Saturday, 21 January 2017
Doug Lofstrom's Music composition from 1984, USA
A generic title and cover concealing within its cardboard square some far from generic music, this is the masterwork of one Doug Lofstrom, conceived and recorded in the early years of the eighties. It makes me so full of hope to think there are still such overlooked masterpieces of composition hidden away in the vaults of time waiting to be discovered and given new life for a more open-minded audience.
There is a beautiful blurb included inside about the artist, his aspirations, and descriptions of the pieces. In particular Doug mentions an experimental fusion group called Fantasie prior to this LP. No release can be found under that name that I can find. A sad comment about the 'silence of the record labels' can be seen too...
Note the second side is a symphony or perhaps fantasia called The Plumed Serpent (about Montezuma, I gather) which has an accompanying poem whose first stanza is the following:
predawn, a touch of orange on navy...
a huddled child begins a dance of awakening,
gradually becoming aware of environment.
a gradual unfolding, unfurling;
an exploration, a testing.
I think it gives great insight to read his notes, where you will see it was first conceived as a ballet but never performed in public as such. There is sparse to no information in discogs. Moving on to The Great Google though, the man's own website reveals he went on to a successful career in the concert halls of the US: as composer in residence for the Metropolis Symphony Orchestra and during the 80's, musical director of Chicago's Free Street Theatre.
His works have been performed by the St. Louis, Atlanta and Oregon Symphony Orchestras, and the Present Music and CUBE chamber ensembles. His most recent endeavors include the score for Alakshaya, commissioned by the Natya Dance Theatre and a Concertino for Oboe and Orchestra, commissioned by the New Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Lofstrom has composed several works for Midwest Ballet Theatre, and three works for the Evansville, IN "musictelling" group Tales and Scales, including The Arabian Nights, Just Beyond the Junkyard and Jabberwocky. In 2001, Lofstrom formed The New Quartet, a versatile chamber ensemble which performs his original music and arrangements of modern classics, jazz and world music. He is currently on the music faculty of Columbia College in Chicago, IL.
(The New Quartet is available on amazon.)
Listen to the glorious composition, so professionally pure and youthfully creative, in the track called L'Egyptienne:
Perhaps reminiscent of the French composer Laurent Petitgirard, who reached the olympian peak of progressive pop-symphonic perfection on the sidelong composition Suite Epique. And indeed the overall sound and atmosphere is quite similar. But there is one thing you have to overlook: the first track, an instrumental cover of Paul McCartney's Blackbird done in easy listening style. Nothing more to say about that.
Many thanks to my friend for this stunning and very surprising discovery...
May we have many more of them this year as in times past!!!