Saturday, November 7, 2009

November 7, 2009 - Haunted House Science Fiction...

Mark Alburger, Music Director

October 7, 2009 SFCCO (707) 474-7273



SAN FRANCISCO, May 5, 2009 -- Be afraid. Be very afraid, when San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra presents Haunted House Science Fiction Quiz Show, an evening of electro-acoustic fantasy, nightmares, and whimsy. In its premiere performance in Oakland (a short atomic-powered broomstick ride across the Bay) on Saturday, November 7 -- emcee Music Director Mark Alburger, glamorous Associate Conductor Martha Stoddard, and compositional contestants Michael Cooke, Philip Freihofner, Loren Jones, Lisa Scola Prosek, Gerhard Samuel, Davide Verotta, and Erling Wold will conjure up works sounding particularly haunting and resonant in the Julia-Morgan-designed crematory / columbarium / mausoleum Chapel of the Chimes (4499 Piedmont Avenue).

The séance begins in Freihofner's Electroacoustic Music for Oboe, which provides a door into The Secret Door, where Jones will invoke a fantasy alternative-universe San Francisco for piano four-hands.

Cooke calls forth another magic world "...with the Sprit of the Desert," an evocative work for violin, bassoon, and piano -- inspired by Big Bend National Park in West Texas, and conjuring up in the movements the ghosts of Paul Hindemith, Igor Stravinsky, and Native American Music. Across the great divide, poet Michael McDonough reanimates the genius of Samuel (1924-2008), who set McDonough's spare minimalist "3", as night and trees (for clarinet, soprano, and bongos), before departing himself into that good night.

Dreams and reality collide again in Scola Prosek's Roma, hallucinated (on Tylenol PM) at 20,000 feet in a high-tech jet of engine roars, footsteps, lyricism (graced by sopranos Maria Mikheyenko and the composer), and the chariots of the entire orchestra and Rome's fiery Vittorio Emanuele Monument. Staying in the surrealist, subalpine, soprani sequence -- Verotta's Verrà la Morte e Avrà i Tuoi Occhi (Death Will Come and Have Your Eyes) reminds us that there is nothing wrong with your ears, but that, for the evening, we are in control.

Meanwhile, Wold notes in Sweet Encumbrance that bondage-and-discipline can be fun, particularly when the ball-and-chain is the beloved other, in one of his trademark post-minimalist lovelies; while Alburger takes the theme literally for Elijah Ghost, in seven movements drawn from his opera-oratorio Elijah Rock, a twisted techno-take on the scientific fantasies of the Biblical Books of First and Second Kings.

But yet, as it turns out, fear ye not: this is not a test. This is Haunted House Science Fiction Quiz Show.


Tickets for the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra's "Haunted House Science Fiction Quiz Show" -- on Saturday, November 7, 8:00 p.m., at Chapel of the Chimes (4499 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA) -- are $15 general, $12 students and seniors. Tickets are available at the door. For more information, please call the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra at (707) 474-7273, or visit Other links to the show may be found at, and


Saturday, November 7, at 8:00 p.m. Chapel of the Chimes
4499 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA
(707) 474-7273

San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra


Mark Alburger Elijah Ghost
Michael Cooke ...with the Spirit of the Desert
Philip Freihofner Electroacoustic Music for Oboe
Loren Jones The Secret Door
Lisa Scola Prosek Roma
Gerhard Samuel Night and Trees
Davide Verotta Verrà la Morte e Avrà i Tuoi Occhi
Erling Wold Sweet Encumbrance

Tickets: $15 general, $12 students and seniors, available at (707) 474-7273 and at the door.

