Cynthia Stillman Gerdes

Solo and Chamber Music

upc# 8 84501 45734 7

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Solo and Chamber Music

Tango for David (2006) Erin Furbee, Harold Gray
     Erin Furbee's violin adds classic tango touches to Harold Gray's energetic piano in a playful tango written for my household tanguero.

Two Pieces for Trombone and Piano (2008) Robert Taylor, Harold Gray
     Waking Up Slow
      A slow bluesy piece written for Robert Taylor. It plays with the state between sleep and awake.
      Looking for Drive
      Finding enough "drive" for the day, a gentle tease to trombonist Robert Taylor's coffee habit with a jazzy Mozart bit thrown in.

Backyard Toccata (1991) Mary Kogen, Harold Gray
      One of those early spring days when the breeze moves the wind chimes, backyard birds are trying to attract mates and stake out territories in the big trees. It's easy to find the scene comic to irritatingly restless. At the end a door closes, an attempt to shut out nature's uproar. Of course it doesn't.

Six Short Pieces For Piano (1987) Harold Gray
      Six slices of a life in process.

Three Songs from the Tao Te Ching (2003-'06) Christine Meadows, Harold Gray
      These personal favorite translations of the ancient texts feel contemporary in message and language, so they are set with that in mind. In Ursula K. LeGuin's wonderfully sharp version of #18, the Great Way is changed to the Tao for musical reasons. #11 Thirty Spokes Meet In The Hub (Copyright © 1997 by Ursula K. LeGuin): from her translation of Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching, published by Shambhala Publications, Inc; used by permission of the author and the author's agents, the Virginia Kidd Agency, Inc. #35 Music Or the Smell of Good Cooking (Copyright © 1998 by Stephen Mitchell): from his translation of A New English Version: Tao Te Ching, published by HarperCollins Publishers; used by permission of the author's agent Michael Katz.

Love Love Wind Dust (2010) Phil Hansen, Jeff Payne
      A conversational piece between cello and piano inspired by our artist friend Jef Gunn's story about an old Chinese saying. He explained "Love love" means to be in love with, as in pay very close attention to. Wind is change. Dust can be an irritant. I'm not sure what the Chinese meant, but his words blew around in my American sensorium enough to want to write this for Phil Hansen's cello.

Fanfare for Elizabeth (1987) Mary Kogen
       Written for a celebration of Elizabeth Harris' gallery show opening, which included a large picture she painted on a blank canvas of my father's that had been around for easily fifty years. Her painting still hangs in my piano studio. Mary Kogen premiered this Fanfare in 1994.

Crazy Jane (2003) Erin Furbee, Harold Gray
      The Irish poet W. B. Yeats used the idea of "Crazy Jane" as a mouthpiece for uncensored statements of unpopular truths. A similar character appears on my mind's stage where she charms, taunts, rants, laments and prays in reaction to what she sees happening in the "sane" world.

Correspondence (2006) Harold Gray
      After almost fifty years, I received a "hello" note from a college boyfriend, now a self-described Rogue River hermit, which led to his sending me this charming piece he called "For Cynthia...". A reply was in order. "For Ernest..." was a more long-winded edgy response, my first attempt to write in a more popular style.
      For Cynthia, While I Do My Wash By Ernest Defenbach, used with his permission
      For Ernest, Hanging 'Em Out To Dry

Idaho Toccata Trio (piano version 1987, revised for trio 2001) Erin Furbee, Phil Hansen, Jeff Payne
      A love song to a community (Boise, Idaho) and an era (late 1940s). It's written from the un-conflicted perspective, musically and otherwise, of a ten year old. One melodic motif knits the piece together. This trio is programatic in the sense that it includes my father's song from his homestead past ("I had me a rooster and he well pleased me...I love my old rooster, I do") with touches from Dad's Barber Shop Quartet and some clucks from my grandparents' hens. Cowboys ride through with wisps of popular tunes like "Home on the Range", our new Westinghouse dryer chimes "How dry I am" in the counterpoint and there are some high energy cadences in the style of Gershwin, my musical hero at the time. I had to throw in references to the summer circus-carnival with its dizzying rides, exotic "gypsies", the tricks of wild tigers. Broncos bucked, cowboys yelled, Indians whooped in rodeo and wild-west pageants and the wail of the nearby train seemed our only link to a far away outside world. The "toccata" is a 400 year old form used in European music, a free, most often fast piece showing off variety and agility of touch. Mainly, I like the way toccata sounds with Idaho. 2011 UnaMuse Publishing ASCAP - All Rights Reserved

track samples - 60 sec.

1. Tango For David

2. Two Pieces for Trombone:
     Waking Up Slow

3. Two Pieces for Trombone:
     Looking For Drive

4. Backyard Toccata

5. Six Pieces for Piano: Reflection 1

6. Six Pieces for Piano: Bravado

7. Six Pieces for Piano: Stuck

8. Six Pieces for Piano: Play

9. Six Pieces for Piano: Drifting

10. Six Pieces for Piano: Reflection 2

11. Three Songs from the Tao Te Ching:
     #11 - Thirty Spokes Meet In The Hub

12. Three Songs from the Tao Te Ching:
     #18 - In The Degradation Of the Tao

13. Three Songs from the Tao Te Ching:
      #35 - Music Or The Smell Of Good Cooking

14. Love Love Wind Dust

15. Fanfare For Elizabeth

16. Crazy Jane

17. Correspondence:
     For Cynthia, While I Do My Wash

18. Correspondence:
     For Ernest, Hanging 'Em Up To Dry

19. Idaho Toccata Trio

      Cynthia Stillman Gerdes
was born in Seattle, Washington, lived inTacoma and Pasco, Washington, Boise, Idaho and Coos Bay, Oregon.
      After getting a BS from the U of Oregon she married and raised a family while teaching piano. Her nomadic lifestyle continued from Seattle to Pacifica, California, back to Coos Bay, and finally to Portland since 1976.
      She took a Masters in Teaching Music from Portland State University in 1981 where she then taught piano for twenty years.
      Homer Keller was her main composition teacher at University of Oregon. She later studied witth Eric Funk and Tomas Svoboda.
      All of the places she's lived have influenced her music: From the sagebrush and wild west of Pasco and Boise in the "Idaho Toccata Trio" to the more cosmopolitan influences of San Francisco, Seattle and Portland.
      These days she's having a wonderful time writing music for very accomplished musicians who are good friends and is a member of the Cascadia chapter of the National Association of Composers/USA (NACUSA).

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