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An Evening of Five World Premieres, New Flute Chamber Music for the New Millenium, Sponsored by the Presser Foundation, To Be Performed by Claire Chase and Colleagues, Friday April 21, 8:00 P.M., Warner Concert Hall

Story and Photo by Michael Chipman


John Fonville: "Striae" for flute and cello

Harvey Sollberger: "Memo for the New Millenium" for solo flute

Matthew Quayle ('99): "Horoscope" for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, bass, harp and two percussion

Pauline Oliveros: "Elemental Gallop" for vocalist flute, piano, and cello

Huang Ruo ('00): "Yueh Fei" for flute, clarinet, string quartet, piano, and percussion


Program Notes

Claire Chase Wins 1999 Presser Music Award, Launches Project to Expand Flute Repertory in 2000

Claire Chase's Presser Project Expands to Include More New Music and Performers

Senior flutist Claire Rose Chase, from Leucadia, California, student of Michel Debost, revels in the scores of new music she will perform on Friday with her Oberlin colleagues.
One evening. Five world premieres. All new music for a new millenium. Two years ago, flutist Claire Chase, a senior from Leucadia, California had the ambitious, electrifying idea to commission, perform and record new music for flute -- music as fresh from the minds of its composers as it was distinct and profound -- in short, to ring in the sounds of flute chamber music for the twenty-first century. Chase presented her idea to the Presser Foundation last fall and received funding to make it happen (see related stories).

On Friday, April 21, at 8:00 p.m. in Warner Concert Hall, Chase and her colleagues will perform five new works for flute by five living composers, under the direction of Tim Weiss, associate professor of wind conducting. The composers include John Fonville and Harvey Sollberger composers and faculty members at the University of California, San Diego; Matthew Quayle '99; Pauline Oliveros, New Music pioneer and former Conservatory faculty member; and Huang Ruo, senior composition major.

"In one sense this concert is the culmination of two years of work -- it is an end of sorts," says Chase. "In another, more important sense, it is really the beginning of a lifetime of work for me and many of the other young people in the ensemble who are dedicated to the future of chamber music in the next century."

Chase says the project has been a lot of work, but immensely rewarding. "At this point, I'm just trying to keep my head slightly above water amidst all the chaos, but I can't complain," she says. "This has been one of the most gratifying and warmly supported collaborative experiences I've ever had. And as much as the pressure does rest on my shoulders, I have a uniquely incredible team. People like Tim Weiss, and Brian Alegant, my teachers, Mr. Debost and Mrs. Chastain, and Linda Shockley, director of public relations, have been so helpful in every step of the process. I wouldn't have been able to do any of it without the organizational help of Hudie Broughton, who has volunteered his time and his mind and his creativity to making all of this happen at the right time and in the right place.

"A lot of things didn't turn out the way I wanted them to," says Chase. "What I had intended to be a five-month long process of rehearsals, turned into a ten-day scrambling race. Around January I realized I wasn't going to get the pieces anywhere near the deadlines that I had hoped to receive them by, so I just decided that my role as a performer is not nearly as important as the role of a composer. I'm a student, still learning, and if that means learning five pieces in two weeks, then I'm up for it."

Despite changes and surprises, Chase says, "the commitment, passion, dedication and, most importantly, the love of this project and what it stands for has been there the whole time. Even though the music didn't exist until a short time ago, those things have as much to do with the performance we will give in a week as the technical mastery and good ensemble collaboration that people strive for in a good concert."

"Classical music is just beginning, it's always beginning." --Claire Chase

Love runs like a river through Chase's description of this project: love of music -- new music in particular -- love of musicians, love for mentors and colleagues. "I have a passion for the new," she says. "I love getting up in the morning with a whole new slew of ideas than the set I went to sleep with, and I love -- more than just about anything -- turning an idea that I feel 'comfortable' with inside and out, twisting, molding and picking at it until it takes an utterly new, and stronger, shape. I do this with every new piece. When the music is good, when it forces me to forget about myself, my instrument, my technique, the process becomes even more interesting, unfolds and deepens.

"But I think my love of new music is more than that," she continues. "Chamber music, for me, is where it's at. Someday, I would love to set a new standard -- to program a Mozart flute quartet right next to a brand new flute quartet written by one of my colleagues, someone my age, something utterly new that pushes the boundaries. I'd love to see my new music junkie buds sitting next to the subscribers at the prestigious chamber music series in which these two works would be performed. I'd love for this to be normal, culturally expected, and desirable.

"I love showing new music to my little seven-year-old students," says Chase. "They don't yet think it's weird because Mozart is still weird to them. It's all new; It's all exciting. They listen to sounds, colors, images, and their little bodies and their little minds react. They listen and learn with open minds and hearts, and I'm always humbled by their insights into things I thought I understood."

Working with the ensemble of musicians she has assembled for the concert, says Chase, has been the best part of the process. "They are twelve of the most inspired young people I'll ever have the opportunity to work with. The most important, unchanging aspect is love of the process itself, whatever that entails. That has been constant and mutual among everybody involved, which is pretty special. What a better time or place for me to start my life goals? There are more gifted and generous people in this tiny little institution than just about anywhere.

"I have also enjoyed seeing my own conceptions of music -- what it should be and how I think it should be defined -- completely turned upside down, folded inside out and challenged to the bone," says Chase. "Everyone of these pieces forces me to do something that I've never done before, that I didn't know I was capable of. And they are all so different -- so incredibly different."

"The recording of these pieces will be supported by Mike Schulze, director of audio services, and engineered by Cat Lai," says Chase. "Cat is amazing. She is not only a brilliant young pianist, but a really talented recording engineer. The other works will be recorded in June. The CD will be finished by fall semester 2000. The next part of this project for me will be promoting the work of the ensemble and the composers with the CD and encouraging more and more performances of these five works."

So, what is next for Claire Chase? "As much as this has been a huge amount of work, I'd want to do it again," she says. "I want to do bigger versions of this project repeatedly for the rest of my life. Because of all the mistakes that I've made, it can only get better, more efficient, more focused, purer, more exciting. I just love new music. And I love feeling like I'm a part of the ways in which history and music and culture are constantly changing, especially in such a symbolically important time like the beginning of the twenty-first century. But new music will continue to be important regardless of the year or the occasion. I am really lucky that I have five beautiful pieces to live and change with for the rest of my life."

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