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Weaving Olden Dances performed by the Western Piedmont Symphony April 9

My Weaving Olden Dances: Concerto for Chamber Orchestra will be given its North Carolina Premiere performance by the Western Piedmont Symphony, John Gordon Ross, Music Director and Conductor, on Saturday, April 9 – 8 PM at P.E. Monroe Auditorium on the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University, 625 7th Avenue NE in Hickory, North Carolina. Other works on this Masterworks V program will be Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35, with soloist Stefani Collins and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

Weaving Olden Dances was commissioned by a consortium consisting of the Westchester Chamber Orchestra (NY), Barry Charles Hoffman, Director, Western Piedmont Symphony (NC), John Gordon Ross, Director, San José Chamber Orchestra (CA), Barbara Day Turner, Director and Appalachian State University Orchestra (NC), James Allen Anderson, Director. The four-movement version was premiered in May 2008 by Barry Hoffman and the Westchester Chamber Orchestra at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. Much more about the piece, including sample pages of the score, at http://charlesgriffin.net/archives/204.

Tickets for the April 9 concert are $15, $30 and $40, and can be ordered online here. For more information, call the Symphony 828-324-8603.

Weaving Olden Dances on Charlotte Chamber Music’s First Tuesdays concert series, February 1

I composed Weaving Olden Dances in 2007 as a finale piece for a small concert tour I did in Latvia with my own ensemble. Originally scored for clarinet, string quartet, piano 4-hands and bodhrán, I later orchestrated the piece as part of a multi-movement Concerto for Chamber Orchestra. At the request of Charlotte Chamber Music I tweaked the instrumentation of the chamber version once more, and they will premiere this new version on February 1st.

From CCM’s website:

The clarinet takes center stage as the Blue Ridge Chamber Players and clarinetist John Sadak perform 20th century works including Prokofieff’s beloved Overture on Hebrew Themes and Alan Shulman’s Rendezvous, written for the King of Swing, Benny Goodman. The program concludes with American composer Charles Griffin’s homage to Irish and Appalachian folk music, Weaving Olden Dances, in a new arrangement commissioned by Charlotte Chamber Music.

Prokofieff: Overture on Hebrew Themes
Alan Shulman: Rendezvous
Gerald Finzi: Five Bagatelles
Charles Griffin: Weaving Olden Dances

Musicians – Blue Ridge Chamber Players: John Sadak, clarinet; Peter deVries and Tatiana Karpova, violins; Martha Geissler, viola; Nick Lampo, cello; Emily Urbanek, piano

First Presbyterian Church, 200 West Trade Street, Charlotte, North Carolina. 12:10 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Free. 704/335-0009

Weaving Olden Dances in Germany, October 16 & 17

thuringerConductor Barbara Day Turner of the San José Chamber Orchestra will lead the Thüringer Symphoniker Saalfeld-Rudolstadt through two performances of two movements from my Weaving Olden Dances: Concerto for Chamber Orchestra on October 16 at 7:30 PM at the Meininger Hof in Saalfeld and October 17 at 7:30 PM at the Großes Haus in Rudolstadt, Germany.

Also on the program is Walter Leigh’s Concertino for Harpsichord and String Orchestra, Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony, and Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5.

»Weaving Olden Dances« schuf Charles B. Griffin einen überraschenden Mix aus Rhythmen und Formstilen unterschiedlichster Epochen und Kulturen – vom Mittelalter bis in die heutige Zeit. Inspiriert von Johann Sebastian Bach, fand der New Yorker in der Barocksuite die geeignete Form, um Musikstile der ganzen Welt zu verbinden. Der zweite und der vierte Satz dieser Suite werden zum ersten Mal in Europa in diesem Sinfoniekonzert unter der Leitung von Barbara Day Turner zu hören sein.

Reviews of the San José Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Weaving Olden Dances

The following reviews are of the San José Chamber Orchestra’s performance of my Weaving Olden Dances: Concerto for Chamber Orchestra that took place at Le Petit Trianon Theater (72 N. 5th Street) in downtown San José, California on Saturday August 29, at 8PM and Sunday August 30, at 7PM.

NEW WORK, OLD DANCES, ELVIRA’S CONCERTO
By Paul Hertelendy
artssf.com, the independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area music and dance
Week of Aug. 31-Sept. 7, 2009
Vol. 12, No. 5
Read the full review here.

The clever idea of a commissioning consortium enables several groups around the country (and not just one) to present a new work om concert. The San José Chamber Orchestra opened its season with the West Coast premiere of New Yorker Charles Griffin’s “Weaving Olden Dances,” part of a merry-go-round taking the dances to four different venues spanning both coasts. It’s a big 31-minute, four-movement work of modern sounds laid over traditional forms—a well-made piece avoiding the expected clichés.

Griffin, 41, enters skillfully into disparate realms. An agitated timpani opening suggests an action movie, giving way to a perpetual-motion ostinato that the composers says was inspired by the gamelan. The Pavane section that follows is lovely, escapist romanticism soaring skyward. The third movement is the most overtly dance-like, with the orchestra parroting the broad strums of the flamenco guitar running through modes as well as the beat of the zapateado dance—a latino tap dance without the tap shoes. The finale, after Irish models, is a joyous noise rushing to a climax. The format idea is derived from the dance suites so prevalent 300 years ago.

There were various solos within this concerto for orchestra, none more notable nor more praiseworthy than on viola (Eleanor Angel) and cello (Lucinda Breed Lenicheck).

Altogether, “Weaving Olden Dances” is an effective work with definite audience appeal. And Music Director Barbara Day Turner led it with high energy, nuance and consistency.

A MODEL OF DIVERSITY: SAN JOSÉ CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OPENER
By Gary Lemco
The Classical Music Guide Online
Read the full review here.

The musical surprise came in the form of Griffin’s four-movement Concerto for Chamber Orchestra, which might be a distant cousin of pieces like Cowell’s Persian Set. A sort of Baroque dance-suite, the music opened with a Trance Overture, in the manner of the gamelan orchestra of Bali, percussive, chiming, clangorous, brash, and declamatory. Long pedal points punctuated the interlocking rhythmic impulses. Some might have thought this music composed by Villa-Lobos. The second movement, Pavane, sounded like a medieval “chest” or “consort” of instruments, utilizing a concertante violin to intone a 13th-century cantus firmus called Novus Miles Sequitur. The third movement, Tierra de luz, Cielo de Tierra, enjoyed a concertante cello opening. The music became quite syncopated, often touching upon the world of Ginastera‘s Estancia ballet. At its climax, the music became a fugue in flamenco style. The last movement, Weaving Olden Dances, began with a viola that lisped in Irish accents, inviting us to a fierce gigue or reel that incorporates Sean Nos and Appalachian dance elements, allusions to the music for Braveheart and Aaron Copland. Almost every member of the orchestra had a virtuoso, solo run or riff to offer the color of his contribution. Eclectic it was certainly—so even Bartok may have had a hand in it—ending with something like a sea-shanty in Technicolor. But, that it was a successful vehicle for Turner and her SJCO there could be no doubt.

JON NAKAMATSU AND MOZART’S PIANO CONCERTO NO. 21 — A HEAVENLY PAIRING
By Richard Scheinin
San José Mercury News
Read the full review here.

The bulk of the program’s first half was devoted to a new work by Charles B. Griffin, a native New Yorker who lives in Latvia. A nomadic, international sensibility informs his “Weaving Olden Dances: Concerto for Chamber Orchestra,” which draws inspiration from Indonesian, French, flamenco and Irish/Appalachian dance forms.

Commissioned by a consortium of American orchestras (including the San Jose Chamber Orchestra), the work unfolds in four movements.
The first echoes the jig-sawed structure and rhythms of the Balinese gamelan; its highlight is a sinuous and long-lined solo for violin (Cynthia Baehr, here), composed in the manner of Lou Harrison. The second movement, a Pavane, built from a 13th century hymn, is lushly elegiac. The final movements, respectively, draw on flamenco and Celtic melodies — rhythm-charged, but remarkably generic, as if inspired by World Music 101 classes.
Hats off to Day Turner (who has devoted much of her career to performing music of living composers) and the orchestra’s many soloists (i.e. Bruce Foster, such an expressive clarinetist) for giving this piece a shot.

San José Chamber Orchestra performs Weaving Olden Dances: Concerto for Chamber Orchestra, August 29 & 30

SJCO

The San José Chamber Orchestra’s Season Opening Concerts will feature pianist Jon Nakamatsu playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto #21 in C major, and the West Coast premiere of my Weaving Olden Dances: Concerto for Chamber Orchestra.

These performances, led by conductor Barbara Day Turner, are part of a series of performances by various American chamber orchestras who co-commissioned the piece. The concerts will take place at Le Petit Trianon Theater (72 N. 5th Street) in downtown San José, California on Saturday August 29, at 8PM and Sunday August 30, at 7PM.

Ticket prices are $30-$45 ($10 students) and can be ordered on line at: www.sjcotickets.org

Weaving Olden Dances performed by the Griffin Ensemble in Liepāja, Latvia on December 4

griffin_ens.jpg

The Griffin Ensemble will perform my Weaving Olden Dances, a work based on traditional Irish and Appalachian music and scored for Clarinet, String Quartet, Piano and Bodhrán on December 4 at Liepājas Biedribas Nams (Liepāja’s Society House) at 5PM, as part of a concert in honor of the 70th Birthday of local artist Irina Ture. Several of the musicians in the ensemble, as well as others performing on the concert, have all been the subjects of Ture’s photographic portraits, many of which are currently on exhibition in the hall.