More information at and


Mark Alburger, Music Director

Haunted House Science Fiction Quiz Show

8pm, Saturday, November 7, Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland, CA
Mark Alburger, Martha Stoddard, and Michael Cooke, conducting


Philip Freihofner Electroacoustic Music for Oboe

Loren Jones The Secret Door

Gerhard Samuel night and trees (Michael McDonagh)

Lisa Scola Prosek Roma

Davide Verotta Verrà la Morte e Avrà i Tuoi Occhi
(Death Will Come and Have Your Eyes)


Erling Wold Sweet Encumbrance

Michael Cooke Open Ended

Mark Alburger Elijah Ghost (Suite from "Elijah Rock"), Op. 176 (2009)
I. OUVERTURE (Rehoboam and Jereboam)
II. ARIA - May (Jezebel and Elijah)
III. RECITATIVO - Elijah (God and Elisha)
IV. QUARTETTO - King (Benhadad and Ahab)
(Ahab and a Member of a Group of Prophets)
VI. DUETTO - Let (Ahab and Naboth)
XII. ARIA - Jehoshaphat (Call and Chronology)


Mark Alburger Music Director and Conductor
Erling Wold Associate Music Director
John Kendall Bailey Associate Conductor
Martha Stoddard Associate Conductor

Martha Stoddard
Harry Bernstein
Alto Flute

Phil Freihofner

Rachel Condry
Bass Clarinet

Michael Cooke
Tenor Sax
Michael Garvey
Lori Garvey

Cindy Collins

Davide Verotta
Lisa Scola Prosek
Erling Wold

Victor Flaviano
Anne Szalba
Loren Jones
Mark Alburger

Mike Russo

Clare Twohy

Ariella Hyman

Maria Mikheyenko
Lisa Scola Prosek

Mark Alburger

MARK ALBURGER (April 2, 1957, Upper Darby, PA) studied with Gerald Levinson and Joan Panetti at Swarthmore College (B.A.), Karl Kohn at Pomona College, Jules Langert at Dominican University (M.A.), Tom Flaherty and Roland Jackson at Claremont Graduate University (Ph.D.), and Terry Riley. He is Founder and Music Director of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra, Conductor of San Francisco Cabaret Opera / Goat Hall Productions, and Instructor in Music Literature and Theory at Diablo Valley College. As Editor-Publisher of 21st-Century Music Monthly Journal ( and, he has interviewed many composers, including Charles Amirkhanian, Earle Brown, George Crumb, Philip Glass, Alan Hovhaness, Steve Mackey, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, and Steve Reich. Alburger has been the recipient of many honors, awards, and commissions -- including yearly ASCAP Standard Awards; grants from Meet the Composer, the American Composers Forum, MetLife, and Theatre Bay Area; funding from the Marra, Zellerbach, Hewlett, and Getty Foundations; and performances by ensembles and orchestras throughout the United States. Audience enthusiasm, critical response, and acclaim from colleagues have been consistent for Alburger's concert and dramatic works, which combine atonal, collage, neoclassic, pop, and postminimal sensibilities -- often in overall frameworks troped on pre-existent material. His complete works (including 16 concertos, 20 operas, nine symphonies, and the seven-hours-and-counting opera-oratorio The Bible) are being issued on recordings from New Music, available at Alburger's Sex and the Bible: The Opera will be premiered next March at Flux 53 Theatre in Oakland (

Elijah Ghost, Op. 176, is a suite derived from Elijah Rock, Op. 71, an opera-oratorio on I Kings:12 through II Kings -- pertaining to the establishment and fall of the Divided Kingdom of Israel and Judah. The music is a prophetic re-utterance of Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah, with minor revalations drawn from atonal fugue, swing, Alban Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra (III) and Wozzeck (Act II:1 and Act III:4), rock'n'roll, minimalism, and 12-bar blues. The characters herein include the rival pretenders to the throne Jeroboam and Rehoboam, Queen Jezebel, Elijah, King Ahab and his nemesis/pseudo-brother Syrian Behadad, a slap-happy Member of a Group of Prophets and another eaten by a lion, the anti-developer Naboth, and a hit-list Reciter of Dead Rulers.

