Episode 2 Listening List: Lee, Gee, Lanzilotti
Updated: Apr 15
This episode explores recent works by Su Lee, Erin Gee, and Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti. We have included some additional notes from composer Su Lee, with her permission, that are not currently available online in order to enhance your listening experience!
Check out the listening list below to get ready and feel free to leave any comments here or on social media to continue the conversation.
Su Lee - Die Radikalen Tasten, Concerto for Organ with Keyboard Ensemble (2019)
Performed by Su Lee, organ; Zane Merritt, assistant; Mike Serio, piano at normal pitch; Ben Havey, harpsichord at normal pitch, Nick Emmanuel, quarter-tone flat piano; Eric Huebner, quarter-tone flat harpsichord; Tom Kolor, vibraphone with motor; Steve Lattimore, vibraphone; Daniel Bassin, conductor, at Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall at University at Buffalo, September 9, 2019
Listening Notes from Su Lee:
As an active composer and organist, my interests have recently focused on the radical potential of the pipe organ. Contemporary composers have rarely turned to this instrument in its full potential in creating new works of art.
In my dissertation composition, Die Radikalen Tasten (“The Radical Keys”) - composed for the UB’s Fisk Organ, “Op.95” - I have proven the organ to be a microtonal instrument, as well as a source of near-endless quasi-electronic synthetic sounds, placing it alongside an ensemble of keyboards (including a pair of grand pianos and harpsichords - each de-tuned a quarter-tone apart - and two vibraphones, one with - and one without motor).
Beyond the work’s unique instrumentation for a concertante organ work, the organ soloist and assistant employ novel extended techniques, including a special focus on the drawstops of the tracker organ. With the aim of seeking new timbre and possibilities of the organ, I became fascinated by the unceasing detuned-like effect produced when the drawstops are pulled slowly, so I applied this extended technique exclusively in order to highlight the pan-harmonic and sonorous capabilities unique to the instrument. A sample clip of drawstops playing is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRAOssM8ToY
Microtonality is relatively more challenging in keyboard instruments due to its temperament. Modern organs are tuned in A=440, but the pipes have a sensitive and fragile tuning system considering their gigantic bodies. Organ tuning basically involves hearing the beats between the tuning stop and the stop that is being tuned, as slightly different frequencies interfere with each other, resulting in tremolo-like sounds, which attracted my attention as well. The relevant moment is around the 6:22 mark of the recording: https://soundcloud.com/su-lee/die-radikalen-tasten-2019-concerto-for-organ-with-keyboard-ensemble
Die Radikalen Tasten is meant to be radical not only aesthetically but also thematically. Last summer, I read that the South Korean protest song “Marching for Our Beloved” - originally written for the victims of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising on May 18, 1980 - was widely sung by the Hong Kong protesters. But ironically over the years it has always been a cause of conflict between progressives and conservatives in Korea, so I had a strong motivation to write a piece applying the pitch/harmony elements of this song through reconstruction of the melody/harmony, but on an extended scale.
Su Lee's score is available upon request.
Erin Gee - Mouthpiece 28 (2016)
TAK Ensemble - Oor
TAK Editions, 2019
TAK Ensemble video:
Notes on the Mouthpiece series:
Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti - the space in which to see (2019)
Text drawn from the work of Layli Long Soldier, used with permission from Graywolf Press
Performed by Johanna Lundy, french horn; Clara Kim, violin; Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, viola; Joann Whang, cello, at the Noguchi Museum, June 13, 2019
Extended strings techniques discussed: www.shakennotstuttered.com (see especially, “TRY - Super Slow-Motion Bow”: used in the third movement)
Su Lee photo courtesy of the composer; Erin Gee photo by Jonah Sutherland; Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti photo by Blaise Heyward Studio