Premonitions of Christopher Columbus (1979)
by James DeMars
PREMONITIONS of CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS by James DeMars was premiered by Zeitgeist at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in October of 1979. This recording uses five musicians playing alto saxophone, two pianos, tablas, marimba, cymbals, and a tam tam. The form is similar to that of the Moroccan “nuba” tradition, in which a pulse gradually emerges to support melodic material. The eclectic blend of idioms and sonorities produces a paradoxical “state of being” as each gesture draws forward.
James DeMars (b.1952) Composer/conductor James DeMars belongs to a generation that is revealing a new integration of world music with the range, depth and stylistic variety of the classical tradition. His works include orchestral concertos for violin, piano, African drum ensemble, pow-wow singers, Native American flute, several cantatas, a requiem mass and an opera.
Ensembles that perform DeMars’ music include the New York Choral Society, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Phoenix Symphony, California Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, Tucson Symphony, Anchorage Symphony, Choer et Orchestre Francais D’Oratorio (Paris), Wuppertal (Germany) Orchestra.
DeMars has received commissions from the NEA, the Heard Museum, Flynn Foundation, Art Renaissance Foundation, the Phoenix Symphony, Canyon Records, the European-American Foundation, the Phoenix Boys Choir, I Solisti di Zagreb, and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.
As a conductor, DeMars’ performances include the national premiere of his work, An American Requiem, at the Kennedy Center in Washington and nationally televised performances at Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. In 1998 he conducted the European premiere of the requiem in Paris at Église La Trinité with Choer et Orchestre Francais D’Oratorio and was inducted to the French Order of Arts and Letters.
With Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai he has created four CDs for Canyon Records. Two World Concerto received two Native American Music Awards and led to the 2008 release of DeMars’ inter-cultural opera, GUADALUPE. In 2010 he received the Arizona Artist of the Year Governor’s Award.
Aesthetic influences include the writings of Joseph Campbell and Albert Camus. He holds a doctorate from the University of Minnesota and currently teaches composition at Arizona State University in Tempe.
Premonitions of Christopher Columbus appears on Zeitgeist’s album BOWERS/DEMARS/STOCKHAUSEN; originally released 1980, re-released 2015.
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