BMOP/sound, the nation's premiere label launched by an orchestra and dedicated exclusively to new music recordings, today announced its May 2010 release, William Thomas McKinley: R.A.P. With more than 350 works to his name and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the National Endowment for the Arts, McKinley has established himself as one of the most highly regarded and prolific composers of his generation. This recording marks the first of BMOP/sound's all-McKinley releases, and offers three compositions which capture the propulsive rhythms and vibrant dynamism characteristic of the composer’s late stylistic oeuvre. In explaining his musical influences, McKinley says, "These works owe so much to my love for Stravinsky, Ives, Varèse…. I am also indebted to the 'popular' styles of musical theater, jazz, and a plethora of dance forms, from ragtime to waltz to tango, samba, Charleston, ballad, etc."
The album opens with the Marimba Concerto, Childhood Memories (2005), which is comprised of fourteen short musical vignettes, each rendering emblematic scenes from childhood with titles like "Daydreams," "Hopscotch," "Timeout," and "Downhill Sledding." Featured is McKinley's longtime friend and colleague, Nancy Zeltsman, who navigates the complete keyboard bass marimba with impressive agility and ease. The CD's title piece, R.A.P. ("rhythm and pulse") highlights the intersection between jazz and classical music with its concerto-cadenza style and improvisatory flexibility, actualized by a big band ensemble with an expansive percussion section. The work is less programmatic than either the Marimba Concerto or 13 Dances, and is more abstract with regard to its rhythmic ideas, motifs, and linear-virtuosic lines. Grammy Award-winning clarinet virtuoso Richard Stoltzman is featured alongside his son, pianist Peter John Stoltzman, and BMOP players Anthony D'Amico (double bass) and Robert Schulz (drum set).
The final work on the disc is 13 Dances for Orchestra, written specifically for Gil Rose and BMOP and without soloists, focusing instead on collective virtuosity—much like a concerto for orchestra. The thirteen short movements draw upon a variety of popular dance rhythms, each revitalized with fresh rhythmic combinations and syncopations. In McKinley’s words, "I think of the orchestra as a transcendental cosmic force with a lineage from Beethoven to Mahler onward through the 20th Century up to the very present. We live today in what I believe to be an incredibly flourishing musical renaissance which has absorbed the best musical ideas from this wonderful musical past."
BMOP/sound, the Grammy-nominated label of the acclaimed Boston Modern Orchestra Project, explores the evolution of the music formerly known as classical. Its eclectic catalog offers both rediscovered classics of the 20th Century and the music of today’s most influential and innovative composers. 2010 releases include Ken Ueno: Talus; Dominick Argento: Jonah and the Whale; Lisa Bielawa: In medias res; Eric Moe: Kick & Ride; Reza Vali: Toward that Endless Plain; Michael Gandolfi: From the Institutes of Groove; John Harbison: Winter's Tale; George Antheil: Ballet Mécanique; and Steven Mackey: Dreamhouse. BMOP/sound recordings have received numerous accolades including 2008 and 2009 year-end CD nods by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Time Out New York, American Record Guide, and Downbeat Magazine, as well as Grammy Award nominations for both Derek Bermel: Voices and Charles Fussell: Wilde. For more information, visit www.bmop.org.