Click here for a sneak preview of George Sabol’s Knight, Death, and the Devil.
5:30–9 p.m.: Carnegie Café bar open
6:30–7:30 p.m.: Performance in Heinz Galleries
Knights, saints, death, fantastical landscapes—they’ve inspired quite a few rock songs. They also inspired some of the most notable master prints from the 15th to 17th centuries. Join us in the galleries for an evening of contemporary music inspired by Small Prints, Big Artists: Masterpieces from the Renaissance to Baroque.
Six musicians and composers—Matt Aelmore, Rob Frankenberry, Jonghee Kang, George Sabol, Jeff Weston, and Roger Zahab—will perform a remarkable range of musical styles in front of large projections of the masterworks that have inspired them. The performers will also share their thoughts about these works of art and how they were inspired to create new music.
Performance inspired by Rembrandt’s The Three Trees (1643).
Born four years before the Summer of Mercy, and twenty-nine years after the founding of Pizza Hut, Matt Aelmore’s work is inspired by radical cultural landscape of Wichita, Kansas where he was raised. His music is like dreaming, exploring degrees of communication and miscommunication between artist and audience, often fudging the common boundaries between music and language, and engaged by a beautifully unpredictable kind of repetition. Aelmore studied music at Wichita State University (BM), Manhattan School of Music (MM), and is currently completing his doctoral studies in music theory and composition at the University of Pittsburgh. Compositions of his have been performed throughout the United States and Europe in venues such as Chambers Fine Art, Cornelia Street Café, and The Tank in New York, the Ton-Art Festival in Esslingen, and Future Tenant in Pittsburgh. His new opera Cowboy Rock’n’Roll USA will be premiered Noise-Bridge Duo in Stuttgart this June.
"The Three Trees is known as one of Rembrandt’s largest and most detailed etched landscapes. In it, a fisherman angles by the pond as an artist paints on the hill. The trees leaves bloom upward like cumulous clouds anchored to the earth. But there is something curious about the shapes in the sky. Rembrandt cut ominously dark straight lines to the left, and swirling masses on the right. Hazy figurations trail off into the horizon. Something unreal is in the air forming these clouds. Whatever is happening above, it is the same air that the fisherman and artist breathe as they continue unfettered. My composition, Gallery Cloud, puts air into motion–sound. Like the air around the clouds in the etching, the guitars present new figuration from a few different strokes. A recording made while walking throughout the museum orients you to the space you are in at this moment like the air that the artist and fisherman breathe. Between the guitars and the recording a new cloud emerges, with Rembrandt’s The Three Trees as the focal point in front of you." – Matt Aelmore
Performance inspired by Jacques Callot’s Riciulina and Metzetin (1621).
Robert Frankenberry leads a varied career as a tenor, pianist, actor, conductor, and orchestrator. His roles on stage range from the title roles in Faust, The Tales of Hofmann, and Willy Wonka, to Evangelist (St. Matthew Passion), John Adams (1776) and Mozart (Amadeus.) He has created new orchestrations of complete operas by Gluck (Orfeo), Montemezzi (L’Incantesimo), and a folk-based adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen for Opera Theater of Pittsburgh (OT SummerFest), where he currently holds the position of Music Director; as well as chamber orchestrations of works by Mahler, Stravinsky, Ravel, Satie, and Busoni for IonSound and Alia Musica. This past SummerFest season, he performed the role of Carl Magnus (A Little Night Music) and led the premieres of four new chamber operas as part of the Night Caps project, as well as conducting the premiere of a new chamber version of Daron Hagen’s opera about Frank Lloyd Wright, Shining Brow, performed in and around Fallingwater. Highlights of the current season include the role of Pollione in Norma (Undercroft), piano soloist in Rachmaninoff’s 2nd concerto, and vocal recitals of scenes from Tristan und Isolde, The King’s Henchmen, Samson and Delilah, and Aida. Robert is a member of such ensembles as Pittsburgh’s Music on the Edge ensemble, IonSound, and AnimeBOP; New York’s Phoenix Players; Chrysalis Transformative Duo; and entelechron.
Performance inspired by the work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1760 – 1776)
Jonghee Kang has written across a wide spectrum of musical genres, ranging from new concert music to film scoring to crossover music. Her music has been characterized as stylistically diverse but always lyrical, lush sounding, and inviting. Music critic Alan Kozinn wrote in The New York Times that her work “elicits a dynamically fluid, pointillistic texture that hints at narrative while remaining alluringly aloof.” As a scholar, Kang’s recent research interests include Elliott Carter’s music written in the '80s and '90s as well as structure and rhythm of Korean sanjo music. She won the Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship for her dissertation research at the University of Pittsburgh, where she is currently pursuing doctorate study (A.B.D.) in music composition and theory under the direction of Professor Eric Moe. In recent years, Kang has given lectures on her music and thoughts at Musik Unserer Zeit (Germany), Emory University, and Estoril Music Festival (Portugal). Her music has been performed in the United States, Europe, and Asia by ensembles and soloists such as Ensemble SurPlus, Ensemble Interface, IonSound, NOW Ensemble, Alia Musica, TICF Players, Reinbert Evers, Peter Kersting, Yeree Suh, Seoul Grand Choir, Ensemble ye:rak, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She participated in music festivals such as June in Buffalo, TICF, Pan Music Festival, Etchings Festival, National Arts Centre Composers Programme, and Aspen Music Festival and School. She had master classes with composers Robert Beaser, David Felder, Brian Ferneyhough, Lee Hyla, Betsy Jolas, Ladislav Kubik, Fred Lerdahl, Zhou Long, Augusta Read Thomas, Steven Stucky, George Tsontakis, Amnon Wolman, and Yehudi Wyner.
