Acteon (1983) for 2 pianos (reduction from the orchestral score)

Hear here:

This is a ballet in 3 Acts for full orchestra, composed in 1982, with a version for 2 pianos written the following year. It lasts about an hour and 20 minutes in its entirety. Both scores are available from the composer or from Key Works Music. You can hear excerpts of Christopher and Gary Arpin, the brothers from Seattle, Washington who premiered the work. This recording was made in Germany at the Cologne Musikhochschule in 1988:

The following is a review by a Bonn critic:
 From the magazine Forum for Contemporary Music in Bonn Concert Life, 
January-February, 1988
American Music Week 1988/ by Rainer Lehrsmacher

The American Music Week thrust itself upon a wider listening public than it did last year. Again the composer from Koenigswinter, Kate Waring organized it. Two concerts took place in the Augustinum Foundation, two in the historical Bredershof, and one repeat in the Cologne Music Conservatory.

A few facts about Kate Waring are presented here for your memory: Kate Waring was born in Louisiana. She studied flute and composition at the Louisiana State University and finished her studies with a Master of Music in composition and a concert exam in flute performance. Then she studied dance at the Martha Graham School in New York. During her duties as theory and composition teacher at Memphis State University she was flutist with the Omnibus Ensemble and worked as composer and choreographer with the Orchesis Dance Company. In 1984 she gained a doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris. Her dissertation consisted of three parts: 1. A study of hunting music in France, 2. The composition “Acteon” (Ballet) and 3. The analysis of the ballet music. We refer also to the interview that Kate Waring gave to the Bonn Music Calendar in December, 1988- Nr.32. Kate Waring’s works have been played in the USA, Italy, France, Switzerland, and Germany.

Fortunately Waring had written a version of “Acteon” for two pianos in 1983, and she gained the interest of the piano duo Christopher and Gary Arpin. They have played in duo since their childhood and studied in their home city of Seattle at the University of Washington with Professor Randolph Hokanson. Christopher Arpin continued studies in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California with Professor Gwendolyn Koldofsky. Since 1982 he has been solo and rehearsal pianist with the Bonn Opera. His brother Gary studied with Professor Bela Nagy at Boston University. Today he lives in Seattle as a freelance pianist.

The Arpin Duo has now presented the successful world premiere of “Acteon”, ballet in three acts in the version for two pianos. It is based on the Roman myth of Acteon, the famous hunter, and Diana, the legendary virgin goddess of the hunt. 
Act 1. Setting off for the hunt at dawn:
The people of the village come together and begin the hunt.
Act 2. The Hunt in the Forest: Diana and the Acteon-Metamorphosis
During the hunting expedition Acteon accidentally discovers Diana and her forest nymphs at their bath. He secretly observes them until Diana spots him. Since she wants to punish him for his shameless act, she uses her supernatural powers and transforms him into a stag. 
Act 3. Chase and Death of Acteon: 
Acteon is pursued and finally killed by his own hunting party.

In her ballet, Kate Waring uses original horn fanfares from the “Recueil de Fanfares pour la Chasse a Une et Deux Trompes” by the Marquis de Dampierre, who was influential in the courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV. The fanfare themes are used in analogy to their original functions in a real stag hunt, to signal the occurrences which take place during the hunt, that the hunters must communicate to each other; that is to say with musical Morse code. Kate Waring explains: “In the musical portrayal, the hunters use the fanfares of Dampierre in a way that closely resembles the original, though they are rhythmically and tonally varied. The townspeople and the nymphs are depicted by the musical inversion of the fanfare motives. The stags and other animals are the least similar in character to the hunters and are therefore depicted through the retrograde-inversion [of the fanfares]. When Acteon is transformed into a stag, he still holds on to some of his human traits and is then characterized by the retrograde version of the fanfare themes. Therefore he [in musical terms] is not so substantially separated from the original version of the hunting fanfares as the other stags.” The type of instruments chosen and the Schoenbergian manipulation of the hunting motives act as leitmotives representing characters and groups in the ballet. Frau Egen, cultural consultant of the Augustinum, made two very good grand pianos available to the artists, so that the Arpin Duo had the best situation for colorful instrumental play, and did not disappoint. They understood how to develop transparently and grippingly this circa one-hour work, so that one didn’t necessarily miss the ballet performance on stage. But even so, Kate Waring should strive to get this work performed as a fully staged Ballet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: