1990
Duration: 10:00
Publisher: Music Associates of New York


Reviews:

Perera’s “Music for Flute and Orchestra” received its premiere Wednesday night. At 21 minutes it was by far the longest work on the program. It is actually a set of seven variations in which a brass quintet (The Empire) coexists, contentedly and otherwise, with an orchestra of woodwinds and percussion. Perera has an acute ear for sonority. There was a gripping opening dialogue between on and off-stage trumpets, vivid use of various mutes, some stirring bell sounds (Boris Godunov came to mind), wildly swirling wind writing, and floor-shaking bass. Despite a lack of subtlety (at least in this performance), and emphasis on sound per se, Perera’s instantly accessible music compels attention through its sheer visceral impact.

Boston Globe 3/21/84

A single movement sandwiching some delicate, contemplative “night music” between sections driven by rambunctious, angular motivic hijinks, Perera’s colorfully scored, tightly conceived work gave the orchestra an opportunity to enjoy greater extremes of expression than Mozart would allow. It also called into play a modestly sized but deftly employed percussion section, punctuating the musical conversation between flute and orchestra with a tam-tam stroke here, the pearly note of a crotale there, and carefully placed cymbal crashes of varying intensity. Smith and the SSO gave the Perera an enthusiastic, incisive reading. Its calculatedly capricious meter changes seemed well assimilated by conductor and orchestra, and the whole flowed with admirable organic smoothness.

Springfield (MA) Union-News 2/8/99

]Perera treats the flute as a seductive and temperamental protagonist, sending the soloist on fanciful flights and tuneful adventures that complement the sometimes grand rhetoric of the orchestra.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer
4/16/97

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Music for Flute and Orchestra 2017-10-03T00:11:11+00:00

The Saints


The Saints: Three Pieces for Orchestra with Audience Participation

2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (2nd doubling soprano saxophone), alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (one player), optional banjo, piano, strings, tape playback system (cassette)

The Saints is based on When the Saints Go Marching In, a Dixieland classic that tradition holds was played at funerals in New Orleans around 1900 — slowly on the way to the cemetery and quickly coming back.

Each of the three pieces in The Saints is designed to explore and illustrate a musical idea. The opening piece, Choirs, shows off the musical families of the orchestra. The second, Joyful Noise, presents many extended instrumental sounds and special effects. The third, Marching In evokes the slow march to the cemetary and the jazzed-up procession home.

This work was commissioned by the 92nd Street Y in New York City for its Sidney A. Wolff School Music Series.

Movements:

  1. Choirs
  2. Joyful Noise
  3. Marching In
Composed: 1990
Duration: 10:00
Publisher: Music Associates of New York


Reviews:

A concise deconstruction of “When the Saints Go Marching In” spanning a pocket concerto for orchestra, electronics-enhanced compositional play, and some respectable symphonic second-lining (including a proficiently primed audience sing-along), “The Saints,” in design and performance, illustrated the evening’s other virtues: invention, craft, judicious renewal of commonplaces. As travel so often does, Perera’s New Orleans jaunt crystallized the virtues of home.

Boston Globe, April 1, 2017

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Five Summer Songs


Five Summer Songs

Mezzo-soprano with Harp, piano (doubling celesta), percussion (one player), and strings

A chamber orchestra arrangement of five songs on poems of Emily Dickinson. Original version (1972) was composed for medium voice and piano (E. C. Schirmer Music Company #0161). This arrangement was commissioned by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony.

Poems included:

  1. New Feet Within My Garden Go
  2. South Winds Jostle Them
  3. I Know a Place
  4. To Make a Prairie
  5. The One That Could Repeat the Summer Day.
American Music for Flute, Voice, and Strings CD cover American Music for Flute, Voice, and Strings: A collection of American music by various composers. Includes Ronald Perera’s Five Summer Songs performed by soprano Carole Wilson. On Albany Records, Troy519.

Available on:
Albany Records
iTunes

Composed: 1991
Duration: 12:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): Medium Voice, Piano Version, 0161
Mezzo-Soprano and Chamber Ensemble Version, 4096


Reviews:

Rec. lyric medium voice (b-f#2); 12:00; titles are: New Feet Within My Garden Go; South Winds Jostle Them; I Know a Place; To Make a Prairie; The One That Could Repeat the Summer Day; best kept as a set; excellent variety of mood and color; atonal, but with a strong feeling of tonality throughout; gentle dissonances; not difficult for the voice, but the colorful piano writing is intricate and requires dexterity; elegant, lyrical, compelling songs.

A Singer’s Guide to the American Art Song 1870-1980by Victoria Etnier Villamil (The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, NJ & London, 1993)

Perera’s thoroughly pleasing and admirably written set of songs would grace any singer’s repertory. The unadorned style and clarity of the musical language make the set an attractive proposition for a beginner to the field. The “Five Summer Songs” could be put with other Emily Dickinson settings. They would not seem out of place in a traditional recital program because of their unpretentious and direct appeal. The set would form a good foil for late Romantic lieder with more exotic textures.

New Vocal Repertory by Jane Manning (Taplinger, 1987)

With detailed instructions for both the singer and accompanist these songs are wonderful for an accomplished, artistic, sensitive singer.

NATS Bulletin 5/78

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