Zeitgeist at the 5th Annual New Music Cabaret
Nov. 7-10

Program Notes

Click below for information on each work.
Lucky Dreams by Anthony Gatto
Cantando para a Onça by Ann Millikan
Into the Same River by Ivo Medek
Opera Yukionna by Asako Hiriyabashi

Lucky Dreams
by Anthony Gatto

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., composer Anthony Gatto (b. 1962) shuttled between Minneapolis, New York City and Berlin, Germany from 1998-2004, during which time he founded The Festival Dancing in Your Head and developed enduring relationships with a number of artists and ensembles in the Twin Cities. Lucky Dreams, inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, was arranged for Zeitgeist in 2000 during our Zeitgeist/Composer Workshop, a program supported by the Jerome Foundation.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., composer Anthony Gatto has developed collaborative works and concert music with a wide range of artists and ensembles in the United States and Europe, including scores and sound design for film, theater, dance and performance art. Studying improvisation and composition with Ornette Coleman in New York City was formative in his universalist concerns for sound, time and human feeling. He later studied composition with Jacob Druckman and Martin Bresnick at the Yale School of Music, where he completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts in 2001.

Gatto has received honors and awards from the Fulbright Fellowship program, the Bush, McKnight, and Jerome Foundations, Meet the Composer, Minnesota State Arts Board, an Aaron Copland Award, Yaddo residencies, and an ASCAP Grant to Young Composers. He is the founder and artistic director of The Festival Dancing in Your Head, a three-day music and media festival for commissioning emerging and established artists and juxtaposing performances of styles and ideas from around the world.

Hear a sample of "Lucky Dreams" by Anthony Gatto:

01 Lucky Dreams.mp3

Anthony Gatto

Cantando Para A Onça
by Ann Millikan

I. Floresta (Forest)
II. Construindo (Building)
III. Cavalo (Horse)
Cantando Para A Onça, “Singing for Jaguar”, is a three-movement work that was written for my nephew Pedro, who is Brazilian, based on a story I also wrote for him.  In the story Pedro and his father go camping in the rain forest. While his father naps after the long drive, Pedro wanders around the forest searching for bugs. He comes upon these odd-looking things that he eventually learns from a giant Anaconda, are the spots of Jaguar. "Everyone in the forest knows, and has always known, that Jaguar got his spots from a Song," explains Anaconda. "And once every year there are boys who return at dawn to this very place, to sing the Song so that Jaguar can remember, and renew his strength. But all that changed when the boys didn't come back."  The story tells of how Pedro discovers the secret of Jaguar's Song and helps Jaguar to get his spots back. This composition has been recorded and released on, "The Music of Ann Millikan Featuring the California EAR Unit," Innova Recordings.  --Ann Millikan

Ann Millikan's music has been described as "tonally challenging yet emotionally involving" (Joseph Woodard, LA Times), "packed with propellant polyrhythmic textures" (New Sounds, WNYC), and "characterized by high energy and a quirky inventiveness that defies easy categorization...Her scoring is clean and transparent and her felicities of orchestration are among the most attractive elements in her work." (Stephen Eddins, All Music).

Millikan composes concert music for orchestra, chamber ensembles and choir, as well as opera, experimental and interdisciplinary projects involving installation, theatre and dance. Rhythmic vitality is a powerful force in her music, stemming from previous years playing jazz, African and Brazilian music. Her music is expressive and colorful, moving freely between atonal and tonal/modal languages depending upon the overall desired effect. She creates rich orchestral textures that are characterized by layering, rhythmic juxtaposition, and complex counterpoint.

Millikan received her MFA in Composition from the California Institute of the Arts where her mentors were Mel Powell, Morton Subotnick, and Stephen L. Mosko, and her BA in Music–Jazz Concentration (jazz piano, voice and composition) from San Jose State University. She has studied West African percussion from Senegal and Ghana, and many years of classical voice.

Her works have been performed in Italy, Brazil and throughout the United States by Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino, Orchestra Sinfonica della Provincia di Bari, Emanuele Arciuli, ABSTRAI Ensemble, California EAR Unit, Zeitgeist, Citywinds, New Century Players, Oregon Repertory Singers, Grace Cathedral Men's Choir, and Joan La Barbara, among others. Her music is featured on radio broadcasts nationally, internationally, and over the internet.

Her awards include a 2011 MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, 2010 McKnight Composer Fellowship, California Arts Council, American Music Center, ASCAP, American Composers Forum, Meet The Composer, Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, Jerome Foundation, Zellerbach Family Fund, Berkeley Civic Arts Program, and Waging Peace Through Singing (Highest Honors).

Millikan's latest album of orchestral works, "Ballad Nocturne" featuring Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra and pianist Emanuele Arciuli, and her debut album, "The Music of Ann Millikan Featuring the California EAR Unit" are both available on Innova Recordings. Millikan is a freelance composer based in Saint Paul, MN.