The multi-instrumentalist MICHAEL COOKE is a composer of jazz and classical music. This two-time Emmy, ASCAPLUS Awards and Louis Armstrong Jazz Award winner plays a variety of instruments: you can hear him on soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones, flute, soprano and bass clarinets, bassoon and percussion. A cum laude graduate with a music degree from the University of North Texas, he had many different areas of study; jazz, ethnomusicology, music history, theory and of course composition. In 1991 Michael began his professional orchestral career performing in many north Texas area symphonies. Michael has played in Europe, Mexico, and all over the United States. Cimarron Music Press began published many of Michael's compositions in 1994. After relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area, he has been exploring new paths in improvised and composed music, mixing a variety of styles and techniques that draw upon the creative energy of a multicultural experience, both in and out of America. In 1999, Michael started a jazz label called Black Hat Records and is currently on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra. The San Francisco Beacon describes Michael's music as "flowing out color and tone with a feeling I haven't heard in quite a while. Michael plays with such dimension and flavor that it sets (his) sound apart from the rest." Uncompromising, fiery, complex, passionate, and cathartic is how the All Music Guide labeled Michael's playing on Searching by Cooke Quartet, Statements by Michael Cooke and The Is by CKW Trio. His latest release, An Indefinite Suspension of The Possible, is an unusual mixture of woodwinds, trombone, cello, koto and percussion, creating a distinct synergy in improvised music that has previously been untapped.

Open-Ended is a very versatile work that will be composed before your
eyes and ears. This work has no set instrumentation and can be played by any number of 
performers. It also has no set length; the piece could last 5 minutes or 24 hours. 
Based on Rova's Radar techniques, Open-Ended is less of a composition and more 
of a color or tool palette. It is an ever-growing collection of rules and games for the performers that are triggered by hand signals by the conductor/composer. 
The conductor / composer then composes the piece live using these hand signals to 
guide the performers. Open Ended has been performed several times but every time 
it is a world première and unique performance that can never be repeated.

PHILIP FREIHOFNER, oboist, synthesist and composer has been a member of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestrs since 2004.

"It's Only the Wind, for oboe and electronics, is dedicated to Jared Diamond, in appreciation for his tremendous work: Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. I've been particularly haunted by the story of Easter Island, a lush island when first settled, treeless half a century later. It's Only the Wind is partly an exploration of what could yet happen, here in the United States. The oboe is a grim protagonist, making melodic use of one of the darker modes, the phrygian, and various extended techniques such as multiphonics and combination tones, in a desolate and dangerous sonic landscape."

LOREN JONES, a native of San Francisco, began composing as a child. He studied with Tom Constantine and Alexis Alrich, and is currently with David Conte at the SF Conservatory of Music. His work has been performed by his own chamber group, by the SFCCO, and by students and teachers from around the Bay Area. He has produced many recordings, worked in radio and film, including creating a sound track for an animated short which won a special Academy Award. He was the recipient of a 2007 Meet the Composer Grant. Selections from Dancing on the Brink of the World, for chamber orchestra and period instruments, based on the history of San Francisco, has been an ongoing part of the repertoire of the past three seasons of Ssn Franisco Composers Chamber Orchestra concerts.

The Secret Door

In San Francisco, near a place called Baker Beach, out over the water
about a hundred meters up in the sky, there is a secret door.
It is invisible to humans, and only large enough for a crow or raven to fly through.

If you are lucky enough to be able to fly and also to make yourself small,
then a friendly bird may show you the exact location.

This small opening in the fabric of our time leads into another world.
The land and its contours are much the same as San Francisco,
but there is no city, and the plants and animals are different.

In a small valley near a beach there lives a wise and powerful magician
and his wife, who, being the only humans in this place,
are happy to receive a visitor.......

