painting above – “Contrast”  by Tomas Belsky  


by Stephen Fox

The Ebb & Flow of modern music

Members of the Hawaii Symphony fill the McCoy Studio Theater with superb sounds on Sunday 1/18, in an ambitious program of modern music. Two gems grace the program: Benjamin Britten’s Phantasy Quartet and Jean Francaix’s Cor Anglais Quartet, both featuring Scott Janusch on oboe and English horn, respectively.

Hosted by Ebb and Flow Arts, the show features concertmaster Iggy Jang on violin, along with Helen Liu, violin, Ethan Pernela, viola, Joanna Morrison-Pernela, ‘cello, and Ebb and Flow’s own Robert Pollock on piano. Pollock founded the non-profit when he moved to Hawai‘i in the late 1990s, after first co-founding the New York Guild of Composers, then founding Composers Guild of New Jersey. Ebb and Flow’s concerts and festivals provide the state’s most consistent source of modern music by living composers, and indeed, the show includes Piano Quartet by Pollock, and String Quartet by Neil McKay, who Pollock reverently calls the “dean” of Hawai’i composers.

“McKay’s String Quartet is an award winning piece he wrote in 1955,” Pollock relates. “It’s a very strong piece in three movements, freely dissonant. The ensemble has done it before, at a concert we produced in Honolulu a year or so ago. That always makes it a great experience for everyone, players and audience.”

Pollock’s piece is a premier, new music written for the classic piano quartet ensemble of piano, violin, viola, and cello.

“The first movement is Invention, and the second is Passacaglia,” Pollock explains, “so I’m using old forms, but through a 21st century lens, filtered through the [musical] language at this point. It uses what I have discovered as a great source of inspiration, an eight factor chord that has implications for progression.”

Pollock traces the chord from Wagner’s “Tristan Chord,” from the opening of Tristan und Isolde, to Scriabin’s “Mystic Chord,” to Peter Schat’s 1970 invention of the Tone Clock. Pollock’s own chordal invention expands on this evolution, and forms the basis for the piece.

The other piece by a living composer is Mario Davidovsky’s Synchronisms #6, which won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1970. Using what was very new technology at the time, a pianist plays with a recorded track of synthesized sounds.

“It’s all about these synchronisms,” Pollock says, “connections of timbre, like the opening timed so that the electronic part enters with a crescendo and you have a blending of the electronic and piano sounds. The other synchronism part is the rhythms. The rhythms are extremely intricate, and even when the electronic sounds are not playing, the piano must keep that beat, that synchronization.”

For this performance, the music is also paired with a video by the multi-talented Peter Swanzy, who has worked with Ebb and Flow for several years. Swanzy has created a video experience synchronized with the electronic sounds.

The other two pieces are by notable 20th century composers, now passed, but influential. Britten wrote his Phantasy Quartet in 1932, at only 19 years old, but he had already gained an inventive voice and mastery of his instrumental palate. The piece is very tonal, compared to the serialist and dissonant trends of the time, ironically sounding more like the neo-Romanticism and minimalism of recent years.


“It has become a staple in the repertoire of any aspiring oboist,” Scott Janusch relates. “Britten was very gifted, and this was recognized early on, but it’s very technically challenging, and I suppose back in the day there weren’t many players who could negotiate it.”

The piece was submitted for a competition, the stipulation being that the compositions needed to draw inspiration from the “phanstasy” or fantasia style of 17th century England.

“The quartet is unique in its structure,” Pollock relates, “one movement, very beautifully arched. It begins very quietly and mysteriously and builds. The oboe is a special color, and he uses it to the full.”

“It starts with in a march tempo, then working through a very fast and imitative section, and then, interestingly, the oboe drops out for three or four minutes of a lovely trio, where the oboist can go and have a drink, I suppose,” Janusch chuckles. “Then comes a very dreamy part, where the oboe plays a high haunting set of tunes that sound improvisational. Then it becomes faster and faster until it ends with a march like where it started. It’s just a wonderful piece to work up, especially with this group.”

The show closes with Francaix’s Cor Anglais Quartet. For that piece, Janusch switches to English horn, the cor Anglais.

“Francaix was a very adept composer,” Pollock opines. “He took a conservative approach staying with tonality, not even as adventurous as Britten. The piece is very tuneful, very rhythmic, delightfully fluffy, almost bawdy, in that French way. A very appealing piece.”

This promises to be a marvelous show, with music from across the past 80 years, all filled with vitality and ready to tickle the ear. With these fine musicians, the upper echelon of our symphony, Maui is in for a sonic treat.

If you want to attend:

Ebb & Flow Ensemble, 1/18, 5:00 PM, $25

Pre-concert discussion 4PM.

Maui Arts and Cultural Center, McCoy Studio Theater

One Cameron Way, Kahului (808) 242-2787

JOIN us on MANAO Hana Hou Radio, 91.7FM.

