Continuing their series of Guerrilla Composer Portraits, in which a composer is featured without their foreknowledge or permission, the Brothers Balliett settle into the Q2 Music studios to listen to a swath of pieces by Arthur Levering: an American composer with a penchant for tightly-knit pieces with a spiky surface.
Without ever bowing to pressure to dive into the murky universe of extended techniques or ambiguous structures, Levering writes bold, lyrical, exciting music with clear ties to the remarkable tradition of post-tonal American music of the twentieth-century. The recipient of many awards, fellowships, and commissions, this guitar-player turned composer has been cranking out engaging ensemble works for decades. Why don't we hear this guy's stuff programmed more often?
This hour will serve as an introduction for the newcomer to Mr. Levering's output. The sparking Sppooo for vibes and celesta makes a nice partner for the gentle and ebullient Drinking Songs for mezzo-soprano with harps and pianos. Parallel Universe is a much darker work for string orchestra – its intensity borders on discomfort, but the through-line couldn't be clearer or more satisfying.
Two ensemble pieces round out our session. Tune in to get acquainted with this skilled American tonesmith.