LISA SCOLA PROSEK -- composer, librettist, soprano, pianist (“A gifted local composer” San Francisco Bay Guardian) -- was raised in Rome, Italy, and graduated from Princeton University, where she studied with Edward Cone and Milton Babbitt, and privately with Lukas Foss in New York. During this time, Lisa studied singing with Margherita Kalil of the Met. After Princeton, Lisa returned to Italy, where she attended the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini, and studied with composer Gaetano Giani-Luporini. To date, Scola Prosek has composed two oratorios, and five operas, in Italian and English, including Satyricon, reviewed by the San Francisco Observer as a “tour de force” and featured on KRON TV; and Leonardo’s Notebooks, in Italian, both of which premiered to capacity audiences, and were featured on NPR’s West Coast Live. The Contemporary Classical Music Weekly wrotes:” This composer’s work is steeped in the Mediterranean world of gestures, writ both big and small. Her vocal writing references bel canto and the madrigal, and the instrumental writing, with its shadowy inner voices, has character and point," while Sequenza 21 characterized the writing as "Intricate and highly expressive music.” Scola Prosek is the recipient of numerous commissions, grants and awards, including from the Argosy Foundation, for Belfagor, and from the LEF Foundation, Meet The Composer, The Hewlett Foundation, the Argosy Contemporary Music Fund, and the American Composers Forum for her opera Trap Door. Lisa also serves as General Manager of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra. Look for Lisa’s new opera, La Badessa, in 2010 based on Boccaccio's Decameron. Visit Lisa and her work on the web at, where video excerpts from Belfagor and Trap Door are posted.

"Flying back from Rome in August, I settled into my seat after taking a Tylenol PM to endure the trip. Soon a bizarre dream-like state overtook me, the low droning bass of the airplane engine became an ostinato, people walking by in the aisle were like woodwinds chattering past incoherently. Suddenly in the middle of this pleasant haze, the image of the chariots on the Vittorio Emanuele monument appeared before me, and I heard the melody and words of this song. Roma, for two sopranos and orchestra, is a loving tribute to the Eternal City."

German-Jewish composer GERHARD SAMUEL (April 20, 1924, Bonn - March 25, 2008, Seattle, WA) emigrated to the United States in 1939 with his parents and his sister Erika. He attended Eastman School, and Yale where he took composition classes with Paul Hindemith. Samuel studied conducting with Koussevitzky at Tanglewood, and served as violinist and associate conductor, under Minneapolis Symphony head Antal Dorati. He was one of the co-founders of the Cabrillo Festival, serving as its first music director (1962-1968), and revolutionized programming at the Oakland Symphony when he was its conductor from 1959-1971. He then became Zubin Mehta's assistant conductor at the Los Angeles Philharmonic (1970-1973). Samuel headed Cincinatti's College-Conservatory of Music from 1976-1997, where he transformed its orchestra, taking it on international tours and recording several CD's ranging from Schubert to Ives. He composed many striking pieces in all media, including two string quartets (for the La Salle and Essex); Transformations, for solo violin and string orchestra; a large orchestra piece, Requiem for Survivors "and suddenly it's evening..." (in memory of the Oakland Symphony's late conductor, Calvin Simmons); Looking at Orpheus Looking; Nocturne on an Impossible Dream; Auguri (conducted for his friend Lou Harrison, in a birthday tribute at the San Jose Symphony); and a series of chamber works with texts by Los Angeles-based poet Jack Larson.

Librettist MICHAEL MCDONAGH (b. May 20, 1951, Fresno, California) attended grade school in Fresno, San Jose, Livermore, Concord (CA), Mt Prospect, and Arlington Height (IL). He studied English literature at Loyola University, Chicago, spent a year abroad at its Rome Center, and graduated from Loyola-Marymount University, Los Angeles. McDonagh has written many critical pieces and profiles on the arts for The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Review of Books, The Advocate, Stagebill, In Tune, The Three Penny Review, Keyboard, Antiques and Fine Art, and many other publications. He currently serves as staff arts critic for San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter -- and also writes for,,,, and 21st-Century Music. His poetry has been published in El Playano, Anemone, Mouth of The Dragon, Mirage, and Stanford's poetry journal, Mantis, and he continues to at work on many poems, which have been published singly and as related cycles. McDonagh has done two poem-picture books with San Francisco-based painter Gary Bukovnik -- Before I Forget (1991) and Once (1997), and has written two pieces for the stage -- Touch and Go, for three voices, staged by Zack's Common Cultural Practice at San Francisco's Venue 9, in 1998, and Sight Unseen (1999-2000) -- a theatre pece for performer Jennifer Taggart.

