We will be releasing all of the movements as videos on YouTube over time. Visit the channel page now to listen to everything we have posted so far. Subscribe to the channel so you will know when new movements are available.
Launched on United Nations Day, October 24, 2010, this work is a tribute, in part, to the spirit of that organization, founded in 1945 to maintain peace and foster international communication among all peoples of the world. www.un.org
In 2001, the prominent American pianist and contemporary music specialist Teresa McCollough included my Sandhill Crane (Migration Variations) on her CD New American Piano Music (www.innovarecordings.com). She had also performed the piece on her international tours and lectures. As a thank you to her, I decided to compose a new work for solo piano--one chord per day--that would musically illustrate the 192 member states of the United Nations.
I was influenced by composer Lou Harrison’s Peace Piece (Nos. 1-3) and nature photographer Jim Brandenburg’s project wherein he challenged himself to take only one photograph per day between autumnal equinox and winter solstice (see National Geographic magazine November 1997; Chased by the Light, NorthWood Press, 1998).
Begun on Valentine's Day 2006 as a kind of valentine to the world and composed over 192 consecutive days (as a daily meditation on peace), World Piece evokes the ecological and political issues that each country faces in the challenge to create a global message for world peace.
Part protest, part prayer, World Piece is a work that seeks to honor all peoples and cultures and the planet itself. The scores for each movement are small as a metaphor for the notion that even the smallest of gestures can have a positive impact on the world. As an artist, I feel I have a responsibility to compose a music that strives for a more peaceful world and that honors the beauty of each living being.
I am most grateful to Teresa McCollough for her brilliant premiere performance of World Piece and for the great care she has shown this work.
–Steve Heitzeg, composer
September 29, 2010
In 2007, I received a gift in the mail from composer Steve Heitzeg--the score to World Piece--a fascinating musical exploration of the 192 countries in the United Nations at that time. Composed in as many days, each piece makes a political or environmental statement about each country; some only one chord, or a few notes, others simple drawings that evoke the spirit of the region as seen through the eyes of the composer. Many have explicit performance directions--others, only a poetic phrase or other text intended for the performer to improvise their own music--inspired solely by the description and drawings for each country. Not only musically interesting.... the score is also a beautiful artistic work that shows the thoughtfulness and intent which went in to composing each tiny piece over the course of a year. It is both engaging and inspiring, and I am honored to premiere this brilliant work.
Rather than learning and programming the music at one single concert, I embarked upon a recording project of World Piece, playing and improvising the music for each country in large chunks (Afghanistan--Fiji; Luxembourg--Mongolia, etc.) that took many sessions to complete. Some countries I knew well, and others I had little or no knowledge of. Aided by Lonely Planet's The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World (2007) I went on my own musical journey, using Steve’s music, the text and images in the book, and my imagination, to interpret the score. Those sessions, which took place over the course of more than three years, represent my creative voice at that time, and as I experienced each piece or country, in that moment. The result is the music you can hear by simply linking to each member country listed on this site. This is a "gallery" of sound, and a musical journey around the world—best experienced at the listener’s pace, rather than in the confines and limitations of a concert hall or other venue. It is my hope that World Piece will be discovered and enjoyed by a more diverse audience on the Internet, reaching out to many more people, and spreading a message of tolerance and understanding to all who listen.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN—October 17, 2010
On October 24, 2010 (United Nations Day) pianist Teresa McCollough will premiere Steve Heitzeg’s World Piece—an ecoscore in 192 movements for each of the 192 member states of the United Nations—in a series of performances available at www.teresamccollough.com/projects.
Heitzeg composed World Piece for the San Francisco-based McCollough in 2007—carefully illustrating as well as composing each movement. Over the next three years, McCollough recorded the 192 movements in multiple sessions, and listeners can now peruse a digital copy of the ecoscore online, selecting a movement/member state to hear each performance. The experience is a gallery of sound and a musical journey around the world—available at the listener’s pace.
