work list

Compositions by Michael Tenzer (some with commentary)

For Balinese Gamelan, or Gamelan with Other Instruments:

Underleaf (Balinese Title: Buk Katah) for gamelan semaradana and 10-piece chamber ensemble:
piano, 2 clarinets, 2 saxophones, 2 trumpets and 2 trombones (2006, 21'). In June 2006 I traveled to Pengosekan, Bali with a group of 9 Canadian wind, brass and piano players (plus several of my gamelan students) to prepare this new work scored for the combined ensembles for a premiere at the Bali Arts Festival. The piece was a success but as much or more for the fantastic month-long encounter between the two expert groups of players, each with their own successful strategies for practicing their art. The musicians' interactions, contrastive learning and practice styles, perceptions of one another, reactions to the music, and their growth and development through the process are chronicled in a 60-minute documentary titled "Bali by Heart", produced by Red Letter films of Vancouver, commissioned by international TV5, and directed by CBC producer Sylvia L'Ecuyer. See This work is second in a triptych including Unstable Center and Resolution. Available on the New World Records CD Let Others Name You. Watch the performance on You Tube:

Unstable Centre (Balinese title: Puser Belah ) for 2 simultaneous gamelan semaradana (2003, 20')
 Like Underleaf, Unstable Centre was done in close affiliation with the incredible Cudamani arts collective of Pengosekan village, Bali, the Bali Arts Festival, where the performances take place, and musicians from Vancouver Canada (in this instance, 6 members of my Vancouver gamelan group Gita Asmara). I love the work of teaching and rehearsing in the inimitable Balinese way until the musicians have the music memorized and everyone has spent many dozens of hours being together, learning and enjoying themselves. A third work in this triptych, Resolution/Tabuh Gari, has been commissioned for 2007-8 see below. All three pieces combine Balinese and Western performers and/or myriad cross-cultural musical techniques in the most tightly fused and considered ways that I can devise. Available on the New World Records CD Let Others Name You. Watch the Performance on You Tube:

Talakalam for gamelan gong kebyar, tabla trio, tabla soloist and Balinese drum soloist
(1999, 15') Commissioned by Gamelan Sekar Jaya.
  Talakalam was composed for Gamelan Sekar Jaya's 20 th anniversary and premiered in San Francisco with the spectacular Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri as the tabla soloist. Sharing the stage with him was an experience not to be forgotten. The Balinese drum soloist was Wayan Suweca, and Tabla Rasa the tabla trio, In 2000 we toured the piece in a slightly reduced form to Bali, with Kousic Sen on tabla.

Banyuari for gamelan gong kebyar (1992, 15'). Commissioned by Ken Taymor.
  Banyuari was composed for Gamelan Sekar Jaya's 1992 trip to Bali, and subsequently performed on their 1994 tour of the eastern U.S. It was my most radical gamelan piece up to that time, fusing Indian, European and Balinese techniques. When we played it in Perean village in 1992, home of one of my favorite virtuoso Balinese gamelan groups, the appreciation, delight and surprise registering on local musicians' faces there gave me a shock of meaningful communication I can still feel. Banyuari and Situ Banda are available on the New World Records CD American Works for Balinese Gamelan.

Situ Banda for gamelan gong kebyar (1989, 12')
  Written in Bali just after 3 months of fieldwork in South India and a year's immersion in Lutoslawski's 3 rd Symphony, this piece reflected a significant new direction for my music. Banyuari and Situ Banda are available on the New World Records CD American Works for Balinese Gamelan.

Pascima Segara Madu for gamelan gong kebyar (1987, 16')
  This piece was composed for the gamelan in the village of Kaliungu Kaja , in June-August 1987 at the request of well-known musician Ketut Gdé Asnawa.

Sinar Jegog (Jegog Rays) for gamelan gong kebyar (1987, 15'), available on the downloadable CD World Tour: Classical Composers Explore Traditional Music. Traditional Crossroads.

