Judd Greenstein

Notes from the Composer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Judd Greenstein Judd Greenstein

The Night Gatherers

Performed by Nadia Sirota, viola with the Chiara String Quartet

The Night Gatherers, for viola quintet, was commissioned by the family of my friend, a violist, as a celebration of the life of their recently deceased matriarch. This impressive woman was a painter and long-time advocate for women's rights; one of her best paintings, “The Night Gatherers,” combines these passions in a depiction of Mexican women gathering leftover wheat from the fields in the middle of the night. The painting is a beautiful and calming work about struggle and class issues; as such, it seemed to capture and summarize many aspects of this one woman's life, and was the obvious choice for a memorial work. The climactic section of The Night Gatherers, heard in this excerpt, brings together many themes from throughout the previous seven minutes into dialogue with one another, with the soloistic first viola incorporated into the broader world of the quartet.

Folk Music

Performed by the NOW Ensemble (Alex Sopp, flute; Sara Budde, clarinets; Mark Dancigers, electric guitar; Peter Rosenfeld, double bass; Michael Mizrahi, piano)

Folk Music was written when I was a fellow at Tanglewood and was influenced by the communal spirit engendered by composer Steve Mackey in his House Band project, as well as by the bucolic environment of the Berkshires. No work of mine uses less material than Folk Music, but the piece goes many different places and somehow retains the capacity to surprise me each time I listen. In this brief section, performed by NOW Ensemble, the opening theme is spun out into a series of canons, all related to the simple opening riff that's heard in the electric guitar.


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Comments [14]

Christa Robinson

Judd is incredible, as is his music!

Sep. 20 2010 07:35 AM
Amelia from Jersey City

Judd's music always takes me on a journey when I listen to it: captivating and emotionally direct without ever being sentimental.

Sep. 19 2010 11:41 PM
Mark Attebery from Nyack, NY

"The Night Gatherers" and "Folk Music" both have an immediacy in their textures and a palpable emotional component that make them stand out from the crowd. They are both compelling sound paintings that have the human heart at the forefront. A hearty bravo for creating works of beauty!

Aug. 23 2010 09:08 PM
Peggy Ward from Westminster, MD

Beautiful music with rich sonorities. and pulsing harmonies in the upper register. The cello line predominates in the excerpt heard in the sound bite. I would be interested to hear a little more of the solo viola.

Aug. 21 2010 06:48 PM
Music Teacher from Westminster, MD

Full-bodied lush dissonances with the darkness of the viola timbres: this piece is passionately descriptive of the interplay of struggle and hope. I listened to the piece repeatedly. I want to hear more of your work. Beautiful.

Aug. 21 2010 05:54 PM
Alan Polinsky

Excellent writing. Keep up the wonderful music.

Aug. 10 2010 02:39 PM

Haunting and beautiful, also original and interesting. I have listened to this piece the most often of all the entries. I think of the woman in honor of whom it was written, as well as the women in the fields. Very moving piece of music.

Aug. 03 2010 09:09 AM
Trudy from Queens

I really like the piece. It is melodious, yet challenging. I can imagine that David Saperstein would write a beautiful work for Orpheus.

Jul. 17 2010 06:38 PM
Sondra from Madison, NJ

"The Night Gatherers" is beautifully haunting. The violas reach into the center of your body creating a rich resonance.

The music creates strong visual moments, the tensions of concentration and the fear of discovery.

There must be a moon in the painting.

As a former dancer, I can see this beautifully choreographed on a moonlit stage.

The ABT could do a beautiful job.

Jul. 15 2010 06:04 PM
David Saperstein

A very bright innovative idea to write a "viola" quintet. I think this might be the first string quintet in history to feature that added player to a string quartet as a soloist! If you commission this composer, there is a good chance he will do something equally original!

Jul. 15 2010 03:33 AM
Carl S. from Bloomington, IL

Very moving and engaging -- bravo!

Jul. 14 2010 04:58 PM
Paola Prestini from SF

I love Judd's music. Always deep, always skilled. Beautiful!

Jul. 06 2010 01:05 PM
Lainie from NYC

Judd writes catchy tunes and licks that stick pleasingly in my head forever! I'd love to hear what he'd write for Orpheus.

Jun. 24 2010 03:33 PM

"The Night Gatherers" is so organic, so emotional, and just utterly heartbreaking in every way that it really stands out head and shoulders over many and most pieces of contemporary music. It's what we'd all love to hear more of in concert halls...

Jun. 20 2010 07:48 PM

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