George Crumb, a celebration

Free and open to the public without ticket!

Presented by The Swarthmore College of Music and Dance and Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS The program includes his two very last works:

Metamorphoses II, for solo piano
performed by Marcantonio Barone

Kronos – Kryptos, for percussion quintet
Area Premiere

Our concert on Sunday evening Oct. 23, 7:30 PM, Lang Concert Hall, will be shared with Swarthmore College’s Dept of Music. Swarthnmore’s half features Marcantonio Barone playing Crumb’s Metamorphoses II for solo piano. The piece was written for Tony, and he has recorded it for Bridge Records. Like George’s Metamorphoses I, it is inspired by iconic 20th- and 21st-century paintings, including in this case works by Picasso, van Gogh, Chagall, and Dali. 

COFE’s half of the concert will consist of Crumb’s Kronos-Kryptos in its area premiere, for five percussionists playing a stage-full of instruments from all over the world. James Freeman will be conducting the five percussionists who are: Angela Zator Nelson. William Kerrigan, David Nelson, Brenda Weckerly, and Phillip O’Banion. 

The two works on this program are the very last ones Crumb wrote.

The concert will celebrate George’s long life (1929-2022), his extraordinary music, and his close relationships with these players and especially with Swarthmore College. We are all still grieving George’s passing – it is the end of an era for many of us – but it is time now to remember a great man, a great composer. and a great friend to so many of us. 

Jay Fluellen, composer

Jay Fluellen is a Philadelphia born musician known as a composer, college professor, educator, accompanist, pianist, singer, and organist/choir director. He has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Temple University in the field of Music Composition. In addition, Fluellen has his K-12 Music Pennsylvania State certification from Eastern University. Fluellen is currently assistant orchestra conductor, piano teacher and music technology specialist at Northeast High School in the School District of Philadelphia. He is also an adjunct professor at Montgomery County Community College, where he. Since January 11th 1997, he has been a co-minister of music, with Walt Blocker, at the historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, where he directs the Chancel Choir. 

Fluellen has been commissioned by various performers and institutions, including; the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia’s LiveConnections, Teya Sepinuck and Theater of Witness, the Bucks County Choral Society, the Philadelphia Jazz Project, Orchestra 2001, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Network for New Music, Relâche and Philadelphia’s Singing City Choir, among others.


Milton Babbitt’s Transfigured Notes, for string orchestra, scored for nine absolutely separate and distinct lines,is surely the most controversial piece ever written by that most controversial of composers.The work was commissioned in the mid 1980s by Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra as part of the celebrations for the bicentennial of the Constitution. Three different guest conductors in three successive seasons (Erich Leinsdorf, Dennis Russell Davies, and Hans Vonk) were appointed to conduct the piece. Each attempt, after several rehearsals, ended in canceling the performances, and the orchestra’s management finally pronounced the piece “unplayable.” 

In 1991 Gunther Schuller put together a freelance string orchestra in Boston and gave two performances of the piece, later melding the two into a single performance for a commercial recording. Schuller confessed that his performances were far from perfect, but that he thought the recording did represent the piece’s “mood and character, and all its polyphonic, rhythmic/metric and structural splendor.” He urged listeners to hear it as “a gigantic, multi-layered collective improvisation, an atonal work with nine individual lines all vying for equal contrapuntal attention….It is pointless for the listener to try to ferret out conventional melodies and harmonies, for there are none….” (Nor is there any repetition in Babbitt’s music.) “The music is best listened to – and appreciated, especially at a first hearing – in its overall surface totality, rather than trying to follow any individual lines or shapes or gestures….Just let the music wash over you and you might be surprised by what rich and and totally new listening rewards you will reap.” 

In 1995, thinking the piece ought finally to be heard in Philadelphia, I scheduled it for two performances with Orchestra 2001. After many rehearsals, we realized that our performances, like Schuller’s, would still be far from perfect, so I called those performances “open rehearsals.” The Broad Street Review’s critic Tom Purdom wrote the following. “I had assumed Transfigured Notes would be a classic example of the dry, unpleasant music the academics inflicted on us before composers wised up a few years ago. Surprisingly, there was nothing ugly about anything the orchestra did. Most of the music was melodious and even sweet. The problem was that they played a lot of different things simultaneously. Transfigured Notes reminded me of all those Renaissance madrigals in which five voices sing five different melody lines at the same time. To really appreciate that music, you have to sing it. It’s music for performers. Transfigured Notes is composer’s music. Even the performers have trouble grasping it.” 

I think both Schuller’s and Purdom’s comments about the piece may help us as we rehearse and play it, and as you listen to it.  

