IMTA’s 2010 Commissioned Composer is Don Freund. His composition, Autumn Songs, for piano trio, was premiered at the IMTA state conference on October 9, 2010. The performers were three talented pre-college students from Bloomington — Brian Allen, violin; Younghoon Koh, cello; and Margaret Chun, piano.
Since 1998, IMTA has annually participated in the MTNA Composer Commissioning program. MTNA is dedicated to encouraging the creation of new works by American composers and annually assists state associations with the generation and performance of new music. Each state decides which composer to commission and what type of work. This year, IMTA chose to commission a chamber piece for the pre-college level. The commission paid to the composer is jointly funded by MTNA and IMTA.
Don Freund writes “Autumn Songs” was composed to be performed by a trio of fabulously talented pre-college musicians in the fall season, so it is touched by a sense of youthful discovery along with the feelings that arise as summer turns towards winter.”
Autumn songs is a two-movement work. Freund says, “The first movement, ‘Fall from Grace,’ begins with only the purest of intervals and natural string harmonics, but as more pitches are added, a pentatonic scale and some faint allusions to ‘Amazing Grace’ emerge. Adding still more pitches inevitably leads to the discovery of the tritone interval, that ‘devil in music.’ Along with that discovery comes a gradual transformation from the initial mysterious other worldly atmosphere to the rough and violent music which ends the first movement.”
“The second movement, ‘Turning Colors/Harvest Hymn/Harvest Dance,’ portrays a different kind of transformation. Material borrowed from Debussy’s Prelude ‘Feuilles mortes’ (fallen leaves) is presented with an aura of progressive change which leads to the Harvest Hymn, presented by the piano over the strings’ color-shifting background. The strings respond with a Harvest Dance, a robust celebration spiked with bits of Vivaldian autumn. When the dance begins to careen out of control the hymn returns, mixed with echoes of the Debussy prelude and the pristine music of the spheres.”
Following the premiere, the composition is sent to MTNA to be considered in deliberations for the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year. If selected, the composer presents the work at the national conference in the spring and receives a $3,000 award. Approximately 30 states participate in the MTNA Composer Commissioning program each year.
Please join IMTA in recognizing and congratulating Don Freund for his contributions to new American music this year and for representing IMTA in this national program.