Elizabeth Ogonek. Falling Up (2015)

    Duration: 8 minutes
    Instrumentation: Small ensemble
    Commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society
    Premiered by Ensemble 360 on May 14, 2015, at Music in the Round Festival in Sheffield, England (the MusicNOW concert of March 7, 2016, marks its U.S. premiere).
    Publisher/copyright: Elizabeth Ogonek (ASCAP)

    The composer writes:
    Falling Up, for five players, is a reflection on childhood from the point of view of someone older. It takes its name from a poem and a book by Shel Silverstein; however, the origin of the piece began with a reflection on Part III from Arthur Rimbaud’s series of five poems, Enfance. Rimbaud’s poems remind that with time, looking back on childhood memories can often be a painful and uncomfortable experience, regardless of how weightless and carefree they may have seemed at the time. Attempting to capture the cross-relationship between  two states of being, the piece juxtaposes two types of material: a slow, chant-like melody derived from the medieval plainchant, Ave Maris Stella, which is associated with the heaviness of the Rimbaud poem, and a manic, fast-paced, often interruptive woodwind gesture, which recalls the levity and lightness of the Silverstein poem. As the piece develops, I imagined the actual memory of a childhood experience fading and turning into something completely new. What remains, in the end, is only the outline of what was once there.”

    About the composer:
    Elizabeth Ogonek, the CSO’s Mead Co-Composer-in-Residence, strives to create music that is energetic, dramatic, vivid and colorful. Often inspired by text, Ogonek’s work explores the transference of words and poetic imagery to music. The nature of her interests has led to several collaborations with writers. Recent projects include her Three Pieces for guitar and narrator, written with author Sophia Veltfort, which received its premiere at the Barbican Centre’s Milton Court Theatre in April 2014. Together with poet Ghazal Mosadeq, Ogonek composed a song cycle for countertenor and cello that was premiered at Wigmore Hall in May 2014. Other past collaborations have involved working with poet-playwright Jonathan Dubow and soprano-actress Sophie Wingland to create a 10-minute adaptation of Dubow’s full-length play, The Mysteries of Jacob, for narrator and clarinet. Ogonek also has worked extensively with Indian poet Ralph Nazareth to set both his work and the work of his poetry students at Green Haven Correctional Facility.

    Ogonek’s music has been commissioned and performed by the Brillaner Duo; Indiana University Concert Orchestra; soprano Sophie Wingland; guitarist Michael Poll; horn player Alma Maria Liebrecht; the Wellesley Sinfonietta; Dinosaur Annex; the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra; members of eighth blackbird; the USC Thornton Symphony; the Aldeburgh Festival for the Britten-Pears Ensemble, and many more. In January 2013, Ogonek was selected for the London Symphony Orchestra’s 2013-14 Discovery Panufnik Scheme. After a successful workshop and recording of as though birds under the direction of François-Xavier Roth, she was awarded an LSO Discovery Panufnik Commission. Ogonek’s piece will be premiered at the Barbican Centre in March 2016 in the culminating concert of the LSO’s “Futures” series. She is currently visiting assistant professor of composition at Oberlin College.