September 30, 2007
Center for the Arts - Homer, NY
Music will be performed by Emmanuel Sikora (piano), Marion Giambattista (soprano), Alan Giambattista (piano)
Pieces for Piano Four Hands
- Andante (17 April 2007)
- Allegro (20 April 2007)
Songs for Mezzo-Soprano
- "The Shadow Rose" ( 7 March - 15 April 2007); Text by Robert Cameron Rogers
- "The Days Are Meeker Than They Were" ( 28 August 2007); Text by Emily Dickinson
Songs for Bass-Baritone
- "The Day Grew Small" ( 1 August 2007 ); Text by Emily Dickinson
- "I Have a Bird in Spring" ( 2 - 4 August 2007 ); Text by Emily Dickinson
- "What Inn is This?" ( 3 - 5 August 2007 ); Text by Emily Dickinson
- "On This Wondrous Sea - Sailing Silently" ( 7 August 2007 ); Text by Emily Dickinson
First press release:
Emmanuel Sikora and the Challenge of Composing in the 21st CenturyEmmanuel Sikora will give a concert at the Center for the Arts in Homer on Sunday September 30th at 3pm. About half the concert will be of his own compositions. Sikora has performed his music at a number of local events including the Cortland Arts and Wine Festival this summer and the Young Artist Showcase at Grace Episcopal this past winter. Additional information can be found at EmmanuelSikora.Com
Sikora, who will be a junior at Cortland High School, spent his summer studying and writing music. He worked with Tekla Babyak, a graduate student in musicology at Cornell University, studying voice leading, diatonic/chromatic harmony, traditional forms and fugue. He also spent part of the summer working with Brian Franco on a systematic approach to songwriting.
As a young classical composer growing up in the 21st century, Sikora faces a wide range of choices in terms of extended tonality, atonality, minimalism, jazz and other influences. This might be seen as a source of confusion, with so many possibilities available. On the other hand each of these "systems" can be viewed as another color on the composer's pallet, who is free to choose and mix the techniques to be used at any particular moment. The challenge of having all of these possibilities is the need to study each one of them in detail.
Until quite recently, Sikora's inclination has been to adopt the style of 19th century composers such as Chopin, Schumann and Schubert. A number of his mentors have been nudging him in the direction of a more extended tonality. Marion Giambattista, his voice teacher, asked him to write a song in an early 20th century style. The result was "The Shadow Rose" which was selected in a statewide competition to be performed at the upcoming NYSSMA festival in Rochester, NY. Sikora finds writing in this style more difficult and that he needs to check the compositions on the piano more frequently.
According to his summer music tutor Tekla Babyak, the present time is more open to music that contains some tonal elements. There was a time during the 1960s and 70s, she said, when composers felt compelled to produce the most outlandish music possible. In one piece for example no notes were played, but the performers were asked to squirt toothpaste at members of the audience. Today, there is a tendency for the community of composers to accept music that is much more lyrical than was possible during the later part of the 20th century.
Sikora has to contend with the sometimes conflicting advice of musicians, parents and mentors. In the end, there is no one who can tell him what the music of the 21st century will be like; he will have to find his way by following his own instincts. Some of his inspirations come on long walks up the hill near his home in Cortlandville, where he goes to watch the sunset. Sometimes he'll get an idea and sit to write it down; then another idea comes, and so on. "In the end I may miss the sunset," he said, "but I get some good music out of it."
Second Press Release
Emmanuel Sikora at the Center for the ArtsEmmanuel Sikora will give a concert of his recent compositions at the Center for the Arts in Homer on Sunday September 30th at 3pm. There is no admission fee. Sikora, a junior at Cortland High School, has performed his music at a number of local events including the Cortland Arts and Wine Festival this past summer and the Young Artist Showcase at Grace Episcopal this past February. At these events, most of his music has been in the style of the 19th century, following the model of Chopin and Schubert. For this concert, Sikora will be utilizing the dissonances that are more typical of the 20th century.
The concert will begin with a number of works for solo piano. As an example, "Composition for a Rainy Day " begins with slow dissonant melancholy; then a simple melody struggles to come to the surface. Tension between melancholy and innocence continues briefly, but falls back into melancholy in the end.
Alan Giambattista (piano), who teaches physics at Cornell University and is one of the finest piansts in the area, will join Sikora for the performance of works for piano four-hands. Unlike the solo piano works, which were selected from a larger collection of recent compositions, the two pieces for piano four-hands are the only works that Sikora has composed in this genre. They are works of mixed quality, but their driving momentum and physical energy made their inclusion in the program important.
Marion Giambattista, now a member of the faculty in the Performing Arts Department at SUNY Cortland, will perform songs for mezzo-soprano. This will include "The Shadow Rose", that was selected in a statewide competition to be performed at the upcoming NYSSMA festival in Rochester, NY.
Finally, Sikora will sing a set of songs that he has written based on poems by Emily Dickinson, with Alan Giambattista as accompanist. His songs make use of dissonances, but always give the listener a frame of reference. A simple melody line might work against a strident accompaniment; unexpected melodic leaps, twists and sequences might be supported by more straightforward harmonies.
Sikora recognizes the need to study the techniques of composition. He spent the past summer studying with Tekla Babyak, a graduate student in musicology at Cornell University, working on voice leading, diatonic/chromatic harmony, traditional forms and fugue. He also spent part of the summer working with Brian Franco on a systematic approach to songwriting.
This concert will present a snapshot of a young composer as he works to develop both his craft and his range of expression. If you would like additional information about the concert, contact Emmanuel Sikora at (607) 758-3670. Or check the website EmmanuelSikora.Com