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Music Reviews : Composers' Institute In Long Beach

June 28, 1986|TERRY McQUILKIN

It may not be fair to schedule new works by composition students in the same program as new music by established composers. But then again, it may be.

On Thursday at Cal State Long Beach, the second of four concerts presented as a part of the school's Summer Composers' Institute included two works by composers with college teaching posts. In this case, neither work proved a highlight.

The evening closed with the premiere of Salvatore Martirano's "Sampler: everything goes when the whistle blows." Combining the live sounds of Dorothy Martirano's amplified fiddling with those of the Yamaha synthesis equipment on hand, the Illinois-based composer concocted a wide array of sounds. But there is no apparent logic to his sampling--one effect follows another--and the loudness of the amplification hardly improved matters. The composer's wife, nonetheless, performed admirably.

Earlier, Robert Carl, who teaches in Connecticut, was represented by his "Skyway" for percussion and tape. An uninterrupted tone, gradually intensified by changes in pitch, volume and timbre, comprised most of the taped sounds. Though percussionist Leon Milo proved active and able, his efforts were usually overshadowed by the louder, more persistent sounds from the speakers. Long before the end, the listener's interest flagged.

Judging by the sound of their music, the six student composers on the program possess varying degrees of compositional experience. Louise Jones' "Awakening," for solo flute, though bringing to mind works of Varese and Berio, boasts a good deal of originality and much forward drive. Her exploitation of the instrument's range and dynamic capabilities and her use of multiphonics proved highly effective, particularly in Diane Alancraig's dynamic reading.

Pianist Virginia Mitchell gave sensitive accounts of works by Stephen Stanton and Arlen Card; both proved clear in form, competent and conservative. Harpist Anne Cox played her own brief "Cryosphere"; neither Michael Miraula's "Discrete Gigue" for flute nor Carl Byron's "Toccata" had much substance.

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