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Concerto for Oboe and Digital Ensemble • Jerry Gerber (syn) • OTTAVA 22-016 (34:47)


From Cosmic Dust is one of the most recent offerings by Jerry Gerber, a composer of visionary music and a master of MIDI sequencing. MIDI is a full musical instrument digital interface that allows electronic musical instruments to communicate with computers and each other.  Gerber is an intensely creative musical personality, with 16 albums to his credit showcasing his innovative use of electronic technology to deliver elegantly composed concertos, symphonies, songs, and other works associated with the classical tradition. His compositions reflect a solid classical education despite a long, varied career in jazz, rock, and music for the cinema.

Gerber’s work is informed by a uniquely contemporary spirituality, but never more so than in this album. In the opening work on this latest album, “Nine Hymns on Spiritual Life,” Gerber offers musical settings of poems that reflect Eastern and Western religious ideas. The poems are by Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet of love; Paramahansa Yogananda, a 20th century Hindu mystic with an international following; and Gerber himself. At a time in our cultural history when ugliness, coarseness, and despair are often celebrated in the arts, it is refreshing to listen to these uplifting lyrics that sing of beauty, peace, and hope, qualities Gerber’s music conveys without sentimentality or dogmatism (I’d recommend that the listener follow along with the booklet notes to get the full impact of words as well as music).

Gerber’s composing method is not so different from the traditional compositional modus operandi. Using the tools of electronic technology, he works with notes and staves that look as familiar as the printed scores of yesteryear. Despite its electronic origins, the Virtual Concerto for Oboe and Digital Ensemble on the second half of this album has a clean classical form that is easy to follow, but full of subtle complexities that pique both the intellect and the imagination. The sampled oboe does not sound exactly like a double-reed from the woodwind family, nor should it. Think of it as a bionic cousin with its own sweet song to sing, its range virtually unlimited, with a cooler emotional palette. Here, past meets future, and it’s not a bad place to be.

Linda Holt

4 stars: Gerber’s MIDI sequences yield haunting hymns and an otherworldly oboe concerto.


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