- Featured: Peter Askim
- Release Date: 9/18/2007
Active as a composer, conductor and double bassist, Peter Askim is the Music Director and Composer-in-Residence of the Idyllwild Arts Academy. He has been a member of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra and served on the faculty of the University of Hawaii-Manoa, where he directed the Contemporary Music Ensemble and taught bass, theory and composition. He has had commissions and performances from such groups as the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony, Orchestra Asia-Japan, the International Society of Bassists, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, the Idyllwild Arts Orchestra, the Portland Chamber Music Festival, and Serenata Santa Fe, as well as by performers such as flutist/ conductor Ransom Wilson, Metropolitan Opera soprano Lauren Flanigan and Grammy-nominated soprano Judith Kellock. His compositions are published by Liben Music Publishers, Discordia Music and the International Society of Bassists, and his music is recorded on the Gasparo and Albany labels. As a conductor, Mr. Askim has served as Music Director of the Branford Chamber Orchestra and makes frequent guest conducting appearances, including the Wroclaw (Poland) Chamber Orchestra Sotto Voce and the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra and has premiered numerous works, most recently Swansong by Richard Danielpour. He is a frequent recitalist for the International Society of Bassists, was a guest recitalist and teacher at the World Bass Festival in Wroclaw, Poland and was the winner of the 2002 International Society of Bassists Composition Competition. He has also received critical praise as a jazz artist in such publications as Jazztimes, the New York Post and New York Newsday. He studied at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna and holds bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees from Yale University, where he graduated with Distinction in Music. He also holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin. He studied composition with Dan Welcher, Donald Grantham, Anthony Davis, Jan Radzynski, Syd Hodkinson and David Finko, and double bass with George Rubino, Diana Gannett, Donald Palma, Wolfgang Harrer and Ludwig Streicher. CD Review: Double Bassist Magazine There is a driving force behind Peter Askim's music that reflects the energy in his approach to composition and performance. 'Moving, Still' shows the breadth of this imaginative musician's abilities as composer, conductor and performer, an enigmatic mixture of skills that inform his regular existence. The sound world of 'Islands: Concerto for Double Bass and Strings' is at once contained and expansive. The accompanying strings echo the sonorities of the solo bass engagingly. When other timbres are employed, as in the orchestral piece from which the disc derives it's name, the impetus and incisive motive are particularly effective in brass and percussion passages. 'As Glaciers Thaw' is of a similar style. An arresting departure comes with '...but the rain...' which evokes oriental woodwind and strings in it's sparseness, freedom of metre and intensely declamatory style. Askim recently said in interview that he begins every new work by producing a small musical fragment. He then hold up this fragment in his mind's eye, turning it around and viewing it from every angle. The cellular growth which this technique inspires is especially noticeable in 'Eight Solitudes', for bass and piano. Here rhythmic mottos and ostiniati unite the players while dissonance and slow writing add drama to the whole. Rather than a limiting palate, for Askim the bass provides no end of colour and contrast. Review by Matthew Power CD Review: Pasatiempo Santa Fe Askim has just released a new CD of seven of his own works, titled Moving, Still. All of the pieces are well-composed, most are notable, and several are quite distinctive. The performers include the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, conductor Ransom Wilson, pianist Douglas Ashcraft, the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, and the composer. The title track Moving, Still is a five- part essay for orchestra that alternates between emotional repose and raw rapacity of sound. Islands, a big concerto for double bass and orchestra, is a colorful, energetic, and gripping tone painting of four Hawaiian islands. As Glaciers Thaw ... for string orchestra is a brilliantly orchestrated and heartfelt composition, mammoth in conception but perfectly detailed in sound and presentation. Other works on the disc are ... but the rain ... for Japanese shakuhachi and 21-string koto; the angular, forceful Eight Solitudes for Bass and Piano; the thorny yet lyric and effective Edge for solo double bass, commissioned by the International Society of Bassists as a competition piece; and the passionate orchestral work Meridians. Review by Craig Smith CD Review: Bass World magazine This is a much-awaited new CD by the gifted bassist, composer, conductor, and teacher Peter Askim. It features a diverse array of works and artists, opening with the arresting Bass Concerto Islands, recorded during the 2005 ISB Convention in Kalamazoo with Ransom Wilson conducting and Askim as soloist. This is a richly orchestrated and highly effective work. It's four movements reflect four of the islands of Hawaii where Askim spent several years as a member of the Honolulu Symphony, from the "Jagged contours of Kauai's Na Pali coast, the play and shimmer of Oahu's surf, Maui's majestic Haleakala sunrise and the bubbling and crackling of the Big Island's lava fields" From the very catchy opening motive, the work brims with energy and myriad colors; it is certainly one the most engaging concerti written for the bass in recent years. The two orchestral works which follow, Moving Still and As Glaciers Thaw, while very different stylistically, are both indicative of Askim's unique language; a frequent sense of rhythmic urgency and vitality, if not immediately manifest then pulsing or bubbling away somewhere latently. Peter's textures and soundscapes (perhaps born of his diverse experiences and influences) exhibit an amazing array of colors, yet with a clarity, transparency and directness that are unique. ...but the rain is a major nine and a half minute work for Shakuhachi and 21-string Koto commissioned by the Orchestra Asia-Japan. It's haunting textures manage to sound urgent and intense, with some fascinating and complex rhythmic sections and a dramatic emotive climax. Again the inspiration is Hawaii; here Koke'e on the island of Kaua'i, the title coming from a sonnet by Pulitzer Prize poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Eight Solitudes for bass and piano (which won the ISB Solo Composition Competition in 2002) and Edge for solo bass (commissioned by the ISB for the 2003 ISB solo competition), here again played by Askim, serve to highlight his skills as composer and performer; technically and musically challenging they are both immediately appealing and rewarding works. Meridians, which closes the CD, is another orchestral work featuring the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra who commissioned the work, sounding as good as any professional ensemble under the direction of the composer. Askim's compositions can be heard on several other CDs but this is the first collection to give such a diverse cross-section of his works and performances. The recordings are clear and concise and this release should go a long way to bringing the music of this uniquely talented composer to a much broader audience. Review by Rob Nairn.
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