music Program notes

Orchestral Works

Cinematic Suite No. 1, for string orchestra (2004)

I. Homefront During Wartime (3:50)

II. Home Fires Burning (3:30)

III. But what about the children? (2:50)

IV. Sweet Homecoming (4:10) (Total time: 14' 20")

Composed for the Toronto Sinfonietta; premiered January 23, 2005.

Based on music for a war film, this suite for string orchestra is not about a particular war; just any war. It is not about combat, but rather, it is about the human issues related to loved ones, left at home to cope. Throughout the world, the last century has been dominated by war, and time can be described as “pre-war,” “wartime,” or “post-war,” but not “peacetime.” We have become so tolerant of this attitude that we pretend that making war is “normal,” and even glorify it in hundreds of war films. I wonder what we know of peace, if anything? As I woman, I often think, “What do these wars have to do with me? I didn’t start them, I don’t support them, I didn’t have children so they could fight in them. But what, if anything, can I do to stop them?” I suppose that this piece is about a woman’s perspective on war. Perhaps a filmmaker will make a film that examines these issues and use my music?

 

Overture for Orchestra (2005)

Composed in August 2005, this light, playful and joyous traditional-style overture, declares that all instruments of the orchestra are “present and accounted for,” so let the music begin! At first, I hesitated to attempt to write in this form, having such great respect for the overtures of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Brahms, Weber, and Rossini, regularly heard in concert. Yet, I decided, why not a new overture in the old tradition, celebrating the continuation of symphonic music performance in our own time—despite the lack of adequate funding and little support from the press, especially for local, regional and community orchestras?

 

The Secret Life of Paper Cranes

In memoriam Toru Takemitsu for string orchestra (2001-03) Dedicated to the memory of Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996)

I met Toru in 1994 in New York City, in connection with the premiere of the Music for the Movies documentary on his life and career as a leading composer for Japanese cinema. In March 1995 we met again in Gstaad, Switzerland (a ski resort), where we were both guests of the Cinemusic Festival. In April of that year, I produced a dinner in his honor in Los Angeles, where he received the Film Music Society’s Career Achievement Award. Much of Toru’s best-known music is sad, reflective, and melancholy, expressing our deepest longings. But in his life, Toru was a joyful, playful person, fun and light; in fact, he was a bit of a prankster. He felt his life was a delightful gift, given the fact that he was in a youth camp when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed. He cherished his wife and daughter and was a devoted and thoughtful friend to many. During our week together in Switzerland, he spent much time with my son, Elliott, then 7 years old. Toru taught him to make origami paper cranes. Toru’s daughter affectionately called her father “E.T.,” and Toru was immediately drawn to Elliott as in “E.T and Elliott” from the Spielberg film. They played all week with the paper cranes, trying to perfect their technique. Toru had new tales each morning for Elliott about the paper cranes’ activities while we attended evening screenings and concerts or slept. They danced, dined heartily, skied, and played in the snow, enjoying exciting and dramatic adventures. Although I was not privy to these stories, at the end of the week Toru and Elliott presented me with the entire collection of paper cranes. This piece is written with these lovely memories in my heart. How sad that we lost this lovely man to cancer, but how lovely to have these memories of the playful and loving spirit who was Toru Takemitsu.

 

Cantata: We Believe in You, O God

Based on the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith, for SATB soloists, SATB choir, chamber orchestra, organ, handbells, and bagpipes (1999) (32’)

Introduction: We Believe in You, O God

You Call the Worlds Into Being

You Seek in Holy Love

Interlude: Duet for violin and cello

You Judge People and Nations

In Jesus Christ, the Man of Nazareth

You Bestow Upon Us

You Call Us Into Your Church

You Promise to All

Organ Interlude

Finale: Blessing and Honor

I was inspired to write this cantata in 1997 by the congregation of the Church of the Lighted Window and their celebration of the church’s 100th anniversary. Much of the composing involved meditation and prayer on the text; many of the musical ideas came to me as gifts, in some moments just handed to me in their entirety. My intent was to write a piece which could be performed easily by a church choir with organ accompaniment, where the text would clearly be heard throughout. Then I decided to orchestrate the work, using a technique from the Baroque period of reinforcing the vocal lines in the instrumental parts, in a kind of “buddy” system, giving the singers maximum support. I added instrumental interludes to give the singers a “rest” and the audience an opportunity to contemplate the levels of meaning of this rich text. The final movement, “Blessing and Honor,” is in the form of a theme and variations, giving the soloists one final reprise. The ancient sounds of the bagpipes are used to open and close the movement, to remind us that God’s power and glory are eternal as is His love. It is also a nod to my own roots in the British Isles.

