COLLABORATION WITH DAN PERLONGO
Old astronomy charts recycled from my late father’s drawers, a starting point in 2007. Pushing paint around, oranges and blues, earth and sky/water. In 2012, inspired by these colours after a prolonged dry, first rains appear and first blades of grass Onset Of The Wet (i) & (ii)- recycled beach detritus is added, another form of playful mark-making-The Big Wet, greener. In Catching The Moon tiny yellow moon appears, poetics of the skies. Three of these works were chosen by my American composer friend, Daniel Perlongo, to create a piano piece for four hands entitled Earth Soundprints
In 1967, I went to Europe aged 22 years and spent the first six months of my six years abroad, in Rome. I lived in a building with several American Fulbright scholars, artists and composers. One was Dan Perlongo who was studying composition with Gofreddo Petrassi at the Santa Cecilia Academy. We hung out as a group of friends but lost contact when I left Rome until, in 2013, on a whim, I ‘found him’ on the internet and thus we began corresponding.
He was keen to see my work and so an exchange of creative energies emerged from which, inspired by a triptych in my Sky Map series, the seeds of our collaboration were sown. He began working on a composition, a piano piece for 4- hands, which became Earth Soundprints.
On a trip to the USA in 2014, Jon and I drove from my cousin’s in Virginia to their home in rural Pennsylvania. The road trip was somewhat stressful with poor rainy weather and huge freeways and many different roads to take but we passed through many green, soft billowy trees and crossed the edges of both the Allegheny and Appalachian mountains, struck by how much forest exists in this country especially since the east is the most densely populated part. On the final approach to Dan and Susan’s we found ourselves on a gently winding narrow rural road flanked with plush green trees and fields with crops and dappled light through forested areas. Then their lovely home, all light-filled with large spaces and views out over fields and birdsong and a treed ridge and mountains beyond on one side, and a forested area on the another.
In the lounge room two grand pianos nestle yin yang-like, a ‘his and hers.’ Both Dan and Susan have separate and beautiful light-filled studios giving out to the greenery. Dan has another piano here and an electric keyboard, and two large computer screens, the tools of a modern day composer. They treated us to mini concerts of some of Dan’s work for two pianos, some Bach for Bonney and a wee bit of Dan jazz, which, unbeknownst to me, had sustained him in Rome where he played in little bars while studying there.
I have always loved the work of the great American architect Frank LLoyd Wright and Falling Water, one of his most famous homes is a 2-hour drive from Dan and Susan’s so a pre-booked visit was on the agenda. A glorious modernist building, nestled in soft woods, built in stone and concrete with layered balconies cantilevered out over the small stream and waterfall. Everywhere the sight and sound of falling water is present. Wright designed all his own furniture also. This was an incredible experience.
He had actually proceeded with the composing of our collaborative project and I was quite surprised to learn that he had almost finished the work, which is contemporary and exciting though still rhythmical and melodic.
We started talking about Dan and Susan, also a pianist and music educator, visiting us in Australia. Just before we departed we were all pouring over maps of Google Earth ‘driving’ up our little street and right into our front garden in preparation for a future visit which would dovetail nicely with their thought to visit one of their friends and colleagues who plays Dan’s music and is a senior lecturer at the VCA in Melbourne! On my return to Australia, I sent a series of photos to induce/seduce them and in 2015, they graced us with their presence here. They gave a small performance at a soiree I arranged and all had a very good time!
Listen to excerpts from Earth Soundprints music by clicking the following link: http://www.windoverpianomusic.com/
Composer: Daniel Perlongo
Print Edition Price: $27.95 score
Year Authored (or revised): 2016
Scoring: Piano 4-hands
Duration (min): 10
1 – Sky Map
2 – Catching The Moon
3 – Onset Of The Big Wet
6/22/15 Perlongo-Wheatley Piano Duo, College Music Society 2015 International Conference, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland
My three movement work for piano four-hands was created in collaboration with Australian artist, Bonney Bombach, whose abstract sky-map paintings make a poignant statement about climate change and environmental decay. Her pieces involve an overlay of beach detritus with her father’s astronomy sky maps and mapping implements painted around and intermingled by collage with plastic pieces found washed up on shore from overly heavy rains. Bonney comments that she was inspired by the colors of earth, water and the onset of a catastrophic wet season after an extended dry. I find them wonderful abstracts with very attractive balances, ominous tones and harmonic color, providing a perfect metaphor for my composition about our planet’s changing climate patterns.
