Event Description

Join the Chicago Composers’ Consortium for the latest concert in our series, NMC Presents…

Live streamed onto the NMC YouTube page from the Nevermore Performance Space, this concert will take place at 7:30 Central.

NMC Presents… happens every third Tuesday of the month, always at 7:30 Central, always live streamed to YouTube.


Amos Gillespie – Ellipses

Laura Schwendinger – Air from Magic Carpet Ride

Elizabeth Start – Verdisimilitude

Lawrence Axelrod – Piano Games

Tim Edwards – Cello Cycles

Martha Horst – Movement III from Summer Sonata

Program notes:

Air is the middle movement of a three movement piano work called Magic Carpet Music. A evocative ride through different moods and lands. The Air is the central slow movement, which plays out over a long arc form, with a nearly static harmonic background that blossoms at times before reaching its climax. There is a lyrical arioso feeling underpinning all, which is finally allowed to soar. (Laura Schwendinger)

Verdisimilitude was written in 1998 as a 50th birthday present for Marc Johnson, then longtime cellist of the Vermeer Quartet and a former cello teacher of mine. He premiered the work on a Chicago Composers’ Consortium concert soon thereafter.

It is structured as a theme and 12 variations, with the theme being modeled, with digressions and complications, after the cello solo in the Verdi String Quartet. A variation was created for each month because Marc’s wife had suggested giving gifts that would come in installments during this landmark birthday year-though I was not always punctual in this regard. Following a fairly traditional format, the variations each focus on different elements: harmonics, ascending lines, double-stops, trills, pizzicato, etc., presenting a wide range of possibilities on the cello and remaining essentially in the key of A major and minor throughout. With his typical humor, Marc proclaimed it was the hardest he’d ever worked for a birthday present.

I learned the piece in 2002, presenting it in a series of solo concerts that year and recording it. Aside from some performances in the 20-teens by David Peshlakai, it has remained somewhat dormant. I felt it time to revisit the piece as a fitting challenge for this performance. (Elizabeth Start)

Piano Games – These short etudes are intended to explore a quirky corner of piano technique – that of only using certain fingers for an entire piece. The first uses just 1 and 2, the second 1,2, and 3, the third 1,2, 3 and 4 and the fourth all five fingers. While playing this game with fingers, the etudes cover a broad range of expression – insistent, dreamy, changeable and forceful. (Lawrence Axelrod)

Cello Cycles – This work was written for composer/cellist Elizabeth Start.

The piece comes out of a conversation we once had about variations: It might be interesting to devise a series of variations where it is not clear where one ends and another begins without the formality of punctuation, but where one variation mutates into the next. This piece consists of eleven variations of a series of pitch collections. Although the segues between variations are not always enirely fluid, they flow continuously one upon another so that pauses or sudden changes of tempo are not demarcations, though sometimes a variation does suddenly explore a figuration inspired by the previous one. (Timothy Dwight Edwards)

Summer Sonata was written for saxophonist Jeff Bair during the summer of 2004 (rev. 2007) in Greenville, North Carolina. Summer days in North Carolina oscillate between being stifling hot and invigoratingly pleasant. Aspects of the music remind me of the lively energy of some of these days and the languorousness of others.

The third movement is in ternary form (ABA’). The middle section features a lyrical saxophone melody. The music shifts between a bouncy, lively feel and a slow, languid feel as a sort of reflection of the environment from which it came. (Martha Horst)

Live Stream