PLAY an excerpt of Mary Simoni’s Armé Arirang for Clarinet in A and iPad Premiered by Clarinetist Cecilia Kang (2011)
Program Notes by Mary Simoni
The work, organized in five stanzas, begins with an adaptation of the popular French Renaissance melody, L’homme Armé.
L’homme Armé was commonly used as a cantus firmus for the Ordinary of the Latin Mass, and is found in compositions by Renaissance European composers such as Josquin, Palestrina, Dufay, and Ockeghem. Contemporary musical settings of the Ordinary of the Catholic Mass are usually comprised of five parts: the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. The liturgical function of the five parts of the Catholic Mass structurally inspired the five stanzas of Armé Arirang. The Kyrie Eleison, or “Lord, unbind us” is structurally aligned with the first stanza of Armé Arirang– an exulted and embellished L’homme Armé. Unbind the armed man.
The fifth part of the Ordinary of the Catholic Mass, Agnus Dei, implores the Lamb of God to “. . .grant us peace.” The fifth and last stanza of Armé Arirang is an adorned and elaborate version of the Korean folk melody Arirang. This melody represents the promise of peace to the Korean peninsula. The Agnus Dei is formally aligned with the presentation of Arirang. Grant us peace and put an end to that which divides us.
The intervening second, third and fourth stanzas of Armé Arirang represent a gradual setting down of arms in favor of peace– a transformation of the melody L’homme Armé to Arirang. This transformation is analogous to the miraculous transubstantiation that occurs in the Roman Catholic Mass.
This composition is about East meets West, Old meets New, and Religion meets Politics. Let us unbind ourselves of the arms of war and find harmony in peace and unity.
More information about the piece can be found on Petrucci Music Library at www.IMSLP.org.
About the composer:
Mary Simoni is a composer, author, teacher, pianist, consultant, arts administrator, and amateur photographer.
Her music and multimedia works have been performed in Asia, Europe, and throughout the United States and have been recorded by Centaur Records, the Leonardo Music Journal published by the MIT Press, and the International Computer Music Association. She is the recipient of the Prize in Composition by the ArtNET Virtual Museum.
She has authored books, “A Gentle Introduction to Algorithmic Composition” published by the University of Michigan, and “Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music” published by Routledge. She is currently working on a book with Roger Dannenberg of Carnegie Mellon University on algorithmic composition. She is a Medal Laureate of the Computer World Honors Award for her research in digital music information retrieval.
Her work as a pianist specializes in the use of interactive electronics. Her compositions include the design of performance systems that extend the sonic capabilities of traditional acoustic instruments.
She has consulted for the Canadian Innovation Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Peace Foundation, and numerous universities and arts agencies throughout the world. She currently directs the University of Michigan record label, Block M Records.
The Knight Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs have funded her research.