from The New York Classical Review on Dorothy Hindman @ 50: A Chamber Music Retrospective at Carnegie Hall, (complete text):
Composer Dorothy Hindman celebrated her 50th birthday Tuesday night with a musical party, and large-scale retrospective of her chamber music at Weill Recital Hall. What came through in the 11 works was that Hindman, who teaches at the Frost Music School at the University of Miami, doesn’t have an overriding style in the conventional sense. Instead, she uses elements of some contemporary compositional styles, applying them as needed to realize her ideas.
As an example, she generates the overtones to particular pitches, as the spectralists do, but she doesn’t make music that fits easily into the common spectral forms. She’ll also base a piece oﬀ of a track of popular music, but the results are nothing like indie-classical. This gives her work a nice expressive flexibility, which is ideal for an artist like Hindman who keeps her intentions, and her heart, upfront.
The concert mixed together both programmatic and absolute music. Her most successful pieces had a satisfying sensation of witnessing a solution build itself in real time. When things didn’t work—and the concert was inconsistent—there was irresolution.
The selections spanned approximately the last 20 years and there were a plethora of musicians and ensembles. All the performers were clearly dedicated to, and energized by, her music. Hindman’s program music captured contemporary concerns and used some of the media fabric of everyday life. Two of the strongest pieces were R.I.P.T. and Rough Ride; the former a response to violent deaths of young black men, the latter (the newest work) specifically about the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the police.
R.I.P.T was played by the Bent Frequency Duo Project— saxophonist Jan Berry Baker and percussionist Stuart Gerber— who delivered a sharp performance. The foundation of the piece is the hip hop track “Beef,” from L’il Reese, the song that started a 2012 argument in Florida that ended up with Michael David Dunn shooting teenager Jordan Russell Davis. Hindman adapted the rhythms and used the lyrics as spoken words for the musicians, as well as to create instrumental phrases. She derived harmonic materials from the song, in the manner of spectral music.
Hindman made [Bystander], played with impressive poise and sensitivity by cellist Craig Hultgren, in similar fashion, using bystander video from Gray’s arrest for both spoken words and pitch sources. [Bystander] is more abstract and more powerful, the cello line shining and abrading, like fiberglass threads, the fragmented text outlining a sense of tragedy.
If spectralism is one of Hindman’s important techniques, the other is post-minimalist repetition. The best example of that was Drift, played by the Frost Saxophone Quartet. Although the soprano sax is mysteriously underutilized, the music and playing were bright with energy and a lilting lyricism. Another lyrical and successful work was Heroic Measures, a sympathetic lament on illness and dignified death. Played by PULSE (violinist Scott Flavin, clarinetist Margaret Donaghue Flavin, and pianist Naoko Takao), the music is a simple but plangent series of rising and falling phrases, with notes spinning out into the air, modeled after the simple act of breathing.
Other pieces were caught between techniques and goals. The solo bass piece Time Management tried to express the search for stillness and order within an over-scheduled life. Even though Robert Black played with exceptional command, the music doesn’t reconcile its own fragments into a conciliatory order. I Feel Fine, for solo guitar (played by Paul Bowman), and Entwined, played by Donaghue Flavin and saxophonist Dale Underwood, likewise were unsettled between the demands of spectralism and repetition. The former requires suﬃcient duration for the harmonies and overtones to expand; the process of the latter is all about moment-to-moment change.
Gerber played the virtuosic percussion solo Tapping the Furnace, a combination of vocal narrative and scintillating sounds and rhythms, a high point of both the concert and Hindman’s oeuvre.
The most satisfying music making came through the composer’s son, 17-year old Jacob Mason, who played her Steinway Preludes. Those five short pieces in the manner of Debussy have exquisite craft, and Mason’s playing was exceptional, with dazzling fingerwork and an ear for phrasing.
At the end of an almost three-hour evening came two vocal pieces, You Shall Not Go Down, and Agnus Dei—from Prothalamia: A Celebration of Marriage for All. The quality of the music was diﬃcult to judge, because unfortunately these were the only poor performances of the night. Vince Peterson led members of the Empire City Men’s Chorus in rough ensemble and shaky intonation that created eﬀects that did not serve the music well.
