Works

WORKS

 

Sinfonia Fantasia, Op. 1 (1972)

I Moderato
II Largo
III Moderato

 

Fanfare for Brass and Percussion, Op. 2 (1972)
First performed at Ernest Johnson Memorial concert, February 21, 1973

 

Apotheosis - Tone Poem for Orchestra , Op. 3 (1973)

 

Songs Without Words, Op. 4 (1973)

1 Lento Dolore
2 Tranquillo

 

Concert March for Band, Op. 5 (1976)
Scored for full symphonic band. First performed by University of Nevada, Reno Symphonic Winds, conducted by Dr. Roscoe Booth, December 7 1978.

 

"Kersten's "Concert March," summons all the marshal grandeur one might hope to find in a Roman coliseum or better yet, on the parade ground of some mythical place where heroism shines brightly. Kersten's command of the percussion section of the orchestra is in full evidence as themes are pounded home, underpinning stirring melodies and the strains of horns. Here is valor and bravery, untarnished by a world where gallantry and virtue are forgotten ideals.

 

While "Concert March" may recall for some the inspired soundtrack of some epic film from Hollywood's Golden Age, Kersten's composition is so much more: it is untethered to some specific celluloid image, but rather it stands on its own, calling on the listener to imagine something far greater than can be captured on film."
- James Chenowith

 

Symphony for Band, Op. 6 (1978)
I Adagio
II Interlude
III Allegro
IV Largo

First performed by University of Nevada Reno, Symphonic Winds, conducted by Dr. Roscoe Booth, May 10, 1979

 

Ritual Music for Flutes and Percussion, Op. 7 (1978) 
First performed at Reno Little Theater, January 6, 1979 as incidental music for the RLT Production "Royal Hunt of the Sun"

 

March for Brass, Percussion and Organ, Op. 8 (1979)

 

March for Brass and Percussion, Op. 9 (1980)

 

Symphonic Suite for Orchestra, Op. 10 (1982)
I Allegro con Brio
II Adagio e Dolore
III Allegro Furioso
IV Allegro Vivo

 

Saga - Symphonic Poem, Op. 11 (1984)
First performed by University of Nevada, Reno Orchestra, conducted by John Lenz, May 3, 1985

 

Warped (1984)
Super 8mm Film, 59 minutes
with Brenda Beck, Blair Anthony

 

Heroic Poem, Op. 12 (1985)

 

Andante and Allegro for Violin and Piano, Op. 13 (1985)

 

Remember Tomorrow (1989)
16mm Film, 84 minutes
with Michael Replogle, Brenda Beck

 

Earth and Paradise: Song-Cycle for Soprano and Orchestra, Op. 14 (1986)
1 A Birthday
2 Echo
3 My soul I awakened...
4 There is dew...
5 We do lie...
6 Paradise

 

Premiered at Reno Chamber Orchestra concert, Reno, Nevada 1/26/92 with Lori Trustman, Soprano, conducted by Dr. David Ehrke. First recorded 2003. New recording by Vienna Symphonic Library 2011.

 

"Earth and Paradise" is a cycle of six songs, composed to the passionate Victorian poems of Christina Rossetti, Anne Bronte, Thomas Beddoes and Thomas Hood. The music was performed by the acclaimed soprano Lori Trustman with a full orchestral accompaniment. The entire cycle forms a changing picture of earthly joys, sorrow and death leading to the mystical evocation of Rossetti's "Paradise."

