Music

Thresholds: Choral Doorways Into Hope, Loss and Spirit at Harriet’s Orlando Ballet on September 16

The 16-voice ensemble VoxO, directed by Claire Hodge and joined by pianist Libby Chippeaux, violinist Julia Gessinger, cellist Jamie Clark, and harpist Haley Rhodeside, presents a first-of-its-kind program ever heard in Orlando: regional or world premieres of choral works written entirely by living Central Florida composers.

The works in this program explore the depths of the emotional and spiritual human experience, from the Korean lullaby Jajang-ga by ChanJiKim to Alex Burtzos’s setting of Shakespeare’s Come Away, Death. New spiritual works set in Latin, like Brandon Martin’s Ave Maris Stella, Stan Cording’s Exaudi Me, and Alan Gerber’s Ubi Caritas, complement the secular deeply poetic expression found in works like Troy Gifford’s Like Water, Chaz Underriner’s Forget Sleep, and Charlie Griffin’s In After Time.

The singers of VoxO are:

Sopranos: Pam Armitage, Jenni Ayers, Brittany Payne, Stephanie Rosario

Altos: Ashley Duvé, Alice Fortunato, Jennifer Hunt, Corrie Shaw

Tenors: William Ayers, Michael Clossey, Larry Fortunato, Enrique Ynaty

Basses: Michael Andrew Creighton, Jason Ernst, Linden Gould, Andrew V Smith

Saturday, September 16 · 7pm EDT
Harriett’s Orlando Ballet Centre
600 North Lake Formosa Drive Orlando, FL 32803

Many, many thanks to The Awesome Foundation for their support of this project, along with Full Sail University, University of Central Florida, Valencia College, Track Shack, and Tom Dyer.

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OCCO-Deconstructed: LANDSCAPES OF SHADOW AND LIGHT at Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts, August 19 at 8 pm

Blue Bamboo Center For The Arts — 1905 Kentucky Ave, Winter Park, FL. Saturday, August 19, 2023 @ 8PM. Tickets are $25.

Experience contemporary chamber music at its finest when Performing Arts Matter presents the Orlando Contemporary Chamber Orchestra and Central Florida Composer Forum in “OCCO Deconstructed: Landscapes of Shadow and Light.” Hear music by award-winning composers performed by small ensembles of OCCO’s outstanding musicians.

The program includes Alex Burtzos’ “King | Cawdor,” depicting the emotional turmoil of political power; Sharon Omens’ “Thoroughfare,” contrasting urban loneliness and natural connectedness; Troy Gifford’s energetic string quartet works “Lumina” and “Lacerta”; Dan Crozier’s haunting “Nocturne” for cello and piano; and Christian Yom’s “Sansori,” merging traditional Korean music and lush strings. The evening concludes with Charlie Griffin’s “Cambiando Paisajes,” a piano trio work inspired by Latin rhythms.

With passionate performances and thought-provoking new music, this evening of shadow and light is not to be missed. Experience contemporary music as it was meant to be heard – live on stage.

The performers for this event are:
Jamie Clark – Cello
Nora Lee Garcia – Flute
Julia Gessinger – Violin
Elliot May – Bass
Haley Rhodeside – Harp
Jazmin Skipper – Bassoon
Jessica Speak – Clarinet
Hannah Sun – Piano
Anabel Tejada – Viola
Andreas Volmer – Violin

OCCO-Deconstructed: LANDSCAPES OF SHADOW AND LIGHT at Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts, August 19 at 8 pm Read More »

Samba Variations

Duo for Clarinet and Guitar, 2022, ca. 7 minutes.

Sheet music is available for purchase at Sheet Music Plus

Clarinetists and guitarists seeking a sophisticated chamber work will delight in Charles Griffin’s Samba Variations. This lively 7-minute duo treats a traditional Brazilian samba theme to a series of brilliant variations ranging from toe-tapping minimalism to dream-like to sensual.

The samba theme appears in diverse guises, like a fashion show where the model sports different stunning costumes. Clarinetists will relish the opportunity to showcase technical flair and musicality through the work’s driving rhythms, syncopations, modulations, and range of articulations and dynamics.