"I was inspired by two prints by Piranesi. The Title Plate is from the second edition of Piranesi’s Carceri series. This edition carries more weight and intensity than its first edition counterpart. Most notably, a darker character and more complex use of space. My music is an aural depiction of these elements. The ruined amphitheater in The Colosseum, Bird’s Eye View shows very dynamic and intriguing characteristics. The Colosseum's level of detail and the expression of its architectural layers are truly remarkable. Although architecturally ruined and barren, the amphitheater exists as a place of energetic vitality, both for the artwork and the bodies it once held. The amphitheater looks as if it was built long ago and endured the passing of time. This perspective adds more beauty to this ruined architecture. Johann Sebastian Bach’s music became a perfect inspiration for me to convey the dynamic beauty and detail of the Colosseum. A quote from the Well-Tempered Clavier (Book 1, Prelude in B flat Major) by this great composer of the Baroque period became the backbone of this work. Beginning from this, I regenerated the golden moment of the musical past to a piece of rejuvenating present." – Jonghee Kang
Performance inspired by Albrecht Dürer’s Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513)
Thirty-six year guitar veteran, George Sabol, started playing at the age of 5. His interest in classical music, such as works by Bach and Paganini, combined with his exposure to guitar icons, including Ritchie Blackmore and Tony Iommi, fueled his passion for music. Further inspired by guitar greats Andy LaRocque, Vinnie Moore, and Joe Satriani, Sabol spent his early career with numerous bands and a dedication to the craft of guitar playing in a wide range of styles, guitar theory, and musicianship. In addition to his musical influences, Sabol gleans artistic inspiration from early horror films (ie: White Zombie, 1932) and actors (Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, and Boris Karloff). This imaginative combination of sight and sound has been the driving force behind Sabol’s music for more than a decade. In 2003, with some of his early band work on the charts, Sabol signed with Brazilian-based Moria Records with whom he released a five-song instrumental EP entitled Nocturnal Overture. This EP showcased his signature style of theatrical movements with dark passages and haunting melodies and led to his first fully orchestrated CD release in 2004. The thirteen-track spectral soundscape entitled Eternal Darkness was widely used by amusement parks and haunted attractions. Also in 2004, Sabol played alongside noted musicians such as George Lynch, Vince Neil, Jag Panzer, and Primal Fear on the album Evil Lives: A True Metal Tribute to Black Sabbath released by Cleopatra Records. In 2008, Kennywood Park commissioned Sabol to create fully orchestrated theme music for their Ghostwood Estate dark ride and Phantom Frightnight’s Voodoo Bayou. Sabol continues to create full orchestral compositions and is currently scoring the 1922 German Expressionist horror film Nosferatu. Music theory has always been an important part of Sabol’s practice. His Lesson Lab series was featured in Music Underground Magazine and he has been teaching guitar since 1999 inspiring a new generation of musicians.
"My composition for Durer’s Knight, Death, and the Devil was written in two parts. The first represents the Knight confronting Death and his own mortality. The counterpoint in this part combines a haunting guitar theme with melancholy violin and cello melodies. The snare drum acts as the underpinning element signifying the Knight's strength and perseverance in the face of Death. As the section nears the end, the piece evolves and becomes more uplifting indicating that Death has passed. The second part represents the Knight and his battle with the Devil. It opens with a "call and response" between them that acts as warning of something wicked this way comes. The intensity of the drums and guitar portray the Devil's anger and might. An ethnic and playful melody illustrates the Devil's attempt to persuade and entice the Knight. A short battle between the two begins, with the guitar (Knight) and the violin (Devil) heatedly echoing each other note for note. The drums and guitars then return at the end signaling the Devil's anger at a battle lost." – George Sabol
Performance inspired by Rembrandt’s The Flight into Egypt: A Night Piece (1651)
Jeff Weston composes music at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is working towards a PhD in Music Composition and Theory and a PhD Certificate in Cultural Studies. His music explores modes of expressivity through investigations of balance, failure, repetition, temporality, and physicality. Instructors have included Amy Williams, Eric Moe, Christopher Dietz, Mikel Kuehn, Elainie Lillios, and Brooke Joyce. Weston has garnered performances and fellowships at such venues as the International Young Composers’ Forum, Vox Novus’ Composers Voice Series, Cal State University New Music Festival, Red Note New Music Festival, North American Saxophone Alliance National Conference, Contagious Sounds Series, and soundSCAPE Festival and Radio France. Interpreters have included the JACK Quartet, H2 Quartet, Anbubis Quartet, the Color Field Ensemble, Orkest de Erepreijs, and cellist Dave Eggar. He currently resides somewhere between the Atlantic Ocean and a cornfield.
