Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
May 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

A Stitch in Time

music_MichaelDaughertyMichael Daugherty weaves orchestral music and electric guitar in ‘Gee’s Bend’
The electric guitar is an instrument seldom heard in symphonic music, but it’s the keystone of “Gee’s Bend,” the latest musical offering from renowned Ann Arbor, Mich., composer Michael Daugherty. Electric guitar and orchestra commingle in the piece, creating a timbral and stylistic patchwork in which rock, folk and contemporary classical music converge. “Gee’s Bend” makes its west coast premiere at the Civic on Saturday, Aug. 13 as part of this year’s Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.

Daugherty, a longtime festival favorite, found inspiration for the piece in the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Ala. One of the poorest areas of the south, Gee’s Bend is populated mainly by African American descendents of slaves from the Civil War era. The town’s residents are known for their innovative style of quilting, noted for its vivid colors and unusual patterns.

“The people of Gee’s Bend are survivors of a very long, troubling period of American history,” Daugherty states. “Through art, they were able to keep their heads high and have hope. One of the things I like about these quilts they make is the colors: They’re very bright, which is kind of like my music—I like bright orchestration. They’re very unorthodox, nonacademic and personal.”

Daugherty likens quilting to blues and jazz music. “It started out in small towns; it wasn’t commercialized,” he says. “Now the making of quilts and so forth—it’s very institutionalized, [but] they were doing these quilts on their own, just using scraps and not following any particular rules.”

“Gee’s Bend” is divided into four movements: “Housetop,” which takes its name from a popular quilting pattern; “Grandmother’s Dream,” which expresses the quilters’ optimism in the face of hardship; “Quilting Bee,” featuring washboard, electric guitar and a woodwind section representing a group of quilters; and “Chicken Pickin’,” which pays homage to a southern style of electric guitar playing popularized by the likes of Bo Diddley, Chet Baker and Duane Allman.

Boasting some hot leads from soloist D.J. Sparr, the piece is a showcase of the electric guitar’s capabilities. “This is really an electric guitar concerto—it makes no apologies for the instrument,” Daugherty says. “The electric guitar plays solos, actually plays rock licks. It’s a perfect piece for somebody who can read music and play rock guitar.”

The composer sees some metaphorical value in “Gee’s Bend.” “Cabrillo is sort of this patchwork of musical styles and idioms that [Music Director] Marin Alsop brings to the festival,” he offers. “It’s kind of like a quilt. Certain festivals might have a particular profile, but Cabrillo’s always been very open to lots of different patches, so to speak.”

Santa Cruzans can experience “Gee’s Bend” at Saturday’s concert, “Entangled,” which also features works by Zosha Di Castri, Robin De Raaff and George Tsonakis. Rounding out the night is the world premiere of Daugherty’s “Fever,” a tribute piece dedicated to Alsop, in honor of her 20th anniversary with the festival.


“Gee’s Bend” premieres at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at The Civic, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $32-50. Call 426-6966 or visit cabrillomusic.org.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival