July 20, 2019

Scores: The Cone Institute Concert

2019–20 Season

Concert Information

NJSO Accent Event

Ice Cream Reception—after the concert.
Enjoy a special ice cream from the Bent Spoon while mingling with the Cone Institute composers, musicians and friends at a post-concert reception.

Ice Cream Cone Institute—July 18–20
The Bent Spoon—Princeton’s inventive ice cream destination—celebrates the NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute with a special Cone-inspired flavor! Savor a coffee cone ice cream made with Small World Roasters’ coffee and pieces of organic cones covered in fair-trade dark chocolate, available July 18–20 at the Bent Spoon. Save 10% on any Bent Spoon purchase July 18–20 when you show your ticket for Scores: The Cone Institute Concert.



Learn more about NJSO Accent events


Notes from the Composer

“There exists a period of activity between wakefulness and sleep where the frameworks we use to understand the world around us begin to break down. Liminal (2018) for orchestra explores the concept of in-betweenness from a number of angles, aiming primarily to reflect the psychological behaviors people experience in transitional states. Just as our thoughts can cycle, intrude, drift or become suddenly focused, musical materials behave in combinations of predictable and unpredictable manners relative to a number of genre contexts.”


About the Composer

Dan Caputo (b. 1991) is a Los Angeles-based composer of instrumental and electronic music. His recent works explore the potential ways detailed aural textures and curious musical behaviors can elicit complex psychological responses. Caputo’s music is further interested in microvariation in repetitious contexts, perceptual extremes and musical intertextuality.

Caputo’s compositions have been featured in performances including the Hear Now Music Festival, Blackbird Creative Lab, USC Thornton Symphony’s “New Music for Orchestra” contest and the Oh My Ears New Music Festival. Recent composition awards include an honorable mention in the 2019 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, the Hans J. Salter Endowed Music Award and Peter David Faith Memorial Award in Composition.

Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Caputo is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the University of Southern California. His mentors include composers Ted Hearne, Sean Friar, Donald Crockett and Dan Welcher.

PATRICK O’MALLEY Rest and Restless

Notes from the Composer

“Several of my recent pieces concern themselves with dichotomies, or pairs of ideas that push and pull against each other. I find that I have difficulty writing unless I have at least two opposing concepts that I can somehow ‘compose between.’ Rest and Restless carries this process out with regards to emotional states—I would describe the piece as an ‘emotional landscape.’ The music slowly alternates, pendulum-like, from low angst-broodings to brighter hopes, back and forth, but without letting either mood ‘win’ over the other. These forces eventually come to a head in a tutti explosion, followed by a stark coda that, to me, feels either optimistic or dejected, depending on what mood I am in. Whenever I try to write this program note my mind keeps coming back to an image of looking out my bedroom window in Los Angeles at the evening clouds, my imagination being ignited by the simultaneously serene and troubled shapes of grey. Perhaps the music reflects that fantasy in some emotional fashion.

“The piece was originally composed as a solo for double bass for a concert I was giving at university. Without any significant pre-compositional preparations, I set about writing the piece with only a few simple goals in mind: that the piece would be overtly expressive yet interesting to listen to, that it would be manageable for a player to learn quickly and that it would demand a diverse range of a playing techniques from the single instrument. My decision to orchestrate the piece was based on the impression that the almost constant double stops and high range harmonics on the bass created a texture interesting enough to hear with an orchestral palate. I have tried to preserve the feeling of low, open strings throughout the piece, while adding a greater variety of timbres and layers to the melodic passages.”


About the Composer

Patrick O’Malley is a composer of orchestral, chamber and film music. He is inspired by mysterious dichotomies in nature and art, composing music that often embraces abstract worlds and emotions rather than concrete images. When writing a new piece, O’Malley considers the listener’s imagination as much as every other musical element—an admittedly and enjoyably subjective endeavor. His works have been performed across the United States and also in Europe.