Throughout the highly-improvisatory work, McCollough is called upon to play all parts of the piano (the keys, the strings inside the piano, the wood), to make animal sounds, and to whistle, whisper and sing into the piano. In the Bhutan movement, McCollough plays a high cluster of chords in honor of "the roof of the world" and the Canadian movement is a tender "song for seal pups." In a light-hearted moment, McCollough tosses Euros into the piano for the Monaco movement; as a protest to war, she is directed to scream into the piano for the Vietnam movement, which is represented with a black hole in the score.
Begun on Valentine's Day 2006 as a kind of 'valentine to the world' and composed over 192 consecutive days (as a daily meditation on peace), World Piece evokes the ecological and political issues that each country faces in the challenge to create a global message for world peace. Choosing to compose one chord or movement a day, Heitzeg says he was influenced by composer Lou Harrison’s Peace Piece (Nos. 1-3), John Cage's Litany for the Whale, and nature photographer Jim Brandenburg's project wherein he challenged himself to take only one photograph per day between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice.
"Part protest, part prayer, World Piece is a work that seeks to honor all peoples and cultures and the planet itself," says Heitzeg. "The graphics for each movement are small as a metaphor for the notion that even the smallest of gestures can have a positive impact on the world. As an artist, I feel I have a responsibility to compose a music that strives for a more peaceful world and that honors the beauty of each living being."
World Piece is a tribute, in part, to the spirit of the United Nations, founded in 1945 to maintain peace and foster international communication among all peoples of the world. "It is my hope," says McCollough, "that World Piece will be discovered and enjoyed by a more diverse audience on the internet, reaching out to many people, and spreading a message of tolerance and understanding to all who listen."
To see and hear World Piece—as well as interviews with McCollough and Heitzeg—visit www.teresamccollough.com/projects
Teresa McCollough has developed an international reputation for her dynamic and expressive playing. As a leading interpreter and advocate for contemporary music, she has commissioned, premiered and performed compositions by today’s emerging and established composers including George Crumb, Charles Griffin, Lou Harrison, Zhou Long, David Rakowski, Alex Shapiro, Alvin Singleton, Joan Tower, and others.
McCollough lives in the San Francisco Bay area where she is also a professor of music at Santa Clara University. Her new CD, Music for Hammers and Sticks, features new commissions for solo piano and percussion. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Emmy Award-winning composer Steve Heitzeg is know for lyrical scores frequently including naturally-found instruments such as stones, shells, whale bones and fallen tree branches. He has composed scores for the Minnesota Orchestra’s award-winning children’s video On the Day You Were Born and for the Emmy Award-winning public television documentary Death of the Dream: Farmhouses in the Heartland. Addressing social and environmental justice issues, Heitzeg’s works include Nobel Symphony, Endangered, Wounded Fields, Aqua (Hommage à Jacques-Yves Cousteau), The Tin Forest and Peace Cranes. His music has been performed by Chanticleer, Charles Lazarus, the Minnesota Orchestra, Peter Ostroushko, the Philadelphia Orchestra, VocalEssence, the Dale Warland Singers and Zeitgeist, among others.
In 2008 James Sewell Ballet debuted Heitzeg’s Social Movements and the Daedalus Quartet premiered his Song Without Borders at the United Nations in New York City. Contact: email@example.com
Heitzeg has been composing ecoscores—intimate works with inventive musical syntax that seek to honor nature and promote peace—for twenty years. Highly graphic in nature, two of his ecoscores are in the permanent collection of the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis: Peace March for Paul and Sheila Wellstone (composed in the shape of a peace sign) and American Symphony (Unfinished) (ten chords that honor famous American peace activists, superimposed on an unfinished American flag). “I view ecoscores as both meditation and protest,” says Heitzeg. “Frequently the ecoscores are simply one page. Sometimes they are intended to be performed and at other times the act of putting the notes and images on paper is the performance itself—a ‘silent music’ if you will.”
For further information about Steve Heitzeg:
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