The following is the second installment of The Wesleyan Connection’s new feature, “5 Questions.” This issue, accomplished composer and Wesleyan Professor of Music Neely Bruce is our guest.
Q: I see your piece Vistas will be performed at the “Hearts Pounding and Skins Taut” concert in late October at Wesleyan. For what instrument was this piece originally composed?
NB: Vistas at Dawn is a short (approximately three minute) piece for organ and vibraphone.
Q: For what musician did you compose this piece?
NB: I wrote it for Ronald Ebrecht, Wesleyan University Organist, to play. Over the years I’ve written two major works and several smaller pieces for him. Ron has been a staunch advocate for new music for the organ for years, and has encouraged his faculty colleagues and our students to write all sorts of music in all sorts of styles for that remarkable instrument. This has been going on for more than 20 years, and dozens, perhaps hundreds of new organ works have seen the light of day because Ron asked people to write them and offered an opportunity to get them before the public. Vistas was originally written for a tour that he did in Russia with a Russian percussionist, although he’s played it many times in the US with several different vibes players, including Wesleyan’s own Jay Hoggard. It’s something like a pop ballad—slow, languorous, very chromatic, sometimes almost atonal, sometimes with jazz-like quasi-standard chord changes.
Q: Aside from hearing Vistas at the Center for the Arts in October, where can people see you perform publicly this fall?
NB: October is an exceptionally busy month, even for me. I’m playing the world premiere of Twelve Fugues by Gerald Shapiro, chair of the Music Department at Brown and one of my closest friends. (Shapiro and I were freshmen together at the Eastman School of Music). I’m playing these pieces at Wesleyan’s Crowell Concert Hall on Saturday October 10 at 8 p.m. and at Brown on October 14, with a little Stravinsky and Ravel as the warm-up. The Bill of Rights: Ten Amendments in Eight Motets is being performed at Mitchell College in New London on October 20. For