Maya Beiser and Michael Harrison Team for TIME LOOPS Album, Set for 10/30 Release
Cellist Maya Beiser and composer/pianist Michael Harrison's new album Time Loops will be released by Cantaloupe Music on October 30, 2012. Time Loops features Harrison's Just Ancient Loops, Hijaz, and Raga Prelude I (related to Raga Yaman, similar to the Lydian mode), as well as two pieces that have influencEd Harrison's music – Arvo Pärt's Spiegel Im Spiegel and the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria. The title track, Time Loops, offers an original take on the Ave Maria: the piano part was recorded and played backwards through a computer while the cello performed the melody in retrograde (reverse order).
The release of Time Loops coincides with the first productions of Maya Beiser's ELSEWHERE: A CelloOpera at Carolina Performing Arts on October 11 and at BAM from October 17-20, 2012. ELSEWHERE is an imaginative retelling of the Biblical legend of Lot's wife, created by Maya with director RoBert Woodruff, composers Missy Mazzoli and Eve Beglarian and writer Erin Cressida Wilson. For more information, visit www.elsewherecelloopera.com.
Like his landmark album Revelation (Cantaloupe, 2007), the entirety of Time Loops is performed using "just intonation" tunings devised by Michael Harrison, based on whole number proportions. Harrison says, "With Time Loops I am demonstrating the simpler and more harmonious aspects of just intonation. As a result the tunings on the CD don't push the boundaries, but rather they sound clearer and more direct than the normal equal tempered scale that is used in most Western music."
The centerpiece of the album, Just Ancient Loops, is a 25-minute piece that unveils every aspect of the cello – from its most glorious and mysterious harmonics to earthy, rhythmic pizzicatos. Harrison explains, "Just Ancient Loops uses Just tunings, Ancient modes and harmonies, and Loops of melodic and rhythmic modules. It is a musical odyssey for an orchestra of cellos, with each cello part recorded separately in the studio by Maya."
In concert, Maya plays the lead part live accompanied by a recording of all of the other pre-recorded parts, along with a new film by multi-media artist Bill Morrison. Created specifically for this project, Morrison's film uses archival footage plus computer generated images that relate the movement of the planets to the basic ratios of the musical overtone series. Maya Beiser's premiere of Just Ancient Loops at the Bang on a Can Marathon in June 2012 was highlighted in The New York Times as "an appealing mix of live and recorded cello lines, raga-inspired drones and Minimalist rhythms."
Of Just Ancient Loops, Maya says, "In this work the cello becomes this 'über' instrument – laying down the drones, building rhythmical grooves on top of each other, singing melismatic melodies, and reaching up to the stratosphere as the music evolves and builds into a massive, exhilarating climax. There are those rare moments in an artist's life when you realize that you are part of something that is greater than yourself, your collaborators, your listeners – when everything falls into place and music just lives and breathes on its own: raw, naked, real. It takes over. It becomes a force of nature. Such was the moment when I listened to the first mix of Just Ancient Loops."
Hijaz was commissioned by the Young People's Chorus of New York City, under the direction of Francisco J. Núñez, and premiered in 2011 at the 92nd Street Y in New York. Hijaz, one of the oldest modes in use in the Middle East and North Africa, is also known as the Phrygian dominant scale. It has been used by Andalusian musicians, gypsy guitarists and American jazz musicians such as MiLes Davis and Chick Corea, and has also made its way into Hebrew prayers and Turkish melodies. Harrison says, "My intention while composing Hijaz was to invoke a sense of pilgrimage, either to a wondrous, natural or holy place, or, metaphorically, to a sacred place within us."
About Maya Beiser: Maya Beiser has captivated audiences worldwide with her virtuosity, eclectic repertoire, and relentless quest to redefine her instrument's boundaries. The Boston Globe declares, "With virtuoso chops, rock-star charisma, and an appetite for pushing her instrument to The Edge of avant-garde adventurousness, Maya Beiser is the post-modern diva of the cello."
"Maya Beiser has etched a bold career path that marries classical to rock, starched collars to casual dress, and tradition to unorthodoxy," reports AllMusic.com. Over the past decade, Maya has created new repertoire for the cello, commissioning and performing many works written for her by today's leading composers. She has collaborated with composers Tan Dun, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Steve Reich, David Lang, Louis Andriessen, and Mark O'Connor, among many others. A featured performer on the world's most prestigious stages, Maya appeared as soloist at the Sydney Opera House, New York's Lincoln Center, London's Barbican and the World Expo in Nagoya, Japan and was a featured speaker and performer at the 2011 TED conference; her TEDTalk has since garnered over half a million views online.
