Stephen Gosling to perform Brian Schober's Manhattan Impromptus


Nov 13 2011 - 5:00pm
Stephen GoslingStephen Gosling

Frequent ACA performer Stephen Gosling to perform ten vignettes of New York City

Stephen Gosling performs Brian Schober's “Manhattan Impromptus” (1995-96) for solo piano, a sprawling panorama of New York impressions that features a bold mix of styles in many musical spheres -- including classical, avant-garde, and jazz.

Performer: Stephen Gosling, piano

Brian Schober's ACA Composer Page

Cornerstone Center at Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church
178 Bennett Avenue (one block west of Broadway at 189th Street)
New York, NY 10040
Box office hours: One hour prior to the performance

About the Composer

Brian Schober has pursued an active career as a composer and performer throughout the United States and abroad.  A native of New Jersey, Schober pursued his musical studies at the Eastman School of Music where his teachers included Samuel Adler and Joseph Schwantner in composition and Sue Seid and Russell Saunders in organ.  He furthered his studies in Paris, studying composition with Olivier Messiaen and Betsy Jolas at the Paris Conservatory of Music while studying organ privately with Jean Guillou and André Isoir. Schober’s music spans all instrumental and vocal media.  His music has been performed by the Gregg Smith Singers, The New York Treble Singers, Voces Novae et Antiquae, the Kitos Singers, nexus Arts, Palisades Virtuosi, the percussion ensembles of The Juilliard School, Mannes School of Music and the University of Buffalo, and the New York Percussion Quartet.  As a performer of organ music of all styles and periods, he has toured both the U.S. and Europe, particularly presenting concerts of new organ music.  He has also performed with the new music group Speculum Musicae. He is the recipient of many prizes and awards including those from BMI, Editions Salabert, the French Cultural Ministry, the National Endowment of the Arts, The American Music Center and twice from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.  In 1984-5, he was composer-in-residence at the Center for Computer Music and Research at Stanford University under a Rockefeller Foundation Grant.  A CD of works for chorus and organ recorded by the Gregg Smith Singers and the New York Treble Singers is issued by Ethereal Recordings, Manhattan Impromptus for piano, performed by Stephen Gosling, has been released by Capstone Records.  His Wind-Space for alto flute, bass clarinet and piano was commissioned by the Palisades Virtuosi and recorded by them for Albany Records.  His chamber opera, Dance of the Stones, was premiered by Nexus Arts in November 2010 at Theatre 80 in New York City to great acclaim and sold out houses.  He is currently Music Director of the First Congregational Church in Park Ridge, New Jersey.

About the Performer
Pianist Stephen Gosling enjoys a varied career as soloist and chamber musician with a particular focus on the music of our time. Mr. Gosling is a member of New York New Music Ensemble, Ensemble Sospeso, American Modern Ensemble, Orchestra of the League of Composers, and Ne(x)tworks. He has also performed with the New York Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Dutch Radio Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Bang on a Can, and Speculum Musicae, among many others. His work has garnered consistent critical acclaim, and he was profiled by the New York Times in October 2005. A native of Sheffield, England, Mr. Gosling relocated to New York in 1989 to begin studies with Oxana Yablonskaya at The Juilliard School. Upon graduation from the Bachelor of Music program in 1993, he was awarded the Mennin Prize for Outstanding Leadership and Excellence in Music. Earlier that year he performed John Corigliano's Piano Concerto with Leonard Slatkin and the Juilliard Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall, and gave the European premiere of Paul Schoenfield's Four Parables with the Dutch Radio Philharmonic under Lukas Foss. In 1994 Mr. Gosling received his Master's degree from Juilliard and was awarded the Sony Elevated Standards Fellowship. He subsequently enrolled in the Doctor of Musical Arts program, from which he graduated in 2000. While at Juilliard, he was featured as concert soloist an unprecedented four times. Mr. Gosling was for three years pianist of the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and appeared in several seasons of the Summergarden series at MOMA. He has also performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Grant Park Festival in Chicago, the Bang on a Can Marathon, Bargemusic, the 2001 Great Day in New York festival, and the PAN festival in Seoul, Korea. Mr. Gosling has been heard on the NPR, WNYC and WQXR radio networks, and has recorded for New World Records, CRI, Mode, Innova, and Rattle Records.

About the Program
Manhattan Impromptus were composed in 1995-96 for piano solo and consists of ten pieces of varying character and moods.  When one thinks of the word “impromptu”, especially in a musical sense, one thinks immediately, of course, of the various improvisatory-like pieces composed in the 19th Century by Schubert and Chopin among others.  However, “impromptu” can also mean something that is done on the spur of the moment or is unplanned.  This latter interpretation, for me, captures much of the quality of life and experience in New York City where many seemingly incongruous elements are often thrown together with little, if any, foresight and are made to exist together.  This in true in many areas:  architecturally, culturally, socially, linguistically, etc.  All of these wide-ranging concepts find their way into the music of this work with its proliferation and frequent juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated ideas.  In a sense, it is also my reaction to much of the polarization of musical ideas and techniques which existed during much of my musical matriculation during the 1960’s and 1970’s (tonal vs. serial, uptown vs. downtown, etc.), which has always seemed to me to be frivolous and short-sighted.

This dichotomy exists from the very beginning, in the first piece, where tonal and atonal ideas are made to exist side by side in a highly rhythmic and jazz-like context, increasing in intensity and dynamic range until the very end which employs the extremes of the keyboard.  The second piece offers a complete contrast in its slow moving, static melody and simple harmonic accompaniment.  The third piece is an homage to the player piano music of Colon Nancarrow, which has always fascinated me by its invention and rhythmical complexities.  Many intricate rhythmic patters (including frequent use of a gradual increase and decrease of note values) are superimposed on each other to give an effect of an “out-of-kilter” barrel organ.  The fourth piece is the most Chopinesque of the set, based mostly on simple triadic motives, and ending again with a dramatic flourish.  The fifth again offers a complete contrast with what has preceded.  This time, however, it unfolds with an ostinato of slowly moving harmonies. 

The sixth piece is perhaps the most characteristic of the set and is a type of perverted Bach two-part invention.  Here, a rather banal and perfectly tonal melody is put through all the manipulations of classic serial technique (prime, inversion, retrograde and retrograde-inversion), while appearing in each of the 12 major keys.  This melody is accompanied by another single voice – disjointed, free and mostly atonal.  The seventh piece was inspired by James Joyce’s famous quote from the last paragraph of Finnegan’s Wake  -- “Soft morning city” and is based on a slow ostinato of gradually increasing note-values played on a single note – the lowest D on the piano.  The eighth piece was inspired by someone who I just happened to hear playing and improvising on the saxophone off in the distance while walking through Central Park late one evening.  The ninth piece is another dramatic and highly virtuosic piece, based on a number of elements, in particular the fast repetitions of certain chords.  The tenth and final piece brings the work to a quiet and peaceful conclusion with its long soulful melody, melodic ostinato and chorale-like coda.