Vivian Fine





Ma's In Orbit




8 minutes


Violin, double bass, percussion (flexatone, glockenspiel, woodblock, marimba, and vibraphone) and piano


April 26, 1987, State University of New York at Buffalo, North American New Music Festival,; Thomas Halpin, violin, William Staebell, contrabass, Yvar Mikhashoff, piano and Jan Williams, percussion


Spring Dance
Shifting Images
Finish Line

program notes

In March 1987, Fine recycled her successful dance score from 1937, The Race of Life, and arranged it for violin, percussion, double bass, and piano….The music is fast paced in cabaret style, with rapidly changing movements titled after Thurber’s sketches….Although originally the music was for piano and flexatone, Fine took the opportunity to add percussive color….Ma’s in Orbit is light and entertaining, and Fine’s innate sense of rhythm plus her experience of composing for dance give this piece an energetic nonstop momentum that successfully combines the short movements.

–Heidi Von Gunden, The Music of Vivian Fine, Scarecrow Press, 1999


“This engaging and irreverent ‘cartoon’ music—as Ms. Fine puts it—starts off with a jazzy cakewalk and goes through a fast-paced series of programmatic episodes….With its blithe, syncopated sarcasms, it captures that 1930s spirit found in those recordings Count Basie made around the same time. How such joyous optimism could rise from the rubble of the Great Depression might confound our present-day wisdom. But perhaps its formal vitality provides a clue to just how one survives the times with spirit intact, as Vivian Fine so aptly demonstrates.”

–Richard Chon, The Buffalo News, April 27, 1987 (review of a retrospective program of Vivian Fine’s works presented as part of the North American New Music Festival)