Time Loops, Maya Beiser, Michael Harrison
Cellist Maya Beiser and composer/pianist Michael Harrison's new album Time Loops will be released by Cantaloupe Music on October 30, 2012. Time Loops features Harrison's Just Ancient Loops, Hijaz, and Raga Prelude I (related to Raga Yaman, similar to the Lydian mode), as well as two pieces that have influencEd Harrison's music – Arvo Pärt's Spiegel Im Spiegel and the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria. The title track, Time Loops, offers an original take on the Ave Maria: the piano part was recorded and played backwards through a computer while the cello performed the melody in retrograde (reverse order).
The release of Time Loops coincides with the first productions of Maya Beiser's ELSEWHERE: A CelloOpera at Carolina Performing Arts on October 11 and at BAM from October 17-20, 2012. ELSEWHERE is an imaginative retelling of the Biblical legend of Lot's wife, created by Maya with director RoBert Woodruff, composers Missy Mazzoli and Eve Beglarian and writer Erin Cressida Wilson. For more information, visit www.elsewherecelloopera.com.
Like his landmark album Revelation (Cantaloupe, 2007), the entirety of Time Loops is performed using "just intonation" tunings devised by Michael Harrison, based on whole number proportions. Harrison says, "With Time Loops I am demonstrating the simpler and more harmonious aspects of just intonation. As a result the tunings on the CD don't push the boundaries, but rather they sound clearer and more direct than the normal equal tempered scale that is used in most Western music."
The centerpiece of the album, Just Ancient Loops, is a 25-minute piece that unveils every aspect of the cello – from its most glorious and mysterious harmonics to earthy, rhythmic pizzicatos. Harrison explains, "Just Ancient Loops uses Just tunings, Ancient modes and harmonies, and Loops of melodic and rhythmic modules. It is a musical odyssey for an orchestra of cellos, with each cello part recorded separately in the studio by Maya."
In concert, Maya plays the lead part live accompanied by a recording of all of the other pre-recorded parts, along with a new film by multi-media artist Bill Morrison. Created specifically for this project, Morrison's film uses archival footage plus computer generated images that relate the movement of the planets to the basic ratios of the musical overtone series. Maya Beiser's premiere of Just Ancient Loops at the Bang on a Can Marathon in June 2012 was highlighted in The New York Times as "an appealing mix of live and recorded cello lines, raga-inspired drones and Minimalist rhythms."
Of Just Ancient Loops, Maya says, "In this work the cello becomes this 'über' instrument – laying down the drones, building rhythmical grooves on top of each other, singing melismatic melodies, and reaching up to the stratosphere as the music evolves and builds into a massive, exhilarating climax. There are those rare moments in an artist's life when you realize that you are part of something that is greater than yourself, your collaborators, your listeners – when everything falls into place and music just lives and breathes on its own: raw, naked, real. It takes over. It becomes a force of nature. Such was the moment when I listened to the first mix of Just Ancient Loops."
Hijaz was commissioned by the Young People's Chorus of New York City, under the direction of Francisco J. Núñez, and premiered in 2011 at the 92nd Street Y in New York. Hijaz, one of the oldest modes in use in the Middle East and North Africa, is also known as the Phrygian dominant scale. It has been used by Andalusian musicians, gypsy guitarists and American jazz musicians such as MiLes Davis and Chick Corea, and has also made its way into Hebrew prayers and Turkish melodies. Harrison says, "My intention while composing Hijaz was to invoke a sense of pilgrimage, either to a wondrous, natural or holy place, or, metaphorically, to a sacred place within us."
About Maya Beiser: Maya Beiser has captivated audiences worldwide with her virtuosity, eclectic repertoire, and relentless quest to redefine her instrument's boundaries. The Boston Globe declares, "With virtuoso chops, rock-star charisma, and an appetite for pushing her instrument to The Edge of avant-garde adventurousness, Maya Beiser is the post-modern diva of the cello."
"Maya Beiser has etched a bold career path that marries classical to rock, starched collars to casual dress, and tradition to unorthodoxy," reports AllMusic.com. Over the past decade, Maya has created new repertoire for the cello, commissioning and performing many works written for her by today's leading composers. She has collaborated with composers Tan Dun, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Steve Reich, David Lang, Louis Andriessen, and Mark O'Connor, among many others. A featured performer on the world's most prestigious stages, Maya appeared as soloist at the Sydney Opera House, New York's Lincoln Center, London's Barbican and the World Expo in Nagoya, Japan and was a featured speaker and performer at the 2011 TED conference; her TEDTalk has since garnered over half a million views online.
Maya has conceived, performed and produced her critically acclaimed multimedia concerts, including World To Come, which premiered as part of the inaugural season of Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall; Almost Human, a collaboration with visual artist Shirin Neshat; and Provenance, which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2008 and forms the basis of her latest recording. Her sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall have been chosen by The New York Times critics as among the "Best Of The Year."