Composers at SDSU music competition ponder COVID-19 and the Ukraine war

Since 2002, the New West Evolving Arts and Tunes Firm (NWEAMO) has brought composers and performers to San Diego State College for a weekend of modern day tunes. In earlier a long time it was known as the New West Electro-Acoustic Music Business. I guess it advanced.

On Friday night, a pretty small but appreciative audience showed up at Smith Recital Hall immediately after a 2-yr hiatus for stay concerts.

Earlier festivals offered a selection of performers, but this software exclusively highlighted electric powered guitarist Gene Pritsker from New York, violinist Petro Krysa from Vancouver, and San Diego saxophonist Todd Rewoldt. They were being billed as the “CompCord Ensemble,” which Pritsker joked consisted of whomever happened to be needed.

In his spoken introduction, NWEAMO director Joseph Waters touted the festival’s musical range, but most of the functions heard consisted of good old-fashioned melody and accompaniment. The 1 exception was SDSU Professor Texu Kim’s “Images” for solo violin.

The two movements read had been quirky aphorisms reminiscent of György Kurtág’s miniatures. Listeners familiar with Kim’s new music might have been stunned by the start off-and-halt skittering of the next movement.

A theme managing by way of many will work was individual reaction to modern planet gatherings, none far more so than in Joseph Waters’ “Anguish — Compassion — Requiem.” A meditation on the war in Ukraine, it began with a slow violin melody in a slight method. The electric guitar picked up the principal line, with supporting harmonies from the saxophone and violin. The dissonance greater as all 3 instruments climbed to their highest registers. Harmonies did not very take care of in the slow ending.

“Lament, Prayer and Renewal” by regional composer Aaron Alter was his reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scored for tenor sax and electrical guitar, “Lament, Prayer and Renewal” traverses a lyrical route by loss, reflection and restoration in a type reminiscent of ECM jazz.

Pritsker’s “Pand Q.” is an arrangement of his “Pandemic Quartet” from his most current album, “Duets for the Close of the World.” He transformed the bass and dumbek areas into an electronic monitor with a Center-Jap-sounding vocalise and an supplemental stay violin portion. Like his other operates on the software, “Pand Q.” rode on a powerful rhythmic groove.

His composition “The Will” was motivated by a Ukrainian poem. Violin and alto sax sustained tones around recurring notes in the electric guitar, going into a minor critical waltz that turned a lot more grotesque. This was accompanied by a pre-recorded portion derived from a video of Ukrainian females singing, uncovered on YouTube by Pritsker. The assimilation of pre-existing material was musically helpful, but his failure to correctly attribute the tune tainted the piece.

The initially two movements of Pritsker and Rewoldt’s on line collaboration, “Duets for the Close of the Entire world,” were major on guitar riffs and jazz-inflected saxophone get the job done.

I most savored Pritsker’s “Figar-Oh,” a remix of Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” for violin and monitor. Country fiddling intersected with the overture and “Dove sono,” underlain with an digital drumbeat and distorted chords.

Palomar University professor Madelyn Byrne’s “Coffee” musically tried to seize Italian or Viennese blends, but it was French neo-classicism that was the strongest aroma in this light-hearted do the job.

Rewoldt masterfully soloed in Dan Cooper’s “TBA,” switching from a bouncy recurring-take note groove to a a lot more melodic middle area and back again yet again.

His participating in listed here and elsewhere was eminently gratifying, a description equally used to Pritsker and Krysa.

Editor’s be aware: The author, Christian Hertzog, is a founding board member of San Diego New Music, exactly where Madelyn Byrne serves as president.