#199– May 15, 2023
Multiverse – Another Rite of Spring, by Brazilian-American composer, pianist, vocalist, and educator Clarice Assad is our Composition of the Week.
Multiverse was commissioned by the University of Maryland Wind Ensemble and conductor Michael Votta, who premiered the piece on February 17, 2023, at the CBDNA National Conference in Athens, Georgia.
“In 2019, I received an email from conductor Michael Votta with an intriguing vision for a commission: How would you like to write a response to Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” experienced through the eyes of the sacrificial maiden? I wrote back immediately, saying, “I want to hear more.”
He told me the subject came up during a conversation with a woman who mentioned her scariest moment in music is in the Rite of Spring when the young woman dances herself to death. It was easy to agree with her on this. How awful it must have been for this young woman to be put to death at such a tender age to please the Gods of Spring that may not exist. The music sounds terrifying, and the choreographies I have seen over the years are up to par. But what about this girl? Was she accepting of her fate or felt forced into it? So many questions popped up; most importantly, who was this person? How was her life before? Her dreams? I wanted to explore.
There were many angles to tackle this story, but a light bulb moment occurred when I envisioned this poor young lady living as multiple versions of herself at different places and times. That is how MULTIVERSE came into being. In this re-telling of the Rite of Spring, the experience is multi-fold. Here, the story begins in tandem with the first part of the actual Rite of Spring, and each movement bears the exact title as in the original. But in Multiverse, the story ends right before the Sacrifice. We only go as far as when the victim discovers she is the chosen one. We are not sure whether she will die or escape […]” (Program Notes by Clarice Assad)
Multiverse has a duration of about 25 minutes, and it is scored for a standard wind ensemble setting, including harp, piano, double bass, timpani, and a large set of percussion instruments (30) distributed in four percussion parts.
Clarice Assad holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Roosevelt University in Chicago and a Master of Music degree from the University of Michigan School of Music.
The Grammy Award–nominated composer, celebrated pianist, inventive vocalist and educator is acclaimed for her evocative colors, rich textures and diverse stylistic range. She endeavors to harness the incredible and intangible power of music to connect people and transform lives through original works, commissions and education programs that give voice to everything from the impact of climate change to issues of social justice, gender equity and the empowerment of young voices. With her talent sought after by artists and organizations worldwide, the polyglot musician continues to attract new audiences both onstage and off.
The prolific composer has more than 70 works to her credit, including numerous commissions for Carnegie Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Boston Youth Orchestra, to name a few. Her compositions have been recorded by some of the most prominent names in classical music, including percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and oboist Liang Wang. Assad recently wrote the soundtrack to Devoti Tutti, a documentary by Bernadette Wegenstein, and is composing the music for a ballet by award-winning choreographer Shannon Alvis.
Assad also strives to expand the sonic palette of the voice, including immersing audiences in the music as active participants and by electronically altering sounds, “like one of those cooks who can turn any four random foodstuffs into a feast” (Classical Voice North America). She takes the immersive experience outside of the concert hall with the innovative and accessible VOXploration, which she created in 2015. The program offers a creative and fun approach to music education through meaningful, interactive experiences.
As a performer, Assad has shared the stage with Bobby McFerrin, Anat Cohen, Nadia Sirota, Paquito D’Rivera, Tom Harrell, Marilyn Mazur and Mike Marshall, among others.
In the recording arena, Assad has released seven solo albums and has appeared on or has had her works performed on another 34.
Assad has given master classes, residencies and workshops throughout the United States, Europe and the Middle East. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, amongst them an Aaron Copland Award and several ASCAP awards in composition.
Other works for winds include:
- Sin Fronteras (2017 – 2023)
- Amazônia Sem Lei (2023)
More on Clarice Assad