The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), under artistic director and conductor Gil Rose, is pleased to announce the release of the world premiere recording, Banana/Dump Truck: Music of Steven Mackey on Albany Records. This release is the ninth by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project in just over two years.
BMOP's previous releases have been received with much critical acclaim. Lukas Foss's Griffelkin (Chandos, 10067), released in May 2003, was hailed as a "Top Ten Critic's Pick of 2003" by The Boston Herald and as an "Editor's Pick for 2003" by The Boston Phoenix. BMOP's recording of Arthur Berger's The Complete Orchestral Works (New World, 80605-2) was chosen by The New York Times as one of the "Best Classical CDs of 2003" by critic Anthony Tommasini.
Steven Mackey has enjoyed a distinguished musical career as a composer, as well as a performer. An accomplished Baroque lutenist and rock guitarist, Mackey freely incorporates elements of "non-classical" music into his pieces. His earliest musical experience was playing electric guitar, and now as a widely respected composer of orchestral music, he continues to infuse his work with the energy and improvisatory nature of jazz and rock. His passion for popular musical forms is evident in Deal (1995), a concerto for electric guitar and drums, in which the composer himself plays the mostly improvised guitar part. The inspiration for this piece comes from Mackey's belief that "the universe doesn't make sense intrinsically, we as individuals must make sense of it." Thus, he has written a concerto in which a solo voice, the guitar, makes sense of the larger world around it —the orchestra and accompanying tape part.
Banana/Dump Truck (1994), a concerto for cello, takes its name from a game Mackey played as a child. The point of the game was to link two seemingly unrelated words or concepts (like a banana and a dump truck) through a chain of associations. The piece unfolds in a similar fashion, as Mackey explains:
"The cello sets forth a musical proposition which inspires the orchestra to a proposition of its own which seems like a plausible response; this in turn incites the cello." The cello and the orchestra continue to exchange these volleys throughout the piece, "starting someplace and ending up someplace else."
The two shorter pieces on the disc, San Francisco and Fusion Tune, are both duos for guitar and cello written in 1995. Mackey wrote these with the specific intent of performing them with his friend, cellist Fred Sherry. In the spirit of Deal, San Francisco features extended improvisation along with fully notated parts. Fusion Tone uses a head melody that was also the starting point of Banana/Dump Truck, and then goes on to develop it in an entirely different way.
These recordings are the result of extensive collaborations between BMOP and Steven Mackey from 1999 to 2002. Mr. Mackey was featured in two BMOP concerts: "Wire & Wood: 20th Century Guitar Concertos" in 1999 and "Clash II: The Reconvergance of Classical and Rock 'n' Roll" in 2001.
Banana/Dump Truck: Music of Steven Mackey (Albany Records - Troy 735) will be released April 5, 2005, and is available at www.bmop.org.