President Bowen's Audio & Video
For Goucher's 2016 “Mindfulness” theme semester, President Bowen recorded some of his favorite meditative tunes.
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Music Notes & Credits
Piano Music for a Semester of Mindfulness
Recorded at Goucher College on January 15, 2016
José Antonio Bowen – piano
Daniel Chase – engineer
The suggestion for this piano recording came a week after I broke a bone in the pinkie of my right hand, and all of the practicing and recording was done while I was recovering. This limited the reach of my hands and the amount of time I could practice. But given the theme, I decided that the acceptance of the limitation might lead to music that would not otherwise have emerged.
1. Prelude (Bowen) 5:30
Unlike violinists or others who carry their own instrument from concert to concert, keyboard players often play a different instrument at every event. While this fell out of fashion in the twentieth century, preludes or toccatas (“touch pieces”) have been used for centuries as a “warm-up.” For keyboardists. They were sometimes partially notated or simply improvised as a way both to bring the audience to attention and allow the performer to “touch” the piano a little. They also give the audience a chance to hear the themes about to come. Here, I’ve take three pieces from very different composers and this improvisation was a chance to set the mood and also demonstrate the melodic and harmonic connections in the three pieces to come.
2. Clara Wieck-Schumann, Romanze (in Am without opus number) (1853) 5:50
3. Claude Debussy, Valse romantique (1890) 6:15
4. Manuel Maria Ponce, Romanza de Amore (1917) 4:20
Here are three bitter-sweet romances, all in minor keys and all around very simple themes that are repeated and then complicated by the surrounding textures and harmonies: rather like most relationships. Clara Wieck was one of the great pianists of her day, but her marriage to composer Robert Schumann has obscured her talents as a composer very different from her husband. Her romance is followed by an early work by Debussy, that is often described as less impressionistic than his later works, but I hear plenty of color and swirls of emotion. Finally, Manuel Maria Ponce is a Mexican classical composer who was also deeply interested in popular and traditional songs. Ponce mostly wrote actual songs, but this piece clearly sings and would have been a lovely but sad popular song.
5. Prelude “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” 2:48
6. Harry T. Burleigh, “On Bended Knees” Movt. 5 of From the Southland: Piano Sketches (1914) 4:27
This traditional spiritual was first published in a collection of slave songs in 1867, and several 19th-century African-American composers were inspired to create classical music arrangements of this material. H.T. Burleigh had an incredible ear for both staying simple and true to the original while creating new and now beloved arrangements. I will first play a simple version of the original spiritual and then the piano piece of Burleigh’s that incorporates it. The minor framing material is simply but a perfect contrast that beautifully sets the stage for this poignant tune.
7. Someone to Watch over Me 3:59
8. A Foggy Day 6:51
9. Embraceable You 2:24
10. Our Love is Here to Stay 4:34
11. José Antonio Bowen: Elegance in Blue 2:26
Someone to Watch Over Me
IRA GERSHWIN, GEORGE GERSHWIN
Copyright WB MUSIC CORP;
WB MUSIC CORP. OBO IRA GERSHWIN MUSIC
A Foggy Day
By George Gershwin And Ira Gershwin
Copyright Wb Music Corp. O/B/O Ira Gershwin Music
And Wb Music Corp. O/B/O George Gershwin Music
GEORGE GERSHWIN, IRA GERSHWIN
Copyright – WB MUSIC CORP. OBO IRA GERSHWIN MUSIC:
WB MUSIC CORP
Our Love Is Here To Stay
By George Gershwin And Ira Gershwin
Copyright George Gershwin Music, Ira Gershwin Music And W B Music Corp