"night and trees is a three-stanza poem originally titled 3, which dates from my stripped-down 'minmalist' period when I was concerned with problems of rhythmic structure, and used lots of syncopation and sometimes regular straight-ahead rhythms in place of conventional anecdotal content, which is the common practice in most 'mainstream' American poetry. night and trees is Gerhard Samuel's setting of this short lyric which he chose from among 20 or so poems I sent him as possible candidates. The collaboration was as hands-off as could be, as I think that composers should, in the song form at least, be allowed to follow their own instincts. Poems in particular, and art in general, are, after all, as poet Tristan Tzara once said "a private bell for inexplicable needs." Everyone hears differently and Samuel heard night and trees with acute sensitivity. I owe my encouragement to being 'set' to two people: New York friend of many years, Peter Klein, and pianist Melissa Smith, who suggested I contact The American Music Center, New York, when she worked for Kronos Quartet -- which is how I met Samuel, whose work I'd admired for years. Gerhard dedicated night and trees to his composer friend of many years, Pia Gilbert. I would like to dedicate this performance to Pia Gilbert, as well as to the memory of Gerhard Samuel and his surviving companiion and dear friend Achim Nicklis."

night and trees
and if there are not trees
then music and breathing in the night the trees

night and you
and if there is not you
then there is the thought of you

and you are breathing
as the night is breathing

DAVIDE VEROTTA was born in a boring Italian town close to Milano and moved to the very much more exciting San Francisco in his late 20's. He studied piano and music in Milano with Isabella Zielonka, Ernesto Esposito, and Giacinto Salvetti, and in San Francisco with Renee Witon, Peggy Salkind, Robert Helps, and Julian White. He teaches piano in his home studio and at the Community Music Center in San Francisco, and performs regularly in the BayAarea as a piano soloist, with multiple appearances at the Trinity Chamber, St Timothy, Piedmont Piano, Chapel of the Chimes, and Lakeshore Presbytarian concert series. For the last three years he has been pianist with the San Francisco Composers' Chamber Orchestra. Composition is a more recent endeavor (with graduate studies at San Francisco State University with Richard Festinger, Josh Levine, and at the University of California at Davis with Kurt Rode and Laurie San Martin), but it is little-by-little coming to dominate as his main musical interest. Davide’s music is vaguely intertwined with a lifelong academic occupation in mathematical modeling of biological systems. Although this might generate the familiar reaction ("Ah! Musicians and Math!"), Davide admits that the relationship of music and mathematics still eludes him. For more information, upcoming solo recitals, and premieres of his compositions please visit his web site at

"Verrà la Morte e Avrà i Tuoi Occhi is a piece for chamber orchestra and two soprani about the acceptance, or awareness, of death, life passing by, and the longing for the beautiful days we must leave behind. The two sopranos sing:

Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi belli,
e le tue labbra
e il cuore.
Verrà la morte
ma ricorda i miei baci
e il mare
il verde
e le giornate nel sole
(Death will come and will have your
beautiful eyes, and your lips,
and the heart.
Death will come
but remember my kisses,
and the sea,
the green,
and the days in the sun.)

The inspiration for the piece comes from the location for its premiere (the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, a beautiful building by Julia Morgan); a memory: the song La Morte by Fabrizio de André, a popular Italian songwriter active in the 70's-90's; and a recent find (thank you, Google): a rather dark poem with the same title published by the Italian poet Cesare Pavese in 1960. My text tries to deliver a happier overtone: somewhere around the somberly playful de André, and well to the left of the dark poem by Pavese."

ERLING WOLD is a composer and ex-libertine. Last year saw the premiere of two large works, his Missa Beati Notkeri Balbuli Sancti Galli Monachi in St Gallen, Switzerland, and his solo opera Mordake for tenor John Duykers in the San Francisco International Arts Festival, both of which are slated for CD release this year. He produced an ecstatic noise-music collaboration with fognozzle this year, and is now at work on a couple of new operas as well as a new production of his opera Queer in New York and San Francisco. All his operas so far, including those above as well as Sub Pontio Pilato and A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil, and featured in an upcoming series of DVD releases of experimental operas on MinMax to appear over the next year.