Most recently, O’Malley has been recognized or performed by organizations including the Albany, Columbus and Milwaukee symphonies, Los Angeles Philharmonic’s National Composer Intensive and The American Prize. He was named Composer of the Year by the Sioux City Symphony for 2018, and he is working on a commission from the New York Youth Symphony for a Carnegie Hall premiere in 2020. O’Malley also serves as the arranger and a conductor for the video game concert series Journey LIVE with composer Austin Wintory. O’Malley is completing his doctoral degree in music at the University of Southern California where he studies with Andrew Norman and Sean Friar. He divides his time between living in Los Angeles and Lake Charlevoix, Michigan.


Notes from the Composer

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’

“This is how the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence reads. In our present-day, this sentence invites us, and certainly myself, to think about our experience in this nation, the United States of America. It is unquestionably evident that the present-day of the American experience is governed by a perceivable, and unceasingly growing, inequality, from the `abysmal separation of social classes to the renaissance of the historical but silenced racial discrimination. A Metaphor for Power, a title chosen from a James Baldwin quote, is a musical essay that attempts to address the present turbulence of ideologies, dreams and hard-hitting realities. The piece unfolds as an expedition through an expanse of troublesome experiences visited by fleeting and unsuccessful moments of hope. Through this journey of struggle, emotional sufferings and survival, the narrative is interrupted with ideological symbolisms that, in the aftermath of the affair, may have taken different meanings. As a Latino composer from Puerto Rico—and United States citizen by birth—this musical essay takes a more vivid significance as many of the unpleasant events have been part of my direct and personal American experience.”


About the Composer

Puerto Rican composer Iván Enrique Rodríguez’ (b.1990) music has been performed in Puerto Rico, in the US, throughout North/South America and in Europe, where, in Italy, his piece Madre Luna received 2014’s Rimini International Choral Competition prize and where his Crípticos Nos. 1, 2 & 3 garnered him one of 2015’s International Composition Competition Maurice Ravel awards. He also won 2015’s American Composers Orchestra EarShot Program, with Rossen Milanov and the Columbus Symphony giving the US premiere of his piece Luminis, which also received the Audience Choice award. Rodríguez received 2019’s ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards’ honorable mention, and his musical-social involvement was recognized by Junior Chamber International with 2014’s Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World award in Puerto Rico.

Named a 2018 Puerto Rican Heritage Ernesto Malave Scholar of the Arts by Comité Noviembre in New York City, Rodríguez’ music is inspired by the factual human experience. His latest compositions have been focused on social justice and activism, having in their inner spirit his Puerto Rican musical heritage. This led Musica de Camara, Inc. to commission his Concerto for Puerto Rican Cuatro and Strings Orchestra, which premiered at El Museo del Barrio in New York City in 2016. Rodríguez’ works have been commercially recorded by acclaimed trumpeter Luis “Perico” Ortiz, guitarist John Rivera Pico and FourteGuitar Quartet (in a new production soon to be released).

Rodríguez received his Bachelor of Music degree at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, studying with Alfonso Fuentes. He completed his Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Melinda Wagner and Robert Beaser and will begin his Doctor in Musical Arts degree in Juilliard’s prestigious C.V. Starr doctoral program this fall.

BORA YOON The Wind of Two Koreas

Notes from the Composer

Inspired by the early orchestral works of Igor Stravinsky, and his resonance with Russian folklore and cultural mythology, The Wind of Two Koreas is a work I sought to create as a Korean-American composer, rooted in the idea of cultural blood memory, bringing the ancient and modern elements of Korea’s political, historical and aesthetic identity together.

The Wind of Two Koreas is based on two hexagram configurations of the I Ching, representing the alchemical interactions of the five-element system in Chinese philosophy. The hexagram—consisted of two stacked trigrams, which are the symbols which flank the four corners of the South Korean flag—is rooted in Confucian philosophy, each with its own meaning and divinatory text.

The first movement, ‘Splitting Apart,’ is an unstable and volatile hexagram representing the creation/destruction moment of conflict and its transformation to the other side. This movement was created using the rhythmic architecture of ancient Korean shamanistic percussion samdo-garak drum patterns, which were then grafted onto the orchestral palette as harmonic gestures. Illustratively, gestures were chosen to depict horrors found in the 10 Courts of Hell, before eventually reaching the 10th ring, the Wheel of Reincarnation. An old Korean folk song, ‘Spinning Wheel,’ churns the movement forward, juxtaposed with the patriotic anthems of the DPRK/North Korea, further juxtaposed with South Korea’s K-pop retaliation sound bites—as the conflict of past and progress, future and history come into conflict with one another, of a culture and blood that is, ultimately, one within the Korean peninsula. The brief transition between the two movements represent the Pavilion of Forgetfulness, where one drinks the potion before entering the next life.

