Henry Doktorski
Organist Accordionist Composer Conductor Author Educator
Slee Sinfonietta Concert
May 5, 2008: Henry Doktorski performed with the Slee Sinfonietta in the world-premiere performance of Opening Veins by the award-winning American composer Andrew Rindfleisch. The concert, at the Drinko Recital Hall at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, featured contemporary works by composers David Felder, Morton Feldman, and Rindfleisch.

The Slee Sinfonietta was formed in 1997 by composer David Felder and conductor Magnus Mårtensson. This ensemble, the professional chamber orchestra in residence at the University at Buffalo, performs a series of concerts each year devoted to lesser-known repertoire.

Composer Andrew Rindfleisch (b. 1963) has produced dozens of works for the concert hall, including solo, chamber, vocal, choral, orchestral, and wind music. He was the 1997-98 recipient of the Rome Prize and in 1996 received a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. He received the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Aaron Copland Award, and the Koussevitzky Foundation Commission from the Library of Congress. He has also been the recipient of over thirty-five other prizes and awards, including those from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm Foundation, ASCAP, and the League of Composers-ISCM. Mr. Rindfleisch is currently a Professor of Music and Head of Music Composition Studies at Cleveland State University.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer Music Critic Donald Rosenberg wrote about Rindfleisch's Opening Veins:

    Composers often go to extremes as they explore expressive ideas and sonic colors. The spectrum of musical possibilities certainly was vast Monday, when members of the Slee Sinfonietta occupied Drinko Recital Hall at Cleveland State University. . . . The last work [Opening Veins] is a gripping journey into the high anxiety of the creative process. Piercing clarinet and saxophone riffs lead to frenetic rhythms, wind and brass screams and percussive clamor. The Varese-like din occasionally relaxes into troubled tranquility, with an accordion adding mysterious shadings. Rindfleisch has a whale of a time teasing the listener with uproarious sonic gestures and rhythmic vivacity. Even when strings play soft harmonics, a flute ruminates and a double bass and trombones rumble, something is stirring. An ensemble exclamation point brings the piece to a brilliant close. The performance, led by the composer, was a thriller.

Doktorski said, "I had a great time working with the Slee Sinfonietta under the direction of conductor/composer Andrew Rindfleisch. Everything was extraordinary: the musicians were extraordinary (many traveled long distances, from New York City, Detroit, and Chicago); the staff was extraordinary (Vickie L. Peters, the Program Liaison for the Cleveland Contemporary Players at Cleveland State University, provided Starbucks coffee and bagels and cream cheese at the morning rehearsals. She knows how to treat musicians right!); the music was extraordinary (composer/conductor Andrew Rindfleisch used the accordion to great effect in the work, including several solos, and a very interesting and mysterious part where he used the highest piccolo reeds something like the harmonics of a violin); and the audience was extraordinary (many came up to me after the concert to say how much they enjoyed hearing the accordion with the orchestra). I hope Andrew Rindfleisch will write more music for accordion."

The composer/conductor expressed his appreciation for the accordionist:

    Hi Henry, Just a quick note to say thank you for your work on Opening Veins—I could not have imagined the whole thing going any better than it did. I was thrilled to compose for the accordion for the first time, and have it work out so well—mostly thanks to you! I hope we can stay in touch. All the best, Andy Rindfleisch

Photographs by Steve Zombory. Used with permission.

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