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Owen Middleton: Millennium Crossing

Owen Middleton: Millennium Crossing



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Owen Middleton, composer Owen Middleton is prize-and award-winning composer, and the subject of two doctoral dissertations: one, An American Original: Guitar Music of Owen Middleton, by Dr. Gregory Newton at UCLA and another by Dr. Barton Moreau at Arizona State University, A Study of the Solo Piano Works by Owen Middleton (b. 1941) With a Recording of Selected Works from 1962--1993. Mr. Middleton specializes in innovative guitar compositions, as well as virtuoso piano music, choral, orchestral, and chamber music. His guitar works can be heard around the world, including recently at the International Guitar Festival in Poland, as well as Wigmore Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York. ?A professor of music, music theory, composition, piano, and guitar, he's lectured across the United States including Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, California, North Carolina, Kentucky and Alabama. As a performance artist, he's performed guitar concerts at colleges, universities, radio, and television. ?His music has been published by notable music companies including Belwin-Mills (NY), Edition Daminus (Germany), The Guitar Foundation of America, Boosey & Hawkes Canada, Lathkill Music (UK), and Gemini Records (UK). Now retired after fifty years of teaching. Mr. Middleton lives near Asheville, North Carolina with his wife, Anne and his cat, Buddy. His hobby is playing jazz piano and reading. A former athlete in his younger days he follows college and pro football on television and, also college baseball. He proudly wears his FSU 2013 BCS Football National Championship hat! Mr. Middleton studied piano, string-bass and music composition at Florida State University and classical guitar in New York City with noted author, composer and teacher, Alexander Bellow. Notes: Millenium Crossing Millennium Crossing A Recital by Jerry Alan Bush, Pianist Music by Owen Middleton, Composer Childhood Scenes: Track 1. Persimmon Tree Track 2. Cornfield Chase Track 3. Diamond Desert Track 4. River Place Track 5. Snipe Hunt Dedicated to my long-time friend, John Fussell Harrison who championed this little group of pieces and performed it beautifully well on numerous occasions. Scenes were written in my New York days and were my way of escaping the City without having to buy a ticket. Usually when I bought a ticket it was to go visit my friends John and Becky (Harrison) in beautiful Lancaster County PA only a few hours away in miles but light-years from New York City. Persimmon Tree takes me back to my days as a boy spending the summers with my mom, dad and brother on the river place my grandfather built in '39 before I was born. There was a shady persimmon tree in the neighborhood I enjoyed lying under and eating the fruit. The harmonies in this piece might suggest that I had eaten a few too many in places but nevertheless enjoyed my time there. Cornfield Chase is reminiscent of time spent playing tag with friends in a neighbor's cornfield, running, jumping and falling down often. Diamond Desert remembers the trek we little boys once took to explore the great (maybe a half acre) diamond desert, we called it, a short distance from home and backing up to the nearby cemetery. On it's surface were crystals that sparkled like diamonds, we thought. This desert was magical place in those childhood days (1940's. River Place is a musical ode to those happy, beautiful memories living in, swimming and fishing in that special place. Snipe Hunt describes a mischievous, Southern ritual which places a novice in the situation of holding the bag while others go off to scare the mythical snipes his way for capture. Poignant in the music, I hope, is the very slow section where all have left the young initiate to his loneliness and desolation followed by his eventual realization that nobody was coming back and then his sudden departure for home and momma! Actually, such a mean trick in my memory was never played all the way out but reconciled before any harm was done. Kids being kids, I suspect the worst did turn out now and then. Childhood Scenes is simply a fun group of pieces to play and listen to, most agree. Decoration Day Track 6. Remembering Track 7. Seeking Track 8. Biding Track 9. Marching Track 10. Reveling/Reconciling My attempt to explore the many emotions felt by a soldier, parent or child of those who have so valiantly served our country in our past conflicts. Looking backwards and forwards, I hoped to use themes that connect with our past, present and future; some may hear distant folk-songs although only in style not quotation and also forward