At the time of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s aborted performances of the piece in the 1980s, composer Richard Wernick was the orchestra’s advisor in contemporary music. As “an admirer of Babbitt’s beautiful music,”  he later proposed that Babbitt might reimagine the piece for nine SOLO string instruments, not as Babbitt had written it for nine different string SECTIONS. “I think it is possible,” Wernick said, “for one player to perform (each part of) the music, when asking five or six to do it exactly together is not.“  Babbitt, however, always insisted that he wrote the piece for string orchestra and that it must be played by string orchestra, not solo strings.

There have been no performances of Transfigured Notes anywhere in the world since Orchestra 2001’s in 1995, either by a string orchestra or by solo strings – until today’s, twenty-seven years later! Milton Babbitt died in 2011, and I apologize deeply and respectfully to him in absentia for going against his wishes. But I thought it was time to take up Richard Wernick’s suggestion, even if for just a short segment of the piece – allowing us finally to hear what it actually will sound like for solo strings. This is with the enthusiastic blessing and permission of the composer’s publisher, C.F. Peters, Inc.

For many reasons, we decided not to play the whole piece at these concerts, but instead, to play only the first three minutes (out of twenty-six for the whole piece!) We’ll then talk about the piece for a few minutes, then play the three-minute beginning a second time, giving you another chance to hear it.  We hope those three minutes might in the end point you in the direction of Gunther Schuller’s recording of the entire piece. It is available on YouTube – James Freeman

Program Notes for Time Diverted by Jay Fluellen

Time Diverted, for string orchestra, is a meditation on 3 sources of personal inspiration; Mozart, jigsaw puzzles and literary images connected to water. The source of fascination in my favorite pieces by Mozart, lie in his ability to imbue all of his melodic content with rhythmic energy. Melodic and rhythmic content seamlessly progress through time in a rich, cohesive tapestry of sound. My fascination with jigsaw puzzles comes from the uniqueness found in the shape of each piece. Jigsaw puzzle pieces may have a very similar shape, but each piece is distinctly individual. My piece is sectional in a similar manner of a puzzle. Each section fits together by maintaining a constant eighth note pulse through shifting time signatures. My fascination with water images stems from my recent rereading of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Melville creates such captivating literary images around being at sea for months at a time. The water finds its musical expression through areas of compound meter woven throughout the composition. – Jay Fluellen


Free and open to the public without ticket!


Charles Abramovic

Marcantonio Barone

James Freeman

Andrew Hauze

Sumi Onoe

• W.A. Mozart, Concerto for Three Pianos, K. 242

• Richard Danielpour’s “A Simple Prayer” for strings

• W.A. Mozart, Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 365

*2:30 PM – Onstage discussion with musicians will precede the concert.

Mozart’s Concertos for Three Pianos and Two Pianos will highlight Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS’ program at Lang Concert Hall, Sunday afternoon, February 9, at 3 PM. Swarthmore College’s Marcantonio Barone, Andrew Hauze, and Sumi Onoe ‘2021, will be the soloists in the three-piano concerto, K. 242. Swarthmore resident Charles Abramovic will join Barone for the two-piano concerto, K. 365. Between the two concertos, the Orchestra will present the local premiere of Richard Danielpour’s “A Simple Prayer” for strings.

Said the orchestra’s artistic director and conductor James Freeman, “What Mozart learned in the three years between K. 242 (1776) and K. 365 (1779) is more than astonishing. We can see and hear the remarkable growth of a supremely talented young composer to an incomparable genius. Balancing these remarkable works of Mozart’s final years in Salzburg is a small masterpiece by Richard Danielpour, one of the most sought-after composers of his generation.”


Come help us celebrate renowned composer, George Crumb! Free and open to the public without ticket!


Charles Abramovic
Lori Barnet
James Freeman
Gilbert Kalish
Barbara Ann Martin
Mimi Stillman

• Music for a Summer Evening, final movement

• Night of the Four Moons

• Vox Balaenae

• Ancient Voices of Children, final movement

Performing artists, composers, former students, and scholars will speak briefly between the works.

David Crumb, composer

David Crumb’s music has been performed throughout the United States and abroad. His dramatic compositions are richly tonal, and intensely coloristic. Among numerous awards, he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the Fromm and Barlow Foundations. Crumb has accepted commissions from the Los Angeles Symphony New Music Group, the Chicago Civic Orchestra/ASCAP Foundation, and the Bowdoin International New Music Festival. He has held residencies at the Yaddo and MacDowell artist colonies and participated in a variety of new music festivals. His work has been released on Bridge, Albany, C.R.I./New World, Innova, and Equilibrium. Crumb joined the faculty at the University of Oregon School of Music in 1997, where he continues to serve as a member of the composition department.

