Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ray Bradbury's "Rocket Summer" in Piano Concert

About a month ago, on November 13, there was “A Musical Feast,” at The Kavinoky Theater, D’Youville College, Buffalo, New York. One of the evening’s servings was a short piano piece, Rocket Summer (1984), composed by David Felder and performed by Paolo Cavallone. According to the recital notes:
Continuing through this concert maze, we come upon the inscription on David Felder's 1984 work for solo piano, which states, "Two distinct stimuli are responsible for the creation of Rocket Summer: the unmatched ferocity of a midwestern blizzard, and the first chapter of Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles." In Bradbury's story, an Ohio landscape in winter experiences a temporary revival of summer caused by the fiery blasts of exhaust from a nearby rocket lift-off. The shivers of winter are intoned by the piano's opening flurries of blustering clusters, which are then interrupted by sustained harmonic resonances. Recollections of summery major-key nocturnes and minor-key mazurkas resound dimly through gelid winter gusts, building to a harmonically static, bi-tonal climax. The warmth of temporary summer fades as dream-like tonal memories reappear and finally disappear, and the last indication in the score is the single word, "FROZEN!" The composer dedicated the piece to his mother, whom he describes as "a very fine amateur pianist", and was commissioned by Steve Zegree.
Ray Bradbury’s "Rocket Summer" and his The Martian Chronicles (1950) are currently hurtling towards the Red Planet as part of the "Visions of Mars" library aboard NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander. Touchdown is scheduled for May 25, 2008.

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