"This composition was developed using a series of recorded and re-recorded sounds. It is site-specific and was inspired by the degrading over time of the copper printing plate inherent in the printmaking process. Additionally, the compositional model of an “oratorio” was at its height during the Baroque period and involved an extensive composition for a choir and vocal soloists. In this piece, my (the composer’s) voice, and its subsequent re-recordings serve as both the choir and soloist. This print by Rembrandt, A Flight Into Egypt, is very dark in appearance. During my investigation of this print, I discovered that other versions vary in their darkness and handling of lines and shading. The more I examined other prints of the etching, the more I found various images and textures that were hidden in others. With the concepts of reproduction and exposure in mind, I began to think about how often a print could be made from the original copper plate. With each printing, the copper plate is slowly destroyed, therefore only allowing a limited number of copies to be created before being rendered unintelligible. I then began to think about this process – its relationship to sound. During the first phase of my project, I arbitrarily recorded thoughts, concepts and explanations for the composition/installation, including the possibility of the work serving as a metaphysical space of sorts. Over the course of the exhibition, this original recording will be re-recorded daily using simple tape recorders. Each day of the exhibition, a new recording will replace the previous, which exists as a dubbed recording of the last. Through this process, an audible change in the quality of the original recording can be heard. Any noises or mishaps during each re-recording might be initially insignificant but will gradually become more present and audible with each tape dubbing. This process is not dissimilar to the changes made to or the degradation of a copper plate during the printing process. More so, the thoughts, concepts and explanations relayed by my voice are slowly lost to the unwarranted sounds. As a result, the piece gradually takes new shapes through this extensive process. Questions of place and locality; the role(s) of the composer and listener; and the concepts of situation and failure as artistic tools are examined throughout the process." – Jeff Weston
Performance inspired by Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s The Drawbridge. An Immense Interior, with Numerous Wooden Galleries, and a Drawbridge in the Center (1761); Georg Pencz’s Horatius Cocles (c. 1537); after Pieter Brueghel The Elder (1525–1569); Philip Galle’s Prudentia (Prudence) (1559-1560); Hans Sebald Beham’s The Story of the Prodigal Son: The Prodigal Son Returns to His Father's Home (1540); and Giovanni Antonio Canal’s Mestre (c. 1744).
Roger Zahab instigates complex relations through his activities as composer, violinist, conductor, teacher, and writer. His work has been performed throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia by such soloists and ensembles as cellists David Russell, violinist Nathalie Shaw, flutist Lindsey Goodman, pianists Robert Frankenberry, Eric Moe and Bennett Lerner, The Furious Band, California EAR Unit, IonSound Project and Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, The New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra and the Akron Symphony Orchestra. Recordings as violinist, composer and conductor, most recently: entelechron: time + memory, are available on many labels and through iTunes and Spotify. Upcoming performances include the opera Happy Hour! –commissioned by the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh for performances in taverns throughout the Pittsburgh area in June and July as well as on their Summerfest series on July 26 – 27, and a chamber music-drama version for small spaces of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Roger currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is Senior lecturer and directs the University Symphony Orchestra and Music on the Edge Chamber Orchestra among many other things, and Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he is a Founding core faculty member of the MFA in Music Composition.
"In The Moment for Violin and Piano was inspired by five very different prints. This suite of captured instants are interrelated in a number of ways: on the technical level sets of pitches and of time spans or proportions are worked over and transformed, and there is also an emotional progression from danger to serenity. I) For Piranesi’s The Drawbridge, the music is set between the staves and the instruments to form a series of vertical harmonies and connecting lines between them. The starkness of the material is connected in my mind with Piranesi’s need to create these Carceri d’invenzione or Imaginary Prisons. II) Georg Pencz’s powerful scene in Horatius Cocles is striking for a number of reasons – the dynamic action, the muscularity of the combatants (in our time only to had from daily workouts in a gym, but for them only to be had from a life of war or hard outdoor labor), and a face to face struggle to the death – Cocles is defending his city against invaders. III) The layers of activity in this beautifully detailed image of Brueghel’s Prudentia (Prudence), prompted me to combine a range of modes, which include an homage to composer Lou Harrison, who cherished and conserved all his creative life. IV) The music for Hans Sebald Beham’s print entitled The Story of the Prodigal Son: The Prodigal Son Returns to His Father's Home is so intimately bound up with this image and the story it represents that I cannot find words. V) Giovanni Antonio Canal’s, Mestre, is cast as a spectral barcarolla, a Venetian boat song." – Roger Zahab
Culture Club is sponsored by:
Discover the Impact of Printmaking
June 27: Copying as Research: Uncovering the Secrets of the Master Engravers
June 28: Language of Line Workshop with Andrew Raftery
July 17–August 7: Extraordinary Experiments: The Prints of Bruegel, Dürer, Schongauer, and Rembrandt