Tony Walholm and Robert Pollock co-hosted our first four hour broadcast, “Point of Departure”.  Sunday, January 11, 10AM – 2PM. We advance our January 18 shown reperting s   below.  We focus on the magnificent music of British composer, Benjamin Britten (1913-1976).  “Tony’s corner” broadcasts an eclectic variety of music that Walholm feels Ebb & Flow should consider for future performance.                                                          

Iggy Jang Hana Hou! Magazine  Oahu 04.29.11
janusch pic (2)lrJoanna Pernela-MorrisonlrNEXT EVENT ON MAUI:  SUNDAY, JANUARY 18, 2015, 5PM  
pre-concert discussion, 4 – 4:30PM
Ebb & Flow Ensemble-
Ignace Jang, violin, Helen Liu, violin
Ethan Pernela, viola, Joanna Morrison-Pernela, ‘cello
Robert Pollock, composer/pianist
special guest, Scott Janusch, oboe 
Works include Benjamin Britten’s “Phantasy Oboe Quartet” and
Jean Francaix’s “Cor Anglais (English Horn) Quartet”. Also works by

Mario Davidovsky – his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Synchronisms # 6″ for piano and electronic sounds, with special video by Peter Swanzy, the world premiere of Robert Pollock’s “Piano Quartet” and “String Quartet” by Hawaii’s “dean” of composers, Neil McKay.  Check back for further details…….Also see: Maui Arts & Cultural Center

1) Benjamin Britten – Phantasy Quartet (complete)

2) Jean Francaix – Cor Anglais Quartet (beginning)
3) Mario Davidovsky, Synchronism #6  (complete, just audio)
Neil McKay’s web site is:
My web site is:






Ebb & Flow Arts, Inc. (E&FA) is a 501 (c) (3) non profit presenter of modern music and multi media events. It is the only such presenter in Hawai’i, and was founded in 1999, by composer/pianist Robert Pollock. It aims to build bridges between the arts.

Mission Statement

The work of composers and artists is central for an enlightened culture. Ebb & Flow Arts enriches the soul of the community by educating the children and by presenting contemporary music, art and multi media on Maui, in Hawai’i, and around the world. Functioning in an international network, E&FA helps to provide a stage from which to inspire our culture to find new horizons.

Mahalo letters from students at Kihei Elementary School
Photos from Kihei music classes – working with music software on computers, and watching a review through hand puppets. P1010731P1010735


Ebb & Flow CD! New release set for FALL 2014 – Solo and Chamber Music by Edward T. Cone – on the MIMM* label!


Ebb & Flow Arts co-produces CD, now available on Internet!

Scaling Haleakala, 5 lessons, K-5


Maui Institute for Modern Music – MIMM – When our Board asks how to perpetuate the work of Ebb & Flow Arts, long term, a recent idea occurs that may offer a cogent answer: Maui Institute for Modern Music (MIMM). Our institute will occur annually during a four consecutive week time frame. MIMM is a hybrid of two organizations: Maui Classical Chamber Music Festival, and Ensemble Intercontemporain (Paris). The former hosts mainland musicians for a week of concerts on Maui. The latter hires full time musicians to rehearse, record, and perform the most challenging modern music. MIMM is an evolution of Ebb & Flow Arts. In the past, E&FA presented ten, sprawling annual North South East West Festivals. MIMM will ensure the best of our work and personnel – glorious, full capacity audiences hearing uncompromising programs of modern music performed by expert professional musicians in Paradise! We will distill these in annual, concentrated celebrations of modern music and related multi media stage compositions. MIMM will further place Maui on the international map as a global center for innovative, cutting-edge music and culture. MIMM under the control of E&FA, is a worthwhile vehicle for continuity:  It helps to gain the participation of younger musicians; it retains its well developed audiences of overflow crowds on Maui; it commercially records its work for the world to hear through Internet; it educates the general public and public school children; it is statewide with concerts on other Hawaiian islands; it establishes an international touring ensemble which each year rehearses and performs cutting-edge music; it is manageable because of its predictable, confined time frame each year, its unique, distinct purpose, and its compelling, committed international network. The focus will be on the most challenging modern music, including large chamber ensemble. Works include Schoenberg, “Serenade” for voice and 7 instruments, Boulez, “Le Marteau sans Maitre” for voice and 6 instruments, Sessions, “Concertino”, for 21 instruments, Antheil, “Ballet Mecanique”  for 4  pianos and percussion, Charles Wuorinen “Concerto for flute and 10 instruments”. As MIMM evolves, we will seek out of state enrollment for master classes and private lessons. Eventually a MIMM Ensemble will tour and record commercially. Musicians and guest composers with whom we have worked will participate regularly; for example, Duo Diorama – Minghuan Xu, violin, and Winston Choi, piano (Chicago) – Sarn Oliver, violin (California), Scott Anderson, clarinet, and Joanna Morrison-Pernela, ‘cello (Honolulu), Adam Tendler, piano (NYC), and Jerry Kuderna, piano (Berkeley). E&FA’s multi media group – renowned musicians, painters, dancers from Maui – will also collaborate with the musicians to create original stage compositions at MIMM.  MIMM will comprise three public performances, several master classes, public informances, public school music lessons, many rehearsals (some open), and recording sessions.


8/31/13  Music of the Spheres event photos Photos from the June 27th 2009 Multimedia Extravaganza Photos from Summer Music Hawaii 2009 Friday, Dec. 11, 2009, workshops at Kihei Elementary School. John Zangrando, workshop leader. Organized by Kihei Community Keiki Club for “furlough Fridays.   For more photos, see our photo page.


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