Movement 1-“Sky map” has a smooth, moderate tempo with lyrical, singing phrases. Bonney’s painting is much like a still life lyrically balanced around a central large white space in an orange-brown background. To me it evokes a curious stillness of the beach viewed from the sky before the coming of the big wet. 2-“Catching the moon” in a quicker waltz-like tempo, swirls and zooms in on blue-water and the reddish-brown landscapes in Bombach’s abstraction. 3-“Onset of the big wet” with a syncopated, driving pulse gives voice to the catastrophic wet season, flying-fleeting lines, sudden chordal interruptions and an antiphonal interplay between the four hands. The music concludes, as Bombach’s visual rendering suggests, with a fugal sound print of flood, fury, and the pollution of earth’s climate change amidst our celestial galaxy.
For more information on Dan Perlongo and Earth Soundprints music select the following link: https://composers.com/daniel-perlongo
CORREPONDENCE BETWEEN DAN PERLONGO & BONNEY BOMBACH
September 26, 2013
Just a quickie for now but thanks so much for this lovely music! (Dedicated to the lovely Susan). It is so lively and abstract and asymmetrical like the Miro’s…that breathy attenuated thing again especially in some ‘movements’…I love the one (? second or third last) with the long pauses interspersed throughout, so unexpected, the ‘ has it ended yet?’ feel to it. Is it you or Susan playing this piece?
I also very much relate to the eclectic sources of your inspiration
I have often considered making marks to music, I mean specifically responding to music but, like so many ideas, haven’t actually done it although I often listen to music while working but that’s different.
Tomorrow back to the other emails to try to get more of your music…been hectic here with show- related tasks and interstate visitors.
Will respond separately to the other email except to thank you VERY much for your overwhelming response to and depth of interest in my work. Not really experienced it like this before! And yes, let’s talk about you ‘ playing with’ images of mine if you would like to.
Very warmest regards from me & better say hi to that Susan of yours too!
Parliamo piu tarde
On another note, I want to ask you about your work in 2006 (just on a chance). I am busy these days re viewing, re visioning a string quartet from 2006. I called it Nocturne. (But it is one of those works that never left my “shop” — just had unfinished business with it,) Anyway, I am back into it now. Thought I would ask (on a rather mystical chance, let’s say) about your work at that time. The idea of synchrony. (Often I have been working on ideas and I feel as if I am off alone in a discovery, to find later that others have been into similar ‘places’ at the same time. The ideas put forth by Jung (but frankly I haven’t been back to Jung for many years, but his ideas do bounce around my thinking here and there).
Well talking of Jung /(same same) synchronicity etc I also re-visit stuff- have a drawer labelled ‘unfinished’ and ,usually between major bodies of work, I pull stuff out and work over/alter, add to and complete things. So here’s the thing…dad died aged 100 in 2005 and we were there and I couldn’t leave my 98 yr old mum (no family, no other relatives, only child, loved them both to bits) so I stayed to look after her and found I couldn’t leave her alone so Jon returned home and we had a commuting rship for what turned into 3 yrs.
During that time I couldn’t really make any work, creatively frustrated, joined classical choir, singing for the first time-LOVED it-but somewhere round 2006-8 took a little studio for a while a started making work layering on top of things from my father’s drawers-notably astronomy material, sky charts etc (astronomy one of his many interests). Finished them off somewhere a little later. (see titles Sky Map (i) & (ii) and Postcards to my Father).
So the story continues. Several years later, after many months of extreme dry up here, we had the first rain of the wet season and I was so elated I wanted to make some work about it, also wanting to return to playing with collaging onto canvas recycled beach detritus which I have used in sculptures etc. The dry spoke of red and orange and desert colours, the rain of blues & the coming green, so how amazing to note the earlier unfinished Sky Map works sitting on the studio floor, all blues and oranges…and away I went, collaging mostly plastic beach detritus onto the surface so speaking of astronomy overlaid with weather….
Not exactly 2006 but ….
I leave it with you and attach some pics.
Yes, Perahia! I listened to his Partitas 5 and 6 this morning. I love the lightness and clarity of his playing, a really wonderful pianist. I think I mentioned previously that I am working on 4,5 and 6 these days. I am aiming for the lightness of touch and the ease with which the whole thing is accomplished. I am sticking to those Bach works these days, and my own works. Susan and I have a tentative plan to do a recital here of my works for 2 pianos in late February. But since she is organizing a Festival of Women Composers
here in mid-February, we are thinking of bumping our concert ahead to perhaps April. I send you the web page where you can see that one of the highlights is pianist Donna Coleman from Victoria School of the Arts, U of Melbourne. Donna was a student of mine 40 years ago, in fact, not too long after I met you in Italy. I got this job here in ’68, then went back to Roma for 2 years on a Rome Prize, 70-72 and lived on the Gianicolo, Donna was a student here when I got back in ’73 and 74. She then went on to Eastman and U of Michigan and has been teaching and performing in Australia the last 15 years or so. She has always been a wonderful performer of my music. (She did the recording of my piano concerto (which I dedicated to her) with the Bratislava, Slovakia orchestra in ’92.) It will be nice to see and hear her again. She is considering doing a complete CD of my music for solo piano. She has a label now, Outbach.
I am sure you are enjoying those Perahia Partitas.
Minus 8 F this morning (-22C); but, again, a bright sparkling day. We had 5 inches of snow on Friday and the grand boys came from DC to do some sledding on Saturday. A few days of sore bones and reminders of age…
Nice idea that your garden is happy — and so are you! Last week between snow falls I cleaned up last summer’s sunflower stalks and other garden detritus — to think that we are like 100 degrees difference in temps these days.
I am looking at the Onset (i) splashing blues, dynamic as can be, jumping with the onset of water and rains (sounds like you might be getting close to that this year, now???) and then Onset (2) the coming of green, boldly, but waters still in a swirl and blue and green in separate places. Then onto The Big Wet; I am seeing this as a still life, the peace and containment, everything sitting in balance. I guess that is how I am dreaming the musical motion of the 3 works. I guess I could say; finding my own hook into them.
Keeping those ideas in mind, I have begun to explore the technical bases for a new work. I find that I usually like to do that; explore the pitch bases, and initial shapes, gestures, etc. What the sounds consist of, are about, how it all feels, sort of to get things jingle- jangling together, and let a work grow out of that.
Oh yes, I did find James Rhodes performing a few things on youtube, no speaking though, can’t seem to tune in the ABC show that you mention. Send me a link if you have one. He is a masterful pianist, no doubt, I enjoyed the performances, a Rachmaninoff…
La tua italiana sembra molto buono, per sicura, é meglio del mio, l’ho dimenticato tutto.
Some further notions after playing the work and discussing it with Susan this morning.
I’ll treat it as 3 movements, being that the last is coda like and doesn’t change the character.
- Sky map
- Catching the moon
- Onset of the big wet
And I would like to quote your paragraph about the layering process in my program notes.
I find myself describing again the layering process- first the collaged astronomy skymaps, painted over, obscured to a greater or lesser extent, then the painted background surrounding them and years later the transformation by adhering (predominantly) recycled beach detritus as final layer speaking now about the onset of the wet season after an extended dry.
As I say below, I would love to hear any ideas you might have about this.
My plan is to enter it (deadline Sept. 16) into a new works competition for the College Music Society International Conference in Stockholm and Helsinki next June 17-24. If that comes through, Susan and I would play it, four hands, one piano, there sometime that week. Would you be interested in coming. It would be lovely to have you comment before the performance, and goes without saying, great to reconnect. (Of course, it is a bit premature yet, as all these competitions are lotteries, and I won’t get the results until the end of November.)
Thinking about you! Incommunicado sono Io these days, finishing up the work. I have the 2 piano version in the final polishing stage. And am now making a version for 1 piano 4 hands, which has its own logistics and I must reconsider the music appropriately, i.e., it really is a bit of a different work. I am happy with the way it has turned out; quite different from the version you heard in June – that last final fast section has bloomed into a very exciting and conclusive idea.