Posted in Performances (http://newyorkclassicalreview.com/category/performances/)
~George Grella, “Dorothy Hindman’s range of expression on display in retrospective,” New York Classical Review, March 09, 2016 at 12:40 pm
From Fanfare Magazine on Corona Guitar Kvartet’s CD recording of Taut on Albany Records:
Composer Dorothy Hindman says the inspiration for her piece Taut is the tightness of the guitar strings as well as the personal tensions felt by players in very tight ensemble situations. She speaks of their heightened emotional states and their ability to draw listeners into their musical milieu. To do this she presents four motives at the beginning of the piece and develops them by various means. It makes for a dramatic, highly strung piece.
~Maria Nockin, Classical Music Reviews & Magazine – Fanfare Magazine – Corona Gtr Qrt: TAUT on ALBANY, July 20, 2015
Dorothy Hindman’s Jerusalem Windows is a musical embodiment of Marc Chagall’s stained glass windows in the Synagogue at the medical center of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Like Chagall’s wildly colorful abstractions, Hindman’s work abounds in fragments of color, short melodic cells, overlapping textures and sudden changes of timbre and meter. Brief moments of expansive melody in the strings and sections for prepared piano (with objects placed on or between the instrument’s strings) spice the 2002 score. Hindman succeeds in creating a musical tapestry that parallels the leaping figures and color splashes that dominate Chagall’s vast abstractions. In a superbly detailed performance, pianist Milana Strezeva was a tower of strength in the busy keyboard lines.
~Lawrence Budmen, “Manhattan Piano Trio offers bracing music by Frost School faculty,” South Florida Classical Review, Thursday, October 17, 2013
From the Huffington Post on the premiere of Prothalamia: A Celebration of Marriage for All:
The newly commissioned choral work [Prothalamia] by award winning American composer Dorothy Hindman comprises songs and odes exploring marriage equality. … If you love classical music, if you wish to be taken in by new music which is varied, utterly rich and sung with purpose and heart, you will love Prothalamia. … [Hindman’s] Credo is based on an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, 1856. It is the highlight of the work for me, so rich it should become the It wedding song for straight and gay people … Finally, there is [Hindman’s] Agnus Dei, consisting of a text by the Roman writer Marital, Epigrammata 12.42 ca. C.E. 101 which brings us back to reality as we depart the exploration of marriage equality in music. … As Agnus Dei brings us back to the reality of today, it hopefully draws people into a meaningful conversation about marriage and what it means to individuals and to society. Because marriage equality has not been reflected upon in music, Prothalamia should expand and deepen the form and substance of the larger national debate with the polemical volume turned down and the atmosphere of appreciation turned up.
~Elizabeth Donoghue, “A Musical Interpretation of Same Sex Marriage,” The Huffington Post, May 16, 2010
From the Birmingham News on Stuart Gerber’s 2009 performance of Tapping the Furnace:
Of the four pieces by local composers, Dorothy Hindman’s “Tapping the Furnace” for solo percussion stood out for its clever tone colors and visceral energy. Hindman’s work required percussionist Stuart Gerber to vocalize throughout, on a text taken from an oral history given by a black worker at Sloss Furnaces. Vernacular English, filtered through an amped-up form of Sprechstimme (speech-song), provided a near-perfect complement to the sounds of metal and skin in this intense, primal piece.
~Phillip Ratliff, “Duo inventive with new, local works,” The Birmingham News, Saturday, February 7, 2009
From the Birmingham News on the premiere of The Pillow Book:
… composer Dorothy Hindman realized the full potential of the entire Goliard in her continuous song cycle, “The Pillow Book.” Hindman, who is also the ensemble’s composer-in-residence, derived the tonal materials for the 15-minute piece from pentatonic and whole-tone scales and framed her tunes and chords with string harmonics and other effects. Lyrical melodies structured around hard-to-miss climaxes give “The Pillow Book” its momentum. While the piece was conceived as a series of short episodes, the overall result was seamless and organic.
~Phillip Ratliff, “Ensemble performs eclectic, uneven show with rich vocals,” The Birmingham News, Sunday, February 22, 2009
From the Society of Composers Newsletter on Scott Deal’s performance of Tapping the Furnace at the 2008 SCI National Conference:
Dorothy Hindman’s Tapping the Furnace was particularly memorable, using cymbals, coins and narration to recount a story about furnace workers in Alabama. Percussionist Scott Deal performed the piece with enthralling conviction.