Concerto for Chamber Orchestra lecture presentation at Conductors Guild Conference in New York on January 11

anderson.jpg

Conductor James Allen Anderson, director of Orchestral Activities at the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina will give a brief lecture presentation on my Concerto for Chamber Orchestra (Weaving Olden Dances) at the Conductors Guild Annual Conference for Conductors at the Park Central New York Hotel.

Anderson, along with Barry Hoffman of the Westchester Chamber Orchestra (NY), John Gordon Ross of the Western Piedmont Symphony (NC) and Barbara Day Turner of the San José Chamber Orchestra (CA) are all co-commissioners of the piece.

The piece was premiered last May by the Westchester Chamber Orchestra at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY.

Here are five excerpts from the four movements taken from a live recording of the premiere:

concertoexcerptscg.mp3     

To view/download a PDF of the score that matches the recorded excerpt, click here.

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Photo by Angela Bell Deems

Biography

A composer, writer, and actor, Charlie Griffin was born and raised in New York. He currently lives in Orlando and teaches in Full Sail University’s Bachelor of Science in Music Production degree program. His original music has been performed in 20 countries in venues like Washington DC’s Kennedy Center, New York’s Merkin and Weill recital halls, the American Cathedral in Paris, festivals such as Aspen, SpoletoUSA, and Mexico’s International Cervantino, and conferences such as the WPPC (World Piano Pedagogy Conference), PASIC (Percussive Arts Society), ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) and NFA (National Flute Association)Recent commissions include works for the Orlando Philharmonic and for guitarist Robert Phillips.

Active in the Orlando area, he is the founder and first president of the Central Florida Composers Forum, and has been a large budget panelist for United Arts of Central Florida, a radio show host on WPRK 91.5fm, and the music columnist for Artborne Magazine. Griffin embraces creativity in many forms:  improv comedy, standup comedy, and acting. In May of 2017, his one hour sketch-prov comedy show, Biblical Fan Fiction, enjoyed a 5-show run at the Orlando Fringe Festival. Shortly thereafter, he embarked on a second degree: a BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment on faculty scholarship at Full Sail University.

From 2005-10 he relocated to Latvia from New York, where he worked on projects with his own 8-piece ensemble as well as commissions from regional sources, such as several works for the Riga-based women’s vocal ensemble Putni, a large work for organ, timpani and 30-voice choir to mark the 6th International Organ Music Festival in Liepaja, and a large work for electronics, flute quartet, dancers and video for a premiere in Riga in 2010, with premieres following in Sweden and Lithuania. He was also a lecturer for the US Embassies in Latvia and Lithuania during this period, and a co-administrator of New Music Incubator, an international collaborative project between composers and performers from Baltic and Scandinavian countries.

He has received grants from ASCAP, Meet the Composer’s Commissioning Music/USA, Queens Council on the Arts and New Dramatists, and commissions from Ethos Percussion Group, the Piedmont Choirs, and the Dale Warland Singers, among others. His work has been included on several Compact Discs and has regularly been aired on radio stations such as WNYC and WQXR in New York, WGBH in Boston and WHPK in Chicago.

His several residencies have included Faith Partners (an interfaith residency in New York City funded by the Wolfensohn Family Foundation involving Temple Emanu-el, St. Bartholomew’s Church and St. Ignatius-Loyola, where he composed four choral works for the three institutions), another choral residency at the Frank Sinatra High School for the Arts, and during the summers 2004 and 2006 at the International Festival for Young Latvian Musicians, in Ogre, Latvia.

As a freelance copyist, orchestrator or arranger, Griffin has worked on projects for Phillips Classics, Jessye Norman, Hugh Downs, Yo Yo Ma, and President Clinton’s Inauguration. He earned his B. A. in voice and composition and M. A. in composition from Queens College, City University of New York, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He is a member of ASCAP, former Director of the New York Chapter of the American Composers Forum, and was on the board of directors of the Long Island Composers Alliance for several years. He has served on the adjunct faculties of Hofstra University, Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and Nassau Community College. He was elected into the Latvian Composer’s Union in 2006.

