then in oblivion…, by Nick Vasallo

Commissioned by Elevate Ensemble, each of the three movements of Vasallo’s piece uses a theme from a different composer. The first composer, Guillaume de Machaut, is most known for his chanson “Puis qu’en oubli”. Google translate interpreted this phrase (wrongly) as “then in oblivion.” Hence, the title of the piece. The second movement is based on J.S. Bach’s theme from Art of Fugue. And the last movement is a guitar riff written by Ted O’Neill, my friend and bandmate in Oblivion. Ted is one of the few remaining authentic thrash metalheads from the 1980s. In all of these movements, I warp the stylistic tendencies of each composer and their material while injecting my own musical decisions. In the end, we hear music from the Middle Ages, Baroque, and modern era fused and distorted as one.

Atum, everything and nothing, by Nick Vasallo

The first of Elevate Ensemble’s commissions from Nick Vasallo, this piece is based on ancient Egyptian mythology. Nick writes: “I make musical decisions, connections, and structural models based on extra-musical phenomena. In this case, a pre-constructed narrative based on ancient Egyptian mythology. In the beginning there was only a primordial watery abyss (Nu). A mound of earth rose from Nu and upon it Atum created himself. He created Shu (air) and Tefnut (moisture) out from his body. Shu and Tefnut went to explore the dark waters of Nu. After some time, Atum believed that they were lost, and sent his Eye (of Ra) out into the dark chaos to find them. When his children were returned to him, Atum wept, and his tears were believed to have turned into the first humans. Atum said he will destroy the world, submerging everything back into the primordial waters, which were all that existed at the beginning of time.”

The Color Festivals, by Nick Benavides

Commissioned by Elevate Ensemble, The Color Festivals is a musical re-enactment of six episodes from Abbie Phillips Walker’s 1916 collection of quirky children’s stories. Inspired by Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, Benavides wanted to create a work of art that young people understand, but adults can enjoy as well. It’s childish, playful, and beautiful.

Summer(s) of ‘69, by Nick Benavides

Elevate commissioned this piece from our 2015/16 composer-in-residence, Nick Benavides. It is a tribute to the subsequent waves of immigrants that have made San Francisco what it is, starting in the 19th century and continuing to today. The piece is performed along with a video of archival San Francisco footage, created by Nick’s wife Maggie.

Bethlehem, by Danny Clay and Jeremy Blakeslee

This collaboration between Elevate Ensemble’s 2014-15 composer-in-residence Danny Clay and Photographer Jeremy Blakeslee was originally projected on 2 separate walls during a live performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2014. The photographs are the outcome of an archival documentation of the historic Union Iron Works / Bethlehem Shipbuilding yard at Pier 70, commissioned by the Port of San Francisco. Learn More ▶