Roulette’s ongoing commitment to interdisciplinary programming continues this spring with a new commission from composer Shawn Jaeger. Following in Roulette’s tradition of fostering dialogue across artistic mediums, including Jonathan Franzen and Myra Melford’s pairing earlier this month, Jaeger’s new composition will engage traditional Appalachian folksong and hymnody alongside poetry from Wendell Berry.
The evening’s concert will premiere two works that take a new approach to Appalachian folk music by remixing and freely transcribing source audio. “The Carolina Lady,” for baritone saxophone, was composed exclusively using audio of Dillard Chandler’s 1967 recording of the traditional ballad and transformed via time-stretching, pitch-shifting, and looping. “Wilderness of Woe,” written for Contemporaneous, engages with recordings of bluegrass legend Bill Monroe. By composing directly with source audio and focusing on "secondary" performance details, such as mandolin strumming patterns and timbre of a slack violin bow, Jaeger develops an increased awareness of the sonic richness of these traditions, as well as a deeper engagement with their underlying structures. The program will also feature The Cold Pane, a cycle of five songs based on poems by National Humanities Medal recipient Wendell Berry, as well as “Thousands of Years to Make It What It Was,” performed by violinist Alexi Kenney, which draws inspiration from a Berry poem about an eroded field.
Described as “introspective, mournful [...] evocative” by The New York Times and “luminous” by The Washington Post, the music of composer Shawn Jaeger (b. 1985, Louisville, Kentucky) draws inspiration from Appalachian folksong and Baptist hymnody. His works have been performed by Dawn Upshaw and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the JACK Quartet, Ensemble Dal Niente, Fonema Consort and at venues including Merkin Concert Hall, the Morgan Library, (le) Poisson Rouge, and more. Jaeger is a faculty member in composition at Tufts University for 2015-16 and at the Bard College Conservatory of Music Preparatory Division.