looking, more abstract sounds, unfamiliar yet relevant. Remembering presents thematic material for the entire work and sets the tone for seriousness of intent and raw emotions. Also we hear depicted the numbing incoherence the act of war produces inevitably. Seeking searches for answers in life where there are none. Biding is an irregularly beating clock that explores psychological time and echoes pathos relentlessly looking for meaning; maybe like waiting for news of any kind or reasonableness to return. Marching suggests a parade and it's inevitable disciplined stride making it's way through staring lives of pride, terror, and regret and maybe then happily on to oblivion or numb indifference as the commotion passes. Reveling/Reconciling expresses a lighter moment of dancing; maybe a waltzing frolic; But then, fraught with resignation of beauty cut badly by the insanity of war. Finally, giving way to the weak sentimentality simmering below the surface, and yearning to sing it's wounded heart to a gentle, hopeful conclusion this long paean finds home simply and quietly. Track 11: Toccata II: Millennium Crossing Some will recall the frantic mood prior to the year 2000, when computers were predicted to crash, massive data lost to the ages, all manner of catastrophes to occur and consternation to reign worldwide. Millennium Crossing seeks to explore the dire predictions of that time in history. Beginning with an Alarm sound, the music is designed to capture the panic of the time all the while making musical sense being a Toccata, which, as you know, is expected to show off a performer's prodigious technique. That beginning alarm in the treble is inverted toward the end to the bass to mimic a thundering locomotive roaring through the millennium railroad crossing. (Dr. Bush is an expert model train builder, wouldn't you just know it?) Piano pedal all down, the music roars through and seemingly disappears into the distance as the sound dissipates then ends with a question mark major/minor sonority, pianissimo at the opposite end of the keyboard. Track 12: Cradle Rock The song Rockabye Baby In the Tree Tops is the subject of these variations. A poem published in a New York newspaper in the early Eighteenth Century described the local American Indian women's practice of laying their birch- bark cradles atop low trees (bushes) to be gently swayed or rocked by the breezes. Origins of the text and music however, are reputed to be in Eighteenth Century England and the Mother Goose Melody. Composing this whimsical piece encouraged me to add some equally wacky doggerel to describe it: If words would do, why music? Conversely too. But Cradle Rock is about many things: irony absurdity, banality. Music needs no liner-notes. But, then, in this case, adding verbiage seems almost logical. CR's points are familiar but a bit off; maybe French; a little different. Or maybe NeoDada. Duchamp revisited. As complex as you would like it to be, and a little Whacko. Fetching and off-putting; cogent and incongruous. A lovely old tune sings away. Anarchists, soto voce, cause temporary breakdown of logic and focus. FauxRock and Roll; numbing banality contrasts and ridicules shaky efforts to stay on nursery rhyme course; Anything but polite it stays too long. Rockabye Baby isn't for innocente, but is a lullaby for babies. What do they know? Falling from heights a primal fear for monkeys and their relatives. Ancient memories of the Primeval forest. The soothing song steamrolls the undisciplined imagery. Save us from evil! Ideas develop probing the underworld, warning of naivete. Deep feelings ferment below, Passionate gestures; still restless and confused; a little touchy and searching for the nut, the purpose. Then the delicate little song bears it's soul, transforming objections into poignant play. Point made, Rockabye retires. The marauder is on his own. Do what you will! Predictably, another exuberant peak. Point made, the doubter gives up the protest and loses it in a gentle fall to the far ground below. Ignorant bliss reconciles trepidations While glimpses of dark and light suggest the randomness of outcomes. Quantum mechanics, n'cest pas? Dr. Bush allowed me to dedicate this piece, facetiously to Jerry Lee Bush to connect to Rock and Roll. Track 13: Andante from Sonatina The slow movement to Sonatina written for the piano studio of Spencer and Jennifer Fellows, Bethesda Maryland is based on another of my compositions, a choral Introit, Come My Soul Thou Must Be Waking written for The Central Presbyterian Chancel Choir around 1991.Years later in writing Sonatina, I developed that brief musical idea into a full movement for piano. Dr. Bush admired it so that he was actually the first performer to play this movement; he performed it as one