Zeitgeist's upcoming Early Inspirations concerts feature new works influenced by music of the Renaissance and Baroque, including Justin Rubin's "The armed man should be feared... and other lessons from the Renaissance." Justin steps in as a guest blogger to tell us more about the piece.
I was always perplexed why certain songs from the Renaissance became so incredibly popular – they became the source musical ideas for enormous Masses by leading composers hundreds of miles and decades apart, their tunes were adapted to widely divergent texts that seemed to have nothing to do with one another, and their root texts seemed strange to begin with. So I decided to tackle three of these, each with its own perspective.
As an organist I've always been connected to the music of the Baroque and Renaissance, so the titles and tunes have been swimming in my head for twenty-odd years. However, as the years go by contemporary historical events - real events - have changed and shaped the way I hear them, and how I interpret their meanings. These tunes are not frozen in time; they are living things that have meaning to us today, even if not those intended by their authors. I have approached each tune/text in just this way - they are not settings but 'plays' on the Fear of the Armed Man - the forced choice on the Young Lady – and our constant reminder that as with the Fox that Comes to Towne we are not quite masters of our environment.
I: L'homme armé
I tried to imagine this shiny but anxious town where everyone is walking around in suits of iron going about their everyday chores, all the while looking over their collective shoulders because they fear one another. In the end everything stops suddenly – fear has frozen them for good.
II: Une Jeune Fillette
This is an in-joke of sorts – the young lady is represented in the opening by the piano, lush harmonies that extol the freedom of a chromatic landscape. Then she is transformed by the implementation of a canon – the double entendre of the strict musical imitative form and that of the Canon to which she now belongs. Now the chromaticism is stripped away…mostly.
III: Tomorrow the Fox will come to towne
Quite literally this song is about the chaos that results from the smallest of problems in life as it scares the heck out of someone. He seems, as the song continues, to be the only one who believes that this one problem will wreck untold havoc on everyone in town. This one is personal for me – I haven’t had any run-ins with any foxes but a year ago or so I came out of my garage to find a bear rummaging through my garbage. Being originally from New York City, I began calling every neighbor and official in town; no one seemed either surprised or perturbed. So in the piece I pictured the fox scurrying around the town, smiling, while the poet (and myself) becomes increasingly unhinged.
Following studies at the Manhattan School of Music, Purchase College in New York and the University of Arizona, composer and organist Dr. Justin Rubin (b. 1971) came to Minnesota in 1998 where he became chair of the theory and composition program at UMD and holds the position of Professor. In 2009 he was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. As a recipient of a BMI Composition Award, a Fulbright Scholarship, and support from Meet-the-Composer, the McKnight Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Rubin maintains an active career as a composer and performer. He has presented concerts across the United States and in Europe and has recorded two CDs of contemporary piano music as well as two organ CDs. Rubin has just completed a cycle of three chamber music CDs exclusively of his own compositions: A Waltz Through the Vapor (Innova, 2013), Constellations (MSR Classics, 2011), and Nostalgia (Innova, 2009). He lives with his wife Erica and their son Max in Duluth.
May 17-18, 7:30 p.m.
May 19, 2 p.m.
275 East Fourth Street, Suite 200, St. Paul