Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Local composer, dog, cat, Dr. Seuss villain

If you had asked me what an ASCAPLUS was, I would have thought, "Maybe a Dr. Seuss villain?"

It's not. It's an award from ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. It recognizes "activity generated by each member’s catalog, with emphasis on recent performances,” which sounds like a slightly stiff way of saying it's an award for composers who have been getting a lot of good gigs lately.

The crack PR staff at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville want the people to know that Kimberly K. Archer, assistant professor of music composition at SIUE, has an ASCAPLUS under her belt, or on her mantle.

How about those good gigs she has been getting?

During the past year, Archer composed and premiered Symphony No. 3 for Wind Ensemble. She also released her first two symphonies on CD and had several regional performances of other works.

I'm not seeing that there Symphony No. 3 for Wind Ensemble on her interesting website, but it does have links to loads of snippets of her compositions and the odd complete piece. A snippet is a snippet, but I'm digging the zippy snippet of Symphony No. 2, a dramatic minute of The Hour of Wolves , a suitably tragic if brief bit of For Those Taken Too Soon , a snappy twist of Jig, and the happy Ballad for Aisha, all 6:19 of it.

It makes sense for that last composition to be of modest scope. Aisha is just a kid, after all. Ballad for Aisha was commissioned by Linda and Thomas Dvorak in honor of their niece, Aisha Greene. The premiere performance was conducted by Linda Dvorak with the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Youth Wind Ensemble I on May 7, 2006 at Bader Concert Hall on the University campus.

The Dvoraks write, "In addressing the musical fabric of the piece, we asked the composer to write music with a gentle flow, with singing lyricism, filled with the soft timbres of keyboard mallet instruments, and intermingled with musical climaxes as one might experience in musicals, all mirroring Aisha’s gentle and warm personality, and her love for singing and listening to Broadway shows, especially Annie.”

Uncle Thomas and Aunt Linda should get Aisha a copy of the 30th anniversary edition of the original cast recording of Annie, newly remastered by my friend Adam Long, who lives and works in Midtown St. Louis.

As for the CDs of the new ASCAPLUS winner, I've nagged her for review copies and will report back when I've heard them.


The photo of composer with aunt's cat and dog is from that there composer's website.

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