Scintillation In Isolation by Will Holshouser Bachtopus is excited to release the fifth commission from our 2020 Composers Commissioning Fund, which was written by composer and accordionist Will Holshouser for Bachtopus. “Scintillation in Isolation” was composed during the general quarantine in New York City during the spring of 2020. The title refers to the quiet maintenance of hope in the midst of fear and chaos, and the sharing of that hope through music, arts, and acts of solidarity.
String of Garlands by Guy Klucevsek Bachtopus is excited to release the fourth commission from our 2020 Composers Commissioning Fund, “String of Garlands,” which was originally written by composer and accordionist Guy Klucevsek for accordion orchestra and then arranged for Bachtopus. This composition was written in memory of Anne Garland for her husband David and son Kenji. With a recording catalog spanning four decades, Guy Klucevsek remains one of the most accomplished and respected accordionists in the world. To the vindication of accordionists everywhere, he is currently teaching accordion at the New England Conservatory of Music.
River Rune by Dr. William Schimmel We are excited to release the first commission from our 2022 Composers Commissioning Fund, which was written by composer Bill Schimmel for Bachtopus. To us, this piece is a poem to rivers and a mantra valuing all water. In this video, we let the water take us to where it will. To hear more from the composer: http://www.billschimmel.com/
Tomorrow Being Today by Randall Woolf The eighth commission from our 2020 Composers Commissioning Fund was written by composer Randall Woolf for Bachtopus. Like many of the compositions written during quarantine in this series, this piece was partly inspired by the social-political situations that occurred under the previous political administration. The title loosely refers to the sentiment that, in times like these, tomorrow can’t come quickly enough. In this video, we extrapolate that idea to refer to the passage of time and the construction/recall of one’s memories.
Jenny’s Goat Waltz by Rob Curto The third commission from our 2020 Composers Commissioning Fund, “Jenny’s Goat Waltz,” was arranged for us by Rob Curto. This composition was inspired by a long-distance romance between Curto and his wife when they were courting. The original version of the piece was written as a trombone tune for her when they first met. Curto was staying on a goat farm at the time, and goats are Jenny’s favorite animal.
Waiting to Be Born by Dean Olsher Bachtopus is excited to release the sixth commission from our 2020 Composers Commissioning Fund, which was written by composer and accordionist Dean Olsher for Bachtopus. “Waiting to Be Born” was partially inspired by literary critic Harold Bloom’s book ‘The American Religion.” In this text, Bloom approaches the critical analysis of American religion with the same degree of ambivalence he would any other literature. He analyzes the role spirituality and modern religion plays in American culture and their impact on our national character. In this video, we view religious practice without comment, perhaps as outsiders through a Zoetrope, and we present these practices alongside musical practices associated with religion.
The Great Filter by Tony Kovatch “The Great Filter,” is the second from our 2020 Composers Commissioning Fund. It is a stellar composition if you don’t mind us saying. Part of his inspiration for the piece comes from a contradiction in astrophysics called the Fermi Paradox. According to the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, there should be more evidence of intelligent life given the high estimates of intelligent life given by the Drake Equation. As Carl Sagan wrote in his book, Contact, “If it’s just us, it’s an awful waste of space.” In this context, the Great Filter is an unknown barrier that keeps life from evolving to the highest level of intelligence. It may have been something in our past, or something we have yet to encounter in our future. The other part of Tony’s inspiration comes from J.S. Bach, who developed elegant rules to yield an ocean of beautiful and complex music. Please accept our humble submission as we attempt to draw parallels between the complexity of human intelligence, the universe, and the possibility of intelligent life on exoplanets.
Hymn by Denise Koncelik The first commission from our 2020 Composers Commissioning Fund. “Hymn” was composed for us by Denise Koncelik, who said part of her inspiration came from a short story by Edgar Allan Poe titled “Morella.” The Gothic horror story tells the tale of Morella, a woman who dies during childbirth. The father cannot bear to name the child until her tenth birthday. Her resemblance to Morella is so uncanny that father decides to baptize her to drive away the evil spirits within. During the ritual, the priest asks for the daughter’s name. When the father responds “Morella,” the daughter cries out “I’m here!” and then dies. The father returns to his wife’s tomb to find nothing inside. In Poe’s short story, “Hymn” is a poem written by Morella to the Virgin Mary and sung to her husband.
“Cafe Paris” by Janusz Wojtarowicz of the Polish accordion ensemble, Motion Trio, wrote the music, which we set to Charlie Chaplin’s “A Woman of Paris.” Released in 1923, the feature-length drama was a landmark film for many reasons. It was a rare accomplishment for Chaplin, who wrote, directed, produced, and scored the film but without appearing as the star.
Portaletyde by Lars Hollmer
Bachtopus performs “Immortal Bach” by Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt. This piece is an arrangement of the first line of Bach’s funeral song “Komm, süßer Tod” (Come, sweet death).
Mit Guenstlichem Herczen by Oswald Von Wolkenstein