Maya has conceived, performed and produced her critically acclaimed multimedia concerts, including World To Come, which premiered as part of the inaugural season of Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall; Almost Human, a collaboration with visual artist Shirin Neshat; and Provenance, which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2008 and forms the basis of her latest recording. Her sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall have been chosen by The New York Times critics as among the "Best Of The Year."
Highlights of Maya Beiser's recent US tours include performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Royce Hall in Los Angeles, Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Mondavi Performing Arts Center, Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Celebrity Series in Boston and International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven. Other recent performances include major venues and festivals in Barcelona, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Athens. She has appeared with many of the world's top orchestras performing new works for the cello including the St. Paul Camber Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, China Philharmonic, and many others.
Maya's latest recording, Provenance, has been a top selling classical and world music CD since its release in 2010. Her performance of Steve Reich's Cello Counterpoint, a piece written for her, is featured on the Nonesuch disc You Are, which was chosen by The New York Times as one of the top albums of the year. She is also the soloist on the Sony Classical CD release of Tan Dun's Water Passion, and has performed his Academy Award-winning score Crouching Tiger Concerto with orchestras around the globe. She has released four solo CDs on Koch (now E1) including Oblivion, Kinship, World To Come, and Almost Human.
Maya has been a featured soloist on several film soundtracks. Collaborating with renowned film composer James Newton Howard, she is the featured soloist on M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, Denzel Washington's The Great Debaters, Edward Zwick's Blood Diamond, and Rupert Sanders' Snow White and the Huntsman.
Raised on a kibbutz in Israel by her French mother and Argentinean father, Maya Beiser is a graduate of Yale University. Her major teachers were Aldo Parisot, Uzi Weizel, Alexander Schneider, and Isaac Stern. Maya was the founding cellist of the new music ensemble, the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Maya can be found on Twitter, tweeting as @cellogoddess, a moniker bestowed upon her by The New Yorker.
About Michael Harrison: Michael Harrison, composer and pianist, has been called "an American Maverick" by Philip Glass. Through his expertise in "just intonation" tunings, Indian ragas and rhythmic cycles, he has created "a new harmonic world…of vibrant sound" (The New York Times). With a uniquely personal style that transcends the ages, his music is both forward looking and deeply rooted in different forms of traditional music. This unique perspective alongside a simple and elegant gift for melody, makes him a composer that can reach audiences of many kinds.
Revelation, Michael's first recording for the Cantaloupe Music label (a multi-year project), was chosen by The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Time Out New York as one of the Best Classical Recordings of the year, and received awards from the Classical Recording Foundation and IBLA Foundation. Music critic and scholar Tim Page wrote, "Say it plainly - Michael Harrison's 'Revelation: Music in Pure Intonation' is probably the most brilliant and original extended composition for solo piano since the early works of Frederic Rzewski three decades ago (and no, I am not forgetting Elliott Carter). What could have been a mere glossary of unfamiliar sonorities made possible by Harrison's unconventional tuning of a grand piano turned instead into a virtuosic tour-de-force that would have done credit to the hypothetical team of Franz Liszt and Claude Debussy working overtime."
During his time at the University of Oregon, Michael traveled to New York City where he worked closely with La Monte Young preparing all of the specialized tunings and scores for Young's 6½-hour work, The Well-Tuned Piano. In 1987, Michael became the only other person besides the composer to perform this extended work. In 1986, Michael designed and created the "harmonic piano," an extensively modified grand piano with the ability to play 24 notes per octave. Kyle Gann from The Village Voice hailed the harmonic piano as "an indisputable landmark in the history of Western tuning," and the instrument is described in detail in the second edition of the Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments.
Michael is the president of the American Academy of Indian Classical Music. He is a disciple of the late Pandit Pran Nath, with whom he studied since 1979, and has performed solo and with Terry Riley as a vocalist, pianist, and on tamboura in numerous concerts and trips to India. Since 1999, he has continued his studies and performances with master Indian vocalist Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan. His recordings have been released on Cantaloupe Music, New Albion Records, Important Records, and Fortuna Records.
Time Loops - Maya Beiser & Michael Harrison
Music by Michael Harrison, J. S. Bach/Gounod and Harrison, Arvo Pärt
Maya Beiser, cello; Michael Harrison, just intonation piano; Young People's Chorus of New York City, Francisco J. Núñez, conductor; Payton MacDonald, tabla & percussion
Produced by Adam Abeshouse and Michael Harrison
Cantaloupe Music: October 30, 2012
Just Ancient Loops by Michael Harrison
1. I. Genesis (10:09)
2. II. Chorale (5:39)
3. III. Ascension (8:39)
4. Time Loops by J.S. Bach/Gounod/Harrison (2:40)
5. Ave Maria by J.S. Bach/Gounod (3:05)
6. Spiegel Im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt (9:41)
7. Raga Prelude I (Yaman) by Harrison (8:02)
8. Hijaz by Harrison (12:32)