Composer Christopher Bono’s introspective album Invocations, available on CD and digitally in fall 2012, is now available in a deluxe, limited edition 180g vinyl package!
Invocations is Bono’s first public release in seven years, and his first classical album. It features music for string trio, string quartet, and chamber ensemble, enhanced with electronics and field recordings.
Gramophone magazine declared, “If you like Michael Nyman, you’ll probably like Christopher Bono.” The focus of the album is Invocations, an emotional three-movement work that builds from string trio to chamber ensemble (string quartet, bass, harp, winds, percussion, and sampling). The album also includes The Missing for string quartet, written in 2010 for the European American Musical Alliance and premiered in Paris that year. An instrumental-only version of “Fish, Father, Phoenix,” the second movement of Invocations, completes the record.
Christopher Bono entered the world of classical music much later than most of his contemporaries. He spent his childhood and teenage years devoted to baseball; in 1999 he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners but an injury kept him from playing. Filling the void left by the end of his athletic endeavors, Bono began playing the guitar when he was 21, and for several years he toured, recorded, and performed in an alternative roots-rock style. In his mid-20s, he made the choice to learn classical composition techniques in order to more fully realize his music. For seven years, in nearly hermetic isolation, he taught himself to read music, and studied composition independently with Juilliard professor Kendall Briggs and at La Scola Cantorum in Paris.
Invocations was Bono’s first album after these years of reflection and learning. Its originality and inventiveness was noted by composer and writer Frank Oteri in NewMusicBox, who wrote, “While much of 21st-century contemporary composition is not beholden to any rules, to the extent that I could probably claim everyone to be an ‘outsider’ in some ways, Bono’s music sounds as though everything he writes is something he is discovering for the very first time, even if there are clear reference points throughout to the sound worlds of other composers from both our own time and other eras.”
Invocations was written by Bono as a grown son’s tribute to his father, and each movement is, according to the composer, based on “a stanza from an inscribed personal prayer.” The first movement, “Exhaust,” is written for the exposed instrumentation of the string trio. Bono describes it as contemplating “the phases of our lives when great physical and emotional suffering is present.”
The second movement, “Fish, Father, Phoenix,” explores the shifting philosophies and perspectives experienced within one's lifetime and reflects upon man’s place in the natural world. The piece employs samples of the composer’s father’s voice mixed with field recordings of animals and insects that Bono made while traveling in South Africa and Botswana. The title is taken from Bono’s research into Manly P. Hall’s The Secret Teachings of All Ages, and invokes the full cycle of time – past, present, and future. Bono describes the third movement of Invocations, “Sunday Stills the Willow,” as a “wish for peace, love, and reconciliation expressed as a personal musical message.”
The string quartet on the album, The Missing, explores the sensations of loss, confusion, and ultimately clarity. Bono combines a mournful theme and allusions to the music of Haydn, Beethoven, George Crumb, and Gloria Coates with judicious and skilled use of extended string techniques, and even material inspired by the indigenous music of Togo in West Africa.
released August 27, 2013
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