Soldier Zones

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The average person needs encouragement to explore a wider range of possibilities outside of their comfort zone, but for composer David Soldier, there are few zones or possibilities that he has not already explored. Wildly eclectic with an incisive view of how our brains function and respond to music, Soldier has written for and performed in groups of nearly every musical genre, and has even trained elephants to play music- literally.

Starting out in Illinois listening to popular music of the 60's, Soldier soon learned how to play multiple instruments and developed a passion for every kind of music from classical to salsa to jazz. He founded his own punk chamber group, the Soldier String Quartet, and discovered his passion for intricately juxtaposing contrasting styles of music in his own compositions. Posing questions to himself about consciousness and researching how learning takes place in humans and beyond, Soldier was led to more unusual, zaney collaborations, including an orchestra of Thai elephants for whom he built instruments and trained them to improvise. Other Soldier collaborators have included Regina Carter, Todd Reynolds, and writer Kurt Vonnegut, and he has premiered works by Elliott Sharp, Iannis Xenakis, and Phill Niblock among many others.

This week, we're listening to David Soldier's East St. Louis, 1968, a work for viola and electronics, meant to evoke a walk to St. Louis by an 11-year old viola player. Soldier glides between musical styles seamlessly, including jazz harmonica to classical viola and everything in between. Also, music of Nico Muhly, Libby Larsen and Alan Hovhaness.


Soldier in the Rain
Henry Mancini
Don Byron, clarinet
Jerome Harris, acoustic bass
Paulo Braga, drums
Patricia O'Callaghan, vocalist
Blue Note 26801

Quiet Music
Nico Muhly
Nico Muhly, piano
Bedroom Community

Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano
Marcus Paus
Vanessa Mollard, violin
Riko Higuma, piano
Kliment Krylovskiy, clarinet
Emeritus 20072

Nessun dorma
Giacomo Puccini/Don Byron
Don Byron, clarinet
Uri Caine, piano
Blue Note 26801

Dancing Solo
Libby Larsen
Florie Rothenberg, clarinet
Origin Classical 33003

After Dust
Mary Ellen Childs
Cantaloupe 21037

East St. Louis, 1968
David Soldier
Richard Auldon Clark, viola
Dave Soldier, electronics, harmonica
Mulatta 014

Troubled Water
Margaret Bonds
William Chapman Nyaho, piano
MSR 1091

Sonata ananda, Op. 303
Alan Hovhaness
Wayne Johnson, piano
Crystal 813

Kanon Pokajanen: Prayer
Arvo Part
Tonu Kaljuste, conductor
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
ECM 1654

The Secret Guitar
Bryan Johanson
Bryan Johanson, guitar
Yoshi Nakao, clarinet
Joel Bluestone, percussion
Hamilton Cheifetz, cello
Gagliano 601

Music Knows No Boundaries
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Heads Up 3083