David Finko, composer

DAVID FINKO was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), in the former Soviet Union, to the family of a famous mathematician and a submarine designer. In the early 1950s, talented young men were pressed into military service. Finko was selected to follow in his father’s footsteps, and became a submarine engineer. He graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Naval Architecture in 1959. He was appointed as a submarine design engineer in 1960 at the Submarine Design Bureau in Leningrad.

Finko had also studied piano, violin, and music theory since childhood. He graduated from the Rimsky-Korsakov School the Performing Arts in 1958, and while working at the Submarine Design Bureau, graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory in 1965. That same year, Finko’s Sonata for Piano #1 was awarded the first prize in the Conservatory New Compositions Contest. He left his engineering career to become a full-time composer in 1966. He was a member of the Union of Soviet Composers, wrote many works on commission from the Soviet Ministry of Culture, and served as an editor of the state music publishing house Soviet Composer until 1979.

David Finko has been a US citizen 1986. Since his emigration to the USA in 1979, he has taught music at numerous universities including Yale University and the Universities of Pennsylvania and Texas. Finko has written eleven operas, seventeen concerti, three tone poems, two symphonies and a number chamber compositions. His music has been performed and recorded in Europe, the USA, South America, Israel, and Russia, and has received awards from the Fromm and Fels Foundations, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts,
ASCAP, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, and others.

David Finko’s music is very emotional, expressive, often disturbing and soul-shuttering. His double, triple and quadruple concerti in which solo instruments “act” as humans are unique. His one act operas are based on exciting and striking plots, and are easy to stage.

Gilbert Kalish, piano

gilbert-kalish-colorA native New Yorker and graduate of Columbia College, Kalish studied with Leonard Shure, Julius Hereford, and Isabella Vengerova. He was the pianist of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players for 30 years and was a founding member of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, a group devoted to new music that flourished during the 1960s and 70s. He is a frequent guest artist with many of the world’s most distinguished chamber ensembles. His 30-year partnership with the mezzo-soprano Jan DeGaetani was universally recognized as one of the most remarkable artistic collaborations of our time. He maintains longstanding duos with the cellists Timothy Eddy and Joel Krosnick, and he appears frequently with soprano Dawn Upshaw.

Kalish is Distinguished Professor and Head of Performance Activities at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. From 1969 to 1997, he was a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Center and served as the “Chairman of the Faculty” at Tanglewood from 1985 to 1997. He often serves as guest artist at distinguished music institutions such as The Banff Centre, and the Steans Institute at Ravinia, and the Marlboro Festival, and is renowned for his master class presentations.

Gilbert Kalish’s discography encompasses classical repertory, 20th-century masterworks, and new compositions. Of special note are his solo recordings of Charles Ives’s Concord Sonata and the sonatas of Joseph Haydn, as well as an immense discography of vocal music with Jan DeGaetani and landmarks of the 20th century by such composers as Carter, Crumb, Shapey, and Schoeberg. In 1995, he was presented with the Paul Fromm Award by the University of Chicago Music Department for distinguished service to the music of our time.



Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, 7:30pm, Settlement School, Queen Street, Philadelphia 

Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, 3pm, Marshall Auditorium, Roberts Hall, Haverford College 

Pianists Charles Abramovic and Marcantonio Barone
Artistic Director: James Freeman

W.A. MOZART, Fugue in g minor, for piano, four-hands, K. 401
RICHARD WERNICK, “Pieces of Eight,” for solo piano
VINCENT PERSICHETTI, “Poems for Piano,” Op. 4
SAMUEL BARBER, “Nocturne,” Op. 33, for solo piano
GEORGE ROCHBERG, “Four Short Sonatas,” for solo piano
Celebrating the composer’s 100th birthday
GEORGE CRUMB, “A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979,” for solo piano
W.A. MOZART, “Theme and Variations in G Major,” K. 501, for piano, four hands

A half-hour onstage discussion with the musicians will precede each concert.

All COFE concerts and masterclasses are free and open to the public.


Sunday, January 27, 2019, 3pm, Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College


W.A. MOZART, Symphony no. 25 in g minor, K. 183 (1773)
DAVID FINKO, “Glory,” new commissioned work
DAVID CRUMB, “Vocalise,” new commissioned work
LILI TOBIAS “Lament”, new commissioned work
W.A. MOZART, Piano Concerto no. 20 in d minor, K. 466 (1785)

A half-hour onstage discussion with the musicians will precede each concert.

All COFE concerts and masterclasses are free and open to the public.

Mr. Kalish will offer a piano masterclass on Saturday, Jan. 26, 4pm, at Lang Concert Hall.