"Woodwind Multiples" features four pieces for multiples of the same instrument: four bass flutes, nine oboes, nine clarinets, and seven bassoons. Each piece works closely with the unique sound of each instrument, combining pitches that create other, sometimes unexpected, tones, primarily combination and interference tones, as well as rhythmic patterns. What you hear is what happens naturally—there is no processing or manipulation.
"8B4 (1985/2022)", played by Manuel Zurria, is for four bass flutes. It is a revision of 8x4, which was written in 1985 for the DownTown Ensemble and was only performed once, due to its unusual instrumentation: alto flute, English horn (originally bass oboe), clarinet, and voice.
"Xantippe's Rebuke" (1993) was written for Libby Van Cleve, for eight taped oboes and one live, solo oboe. The eight taped parts are equal and dependent, while the solo part is meant to be a solo with the tape as accompaniment. The piece works with the unique sound of the oboe, starting with unison pitches that create the richest sound, building the piece from there. Pitches and rhythmic patterns that occur naturally are notated and then played later, which in turn create other pitches and rhythmic patterns. So, in effect, the nature of the oboe and its natural sound determine the direction of the piece.
"Charybdis" (2020), played by Sam Dunscombe, is for solo clarinet and eight taped clarinets. It combines a somewhat obscured reference to Weep You No More, a John Dowland piece, which combines with the sound phenomena created from the melody and supporting chords of the Dowland.
"Feu de Joie" (1992) was written for bassoonist Shannon Peet and is an homage to the bassoon and its wonderful sound. It is for seven parts—six taped and one "live." The taped bassoons combine to create a bed of sound that exploits the unique qualities of the bassoon, creating combination and interference tones, starting off with unison pitches, creating a rich sound that builds from there. Most of the subsequent pitches and phrases occur naturally, and are then notated later on in the piece, which in turn creates other notes and phrases.
Mary Jane Leach (born 1949) is an American composer/performer based in New York City whose work reveals a fascination with the physicality of sound, its acoustic properties and how they interact with space. In many of her works Leach creates an other-worldly sound environment using difference, combination, and interference tones; these are tones not actually sounded by the performers, but acoustic phenomena arising from her deft manipulation of intonation and timbral qualities. The result is striking music which has a powerful effect on listeners.
Critics have commented on her ability to "offer a spiritual recharge without the banalities of the new mysticism" (Detroit Free Press), evoking "a visionary quest for inner peace" (Vice Versa Magazine), and "an irridescent lingering sense of suspended time." (Musicworks Magazine)
Leach has played an instrumental role in NYC's pioneering Downtown scene alongside Arthur Russell, Ellen Fullman, Peter Zummo, Philip Corner
and Arnold Dreyblatt
, as well as devoting years to the preservation and reappraisal of Julius Eastman
's work since his death in 1990.
Leach's music has been performed throughout the world in a variety of settings, from concert stage to experimental music forums. Leach has received considerable acclaim for her choral music. Drawing on inspirations as diverse as Monteverdi, Bruckner, and 14th century Ars Nova, these pieces "enliven a choral repertoire starved for good contemporary work." (Village Voice).
Leach has been commissioned by many notable ensembles, including Fondazione ICO Tito Schipa, Relâche, The Downtown Ensemble, Newband, and the New York Treble Singers, and by soloists such as Manuel Zurria, Emanuele Arciulli, Sarah Cahill, Guy Klucevsek, Shannon Peet, and Libby Van Cleve. She has received commissioning awards from the NEA, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, and many other funders.
Recordings of her work are on the Modern Love, Blume, Die Schachtel
, New World, XI, Lovely, Innova, Starkland, Capstone, and Aerial labels. Writing about her work has appeared in: American Music in the Twentieth Century
by Kyle Gann, La musica minimalista
by Paolo Coteni and Giovanni Antognozzi, The New Generation of Mystery/Kunstler des XXI Jahrhunderts
by Maria De Alvear, and Het Tweede Thema of de Verwaarloosde Geschiedenis van de Componerende Vrouw
by Simonne Claeys.
In 1995 Leach was selected for a prestigious grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, which was established by Jasper Johns and John Cage
to support innovative artists in the performing arts.