Hear a sample of "Cantando para a Onça" by Ann Millikan:

Cantando Para A Onca Mvt One.mp3

Ann Millikan


Into the Same River
by Ivo Medek

A spirited advocate for new Czech music, Ivo Medek (b. 1955) composes chamber, orchestral, electro-acoustic, operas and multimedia works, is co-founder of the contemporary music groups Ars Incognita and Marijan, and is rector of the Janacek Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno. Into the Same River was written for Zeitgeist and premiered as part of our 2006 tour to the Czech Republic.  The title refers is a paraphrase of the well-known proverb that you can’t walk “into the same river” twice and was taken as a principle for a work with structures in the piece.


Opera Yukionna
by Asako Hiriyabashi

Three pieces of my opera Yukionna are written for Zeitgeist. Thanks to Zeitgeist, I could learned about writing for clarinet and percussion during their composer workshop in the spring of 2013.

“Yuki-onna” is an ancient, well-known folk tale that is often included in elementary school textbooks in Japan. Yuki means snow, and –onna is a root word for woman. The original story was included in Lafcadio Hearn’s collection of Japanese folk tales, “Kwaidan" (Ghost Story). There are many versions of this tale, most of which have treated the story as a ghost story, or a thriller. I decided to treat this tale as more of a fantasy, a story of beauty rather than fear. The final opera will consist of three acts, accompanied by a small chamber orchestra and dancers. In 2009, I began writing a libretto and lyrics. Into this libretto I wove my own experiences as a mother of two (one has multiple disabilities and one is adopted) together with ideas about Mother Nature, natural disasters, discrimination, death, life, love, trust, sacrifice and cultural elements such as Japanese aesthetics, virtues, and philosophy. The finished work will feature Japanese and Western instruments, with adaptations of several Japanese folk songs. The first aria was premiered by Maria Jette and Sonja Thompson in 2010 and the premiere of song cycle version of this opera will be produced by Nautilus Music Theater and performed by Momoko Tanno and Zeitgeist in February 2014.

Yukionna is the story of a man and his father who live alone in a simple log cabin at the foot of a mountain. During a severe snowstorm, the Snow Witch appears and kills the father. She intended to kill the son, also, but instead succumbed to love at first sight. However, she insisted that this love remain secret. She forces a promise from the son that he will not tell anyone about the night. She threatens the son (if he breaks his promise, she will kill him), and then disappears. When spring came, the surviving son met a traveler, a beautiful young woman. They fell in love and were married, and had two children. Some years later, on a snowy winter day the man looked at his wife and thought, “you remind me of someone from the past...” That night, he told his wife what happened to his father so many years ago. On hearing this story, his wife suddenly was transformed into the Snow Witch. His promise broken, he prepared to die. But because of how he had loved her when she was in disguise, the Snow Witch instead sacrificed herself. Before his eyes she became a snowflake and was born away on the dark night wind.

-Asako Horabayashi

Opera "Yukionna (Snow Witch)" was made possible by a grant from the American Composers Forum with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation.

Composer and harpsichordist Asako Hirabayashi’s first recording on Albany Label, whose program is entirely composed and played by herself, was selected as one of the 5 best classical CDs of the year 2010 by Minneapolis Star Tribune. It has received 6 enthusiastic reviews nationwide.

As a harpsichordist, she has been described by The Music Connoisseur as “an impressive talent, brilliant,” and by The New York Concert Review as “a gifted harpsichordist with genuine… refined sensibilities for phrasing, dynamic gradations and nuanced tonal beauty”. She has appeared as a guest featured soloist in international festivals and music series worldwide, including her New York debut recital at Carnegie Hall, DuPaul University McGuckin Harpsichord Recital Series,the Boston Early Music Festival, the International Bach Festival in Ukraine, the International Contemporary Music Festival “Contrasts” in Ukraine, the Festival Musicale delle Nazioni in Rome, Italy, the concert series at Palais du Pharo in Marseille, France, the Bach Society of Minnesota, the Schubert Club Concert Series, Handel House Concert Series in London etc.

As a composer, she won several first prizes at international composition competitions, such as the Alienor International Harpsichord Composition Competition (She has won the 6th, 7th 8th Alienor consecutively) and NHK International Song Writing Competition in Japan, and awarded Subito grant from American Composers Forum. Her works have been published by Skyline publications Inc. and Tundradogs Music Publishing Inc. and have been performed and recorded worldwide. Her piece was selected as one of the required repertoire for the Sixth Mae and Irving Jurow International Harpsichord Competition in Denton Texas, 2007. She recently received 2012 Jerome Fund for New Music to write an opera.

She holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in composition from the Aichi Art University in Japan and Doctoral degree in harpsichord performance from the Juilliard School.


New Music Cabaret
Nov. 7-10,

Studio Z, 275 East Fourth Street, Suite 200
St. Paul

$10 each night