of his encores on a local recital. The actual premiere of the entire three- movement Sonatina was a bit later in Bethesda, expertly played by three soloists on a student recital of the Fellows students; each student was assigned one movement to perform. Dr. Robert Holm subsequently performed solo the entire piece on a summer recital entitled Twentieth Century Sonatinas. Track 14: Ondine Given Dr. Bush's penchant for programmatic music, I thought the mythological story of the watery nymph, Ondine would be a good subject to explore in my continued writing for him. Well aware of the masterpieces on the same subject by Ravel and Debussy, I sought not to compete with the masters but to offer a contemporary perspective on the theme so rich in imagery that it invites yet another attempt to capture the gist of it. I hope the listener will hear some tributes to the famous pieces gone before. Track 15: Toccata The story of this creation begins with Festival Toccata for organ that I composed for the dedication of the new Austin organ at Central Presbyterian Church in Mobile, Alabama. Mr. Valery Early premiered the difficult piece wonderfully well and impressed Dr. Bush so that he asked if he might have such a challenging piece to play himself on the piano. After receiving it, Dr. Bush has invoked the be careful what you ask for adage to me and others continually, even after several masterful performances, including one in Carnegie Hall, New York. I admit to composing virtuoso music for virtuosos in that the music must exploit the instrument thoroughly and make an attempt at stretching the musical medium. Even though I, myself may not have the technique required to perform the music at tempo, at very least I test the fingerings to confirm the piece's feasibility; So although, playable, showoff compositions like a toccata should be brilliant in style and require the utmost from the performer. Track 16: Reverie from Katie's Collection Reverie is part of a group of teaching pieces entitled Katie's Collection written for my favorite aunt, mentor, and first piano teacher, Catherine Ann Middleton, pianist, composer, choir director in Mobile, Alabama. The studies are progressive in difficulty and accessible to a wide range of students. Reverie is No.7 in the group of nine pieces. As you will hear on this live recording, undoctored or edited only for format, Dr. Bush takes personal responsibility for the success of a piece of music and spares no effort to simply make it happen. As a performer, Dr. Bush leaves it all on the stage unlike many traveling virtuosos who can't afford to do so and so leave us with yet another glib or perfunctory recital; we hear it constantly, don't we? An endless parade of let's get this over with! Not here. This album contains masterful performances of technically and musically very challenging pieces with virtually no errors or hesitancy. I can make that statement because I composed and thus know every note of this recital. Considering the care which went into the playing and composing of this recital, take the dare, show me a live performance that can equal this and I will eat my hat! (That would be, my 2013 Florida State BCS National Football Championship hat.) A word about this collaboration between Dr. Bush and myself: Once in a great while a composer has the opportunity to avail himself of a great talent who admires his music and wants to perform it! That is a blessing pure and simple. To ignore such a situation would be unthinkable. While I composed away from my absolute style mostly to increase Dr. Bush's interest, I am proud to say I think a fine thing was accomplished there, getting me out of my comfort zone a bit allowing Dr. Bush's artistry to continue to blossom as it still does today; he still premiers new music and presents recitals of the very highest order as he must. Owen Middleton I've been fortunate in my career as a composer to have had the attention of some extraordinary performers. Dr. Jerry Alan Bush is certainly one of those performers. As a pianist he has a reputation for impassioned and finely detailed recitals that span the entire piano repertoire, and happily for me, include even my efforts in writing for the piano. What this situation has done is provide me with a singular opportunity to write music on as high a level of difficulty and understanding as possible; perhaps the definition of happiness for a composer trying to contribute to and possibly expand the literature for the piano in our times. Dr. Bush's powerful technique and complete musical understanding have made it possible for me to have free reign of expression in composing for the piano. As a composer, my penchant is to write absolute music but my philosophy is to suit the performer when possible. Otherwise the effort