|Produced in association with the American Composers Forum|
Sunday, September 15
Henry Brant at 100
If you've ever witnessed a really spectacular display of the Northern Lights, you'll know the feeling: first, jaw-dropping wonder as colors shoot across the heavens in dazzling patterns, then something akin to terror at the thought of such powerful forces unleashed far above you in the vast night sky.
The American composer Henry Brant saw Northern Lights like that in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1982 during a visit, and translated the experience into a piece he titled “Northern Lights over the Twin Cities,” a work commissioned by Macalester College in St. Paul to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1985.
Like most of Brant’s works, this piece employs several distinct groups of performers separated by space, a technique called “spatial” composition. For his Macalester Centenary commission, Brant utilized all the musical ensembles the College had to offer, including its chorus and orchestra, its wind, marching, and jazz bands, and even its bagpipe ensemble, all positioned at various points around the College’s cavernous Field House.
Brant’s spatial music was inspired by the antiphonal works of the Renaissance composer Giovanni Gabrieli and the multiple brass ensembles in the “Requiem Mass” by the French Romantic composer Hector Berlioz, but above all by “The Unanswered Question,” a pioneering spatial work by the modern American composer Charles Ives.
Brant was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2002, and died at the age of 94, in 2008. And, speaking of Centenaries, today’s date marks the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Music Played on Today's Program:
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