Carnegie Mellon University School of Music faculty members Reza Vali (composition) and Neal Berntsen (trumpet) have joined forces for what looks to be an intriguing world premiere at the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina. On Wednesday, CMU alumnus Keith Lockhart will conduct the Brevard Festival Chamber Orchestra in Mr. Vali's "The Ancient Call (Calligraphy No. 13)." The piece features Mr. Berntsen — a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony's trumpet section — performing on a microtonal trumpet. Because all roads lead to Pittsburgh, it's worth noting that the president and CEO of Brevard is Mark Weinstein, former general director of Pittsburgh Opera.
According to the School of Music, "'The Ancient Call' was written for Berntsen and is composed for a specially designed micro-tonal trumpet, which can perform up to 24 notes per octave, and orchestra. The fundamental elements of the composition (including the tuning, melody, rhythm, form, and polyphony) are all derived from the Persian modal system the Dastgâh/Magham.
"Vali's goal for writing the work was to create a dialogue between two different musical systems. The piece sets the Western Equal Temperament system, performed by the orchestra, against the Persian Dastgâh/Magham system, performed by the trumpet. The aim has been to elaborate on the inherent tensions that exist between these two interval systems and use it as a symbol for the existing political and cultural tensions between Persian and Western cultures."