Guitarists, too, are given plenty of chances to shine with jazz-inspired comping and improvisatory passages.

A superb selection for recitals or competitions, Samba Variations allows both instruments to fully demonstrate classical virtuosity and vibrant Brazilian spirit. Order your edition today for a dazzling showpiece duo!

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Hold the Mayo premieres at Dances with Films Festival in Los Angeles, June 4

Dances with Films Festival
Saturday, June 4 · 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Laemmle Sunset 5
8000 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90046

WRITER/DIR/PROD: Jeffrey Williams
CAST: Saul Herckis, Damian Samuels
ORIGINAL SCORE: Charles Griffin

Sam is a beleaguered sandwich store clerk who is having a very bad day. Then he has a life-altering encounter with Frank – a force of nature who believes the customer is always right. Horribly, horribly right. A gruesome comedy-horror about words that cannot be unspoken, and sandwiches that cannot be unmade. Profound philosophical questions lead to graphic consequences, all centered around the world’s most foul condiment.

This is my second collaboration with Jeffrey Williams.

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Emergence (for Flute Quartet, with prerecorded audio and video projection)

for four flutists, prerecorded audio and video projection (2010) ca. 28′

Commissioned by the Latvian Culture Capital Fund for the Riga-based Flute Quartet 4-tune. Premiered at the Ave Sol Concert Hall in Riga, Latvia, on April 7, 2010.

Flutes: Dace Bičkovska, Lolita Oša, Anna Petraškeviča, Daina Treimane
Video Projection: Uģis Brikmanis (Movements 1-3) & Charles Griffin (Movement 4)
Choreography: Sandra Vītola & Māris Pūris
Dancers: Einārs Lazdiņš, Agnese Pūre, Toms Sandors, Sergejs Zeļeskis


Purchase a PDF of the score & parts, audio & video files for $75 via PayPal:















Emergence Program Notes

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” – Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1859

For the past 15 years, my reading of scientific literature has affected my worldview, brought me solace, and sparked my imagination. The job of science, as I see it, has always been twofold: to rationally peer behind the veil of reality and discover what is there, and also to imagine future possibilities. I find it fascinating how fantastical reality can actually be, and that so many connections exist amongst ourselves and with our world once we actually look.

The science of Emergence, which has no direct translation in Latvian, is the study of how complexity emerges from essentially simple component parts.

King Solomon urged us to look to the ants, “consider her ways and be wise; which having no guide, overseer or ruler, provides her meat in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest.” Scientists and businesses now use Ant Colony Optimization algorithms and other Swarm Intelligence methods for problem solving. Bees, birds, fish and locusts follow essentially three simple rules of movement in groups, and it turns out, humans follow the same rules when walking in a crowded urban environment. The first movement is a structured improvisation for the flute quartet where they use swarming rules to create their music.

The human brain, with its modular structure weaved together by roughly 30 billion neurons electrically firing chemicals across synapses in synchronous waves that produce measurable electronic current up to 12 Hz, is the ultimate example of complexity. Understanding our brains is yet another way of understanding our own evolution as a species: at the deepest level is the emotionless reptilian brain stem, controlling our metabolic system and incapable of anything we would call thought; then comes the limbic system, from which comes our primary emotions and which we share with most other mammals, enabling us to form powerful bonds with each other and with them; stacked on top are the two hemispheres of the neocortex, from which we get abstract and analytical thought, language, and of course, art. As Steven Johnson says in his book Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life, “ The more you learn about the brain, the more you understand how exquisitely crafted it is to record the unique contours of your own life in those unthinkably interconnected neurons and their firing patterns.”
For this movement I sampled a recording of a symphony by the Baroque composer William Boyce, which was used in an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) study of how the brain organizes segmented events. The flute quartet part is largely based on rhythms borrowed from gamelan music, where multiple players create a complex interlocking structure based on simpler rhythmic units.

Researchers into artificial intelligence are using the human brain as a model of learning. While estimates vary of exactly when a completely new form of life will be created by us, inorganic but self-aware, I have no doubt that it is inevitable. And that will naturally force us to question the nature of existence and sentience, and given enough time, might even become a new pathway for human evolution. You can decide for yourself the moral or ethical implications. For this movement, I sampled/quoted two orchestral pieces: Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question, in which the trumpet part asks “The Perennial Question of Existence,” and the Hymn section of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, “Veni Creator Spiritus.”