“Spinning wheel, spinning wheel,

Turn, turn, turn…”

The second movement, ‘Deliverance and Grace,’ is based primarily on the Korean lyric song ‘Half Moon’, juxtaposed with two of the oldest Korean folk melodies (‘Arirang’ and ‘Doraji’)—in order to pull back the lens to a place before political division and conflict—to a more elemental unity and unifying perspective.

Doraji! Doraji! Doraji!

Deep, deep mountains, white doraji!

Though one or two roots only I pull,

Slowly and surely my bamboo basket grows full.

Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo,

Arirang Pass is the long road you go.


About the Composer

Described as “genre-bending” by The New Yorker, and to “expect the unexpected” by KoreAm Journal, Korean-American composer, vocalist and sound artist Bora Yoon is a hybrid interdisciplinary composer who forges classical, electronic and cultural intersections using elements from a variety of cultures and centuries to formulate a storytelling through music and song. Featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal and in WIRE Magazine for her musical innovations, Yoon’s works have been presented by Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, TED, the Nam June Paik Art Center (Korea), Festival of World Cultures (Poland), MADE Festival (Sweden), Singapore Arts Festival, Walker Art Center, PROTOTYPE/HEREArts/Beth Morrison Projects and universities worldwide. She has been awarded a Music/Sound fellowship with the New York Foundation for the Arts and Asian American Arts Alliance, and she has been an artist in residence at the Park Avenue Armory, The Hermitage, Ringling Museum, HERE Arts and Harvestworks. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Music Composition and the Interdisciplinary Humanities at Princeton University. borayoon.com

STEVEN MACKEY Portals, Scenes and Celebrations (East Coast Premiere)

Notes from the Composer

Portals, Scenes and Celebrations is composed of five contrasting but connected tableaux. The joints within and between the scenes are effortless portals to other dimensions rather than logical consequences. The music is energetic celebration of motion and color, occasionally pulling back to refresh and relaunch toward an ever brighter next quest, but never in search of serenity.

When Michael Tilson Thomas and I first corresponded about this new work, he suggested that the working title be “Easy Piece for Michael” … (and so it was). He quickly qualified that by saying that “easy has many meanings.” Other adjectives in that email such as “up tempo, joyous, dazzling” suggested that “easy” could refer to my job rather than to him and the players, so I interpreted “easy” as license to indulge and enjoy my fantasies of lively content and playful continuity and trust my past experiences with MTT and the San Francisco Symphony that their nimble minds and agile hands would make joyous play out of demanding virtuosity.

Portals, Scenes and Celebrations was my gift to MTT at age 75. Over the past 25 years, I’ve written more pieces—six, counting this one—for MTT and the institutions he has been associated with than for anyone else. I am flattered that my work continues to interest MTT, and I am grateful for all that I’ve learned from him about composing, performing and music’s mission to facilitate song, dance and transcendent experience.

About the Composer

Steven Mackey was born in 1956 to American parents stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. He is regarded as one of the leading composers of his generation and has composed for orchestra, chamber ensemble, dance and opera. His first musical passion was playing the electric guitar in rock bands based in northern California. He blazed a trail in the 1980s and 90s by including the electric guitar and vernacular music influence in his concert music, and he regularly performs his own works, including two electric guitar concertos and numerous solo and chamber works. He is also active as an improvising musician and performs with his band Big Farm.

Mackey’s music has been performed by leading musical institutions throughout the world, including the Los Angeles, BBC and New York philharmonics; San Francisco and Chicago symphonies; Philadelphia and Concertgebeouw orchestras and Brentano, Kronos and Arditti string quartets, among others. He has received numerous awards, including a Grammy Award in 2012 for his album Lonely Motel: Music from Slide.


Major underwriting support for the NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute is generously provided by the Edward T. Cone Foundation and Princeton University.