"Continuing with the treacly investigation of romance and its elations, its euphoric pleasures, begun with Two Orchestral Waltzes for Lynne, the current work, Sweet Encumbrance, makes manifest, in sound, the joyous warmth, the sweet iron fetters and the small panics which flow from hog-tying oneself together with one's chosen helpmeet and companion. In this piece, it is demonstrated in some detail how much one can gain in life simply by giving up one's philandering, and -- while still given license to strut and flirt and still authorized to play the dandy -- one must now, for the foreseeable future, festoon one's costume with the leash and collar and electronic ankle bracelet, sometimes visible but most often invisible, like the line that one might be enticed to cross save for the memories of the previous attempts' resultant truncheoning and electric shocks. But let us not dwell on such past pains, but please to look to that bright future world illumined by the brightest and whitest of most pure light where, joined in glory and set upon one's throne just to the right of the Empress, in a new Sagrada Familia, happily holding court, happily holding the hand of the one most-beloved."

A native of St. Petersburg, MARIA MIKHEYENKO has sung with the Russian Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Russian Festival, and presents recitals of Russian Romances throughout the Bay Area. Opera credits include Berkeley Opera, Pocket Opera, Capitol Opera Sacramento, Bay Shore Lyric Opera, Opera Lafayette, Oakland Opera Theater, and the Austrian American Mozart Academy of Salzburg. In the world of contemporary music, she is a frequent collaborator with Bay Area composers. She has performed in three world premiere works by Lisa Scola Prosek: Leonardo’s Notebooks, Belfagor, and Trap Door. With San Francisco Cabaret Opera, she has multiple San Francisco and world premiere roles in Mark Alburger's operas (including Lennie Small in Mice and Men, Delilah in Sex and Delilah, and Edward Gibbon in Diocletian: A Pagan Opera), as well as portraying The Prophetess in Henry Purcell’s Dioclesian and a Quark Sister in John Bilotta’s Quantum Mechanic. Ms. Mikheyenko has been a guest artist on the national radio show West Coast Live! and is a member of the award-winning Pacific Mozart Ensemble, collaborating with artists such as Meredith Monk and Dave Brubeck.



(Contributing $1000 +)
Mark Alburger
Alexis Alrich
Lisa Scola Prosek
Sue Rosen
Erling Wold

(Contributing $500-$999)
Adobe, inc
John Beeman
Michael & Lisa Cooke
Anne Dorman
David & Joyce Graves
Ken Howe
Anne Baldwin
Hanna Hymans-Ostroff

(Contributing $100-$499)
Christopher & Sue Bancroft Kenneth & Ruth Baumann
Susan M. Barnes
Marina Berlin & Anthony Parisi
Bruce & Betsy Carlson
Patrick & Linda Condry
Rachel Condry
Connie & George Cooke
Steven Cooke
Patti Deuter
Thomas Goss
James Henriques
Marilyn Hudson
John Hiss & Nancy Katz
Susan Kates
Ronald Mcfarland
Ken & Jan Milnes
James Schrempp
Martha Stoddard
James Whitmore
Vivaty, Inc

(Contributing $50-$99)
Paul & Barbara Boniker
Mark Easterday
Sabrina Huang
Donna & Joseph Lanam
Harriet March Page
Larry Ochs
CF Peters
Barbara & Mark Stefik
Roberta Robertson

(Contributing up to $49)
Susie Bailey
Schuyler Bailey
Harry Bernstein
Joanne Carey
Hannes & Linda Lamprecht
Elinor Lamson
Anthony Mobilia
Deborah Slater

To make a tax-deductible donation, please send a check made out to:

2948 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Please include a note saying you want the money to go to the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra.


Special thanks to Lick-Wilmerding High School, for providing rehearsal space.