 

Musical Theater

 

Jonah (2001)

Words and music by Jeannie Pool, 1-hour length musical.

 

Act I:

Opening Prologue

The Ballad of Jonah

Sailor’s Chorus

The Storm

The Mermaid’s Song

Who Did?

In the Belly Blues

Where Are You Going?

When God Call Us to Serve

Reprise of Where Are You going?

Ballad of Jonah

 

Act II:

City of Sin

The Nasty Song

Cowboy’s Song

Square Dance

Forty More Days

This is My Proclamation

I Pray to You O God

The Worm Song

Ballad of Jonah

Finale: With God’s Love

Reprise of Forty More Days

 

This musical, Jonah, was composed in 2000 and 2001 for the families of Church of the Lighted Window and is based on the Book of Jonah in the Bible. Of course, there are no mermaids or cowboys in the Bible, but I wished to bring the story of Jonah to life for the children of this congregation by the addition of these characters and songs. It is a difficult Book for even adults to understand; many confuse the story with the tales of Moby Dick or Pinocchio. The Bible says it was a large fish that swallowed Jonah, not a whale, actually, but what difference does that make? God sent this creature to save Jonah’s life. The story of Jonah is about God’s love and compassion for all of us—even when we disobey, even when we fail, even when we are wrong. What an important message for all of us, young and old. I hope you will forgive me the little escapades in this show—sea creatures blowing bubbles, a gambling casino (familiar to all of us here in Southern California), square dancing, an “Elvis” number, the blues, and the silly song, “Chomp, chomp, chew, chew.” I hope the true message of this profound passage in the Bible comes through. 

 

Works for Youth Orchestra

 

Get On Board! Medley of American Train Songs (1999)

Composed for Monty’s Masters of Monte Vista Elementary School, La Crescenta, California; premiered in May 1999. The medley includes “Get on Board”; “I’ve been Working on the Railroad”; “Down By the Station”; The Wabash Cannonball”; “John Henry was a steel-driving man”; and “This Train Is Bound for Glory.” It is scored for Flute I, II; Oboe; Clarinet I, II; Trumpet I, II; Trombone; Bells; Percussion: Train whistles; Sandpaper blocks; Kazoos; Snare, Bass drum, Cow bell, Wood block; Piano; Violin I, II; Viola; Cello I, II; and Bass. The audience is invited to sing along.

 

Dance by the Sea for alto saxophone and orchestra (1996)

This was written for a sixth-grade saxophone student at Monte Vista Elementary School to play with the orchestra.

 

Three Spirituals for Youth Orchestra:

This Little Light of Mine (1997)

Kum Ba Yah (1997)

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen (1997)

 

Arranged by Jeannie Pool for the Monte Vista Elementary School Orchestra, La Crescenta, California, Monty’s Masters, and their conductor, Chloe Ross.

“This Little Light of Mine” is dedicated to the memory of William Carter, a Black American music historian and choral conductor from Cal Poly Pomona, who died in the 1990s in his fifties. These arrangements grew out of Jeannie Pool’s experiences coaching young musicians and her understanding of the practical realities in an elementary school orchestra.

Chamber Music

 

Anomaly Trio for clarinet, cello and piano (2003)

I. Cool Fusion (3’40”)

II. Weird Science (3’25”)

III. Free Energy (Rondo) (2’30”)

Composed in July and August 2003 for Kaye and Ron Royer for a concert planned in Toronto for October 2003.

