Friday, February 15, 2013

Anthony Genge: Streams I

Anthony Genge is a composer with some interesting influences. Here is his biography from his website:
Canadian composer and pianist Anthony (Tony) Genge was born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1952. He worked as a performer of jazz and rhythm and blues for a number of years before studying composition formally. Genge was a student of Morton Feldman between 1982 and 1985, completing a Ph.D. in composition at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He also studied composition with Bruce Mather at McGill University and Martin Bartlett and Rudolf Komorous at the University of Victoria. In 1979, he studied with the Japanese composer Jo Kondo in Tokyo. During this time he also visited several Pacific-Rim countries, studying their traditional music. By the 1990s, the style and influences in his music had become increasingly diverse, and since that time his music has been characterized by its distinctive harmonic language, elegant orchestration and postmodern mix of musical elements. Genge’s solo, chamber, and orchestral music, the first of which dates from the mid-1970s, has been performed and commissioned by leading soloists and ensembles throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and Japan, and his music has also been used for dance and film.

Currently, he divides his time between Antigonish, Nova Scotia
on the East Coast of Canada, where he is Professor of Music at
St. Francis Xavier University, and Victoria, B.C., on the Canadian
West Coast. In addition to his work as a composer, Genge
continues to perform and record as a jazz pianist and can be heard on his
critically acclaimed jazz trio recording Blues Walk.
Very interestingly, Tony's performing side, which is as a jazz pianist, and his composing side, don't seem to flow into one another. One influence that he does not mention is that of medieval music. In the piece I am going to put up, I think we can hear a bit of Machaut mingled with Asian influences. His piece Streams I, which dates from 1981, was originally intended for an established guitar trio. Alas, they were apparently unable to count the piece accurately. Some time later, Tony came to me and asked if I would undertake to record the piece for him, playing all three parts. This is fairly easy to do with multi-tracking.

I'm quite sure that the "streams" of the title are metaphoric, but I couldn't find any images of metaphorical streams so I put up several images of actual streams on Vancouver Island. They are preceded by a photo of Anthony Genge and followed by a couple of photos of me. This is a very unusual piece as it uses a lot of quarter-tones. One guitar has some strings tuned a quarter-tone away from the other guitars, which enables quarter-tone scales. Once you get used to the sound, I think it is a quite enjoyable piece, if a bit austere.

video

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