seems to be about me only and then what's the fun in that? Now, Dr. Bush especially enjoys the programmatic piano literature but as I have mentioned already, he is an absolute master of any style period you care to name. And to the point, as you might expect, personally he is a masterful storyteller and enjoys entertaining those 'round abouts with priceless humor and commentary. Considering these assets, it has been my privilege to write music for him generally with those traits in mind. Working on this melding project has been a delight for me and I'm grateful to say, for many others including the redoubtable Dr. Bush. - Owen Middleton Biography: Dr. Jerry Alan Bush, pianist Dr. Jerry Alan Bush, Professor of Music and Keyboard Area Coordinator of the University of South Alabama Department of Music, has been named one of the '50 Outstanding Faculty' in the entire history of the university. This recognition--based on nominations by both current and former administrators, faculty, staff and students--was the result of a project sponsored by the University Faculty Senate as a part of the institution's fiftieth anniversary celebration. Recipients of this prestigious award were honored at the official celebration held on the main campus on May 3, 2013--exactly a half century after the signing of the school's charter in 1963. Dr. Bush joined the USA faculty in 1971 and has since received numerous university awards. He has been honored as Dean's Lecturer of the College of Arts and Sciences, Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding University Professor, and Alumni Outstanding University Professor. A pianist who pursues an active career in both instruction and performance, Dr. Bush was the first individual in the entire nation to be awarded the Master Teacher Certificate of the Music Teachers National Association, the highest level of professional recognition granted by the organization. He has also been designated Laureate Master Teacher of the DeBose National Piano Competition. The winner of nine piano performance competitions, Dr. Bush has appeared in locations including Weill and Zankel Halls of Carnegie Hall, the Guggenheim Museum and Queens College's Aaron Copland School of Music in New York, The Kimmel Center and The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, Princeton University, The Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress in Washington, Atlanta's High Museum of Art, and numerous venues in cities such as Denver, Houston and New Orleans. During his career at the university he has been heard in concert on a total of more than 200 occasions, including artist series in many additional communities and institutions. Students of Dr. Bush have accrued some 750 awards of all types, including numerous competitive prizes, fellowships, assistantships and other academic and musical honors. Following graduation from USA, alumni of Dr. Bush's studio have successfully pursued advanced degrees at more than thirty institutions across the nation, and many are now successful performers and highly-regarded teachers at both preparatory and collegiate levels. For many years Dr. Bush has been in substantial demand for master classes in performance styles and techniques, which he has presented at institutions, music teachers' conventions, organization conferences and studio consortiums on some 250 occasions, as well as serving as official artist-clinician for associations in Atlanta and New Orleans. He has been engaged as an adjudicator for more than 150 piano competitions at all levels and has trained adjudicators for two terms as State Clinician of the Alabama Music Teachers Association. A native of Tupelo, Mississippi, Dr. Bush's preparatory training was with Katherine Finley Otto. His undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees were completed under the guidance of Professor Roy McAllister, Professor Edward Kilenyi and Dr. Desmond Kincaid. Following the completion of the terminal degree, Dr. Bush - who believes strongly that training and development must be ongoing - has worked with a number of the world's leading pianists, including Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich, Jorge Bolet, Leon Fleisher, Adele Marcus, Karen Shaw, Ruth Slenczynska, Etsko Tazaki and Beveridge Webster. He currently coaches in New York with John Bloomfield, faculty chair of the Golandsky Piano Institute. Recorded live at Laidlaw Performing Arts Center, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama December 4, 2005 .

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Title: Owen Middleton: Millennium Crossing
Release Date: 6/15/2014
Label: CD Baby
Product Type: CD
Catalog #: 5638291330
UPC: 888174963761
Item #: 1295371X
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