I decided to go a less serious route with the fourth movement, and create a piece that is somewhat spontaneously created by the flute quartet and the audience. I learned how to use Adobe After Effects to create an animated graphic score, where shapes or graphics of four colors, red, blue, green and yellow are each interpreted by a different flutist, and text or symbol cues are given to the audience to shout, sing or speak. After about a minute, an electronic score enters underneath, comprised mostly of prerecorded human speech and sounds.

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Ana Cervantes to premiere …Like Water Dashed From Flowers… at the 38th Annual Festival Internacional Cervantino 2010, October 19


Following on the success of her Juan Rulfo project, pianist Ana Cervantes has put together another multi-composer themed commissioning project entitled Song of the Monarch: Women in Mexico. Nearly 20 composers from around the world were commissioned to respond to the theme, which conflates the varied historical roles played by women in Mexican history and the annual autumn migration of Monarch butterflies into Mexico. This new collection of solo piano music includes my …Like Water Dashed From Flowers…, a piece that borrows elements from the folkloric song La Zandunga and Nahuatl poetry. The piece is somewhat demanding and includes aspects of ritual and song, where the pianist is asked at times to recite text, sing, play a rattle, stomp her foot (wearing ankle bells), or utilize other extended techniques, often while playing the piano at the same time.

The world premiere of ten works from Monarch will take place on 19 October in the Festival Internacional Cervantino, at 12:00 noon in the Salón del Consejo Universitario. The remaining nine pieces are by noted composers: Carlos Cruz de Castro (Spain), Jack Fortner (U.S.A.), Tomás Marco(Spain), Alba Potes (Colombia), Marcela Rodríguez (Mexico), Paul Barker (United Kingdom), Pilar Jurado (Spain) and Silvia Berg (Brazil).

Ana Cervantes to premiere …Like Water Dashed From Flowers… at the 38th Annual Festival Internacional Cervantino 2010, October 19 Read More »

Hashkivenu (SATTBB, a cappella)

HashkivenuA setting of the traditional prayer in Hebrew and English for SATTBB, a cappella, with Tenor solo (2003), ca. 3’20”.

Commissioned as part of a Faith Partners Residency, sponsored by the American Composers Forum and the Wolfensohn Family Foundation.
Premiered at Temple Emanu-el, Hunter Tillman, Senior Organist.

Now published by Transcontinental Music and distributed by Hal Leonard Corp, it is available for online perusal and purchase here. Transcontinental’s description of the piece: “Griffin’s ominous a cappella setting of this prayer manages to transcend two styles – while distinctly modern and American, its freigish mode keeps it unmistakably “Jewish.” Its intricacies make it a fulfilling endeavor for a more serious ensemble.”

Text:
Hashkivenu adonoy elohenu l’sholom v’hamidenu malkenu l’chayim. Uf’ ros olenu sukas sh’lomecho. Omen.

Cause us, O Lord, our God, to lie down each night in peace. And to awaken each morning to renewed life and strength. Amen.

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El Paso de la Siguiriya

mca.jpg
I just received a recording from the Milwaukee Choral ArtistsFebruary 14 performance, directed by Sharon Hansen, of my El Paso de la Siguiriya, a flamenco-inflected setting for women’s voices of the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca. Here’s an MP3.

El_Paso_De_La_Siguiriya     

I couldn’t have asked for a better soloist, in this case Rebecca Davies, who, to my ears, nailed the emotive power of singing in the flamenco style. Many thanks to Sharon Hansen!

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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

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Ook Pik Waltz – Arrangement for Violin, Cello and Guitar

An arrangement for Violin, Cello, and Guitar of a fiddle melody by Canadian Frankie Rodgers. (2008) ca. 4″

Purchase a PDF of the score and parts for $5 per copy via PayPal:















Live performance by Uncle Joe members Iveta Dejus, violin, Ursula Jurjana, cello, and Charles Griffin, guitar, live at the University of Liepaja in Liepaja, Latvia. This was part of Akti Nakti, an evening of performances by several groups throughout the city of Liepaja.

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