Radio Free Los Angeles


Program Note

Two Movements for Mixed Sextet (Radio Free Los Angeles) was completed for Brightwork in 2017, premiering at the Festival of New and Improvised Music at CSU Dominguez Hills. The first, polystylistic movement consists of two sections. “Playful mystery/curious inuendo,” is polyphonic, pairing like-instruments propelled by regular pulsations, then by ambiguous rhythmic gestures and discontinuities within a seven-beat meter. A brief moment of massive vertical sonorities breaks this up. The second section, “Reading the Sun,” consists of contrasting passages including melodies anchored by the piano’s block chord progression, a homophonic texture followed by two ostinato-based passages closing the movement. Following a long, bowed vibraphone pitch, the second movement’s entirely different minimalistic rock feel begins with pizzicato strings in a four against three polyrhythm characterizing the entire movement. “Evocation” is a thorough re-arrangement of the final movement of my Trio for Oboe, Flute, and Piano (2010). This tonal/modal material is also dominated by a cyclic, tertial chord progression moving by minor thirds, and features a flute/clarinet duet with pulsing accompaniment also answering and augmenting the duet’s melodies. The work’s subtitle “Radio Free Los Angeles” is an innocently apolitical riff off of Radio Free Europe, the U.S.’s Cold War-era propaganda broadcasts aimed at the U.S.S.R.’s Eastern Bloc.​ -Jonathon Grasse

About Jonathon Grasse

Composer/ethnomusicologist Jonathon Grasse received his Ph.D. from UCLA in music composition with the cognate in ethnomusicology, where he taught in the music and ethnomusicology departments from 1999-2005. His 2012 composition…