The Music of Ann Millikan

California EAR Unit

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The Music of Ann Millikan Review

by Stephen Eddins

The music of American composer Ann Millikan is genuinely eclectic. Her background includes traditional classical training, experience as a jazz performer, and a residency with the new music ensemble the California EAR Unit, and the music on this album reflects all of those influences, as well as rock and the folk traditions of Africa and Brazil. Her work is characterized by high energy and a quirky inventiveness that defies easy categorization. Most of the works recorded here, for ensembles from three to seven members, require the performers to use a number of instruments, including a variety of unconventional percussion such as metal bowls, thunder tube, and water tam-tam. Her scoring is clean and transparent and her felicities of orchestration are among the most attractive elements in her work. Her pieces have descriptive titles and are all strongly evocative. Three Reflections, a sort of miniature violin concerto with an accompaniment of alto flute, bass clarinet, vibraphone, piano, and cello, and the meditative The Woodcarver & the Blacksmith, for the same ensemble, are particularly effective. The California EAR Unit performs her music with conviction and musicality, and the sound quality is clear and present.

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