 

These three lighthearted, humorous, and playful movements were composed with scientific anomaly (or weird science) in mind, for players who truly enjoy chamber music among friends. This trio is part of a larger series of chamber pieces, all named after scientific anomalies, for various instruments and for solo piano. [Also available in a version for flute, bassoon, and piano; another version for flute, bass clarinet, and piano.]

 

Character Matters for string quartet (2004)

I. Gentle Character (2:40)

II. A Matter of Character (3:00)

III. Honor (2:16)

IV. Strength of Character (2:50)

Composed for the Kirby Quartet; premiered October 17, 2004.

 

The quartet was composed in June and July 2004, while I was participating in a Gregorian chant workshop with the monks of the Abbey des Solesmes, France. It contemplates issues of character and the double entendré of the cliché, “character matters.” As with some of my other chamber pieces, it incorporates riffs from popular music, including ragtime, jazz, Cajun, and late 19th-century Victorian parlor traditions. The work is unabashedly sentimental, expressing a yearning for a simpler, more innocent time, and is dedicated to the memory of a friend who recently died at the age of 92. Many thanks to Michael Pepa for his support and encouragement to write this first string quartet and the Kirby Quartet for bringing it to life.

 

Cheshire Street Trio (2018)                                                                         

I. Hollyhocks; II. Dusk; III. Serenade

   

Cheshire Street Trio (2018) is a light, summery suite of pieces that depict my memories of my paternal grandparents’ house in the 1950s. Forced by imminent domain from their farm in the early 1940s for a federal dam project, they moved for the first time into a city, Delaware, Ohio, where they created an extraordinary and abundant garden of flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees, for their large extended family. It was an urban oasis in the neighborhood and a wonderland for the grandchildren, I among them. When the dam was finally constructed their farmland had not been used and it was resold to a large agri-business, causing the family much distress. Most of their children and grandchildren later became urban gardeners.

Episodia I

For flute, clarinet, and bassoon was composed in 1996 for Jenice Rosen's grandmother, Gizi Schlinger, for her 90th birthday.

 

A light divertimento in one movement with several sections, it reveals my deep affection for woodwind instruments and for storytelling.

 

Episodia II

Written expressly for the “In Praise of Music” ...

 

Concert Series at Church of the Lighted Window, although the first three movements were premiered at Garrison Theater at the Claremont Graduate University, conducted by Peter Boyer, on April 27, 2000.

“Episodia” is a made-up word, intended to mean a series of short episodes, each based on a mood. The basic melodic ideas, many of which were inspired by Latin American popular music, link all five movements together. The piece was composed for wind quintet, string quintet, guitar, piano, and percussion, but there are optional, additional parts for trumpet, trombone, and harp. The percussionist plays, among other instruments, marimba and Chinese temple blocks; in "Whimsy," s/he upstages the piccolo with a police whistle. The fourth movement, "Such Sweet Sorrow," was written with my friend John Scott in mind, who has encouraged me to take my composing seriously. The final movement, a tango, features guitarist Gregg Nestor, who, upon seeing the original sketch, complained, "Hey, there is nothing here for guitar!"

 

Four Seasons for Clarinet and Piano (2001-02)

Composed for the Price Duo, Four Seasons celebrates the joys of the changing seasons. Otoño (autumn) is about the cooler temperatures, the renewed vigor and commitment to life’s work that sweeps us through the season, into the winter holidays. Invierno describes the sensations of winter, including the joy of the Christmas season and the first snow; it ends with a Valentine plea, “Be Mine?” Primavera celebrates the exuberances of springtime. It was written to celebrate Deon’s fifth anniversary as a breast cancer survivor and reflects the up-beat optimism and positive attitude which helped her through her treatments. Veraño Blues describes the sensual, humid, sultry summer heat. It requires the clarinetist to slide from one pitch into another, to bend the notes, just as we feel when it is too hot to do almost anything at all. These pieces have benefited significantly by suggestions from the Price Duo, whose inclusion of these pieces on their recital programs always delights me.

