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by James Armstrong

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    Artists Recording Collective, ARC-0767

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Sanctuary 01:07:29


Sanctuary [ duration: 1 hour, 7 minutes, 29 seconds ]. Artists Recording Collective, ARC-0767.

Sanctuary is an extended, detailed composition for solo piano that draws inspiration from two of my favorite composers, Ferruccio Busoni and Isaac Albéniz, and is a synthesis of these disparate influences. Preparation of the form and content was quite challenging and spanned nearly a year, from Fall 2018 until Summer 2019, directly ahead of the recording session.

The preparation regimen was intense. The sheer complexity of Busoni's Opus 39 piano concerto, combined with regular practice of works from Iberia was indeed a test of my resolve, and whatever technical skills that I've gained over the past forty years.

As the months progressed, the issue became how to express what I perceived as a celestial sound; tonalities and resonances unlike any that I'd encountered previously. To that end, the influence of Busoni's free polytonality -- an unfettered association of sounds, as it were -- became essential. All of a sudden, my battered scores from Breitkopf & Härtel became a handbook in this lengthy process. Busoni's impeccably crafted etudes and chromatic variations in turn lead to novel rhythmic schemes that I'd not considered. It was apparent that the 120 year-old scores were having a profound affect on developments, in time present.

With thanks to the Old First Presbyterian Church staff: Mr. Matthew Wolka, director of concerts, and Pastor Maggi Henderson, whose blessings and gift of holy communion has informed this performance. A special thanks to Mr. Christopher Burnett, Artists Recording Collective, who has consistently supported my work.

James D. Armstrong, Jr.
Fall 2019

Recorded by Alberto Hernandez at the Old First Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, California, on July 7, 2019. Hamburg Steinway concert grand piano.


released September 23, 2019

"Sanctuary" © 2019 by James David Armstrong, Jr. (BMI). All rights reserved. www.jamesarmstrongmusic.com


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James Armstrong San Jose, California

Forty years after university, I continue to explore the intersection of improvisation and modern classical music, through the medium of concert grand piano. Purposely removed from electronic effects, this is a content-driven music centered on extended, real-time performance; an original practice that has moved beyond the political barriers that exist in the San Francisco Bay Area. ... more

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