 

"Of special interest was the world premiere of American composer William Kersten's "Earth and Paradise." Kersten's music, always interesting and provocative, has become a rarity in a culture obsessed with copycat success: it has shed any hints of being derivative, and has stepped, by virture of its originality and freshness, across an important threshold into the realm of elegantly crafted, inspired art. Kersten's "Earth and Paradise," a song cycle of six rapturously constructed songs set to the poems of Christina Rossetti, Anne Bronte, Thomas Hood and Thomas Beddoes, touchingly, dramatically, movingly underscores the breadth, the elegance, the sweetness of the poems. It is stunning orchestral and vocal writing, clearly entrenched - as the poems are - in a lush romantic ambience which ebbs and flows with the rush of ideas and words describing the mysteries of life, death and paradise, much as Debussy's "La Mer" ebbs and flows putting the morality of man against the immortal mysteries of the sea. Soprano Lori Trustman is the perfect vocal and artistic match for Kersten's songs. Her personal style, never an affectation for its own purposes, carefully intertwines singer with song while establishing a purity of pitch and tone, and an unstressed sensuality that allows vocal flights of elation to float dramatically and hauntingly over Kersten's detailed, poetic orchestral descriptions.... these are highly dramatic songs. The trick is to combine Kersten's orchestral concepts with a vocal line which is at times the center of attention, but which at other times becomes one with the orchestra - literally a part of the orchestration. The singer of these songs cannot merely perform as a soloist with an unusually rich accompaniment, but must perform as a compatriot in an integrated concerto for voice and oorhcestra. The cycle is musically exquisite and was marvelously brought off."
- from the Reno Gazette Journal review of the premiere performance of "Earth and Paradise", Jan. 27, 1992

 

Two Victorian Songs, Op. 15 (1986)
1 Mirage
2 Oh, I am very weary...

 

Invocation and Ritual for Orchestra, Op. 17 (1986)
First performed by Nevada Festival Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Dr. David Ehrke, March 1, 1997

 

"Remember Tomorrow" Motion Picture Score, Op. 18 (1988)

 

Symphony No. 1 "Romantic," Op. 19 (1996)
I Moderato
II Adagio Dolore
III Scherzo
IV Finale

The symphony was written over a period of five years, and uses a melodic and harmonic style inspired by the early Modern and late Romantic composers such as Holst and Mahler though with a deliberately simpler approach to symphonic form and development. In addition to the large string ensemble, it has full brass and winds augmented with a large percussion group and a majestic pipe organ solo in the climax of the finale.

 

"...I'm floored. Great music, performed masterfully."

- Dietz Tinhof, Audio Engineering Supervisor, Vienna Symphonic Library

 

"In the Romantic Symphony (Symphony No. 1 Op. 17) Kersten has provided no obvious program. Still it moves where the spirit moves him as though following the action of a drama, not where strict attention to musical form once demanded, but to where heart's desires and instincts demand. Kersten knows what many of his contemporary composers don't evidently know, or at least don't care to express: that contemporary music can reflect its time and still be accessible to listeners who want to be thrilled by modern sounds adorned with lovely melodies, without being pummelled by extraordinarily gritty dissonance.

 

The symphony has power and drama. It also has rapture and radiance. Bright-hued with touches of foreboding throughout, every theme singing smoothly, every development integrated and effortless, the work defies neat classificiation other than to say that at its most profound (the first movement) it's theatrical and exciting, at its most lyric (the second movment) it's poignant and richly textured, at its most exotic (the third movment) it's exhilirating and enticing, and at its most noble (the fourth movement) it's powerful and spirited and engulfs the listener with a unabashed adrenalin rush as it forges ahead to its triumphant conclusion.

 

From its misty Mahlerian beginnings to its final burst of Wagnerian splendor, Kersten's Romantic Symphony captures a restless urge that propels this expressive and richly varied work in an inspired and engaging way."
- Jack Neal, 2003

 

"Cries of righteous despair replete with filmic imagery bring about a highly portentous, resolute theme containing fragments of narrative commitment, which is in turn interrupted by penetrating, inescapable anguish that the composer must brave and tame in order to dive into the first movement - and the symphony - proper, where we have a chance to explore the musical and psychological implications of those fierce introductory eruptions. All this happens during the first ninety seconds of the work.

