American guitarist and film composer Charles Roland Berry has recorded symphonies, concertos, string quartets, and solo performances. Writing in the Classical, Jazz, and Folk genres, his music features masterful guitar playing with rich melodic and harmonic substance. In the 1990's, Charles presented performances of his music in San Francisco with George Barati, Lou Harrison, and Electronic composer Charles Amirkhanian. In 2009, he recorded a set of solo guitar pieces called "Absinthe Sonatas." His orchestral recordings are available from Centaur Records.
About the Music
The works on the new Centaur Records CD were composed in 2002 and 2003 in Seattle, Washington. They show a variety of style and structure, all with predominantly tonal harmonies. I have experimented with Form, more than with tonality. I am also interested in the interactions between Melody and Rhythm. I will often contrast irregular halting rhythms against a lyrical melodic line. Olympic Mountains Overture is tribute to the grandeur of these mountains, and can be considered a tone poem. Quileute Overture was inspired by a visit to La Push, Washington, home to the Quileute Indian tribe. This tribe lives between the mountains and the sea, a stormy place, which gave rise to myths of the Thunderbird. This piece uses no Native American music, though I attempted to create an exotic mood, using unusual orchestration, with ocarina.
Symphony No. 3 and the Cello Concerto are large scale works, with contrasting movements. My intention was to explore different ways, to create a coherent form for each of these movements. The overall mood of Symphony No.3 is calm and optimistic, which led me to subtitle the work, "Celestial".The first inspiration for my Cello Concerto was recordings of standard repertoire, performed by Lynn Harrell. After the piece began, I drew inspiration from the performance techniques of Walter Gray. I have dedicated the work to Walter Gray, in gratitude for his artistry and friendship. He was the first cellist play the solo score of the Concerto, and the solo cello part for Quileute Overture.
My intention with each of these works was to compose music which is both accessible and modern, music which can be enjoyed by the concert-goers who enjoy standard romantic and classical repertoire. I have deliberately avoided many well-established, contemporary composition techniques, because I feel those techniques alienate many listeners. I believe a composer can be adventurous and original, without inventing new musical languages, arcane languages, which are unintelligible to most listeners. My intention is to offer some familiar reference points, and then reach beyond those references to new forms of expression. Coherence in any piece is achieved by some kind of repetition. By choosing which fragments are repeated, how often, and in what disguise---I am able to create Forms which have infinite variety, and rely little on any historical forms. I use intellectual planning, only to get started with a piece---later I find preconceived plans, whether Classical, Romantic, or Serialist, get in the way of the music.
615 West Nickerson St. #2
Seattle, WA 98119
In collaboration with Comcast Cable in Philadelphia, Charles Roland Berry is creating a 24-hour Classical Music video channel. Various performing artists from around the U.S. will presented in concert, as well as full-length operas and symphonic concerts from Italy, England, Sweden and other places as videos become available.Because there is so much air-time to fill, there will be room to present videos on music education, specifically to encourage music education on a national level. Comcast currently has 27 million cable subscribers and is the largest of the U.S. Cable providers. Mr. Berry sees this as an opportunity to promote Classical Music and music education which has never existed before. Negotiations may be completed as early as November 2010, with the first programs airing in January 2011.
String Quartet No. 5, Sigma Alpha Iota
Charles Roland Berry’s music was used in the PBS documentary, Niagara Falls: An Intimate Portrait. Shown nationally on PBS stations, Niagara Falls was produced by Florentine Films/Hott Productions for WNED Buffalo/Toronto. The documentary also features concert music by Michael Daugherty and Rick Sowash. Centaur Records currently has three CDs in production. The first, Symphony No. 3 and Cello Concerto, with cello soloist Jiri Barta and the Janacek Philharmonic, under the direction of Theodore Kuchar, will include Olympic Mountains Overture and Quileute Overture, music recorded by the Moravian Philharmonic, with cello soloist Gabriel Faur, conducted by Joel Eric Suben). The second, String Quartets No. 1 (Petroglyph), No. 3, and No. 4 (Four Poets - inspired by Czeslaw Milosz, W. S. Merwin, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Pablo Neruda), will be completed in Spring 2007 with the Janacek Quartet of Brno (the CD also contains a duet for viola and clarinet, with Helen Callus and William McColl). The third CD is Music for Stringed Instruments, a collaboration with American composer Benjamin Lees and the New Hollywood String Quartet, which will include Lees’ Sonata for Cello and Piano, as well as Berry’s String Quartet No. 2 and Concerto for Guitar and String Quartet.