Duration (in minutes): 6 3/4'39;
Difficulty: High (professional)
Category: solo instrument other than piano, solo woodwind instrument
Instruments: any woodwind, oboe
Publisher: Subito Music Corporation
Description: This work was chosen to represent the United States at the International Rostrum of Composers/UNESCO.
The title “Oboe-sthenics” is a take-off on the word calisthenics. Just as calisthenics are designed to develop and strengthen the body, “Oboe-sthenics” is a workout for the oboe, designed to develop and expand the abilities the performer. Written for James Ostryniec, and premiered by him at the Study Center for New Music in Tirol/Innsbruck, the composition uses some of the most recent techniques for oboe including multiphonics (following the fingerings and notation worked out by Larry Singer), quarter tones, double trills, glissandos, and embouchure variations.
The opening two measures of the work state the important musical materials – a multiphonic chord, a quarter-tome trill, and sixteenth notes. The first part of the piece presents multiphonics in various contexts, with occasional sixteenth note runs and other interspersed materials. The second part expands the sixteenths into longer runs at gradually increasing dynamic levels, interrupted by multiphonic chords. These runs finally dissolve into double trills, tremolos, and then quarter-tone trills and lead, finally, to a reversed statement of the opening three sounds.