 

The listener embarks upon a personal musical disclosure of events, while receiving the full range and impact of the emotional content of those events, not necessarily in a linear or traditional formal fashion - for which the title of ‘Symphony’ may be misleading unless one’s conceptions and traditional expectations are left behind on this very personal journey. The apparent absence of traditional formal cornerstones doesn’t weaken the larger structure, as the skeletal interweaving of themes and an abundance of dramaturgy and personal dictum, shift the educated audience’s conventional expectations of balance in a large work to the composer’s discretionary points of structural centres, as motivic/harmonic growth, orchestration, style, and even long-range musical targets, all defer to the composer’s own hierarchical system in this work, and serve his narrative and psychological struggles - perhaps ‘Symphonie Fantastique’ or ‘Sinfonia Narrativa’ could be alternative titles. In fact, the narrative intent is so much stronger than the rich musical material, that the movements could easily be perceived as sections of an instead monolithic musical epic, seen through the eyes and expressed in the singular voice of an individual witness.

 

We never become privy to the composer’s story without the intentionally undisclosed literal programme, and that draws us deeper into the work in search of that fascinating story - the very emphatic musical material suggests strong feelings of loss, despair, love, battle, religion, and triumph.

 

Technically, the composer feels secure in his uninhibited use of some Herrmannian, Tchaikovskyan, and Beethovenian devices, and a degree of stylistic eclecticism from different periods, as his own strong and original voice is ubiquitous and assimilating.

 

As one becomes more familiar with this and other works of W. Kersten, one is incrementally allowed greater insight into his mysterious and expansive world - a natural outcome over repeated hearings (a surprisingly welcome venture in the contemporary music world). And it is these repeated hearings that tell us that the work is worthwhile, when we discover something new about it every time; new layers, new elements, or new connections between those elements, etc.

 

W. Kersten’s music is as generous in these respects, as it is inspired. Most of all, it is honest; an almost extinct quality these days, especially in music composition."
- Errikos Vaios, Greece, 2013

 

"Disembodied" (1996)
16mm Film, 88 minutes
with Anastasia Woolverton, Hannah Cooper, Patricia Mathews, George Randolph

 

"Disembodied" Motion Picture Score, Op. 20 (1996)

 

Experimental Abstractions (1999)
16mm, Abstract Video, 12 minutes

 

March for Military Band, Op. 21 (2000)

 

Fantasia on Amazing Grace, Op. 22 (2003)
First recorded with Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band, Reno Nevada, 2003

 

The Problem of Knowledge (2003)
Video, Puppet animation, 3 minutes

 

Metaphysical Composition No. 1 (2003)
Video, Abstract/Animated Video, 10 minutes

 

Bacchanale for String Quartet, Op. 23 (2005)

 

Prospice for Tenor and Orchestra, Op. 24 (2007)
Recorded in Vienna 2010 with Tenor, Ferdinand von Plettenberg and the Vienna Symphonic Library, Michael Hula, Recording Engineer, Dietz Tinhof, Mixing Engineer

 

Prospice is based on the poem by Robert Browning, written after the death of his wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Browning's metrically complex verse forms a powerful and heroic statement of defiance in the face of death.

 

Lumia Constructions (2007-2013)
Video, Abstract Video, 9 hours

 

Metaphysical Composition No. 2 (2008)
Video, Abstract Video, 8 minutes

 

Shadows of the Soul - Nocturnes for Orchestra (2010)
1 Late Afternoon, Op. 25
2 Come Darkness, Op. 26
3 Dolore, Op. 27
4 Night Walk, Op. 28
5 Fragments, Op. 29
6 The Haunted Mind, Op. 30
7 Foreshadows, Op. 31
8 Elegy, Op. 32
9 Shadows of the Soul, Op. 33

 

