Derrick Spiva, Jr.
American Mirror

Digital: $9.99

Derrick Spiva, Jr. – Compositions

Kevin Kumar, Violin I; Maia Jasper White, Violin II; Meredith Crawford, Viola; Yoshika Masuda, Cello

Rachel Mellis, Flute/Piccolo; Rachel Iba, Violin; Simone Deleon-Pina, Violin; Nikki Shorts, Viola; Michelle Elliott Rearick, Cello; Mark Gutierrez, Electric Bass; Jaqueline Marshall, Harp; Ian Smith, Piano; Randy Gloss, Percussion I; James Waterman, Percussion II; Derrick Spiva Jr., Percussion III; Bridge To Everywhere, Voices

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Los Angeles-based composer Derrick Spiva Jr. could not have chosen a better name for his malleable ensemble, Bridge to Everywhere. The name embodies his compositional and cultural ethos clearly and succinctly. At a time when our society needs bridges more than ever, Spiva’s music connects music from all over the world with his own American identity. His second album, American Mirror, places rhythmic and melodic foundations from West and North Africa, India, Eastern Europe, and Appalachia seamlessly within the realm of modern American classical music. American Mirror proposes that diverse musical cultures can become even more beautiful when they exist and collaborate together. It is a musical metaphor for how disparate segments of American society, which has roots all over the world, can be truly harmonious. 

Like his first album, Prisms, Cycles, Leaps, the American Mirror release coincides with the world premiere of one of the featured compositions. The renowned Los Angeles Chamber orchestra chose to premiere “From Here A Path” as the closing concert for their 50th anniversary season. “From Here A Path” draws inspiration from “Husago" (a piece that includes drumming, dancing, and singing) from the Ewe people of Ghana, kaval flute playing from Eastern Europe, and elements of Hindustani classical music. The piece’s shifting meters are grounded with a “tihai” (a thrice-repeated rhythmic phrase in an overlapping meter that is used to end a section or conclude a piece in Hindustani classical music). The title “From Here A Path” references the momentum and resistance one gathers to reach a point. 

The two-part composition “American Mirror” reflects on the coming together of cultures in our society, which consists of many generations and descendants of refugees, slaves, and immigrants, and how intercultural collaborations are essential to the wellbeing of American society. Melodically, the piece draws from West African, North African, and Eastern European vocal techniques and ornamentations, in addition to modal scales. Underneath these melodies, American Mirror uses open harmonies commonly found in Appalachian folk music, and also includes drones, an accompaniment practice found in many musical cultures. American Mirror is written in two parts. Part I asks for the audience and/or Quartet members to sing drones together, symbolizing the support we could give to one another, and encouraging every individual to reach their full potential. A hymn-like tune grounds the piece, returning several times. Part II uses clapping as an accompaniment, continuing a tradition practiced in many cultures around the world. Part II also uses rhythmic structures found in Hindustani (North Indian) classical music, such as tihais and dumdhar chakradhar tihais, and uses an eight beat cycle called adi tala, found in Carnatic (South Indian) classical music. Towards the end of the piece, a portion of the audience is invited to mark the shape of adi tala using their hands (clapping and counting with fingers), a practice found in both Hindustani and Carnatic classical music. 

With American Mirror, Derrick Spiva Jr. expands the potential for modern American classical music. By reaching across continents with an open creative mind, he leads the way toward both broader appeal for classical music, and broader cultural understanding and celebration. At a time when American culture truly needs it, Derrick Spiva Jr. indeed builds a bridge to everywhere.

Studio: Allegro Recordings
Recording Engineer: Matthew Snyder
Executive Producers: Derrick Spiva Jr., Ian Smith, Kim Tran
Produced by Derrick Spiva Jr., Ian Smith, Kim Tran, Salastina Music Society
Edited, Mixed, and Mastered by Ian Smith

Studio: Victoria Studios
Recording Engineers: Ian Smith and Derrick Spiva, Jr. 
Executive Producers: Derrick Spiva Jr., Ian Smith, Kim Tran, Robert Cresswell
Produced by Derrick Spiva Jr., Ian Smith, Kim Tran
Edited by Ian Smith and Derrick Spiva Jr. 
Mixed and Mastered by Ian Smith

Original Cover Photo by Johanna Siegman
Design by Eron Rauch

All compositions by Derrick Spiva Jr. 
All music © Derrick Spiva Jr., 2018