~Luke Gullickson, “National Conference: A review of the 2008 SCI National Conference at Georgia State University,” Society of Composers Newsletter, XXXVIII: 1, January-February 2008.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the premiere of Tapping the Furnace:
There was also a premiere, Dorothy Hindman’s solo percussion work “Tapping the Furnace.” Written for Stuart Gerber, it’s a piece with a specific narrative: the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, now an Alabama arts center, once thrived on forced labor from convicts, mostly African-Americans. Along with the music, there is a text, excerpted from an oral history, which Gerber spurted out in tempo. The overwhelming sound is that of drum outbursts, patterned in the same numbers as the shifts at the furnace. The patterns and text repeat themselves until, like the laborers, we feel beaten down. Still, there was enjoyment in watching Gerber at work, wielding an array of equipment with consummate skill.
~James L. Paulk, “Edgy ensemble adds history to modern mix,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 4, 2007
From Bass World magazine on Time Management:
The jury felt very strongly about two of the scores submitted in the Solo Bass or Bass with Piano category. … So this year we have two winning works: Time Management for solo double bass by Dorothy Hindman, Professor of Theory and Composition at Birmingham Southern College in Alabama, and Vision Quest by Phoenix Symphony bassist and Grammy-nominated composer Glenn Stallcop. Time Management is a concept piece, one might even say a programmatic work. Having much in common with Deak’s Failing, the underlying idea is that at first musical events are spaced at a relaxed pace, but as the piece continues it becomes more and more hectic until it bursts at the seams and time is no longer manageable. Unlike the Deak, however, the vocabulary of this work is filled with extended gestures such as artificial harmonic glissandi, bowing behind the bridge, left hand hammer-ons, overly pressed scratchy tones, etc. The piece has all the attributes of a great story, beginning in a quirky fun manner and then becoming something unexpected, a virtuosic display with a wildly exciting ending. It is difficult to describe specific details, since the order of the gestures doesn’t appear to be significant. It is the effect of the pacing that is the tour de force, a one-way downhill roller coaster ride. From a purely technical standpoint, the piece is not terribly difficult at first glance. That is to say that the work remains in the lower half of the instrument for the most part and only ventures into the very highest registers for effect. The extraordinary challenge is to execute the variety of extended gestures within the tempo over eleven minuets. To play this work successfully requires mastering the art of Time Management.
~Hans Sturm, editor. “The Latest Score,” Bass World, Vol. 28, No. 3, 2005
From the Opera for Youth Journal on the premiere of Pandora’s Box:
Pandora’s Box is a delightful work appropriate for fourth and fifth grade students, and possibly even third grade students to perform. All elementary ages would enjoy viewing the performance; even young students would be able to follow the story line and understand the conflict of good versus evil inherent in the music and lyrics. Performance time is about twenty minutes, so it would appeal to those with shorter attention spans, or could be easily partnered with another work to create a longer program.
The characters are easily identified. Pandora, the Greek gods, the nine Evil Spirits, and Hope all pantomime the action as the chorus tells the story. These non-speaking and possibly non-singing parts are an excellent way to feature those students who are not necessarily strong singers and who might be overlooked otherwise. The movements of the pantomime are simple: the gods making the box, Pandora’s indecision, and the opening of the box and the Evil Spirits as they emerge provide action and interest. The only necessary effect or prop is the box out of which the Spirits and Hope must climb. Costumes could be simple togas fashioned from bed sheets using colors to indicate different characterizations. The music is tuneful and accessible for singers and the young audience, the lyrics easily understood. Key changes are effective in establishing the moods and characterizations. Vocal ranges are appropriate for the elementary aged singer and the piano accompaniment will not overshadow young voices or overly challenge an inexperienced accompanist. Overall, Pandora’s Box is an excellent choice for an elementary group. It could be part of a variety of teaching units and would be a valuable and entertaining learning experience.”
~Jane Modlin, “Pandora’s Box: Music and Lyrics by Dorothy Hindman,” Opera for Youth Journal, Vol. 22, No. 4, Summer 2000
From 20th Century Music Journal on “drowningXnumbers”: on the CD In Yet Longer Light’s Delay:
The opening composition, Dorothy Hindman’s “drowningXnumbers” (1994) for amplified cello, won the 1995 NACUSA Young Composers’ Competition. Hindman wrote the piece for Craig Hultgren, who plays the work brilliantly, covering the full dynamic range and a variety of moods. From the fire and aggression of the first section, through a percussive middle, to the quietly desolate conclusion – Hindman and Hultgren take the listener on a fascinating and colorful journey. “drowningXnumbers” is a piece which deserves to be played and heard more often.
~Jeremy Beck, “CD of the Living Music,” 20th Century Music, October 1997