"Shadows of the Soul" is a rich, diverse album, a collection of brilliant melodies executed with precision to yield a mystic, sometimes disturbing poem. As is typically the case with Kersten's music, these various compositions recall images, as though from some forgotten past, fleeting and conjured out of the private imagination, which only that listener can know. And yet, while "Shadows of the Soul" summons phantasms at once individually conceived, it also draws on archetypes as though Carl Gustav Jung himself directed the orchestra. Here is the eerie Neo-Romanticism of a new turn of the century at its best. Kersten always delights, and "Shadows of the Soul," complex and evocative, is no exception. "
- Guy de Broglia

 

"Metaphysical Toymaking" Motion Picture Score, Op. 34 (2010)

 

Metaphysical Toymaking (2010)
Video, Puppet animation, 12 minutes

Premiered at the International Surrealist Film Festival 2010, and Zero Film Festival Los Angeles 2010

 

"Age of Light" - Overture, Op. 35 (2011)
Recorded by Vienna Symphonic Library (2012)

 

"The Symphonic Poem, "The Age of Light," is a triumphal tribute to Enlightenment. This composition shows Kersten's capacity for diversity: his "Concert March" captures the youthful vigor of a marshal parade; "The Age of Light" is a mature, respectful composition. It features elegant melodies, picked up with the clarity of a trumpet and then echoed by other instruments. While darkness will always challenge intellect - and this tone poem gives voice to that conflict - ignorance submits and is vanquished in this anthem for a new Age of Enlightenment, an "Age of Light." This is an inspiring homage to the power of the mind and its ability to conquer all with thought."
- Guy de Broglia

 

Empyreum, Parts 1-4 (2012-2013)
Video, Abstract Video, 17 minutes

 

Chivalry: A Symphonic Fantasy for Orchestra (2012)
1 The Troubador, Op. 36 
2 The Quest, Op. 37
3 The Old Country, Op. 38
4 Idyll, Op. 39
5 Ride to the Castle, Op. 40
6 Dance of the Fay, Op. 41
7 Legion of Darkness, Op. 42 
8 Kingdom of Sorrows, Op. 43
9 Path to the Mountains, Op. 44
10 Temple of the Warriors, Op. 45
11 Battle Fury, Op. 46
12 Death of a Hero, Op. 47
13 Chivalry, Op. 48
14 Triumphal March, Op. 49

Recorded with Vienna Symphonic Library, 2013

 

"This cd represents the ultimate expression of Post Romantic heroism in music. It is a mature compilation of melodies and orchestration that inspires while evoking the strongest of emotions. Kersten has grown with every recording he has offered, and this expression of his work won't diappoint. This is a "must have" for anyone who likes Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler, etc., showing that the material explored over a century ago is still alive and inspiring."
- James Chenowith

 

Song of the Forest, Op. 50 (2013)
Recorded by Vienna Symphonic Library 2013.

 

"The "Song of the Forest," explores the sylvan delights of the woods. Just as a walk along some seldom-trod path leads one to the unexpected - a brook, a stone outcropping, or the hoary, moss-encrusted face of an aged tree - so too does Kersten's composition offer repeated enchantments, unexpected but encountered, nevertheless, with each turn of phrase. The masterful composer who consistently illustrates his versatility has given us the most outstanding of gifts with his "Song of the Forest," a bewitching journey along a leaf-shaded trail." 
- James Chenowith

 

Star Harbor, Op. 51 (2014)

 

Illusions of Time, Op. 52 (2015)
Analog Synthesizer Score for the Lumia Production by George Stadnik

 

Fantasia Macabre, Op. 53 (2015)
Released at Production Music Online as "Horror Toolkit"

 

Sonnet to Science Op. 54 (2016)
Released as Production Music Online as "Retro Sci-Fi Toolkit"

 

Oddlibet, Op. 55 (2016)

 

Ancient Song, Op. 56 (2017)

 

"Althyria" (2017-2018)
Feature Film 4k Digital Video, 90 minutes

 

"Althyria" Motion Picture Score Op. 57 (2018)

 

"Tomorrow" Symphonic Poem, Op. 58 (2018)

 


Music and Images copyright 2003-2016 William Kersten

 

 

 

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