Variations on a Theme: Mason Composer’s Works Featured in Concert

Posted: October 8, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

With titles such as “Tower of the Screaming Virgins” and “One Fish, Two Fish,” the music of Glenn Smith makes a statement even before a note is played. Tonight, George Mason faculty, alumni, and students will gather to pay homage to Smith’s music in a concert celebrating contemporary composers. The concert will begin at 8 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall and is free and open to the public.

Smith, professor of music at George Mason, has written more than 400 pieces of choral, chamber, and orchestral works, as well as jazz and electronic music for concert, dance, video, film, and television. He is known for his varying styles and quirky titles—from the “avant-garde” early works such as “Transfinite Pictures” to concert works such as “Midnight Visions Variations and Noon Fugue.” He composed “Equally Free: the Pageant of George Mason” in 1982, as well as five waltzes for piano solo called “A Candlelight Walk through Gunston Hall,” which can be found in the University Libraries collection.

Glenn Smith
Glenn Smith
Photo by Evan Cantwell

“Glenn Smith can do it all,” says Linda Monson, associate chair of the Department of Music. “He writes all kinds of music, from very simple to complex. He likes to play with words, and sometimes has titles that reflect that and mean multiple things. These titles are also often meant as suggested interpretive guides to the performers.”

Friday’s concert, “The Music of Now: Works by Living Composers,” will feature works by Mark Bergman and Claude Bolling, as well as four compositions by Smith—”Song of the Winding Light,” “A La Nanita Nana,” “Tower of the Screaming Virgins,” and “Wandering Minstrel.” Mason faculty flutist Rachel Bergman, double bassist Mark Bergman, and pianist Monson will perform the works. The concert will also feature current student Dan Heagney and The Alexandria Guitars, a trio of Mason alumni.

Smith has been an active faculty composer since joining the music faculty in 1976. He has been recognized and awarded by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). His music, which has been performed in the United States, Canada, and Europe, includes commissions from ensembles, institutions, and individual artists. Major performances of his music have been at Carnegie Recital Hall, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, and on CBC Television, local public and cable television, and National Public Radio.

For more information, contact the Department of Music at 703-993-1380.

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