David Lang (b. 1957) attended the west coast premiere of his The Little Match Girl Passion, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, at the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica in 2011. Jacaranda asked Grant Gershon to sing tenor and fill out the quartet of voices. An organ work by Sofia Gubaidulina was also on the program. Very quickly Jacaranda and Lang became close friends and allies. A conversation about a commission for organ and perhaps two other instruments ensued. He had not written for the organ but found it more interesting than ever before. The idea returned after four years when the prospect of a co-commission with the LA Phil became part of Jacaranda’s conversation about “Noon to Midnight.” The resulting work Sleeper’s Prayer resonates with the pathos and vulnerability of Match Girl, but here the child is singing in the first person, instead of being the subject of singing. Lang paraphrased Jewish bedtime prayers from childhood. Against an unsettling organ background, the boy soprano prays for protection and peace. It is not difficult to imagine a Syrian child praying to be safe and sound in his bed when the sun again comes up. Sleeper’s Prayer is dedicated to the 80th birthday of Steve Reich, Tuesday October 3, 2016.
Attention and interest in Schnee (Snow) by Hans Abrahamsen (b. 1952) spiked after he won the 2015 Grawemeyer prize for the orchestral song cycle Let Me Tell You performed widely by soprano Barbara Hannigan. The original 2006 version is offered here. Bach inspired these extraordinarily unusual canonic variations, but that abstruse source is only made slightly more evident in the hour-long 2008 version that followed in response to the favorable notices the work elicited. The notation and the extreme ranges asked for by the Danish composer have proven inspirational to many including David Lang. Jacaranda will perform the full-length version November 18, 2016.
While Jacaranda will dedicate its entire season finale concert “Drum Summit” to the music of Steve Reich, this proximity of his 80th birthday could not go uncelebrated. Eight Lines is considered one of the great works of Reich’s early maturity. Elaborate motor rhythms in the pianos center the action. To one side of the keyboards is the sheer abandon of the flute/piccolo music riding above the often unison flourishes of the clarinets, either wailing like jazz players, or chugging along in the bass register. On the other side rises an ever-changing string texture, filled with angles that generate a glamorous sheen. Jacaranda last performed Eight Lines to celebrate the dedication of its remodeled Santa Monica home in 2007.
— Patrick Scott, Artistic Director, Jacaranda