Any thoughts on my perhaps calling it earth prints or something like that. Trying to unify the entire experience. Tentatively considering naming the parts (even though played without pause)
(with general timings)
Sky Map 2’20
Journey Toward Infinity 3:54
Catching the Moon 3:51
The Big Wet 1:09
But this naming doesn’t make the Big Wet (or Onset of the wet) idea significant enough. I just like those Sky Map Series names so much, as feel they fit the music so well. But yet overall the idea of collaging the beach detritus as a final layer is so important.
You can see I am wrestling with the names.
I would love to hear any ideas you might have about this. Even meandering fantasies could be very helpful in my own rumination on this title ing.
Of course, the important thing I am after is to give a listener something to spark their listening experience (and certainly try not to mislead them away from, but rather into the experience).
Hope you and Jon are well.
On Sep 18, 2014
Am I permitted to share your piece with anyone yet? in my enthusiasm I sent it to a close artist friend of mine and only yesterday to Fra Prof Richard Divall who has been assisting me in trying to sell a lovely old Beethoven score of Grosse Fugue I inherited via my grandfather and then father. Richard is a musicologist, conductor and former head of Victorian state opera for 30 yrs and is a priest of the knights Templar order, an extraordinary man.
I suddenly worried that I should have asked your permission first so I emailed Richard telling him this and asking him to keep stumm about it till I get your reply.
Oh dear, me and my enthusiasm. Nonetheless I know they are both to be trusted.
I await your earIiest reply.
XX Bonney and to Susan.
I have no problem with that Bonney. I would ask that you make clear that it is an electronic midi sound file version made by the composer, a mock-up, and that the real work is intended for live piano performance. And we should not say anything about Stockholm or the CMS possible performance next year, that being an anonymous competition which I should find out about in November, and can no way be presumptuous to assume that it will be chosen.
Eventually I will publish the work with ACA, American Composers Alliance, and at that time will register the copyright and list it with BMI, Broadcast Music Inc. who will collect fees for broadcasts, performances and purchases of the score, here and around the world. But I am in no hurry to do that right now. Rarely is that a problem with contemporary classical music, unlike pop music which can bring in the millions.
So, no problem. I am flattered by your enthusiasm.
Good to hear that Jon is recovering well.
Date Claimer A Musical Soiree March 27, 2015
Something special is on the horizon! A Musical Soiree, actually a 40-minute piano concert to be given by my friends visiting from the USA, Dan Perlongo and his wife Susan Wheatley.
The Back Story
Dan and I were flat mates in Rome in 1967 when he was studying Composition at the Academy of Santa Cecilia and I was living in Rome, not yet an artist. Thereafter we had no contact until I ‘found him’ a couple of years ago via the internet and we started a correspondence, which has turned into a wonderful friendship, now also including his lovely wife Susan.
Dan’s positive response to my work resulted in a suggestion to collaborate by making a composition based on some of my work(s) and selected the Sky Maps suite to this end. Nine months later Earth Sound-prints, piano for four hands was born.
Jon and I had the privilege to hear the most beautiful, almost -finished contemporary piece when we visited him mid 2014.
The work will be performed in Helsinki in June this year in the New Works segment of the College Music Society Annual Conference.
Dan and Susan are visiting Australia for two weeks in March where another one of his works is being performed in Melbourne after which they will be with us for a few precious days. They have generously offerred to perform for us and Roz and Peter Jennings have kindly offered their gorgeous home with Roz’s lovely Baby Grand as the venue.
The planned program is as follows:
Piano 4-hands, Perlongo, Earth Sound-prints, based on Bonney’s Sky Map series
Perlongo, Tango Around Cape Horn,
Perlongo, selections from Bach and Piazzolla
Susan, solo piano, Martinez,
Dan will do a jazz solo.
As this is such a unique opportunity to hear some wonderful music including that composed by Dan and played by two consummate professionals, I am sending this notice well in advance to a select few of you who are interested in classical music and hopefully open to something very contemporary perhaps unfamiliar.
I will send a reminder a few weeks before this date to which I will request a reply and organize the ‘bring a plate’ thing so we can enjoy some lovely food with Dan and Susan in this beautiful setting.