I’m Troubled in Mind for Woodwind Quintet (2015) (5:42)

By Jeannie Gayle Pool (ASCAP)

Dedicated to the nine who died in Charleston, South Carolina, during a mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church:  Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson, Daniel L. Simmons, Sr., and DePayne Middleton-Doctor. The shooter killed them in cold blood after sharing an hour of Bible study and prayer. Soon after the tragedy, the families publicly announced that they would forgive the murderer, a 21-year old gunman. This piece is based on the 19th century African-American Spiritual, I’m Troubled in Mind. The lyric is:

 

I’m troubled in Mind.

Oh, Jesus, my Savior, on Thee I’ll depend

When troubles are near me you’ll be my true friend

I’m troubled

I’m troubled

I’m troubled in mind

If Jesus don’t help me

I surely will die.

 

When ladened with troubles and burdened with grief

To Jesus in secret I’ll go for relief

In dark days of bondage to Jesus I prayed

To help me to bear it, and He gave me His Aid.

 

In Memory of Loved Ones Lost (2002) for string quintet and piano, plus optional bass

In Memory of Loved Ones Lost was composed for a Christmas concert at the Church of the Lighted Window. It is dedicated to my teacher, Mauro Bruno, and his wife, Betty, who died that year. The holiday season, intended to be full of joy, is also the time when we remember with sadness the loved ones no longer with us. This was premiered by a string quintet led by violinist Brian Leonard, with Renée Vanasse on piano.

 

Suite for Violin and Piano (2001)

Written for Brian Leonard and Delores Stevens; premiered February 11, 2001.

The opening Andante Cantabile reflects the grand style of many 19th-century virtuoso violin pieces: passionate, dramatic, and moody. It opens with a violin solo, revealing to the audience that the piece begins even before we hear the first note. The second movement is an old-fashioned, quaint dance, reminiscent of a movement from a baroque dance suite. The third movement, a rondo, combines a fugue with some pop riffs, a gypsy-like melody, some elements of jazz, rock and roll in 5/8, and a tango, in an eclectic collage. The sensuous fourth movement is canonic, as the two instruments attempt to follow one another—first, one leads, then the other—thus its title, Romance. The Brillante movement, also a rondo, sprints off with jovial scalar runs, then drives to a frenzy. The movements of this suite are all based on similar melodic material, creating cyclical unity.

 

With Pleasure (1996)

Composed as a gift for Cynthia Fogg and Tom Flaherty's tenth wedding anniversary and twentieth anniversary as a performing team.

Quasi Rubato

Espressivo

Allegretto

Tranquillo

My teacher and Italian-American friend Mauro Bruno, upon hearing this music, declared, "This piece should only be performed on a gondola."

 

Sheer Delight for tenor, flute, bassoon and harp (2002)

Composed at the request of flutist Susan Greenberg for performance with Los Angeles tenor Jonathan Mack.

Based on a poem of the same title, Sheer Delight was written after a vivid dream in the spring of 1999, about a lush, green garden of lovely plants and trees, birds and insects, filled with all I could possibly eat and drink. In this garden, full of sensuous pleasures, all my needs were attended to, even ones I was not aware I had. I woke up from the dream, wondering if I remembered to take my wings as I left the garden, or if I had left them resting against the trunk of a tree. The lightness of this piece surprises even me, because these last couple of years have been filled with sorrow over the deaths of three women in my immediate family and several dear friends, including Mauro and Betty Bruno, not to mention September 11, and the “War on Terrorism.” Perhaps we all need, more than ever before, just such a garden for rest and rejuvenation. “I’ll leave the gate open for you!”

 

You Seek in Holy Love (1999) is a duet from the cantata, We Believe In You, O God.

See notes above.

 

With Gratitude for solo bass (2000)

I. Gratitude

II. Waltz

III. Love Song for a Daughter

IV. Romp [10 minutes]

Dave Young, whom I’ve known since we were colleagues at CSUN in the mid-1980s, asked me to write a piece for him, telling me he loved the Ds and Gs on his marvelous instrument. I’ve always been intrigued by the lyric powers of the bass as a solo instrument, ever since I heard Eddie Gomez in the West Village in the 1970s (playing with Bill Evans). I was astounded by his ability to sing with this beast of all orchestral instruments. Dave Young also is an amazingly versatile performer. The first movement, “Gratitude,” was inspired by the realization that a simple “thank you” is nearly impossible when we are expressing the sincerest gratitude for those things that have the most meaning in our lives. The second movement is a wacko “Waltz,” lamenting the fact that basses rarely are asked to dance in the orchestra. The third movement had to be a “Love Song for a Daughter,” because Dave and I both have daughters we adore. The fourth movement, “Romp,” could be a tv cop show theme …

