On OCT 6 / 7, Olga Kern will perform the world premiere of Window to Eternity’s Threshold (2017) by composer James Lee III (born 1975). We are thrilled to showcase this gorgeous work with Ms. Kern at the bench. The composer is a professor at Baltimore’s Morgan State University and was gracious to send along these notes to us for the world premiere in Portland.
Window to Eternity’s Threshold is a set of four piano character pieces about an individual preparing for an important journey. He imagines this journey to end in a place of unimaginable bliss where he expects to have immortality. On the way to the journey, the individual will need to encounter various challenges before the arrival to his destination.
In the first piece Dancing for Fire, he witnesses spectacular scenes of other people chanting and involved in rituals that try to bring down fire from the sky. The piano music exemplifies this in the frantic way in which the various musical ideas change. This is also enhanced by a kind of textural counterpoint to the previous frenzied music with a type of dance in triple and irregular meters. This movement finally ends with the fire being extinguished.
Jacob’s Song is more of a solemn litany in which there is a desire for endurance to continue on the path. At certain times there are strong outbursts in a denser texture of chords that offsets the initial two voice contrapuntal statement.
Blowing Winds is a vague reference to Dancing for Fire in regards to the presented energy of the forward driving rhythms. Quintal harmonies and a playful dialogue between both hands characterize this piece until repeated pitches interrupt this passage. Then irregular meters alternating in groups of ten finally carry the wind up into the clouds where it eventually dissipates.
The last piece in the set, Dance of the Sealed is an exuberant work in which a celebratory dance set in 5/4 meter contrasts with an idea of motor rhythms and intense repeated chords constructed in tertial harmonies reminiscent of Prokofiev and Shostakovich. This piece represents the individual when he realizes that he has been sealed for salvation in order to avoid the results of eternal destruction. He will then be permanently recognized as a respected citizen in his new homeland. This makes his anticipated arrival all the more sweet. He then continues to shout, sing for joy, and dance as he continues to journey to see the paradise that he has so longed for. This is especially heard with more fervency as one again the chords are thicker and the intensity grows until the end.
Hurry and grab tickets to Olga Kern’s extraordinary performances OCT 6 / 7 in Portland. You don’t want to miss her!