Sandiarsa Muni for gamelan gong kebyar (early version of Sinar Jgog , with W. Vitale, 15')
  Composed for Gamelan Sekar Jaya's first tour to Bali in 1985 and eventually choreographed, to hilarious effect, by Keith Terry.

Jaya Sakti for gamelan gong kebyar (1983, 14')

Semara Yanthi for gamelan gong kebyar (1982, with W. Tembres, 14')
  My first gamelan piece, done together with my teacher Tembres in the village of Lod Tunduh. For a student in the middle of a conventional PhD program, this changed my whole concept of what composing and new music could be.

For Duos, Trios, and Small Ensembles

Piano Trio (piano, violin, cello) in three movements (2002, 30') Commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts
•  Fantasi
•  Demi-Rimed
•  A Classification of Things (dedicated to José Maceda)
  An intense and tough-minded piece. The first movement is rhapsodic, the second a concentrated, transforming palindrome, and the third based on a huge classical gamelan form, but in lush dissonant harmonies. Boston Musica Viva played it with panache.

Sources of Current for flute, oboe, harp, viola and cello, in two movements (1996, 19') Commissioned by the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Serge Koussevitzky Foundation
•  Spark
•  To the Delta
Cliff Colnot, Daniel Barenboim's assistant for new music at the Chicago Symphony, conducted the premiere at Orchestra Hall in February 1996 on a recital with Barenboim and Radu Lupu. Virtuoso Alex Klein played the oboe part, which includes a difficult cadenza. Cliff had a way of getting the players to rehearse more and more, and he managed to bring them together an incredible 12 times for this piece, which resulted in a wonderful performance. He later conducted it in Brooklyn , too, on a concert shared with my Yale gamelan and Steve Reich.

Three Island Duets for two Bb clarinets (1992, 11', dedicated to Evan Ziporyn)
•  Krk-y
•  Biakwords
•  Bouvet Fanfare
Available on Evan's fantastic solo CD This is Not a Clarinet (Cantaloupe Records). My lightest, funnest pieces.

Gash Gold-Vermillion for flute/alto flute, Bb clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion (1992, 18')

Cycles and Arcs for Bb clarinet, percussion and 2 cellos (1990, 13')

Puppets for harp and marimba (1987, 10')

Daya for string quartet and clarinet quartet (1985, 12')

Three Indonesian T-Shirts for tenor and piano (1984, 6').

Eventual Fruit for percussion quartet (1981, 17')

The Inevitability Cantos for soprano, 3 flutes, tenor saxophone, percussion, and cello (1980,12')

Music for Diverse Instruments for soprano saxophone, harp, marimba and cello (1978, 14')

For Solo Piano

New Work (2008) commissioned by Corey Hamm, fearless pianist.

Invention and Etude (2004, 11')
  I wrote these sitting at my desk in Paris in spring 2004. I found a tight and satisfying style for them, something I can continue to develop. Available on the New World Records CD Let Others Name You.

Calendar (1988, 20')

Best Man's Wish (a Rag) (1985, 5')
  This somewhat dark and brooding music was a joy to write: it was a gift to my friends Tom Deering and Bea Dryfoos for their wedding in April of that year.

For Large Ensembles

Resolution (Balinese Title: Tabuh Gari) (2008, 12') Commissioned by the American Composer's Orchestra, for small orchestra and Balinese percussion. Performances are scheduled for January 20 (Vancouver), February 8 (Zankel Hall, New York), and February 10 (Philadelphia). This piece is the third of a triptych comprising Unstable Center and Underleaf (see above under works for Balinese gamelan). Available on the New World Records CD Let Others Name You.

Symphony for Strings for String Orchestra (1988, 27')

Lelambatan for Orchestra (1986, 25')

Second Ascent for Orchestra (1977, 8')

Anaphora for Jazz Big Band (1977, 18')
  A thorough recomposition of Thelonious Monk's Epistrophy, written in the evenings by the light of a gas lamp on my first trip to Bali.

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michael samuel tenzer
school of music university of british columbia | 6361 memorial road | vancouver, b.c. canada v6t 1z2 | t.604.822.3405 f.604.822.4884