 

A Woman of Independent Means, for narrator, bassoon, and recorded tape (1983)

This is a “rant” based on the composer’s experience with a bag lady from the upper west side of New York City. Sounds on the tape come from the Los Angeles Women’s Community Chorus performance from the Second Congress on Women in Music, combined with New York street sounds, and a Casio keyboard micro-computer. This piece is dedicated to “the bag ladies who are out there to remind us of our options as women in the 1980s.” 

 

Choral Works

 

Medley of Gospel Train Songs for youth and adult choirs, cello, hand percussion, and piano (2001).

 

Who Built the Ark? for youth and adult choirs, hand percussion, and piano (1998).

This choral piece—based on an old spiritual—provides opportunities for soloists, both young and old.

 

The Spirit Now and Again Appears, for flute and children’s chorus (2-part) (1998)

Based on Native American tune and lyric.

 

Piano Works

 

Latin Passions (2005)

Composed for pianist Nada Kolundzija for her waltz project.

This quixotic and romantic piece is inspired by the rich and diverse musical traditions of the Latin-American community in Southern California, where I live. It begins and ends with a gallant, yet melancholy, waltz and explores the textures and colors of other Latin dances and ballads. The piece is sectional, built around melodic figures characteristic of Spanish guitar music. The performer is encouraged to be bold—even reckless—when playing this piece and to bring out its seductiveness and rhythmic vitality.

 

Fantasy for Anne Boleyn (2002)

I have been fascinated with the story of Anne Boleyn (c. 1507-36), the second wife of Henry VIII. A keyboard player and lutenist, she was well known as a fine musician and possibly a composer. Since childhood, I have wondered why Anne Boleyn’s own compositions did not survive. Henry wrote some songs in her praise, that he sang to her while accompanying himself on a lute. Once Henry’s mistress—while he was married to Katherine of Aragon—Anne shared Henry’s great passion for music. Yet Anne steadfastly refused to become his lover, insisting that if they were to consummate their relationship, she should be Queen. By severing the Church of England from the Church of Rome, Henry was able to end his marriage to Katherine and take Anne as his Queen. After a couple of years of marriage, however, Henry accused Anne of being unfaithful with a court musician named Mark Smeaton. She was declared a witch; the sixth finger on her right hand was cited as proof. Many believed she had put a spell on Henry, causing him to fall in love with her. To defend the alleged infidelity, Anne said that she and Mark played music in the room above Henry’s sleeping quarters, for Henry’s pleasure. If they had stopped playing long enough to make love, Henry would have promptly pounded on the ceiling to signal them to continue playing music, which they often did throughout the entire night. After being tortured, Mark Smeaton confessed to the affair, while Anne maintained her innocence until her death. She was beheaded. This piece is unabashedly programmatic.

 

Character Matters for solo piano (2001)

Composed for American pianist Delores Stevens, a well-known champion of new music.

In this piece, I play with syncopated rhythms, a special characteristic of 20th-century American musical language. The title has two meanings (a double entendré)—i.e., the fact that the values (for example, honesty, integrity, respect) held by an individual either give them honor (or disgrace them) is more significant than what a person has in the way of personal possessions. “Matters” is both a verb and a noun in English: as a verb, it means counts or is of importance; as a noun, it means affairs or issues. This is similar to the multiple meanings of Chinese characters, which can represent both internal and external properties. The title also links this piece to 19th-century “character pieces” of the Romantic piano literature.

COMPOSITIONS BY JEANNIE GAYLE POOL

Below you will find the program notes which can be copied from this site and inserted into your concert program.

 

Feel free to copy the biography on this site also for the concert program.

Thank you!

For further information contact Jeannie Gayle Pool at  818-606-5743 or email:

Jeanniegaylepool@gmail.com