...an attempt at ancestor worship, on two levels: the instrument dreams of its living, rooted reality, with the orchestra playing the role of its environs.
Following the critically acclaimed Frog's Eye, Big Grenadilla/Mumbai marks the second Cantaloupe Music collaboration between composer/clarinetist Evan Ziporyn and Gil Rose's Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP). It is also the second time that Evan has teamed up with world-renowned tabla player Sandeep Das - a member of the Silk Road Ensemble - thus forging together a non-western master musician with a premiere western orchestra.
Founder and longtime member of of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and founder of the Gamelan Galak Tika, Evan Ziporyn creates music at the crossroads of genre and culture. Having avoided the standard classical orchestra for most of his career, Evan came around to viewing the western orchestra as a world music ensemble - a reliquary of folk instruments and practices, rebuilt and retuned to play together; something that was constantly evolving - and he wanted to be a part of the evolution, to bring more outside elements in. An album that could have been titled "Outsider Concertos", Big Grenadilla and Mumbai have done just that: two works written for orchestra featuring non-orchestral instruments.
Commissioned and premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in 2006, Big Grenadilla features Evan Ziporyn on bass clarinet and is named for the wood from which clarinets are made and the "big" orchestra, magnifying and framing. Wanting to highlight and amplify what he likes to do best on his instrument, Evan calls the piece "an attempt at ancestor worship, on two levels: the instrument dreams of its living, rooted reality, with the orchestra playing the role of its environs."
A concerto for tabla - Indian hand drums - and string orchestra, Mumbai is a memorial to and meditation on the terrorist bombings in that city in 2008. Soloist Sandeep Das is given "complete freedom and no freedom" - the underlying rhythmic structure of the tabla is intricate and inflexible, but the nuances and specifics of his solo part are up him. He is backed up by a full percussion section, which implores a mixture of rhythms and applications of percussive textures and both are set against the harmonically resonant body of a string orchestra. Mumbai was commissioned by BMOP and premiered on May 27, 2011.