Primiani’s 14 Day Challenge

UPDATE: After the Left Coast Chamber Players fall 2012 premiere of Leanna Primiani’s Holy Order: Shaker Dances, the work won the West-Coast division of the Rapido!® A 14-Day Composition Contest. On January 21, 2013, the work was performed by the Atlanta Chamber Players in the concert finals and received the “Audience Favorite” Award.


If you were given a 14-day deadline, what kind of composition would you write?

Leanna Primiani answered this question with Holy Order: Shaker Dances, her new chamber work which premieres on September 30 and October 1, performed by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble (LCCE). Scored for oboe, violin, cello and piano, Primiani wrote the five-minute work between June 11 – June 25, 2012 as part of the Rapido!® A 14-Day Composition Contest, which was founded by the Atlanta Chamber Players and The Antinori Foundation to promote new works for chamber ensemble. LCCE joins the collaborative program this year, and offers Primiani’s work as one of three western division finalists featured on the group’s 20th anniversary concert-opener.

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, photo: Jeanette Yu

Holy Order: Shaker Dances is a short tone poem that attempts to recreate a Shaker religious service,” Primiani explains. “While Shaker hymns have found their way into modern-day hymnals and are recognizable, a lesser-known aspect of the Shaker experience was the dance. [The Shakers] believed that dancing liberated the soul and invited in the temporary possession of individuals by spirits from the beyond. Dancing included stomping, violently shaking their heads, scratching, quaking, trembling, screeching, shuffling their feet, etc. When the worship service was over, the participants would slow down and drop off, one by one, as oddly as the service began.”

She continues, “This piece primarily focuses on the uniform displays of dancing that the Shakers exhibited in their worship services. Divided into five sections, each section coincides with the dances of the service: the Holy Order, the Regular Step, the Back Manner, the Quick Dance, and the Heavy Shuffle. These five movements form a tonal arc, moving away from and back to D, the home note of the work. The score depicts the Shakers’ curious worship habits by building a series of complex and unpredictable textures, tunes, harmonies and rhythmic timings that are based on the simplest and most familiar musical material derived from their hymns.”

Primiani continues work on a new percussion piece for international soloist Evelyne Glennie, and an NEA-commissioned new work for the Albany Symphony.

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