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Lecture - Jennifer Trowbridge

"Yesterday" Reimagined by Berio, Andriessen, Davies, and Takemitsu for Classical Guitar and Chamber Ensemble

Jennifer Trowbridge

Abstract:

Although Paul McCartney and John Lennon‚'s interest in avant-garde music is well documented, a reciprocal interest in the Beatles by avant-garde composers is not. Between 1966 and 1977, four prominent composers‚ Äì Luciano Berio, Louis Andriessen, Peter Maxwell Davies, and Toru Takemitsu arranged Beatles songs for classically trained performers, including classical guitarists. Although these arrangements are marginal in the overall output of each composer, this repertoire constitutes an overlooked yet significant chapter in twentieth- century music, that is, the way that the Beatles figured into the tonal debate. In addition, this repertoire represents the shifting borders between high and low art. Interviews with Takemitsu's close friend Peter Serkin, Berio's daughter Cristina Berio, and others provide the details of what brought each of these four composers to arrange Beatles songs for solo classical guitar and chamber ensembles. Often maintaining melody, form, and harmony while altering the historical musical style via instrumentation, texture, rhythm, and tempo, these arrangements situated the Beatles' music into earlier historical periods of Western art music. For example, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies wrote his arrangement of "Yesterday" with a Renaissance-like canonic texture and notated it as an unmeasured prelude. While these arrangements were part of a process of cultural accreditation that the elite extended to the Beatles, the Beatles‚Äô music lent a reciprocal accreditation to elite music, both conservative and avant-garde. These arrangements of Beatles songs in the styles of Purcell, Bach, Faure, and Ravel as well as Takemitsu's and Berio's own styles lent cultural accreditation to the arrangers and performers, and by extension to the avant-garde repertoire they typically represented, by showing how well attuned they were to popular culture.

 

     Biography:

Jennifer Trowbridge has enjoyed a career in guitar performance spanning classical music, jazz, world music, and a range of popular styles. She has performed as a soloist and in collaboration with singers, dancers, actors, puppeteers, filmmakers, and musicians from all over the world. Jennifer composed music for the award-winning documentary film The Pantanal: Brazil's Forgotten Wilderness, televised on PBS.At Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA, she leads the guitar program and teaches music history and career skills for musicians. Performance, teaching, and scholarship have long been intertwined in Jennifer’s music career. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music at the University of Chicago and master’s and doctoral degrees in guitar performance with Anne Waller at Northwestern University. Her other primary instructors include Sérgio Assad and Denis Azabagić with additional instruction from Jorge Caballero, Oscar Ghiglia, Antigoni Goni, and Michael Lorimer as well as master classes with Sharon Isbin, David Russell and others. Her education about the guitar was further deepened by luthiers Randall Angella, Richard Bruné, and Richard Schneider.

Jennifer has worked passionately to make the classical guitar more accessible to students and audiences. In Chicago, she founded and ran The Trowbridge Guitar Studio, a neighborhood music school, for almost twenty years and produced over 100 guitar concerts and events. In 2016, she founded a similar music program, Trowbridge Music, in Oakland, CA, and initiated educational outreach programs in local elementary and middle schools. Jennifer co-led the inaugural 2020 Montsalvat Guitar Summer School with Alex Tsiboulski in Melbourne, Australia. She is the educational director of San Francisco’s Omni Foundation.


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