I’m looking forward to performing this terrific work, by composer Jeremy Gill, on Sunday’s concert. From my perspective, as an oboist, it’s got everything I like best to play – expressive, expansive solos, quick articulation and fancy technique, adorable little bird peeps in the high register – and this is perhaps unsurprising as I first knew Jeremy as an oboe minor at the Eastman School of Music while I was attending as an oboe major. He’s not an oboist any more, though, but an impressive and accomplished composer, and I’m honored to present this smart and thoughtful work.
Here are Jeremy Gill’s own program notes, to mull over and to admire.
Soglie, Serenate, Sfere (2009), for oboe and two percussion
Soglie, Serenate, Sfere is a fantasy on the aria “Care soglie” from Alarico (1687) by Agostino Steffani, the first work in Western music to explicitly call for the oboe in its orchestration. “Soglie” (“thresholds”), the first movement of this three-movement work, and “Sfere” (“spheres”), the last, act as bookends to the much longer middle movement, “Serenate” (“songs”), thus recalling the da capo structure of the aria.
Soglie, Serenate, Sfere is also an exploration of the oboe’s pre-history, and reflects on, in “Serenate”, its past rolls in religious rituals (as the Arabic zurna, and paired with cymbals) and warfare (as the zurna, and the shawm in medieval Europe, paired with drums), as well as its bucolic associations (paired with the tambourine). In “Soglie” and “Sfere”, the evocation is again of the outdoors, but in these movements it is the wide open spaces of the outdoors that is of primary interest: the oboe begins at the back of the hall and ends at the front, while the percussion (playing wood blocks and claves, then chimes) begin at the front and end at the back. Heightening this effect is the imitation of bird calls in the oboe and insect sounds in the wood blocks and claves.
Soglie, Serenate, Sfere was premiered by ToniMarie Marchioni, Luke Rinderknecht, and Chihiro Shibayama at the Juilliard School on 31 October 2009.