Press

“Starting off the program was Griffin’s Vernacular Dances, which plays off popular styles (Latin rhythms, blues, jazz) in a very serious way. This muscular work, expertly played by pianist Perry Townsend, was the strongest of the concert.”  New Music Connoisseur, Vol. 5, No. 4

Oriental Poppies by Charles Griffin. Centered around a short descending motif, the movement here is fueled by imaginative quasi-improvised melodic figures and an ever-shifting rhythmic emphasis.”
Paul Fowles – Classical Guitar

“…most of all, Charles Griffin’s “El Paso de la Siguiriya,” on a dark, dreamy Federico Garcia Lorca poem. “El Paso” is a flamenco a cappella fantasy with episodes of rhythmic clapping, melisma inflected in the Andalusian way and choruses in Spanish dance rhythms. Mezzo Rebecca Davies was ravishing in the solo that is the soul of this piece. She must have listened to a great deal of flamenco singing to prepare; she was at once elegant and earthy. Much of the choral work in “El Paso” is in free rhythm. Hansen shaped it with a soloist’s latitude. Seventeen voices responded, and the choir became a single voice.”
Tom Strini – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Charles Griffin’s 1998 “Persistence of Past Chemistries” opened the concert, a composition of teasing rhythms for mallet keyboards intermingling jazz with the repetitive nature of minimalism. Again, as throughout the hour, the four musicians, unidentified, accomplished wondrous feats of coordination and sound production. Those mallets moved so fast they almost disappeared before one’s eyes.”
Peter Jacobi – Herald Times, Bloomington Indiana

“The San José Chamber Orchestra opened its season with Charles Griffin’s “Weaving Olden Dances,” a big 31-minute, four-movement work of modern sounds laid over traditional forms—a well-made piece avoiding the expected clichés. Griffin enters skillfully into disparate realms. An agitated timpani opening gives way to a perpetual-motion ostinato inspired by the gamelan. The Pavane section that follows is lovely, escapist romanticism soaring skyward. The 3rd movement is the most overtly dance-like, with the orchestra parroting the broad strums of the flamenco guitar running through modes as well as the beat of the zapateado dance—a latino tap dance without the tap shoes. The finale, after Irish models, is a joyous noise rushing to a climax. The format idea is derived from the dance suites so prevalent 300 years ago. There were various solos throughout, none more notable nor more praiseworthy than on viola (Eleanor Angel) and cello (Lucinda Breed Lenicheck). ”
Paul Hertelendy – artssf.com, the independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area music and dance

“The surprise came in the form of Griffin’s four-movement Concerto for Chamber Orchestra. A sort of Baroque dance-suite, the music opened with a Trance Overture, in the manner of the gamelan orchestra of Bali, percussive, chiming, clangorous, brash, and declamatory. Long pedal points punctuated the interlocking rhythmic impulses. The 2nd movement, Pavane, sounded like a medieval consort, utilizing a concertante violin to intone a 13th-century cantus firmus. The 3rd movement enjoyed a concertante cello opening. The music became quite syncopated, and at its climax became a fugue in flamenco style. The last movement began with a viola that lisped in Irish accents, inviting us to a fierce gigue or reel. Almost every member of the orchestra had a virtuoso, solo run or riff to offer the color of his contribution. Eclectic it was certainly, ending with something like a sea-shanty in Technicolor. But, that it was a successful vehicle for Turner and her SJCO there could be no doubt.”
Gary Lemco – The Classical Music Guide Online

“Charles Griffin’s Rekviem is a beautiful requiem — dark, almost threatening.”

KEN BULLOCK – San Francisco Classical Voice

“The other premiere was Charles Griffin’s Panta Rei, a pulsing, fast, free-flowing piece of tight, dense textures and few open spaces, save for an island of rather uneasy repose in the middle.”

The Buffalo News

“Charles Griffin’s Concentric Dance, with [its] complicated rhythmic and contrasting sections, [was] gripping from beginning to end.”
review of Mariah Wind Trio at U of OK Clarfest – The Clarinet

“Charles Griffin’s Fragmentary Rondo for solo flute should join the ranks of standard repertory.”
Steven Rosenhaus – New Music Connoisseur, Vol. 5, No. 3

“The first section’s freely tonal sound made for many wonderful moments which can only be described as spooky and funky. The second section was beautifully canonic which, if it lacked the harmonic interest of the opening, was extremely musical. It was enjoyed by the hall.”

Alf Bishai, NY Chief Correspondent – Film Music Magazine

Orchestral

Concerto for Chamber Orchestra (Weaving Olden Dances) (2008) 24′
Premiered by the Westchester Chamber Orchestra at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, May 2008. Barry Charles Hoffman, Director.

Ellis Island (1993) 8’
String Orchestra.
Premiered by the Cantabile Chamber Orchestra at SMU in Dallas, Michael Baker, director.

Pick it up and Run with it (2005) ca. 6’30”
Orchestra.
Selected for a reading session by the Plymouth Music Series Orchestra in February 2001 as part of the American Composers Forum’s Orchestal Reading Project.

The Vampire Chronicles (1995) ca. 24′
Orchestra.
Received performance prize of premiere by the University of Minnesota Orchestra, Keith Clark, director.