Flow (world premiere, LA Phil commission with generous support from Pacific Harmony Foundation)
About this Piece
Ingram Marshall lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1973 to 1985 and in Washington State, where he taught at Evergreen State College, until 1989. He studied at Lake Forest College, Columbia University, and California Institute of the Arts, where he received an M.F.A., and has been a student of Indonesian gamelan music, the influence of which may be heard in the slowed-down sense of time and use of melodic repetition found in many of his pieces. In the mid-seventies he developed a series of “live electronic” pieces, such as Fragility Cycles, Gradual Requiem, and Alcatraz, in which he blended tape collages, extended vocal techniques, Indonesian flutes, and keyboards. He performed widely in the United States with these works. In recent years he has concentrated on music combining tape and electronic processing with ensemble and soloists.
His music has been performed by ensembles and orchestras such as the Theatre of Voices, Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and American Composers Orchestra. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, Fromm Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Recent recordings are on Nonesuch (Kingdom Come) and New Albion (Savage Altars). Among recent chamber works are Muddy Waters, which was commissioned and performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and In Deserto (Smoke Creek), commissioned by Chamber Music America for the ensemble Clogs. January 2004 saw the premiere of Bright Kingdoms, commissioned by Meet the Composer, and performed by the Oakland-East Bay Symphony under Michael Morgan. The American Composers Orchestra in New York premiered his new concerto for two guitars and orchestra, Dark Florescence, at Carnegie Hall in February 2005. Orphic Memories, commissioned by the Cheswatyr Foundation, was composed for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and premiered in Carnegie Hall in April 2007.
Marshall currently resides in Hamden, CT.
He has provided the following note:
When I was asked by the LA Phil to write a new piece for solo piano and chamber ensemble, what I came up with was not exactly a piano concerto but a concert of textures. I think of Flow as a series of connected textures that ebb and flow seemingly at random, but still in a greater context of a lucid, ineluctable movement. The piece consists of many smaller, moving ideas – almost minimal ideas – which, when heard in rapid close canonic movement, complement rapid movement on the surface.
The Sanskrit idea of Kali, so often associated with Tim Page, the music critic, from an early article of his, represents the paradox of extreme repetitive textures, the Hindu idea that static textures can be very moving. A composition of music can be quite repetitively constructed; Tim Page called it “framing the river.”
I’ve always believed in the affective power of music, that there are meanings behind the meanings. But sometimes the affective power of music can be overwhelming and we lose sight of the textural, coloristic “abstract” nature of music. The title of my piece, Flow, came to me after I had spent far too much time thinking about a title – it suddenly asserted itself. The music is all about flow, and I didn’t realize this was the case until I heard how fluid and smoothly-running the material is. The fact that embedded in it there are music references to my colleagues and friends brings a happy note within a sacred note.
Both Timo [Andres] and John [Adams] have mined the veins of American sacred songs, as have I, but that’s not the story here. This story is more about the flow of things and how they all connect within a sacred song, or an old hymn, if you please.
There are touches of Ivesean tunes or quotes that are rather hidden but nevertheless inform the structure and the “sound" of this music.
Flow is about continuity and pattern, as well as what “it’s all about” and it is about something.
Thanks forever to my friends for roping me into this smooth-flowing “Kali” of a concert.