March 19, 2013
A busy few weeks ahead: this week: Mellissa Hughes performs That Night with the Green Sky at OPERA America's salon series (3/19), Owen Weaver performs Memory Palace at Central Florida University (3/22), Tulsa Opera gives the staged premiere of All Wounds Bleed (3/23), and just a week after that, The Living Earth Show premiere Double Happiness at the Center for New Music in SF (3/29).
Further on the horizon (and only just recently announced): Owen Weaver and Vicky Chow will perform Memory Palace and Hoyt–Schermerhorn at (Le) Poisson Rouge in NYC on April 2 (don't mind if I'm jetlagged as hell, flying back from my LA Phil performances that week).
February 11, 2013
That Night with the Green Sky receives a lovely review from Anthony Tommasini in the New York Times.
I'm featured in the latest issue of Symphony Magazine.
Amanda Deboer releases a recording of Requiem for KV, now available from her website and iTunes.
And most excitingly, my opera Invisible Cities will recieve a brand new site-specific production this fall with the extraordinarily innovative LA-based opera company, The Industry. More on this as it becomes more official. I'll be headed to LA later this month to attend the casting. (I'll also be headed to San Francisco to work with The Living Earth Show on my new piece Double Happiness for electric guitar, percussion, and electronics.)
December 17, 2012
Busy busy fall! Flows Beneath, a piece for steel pans and chamber orchestra was premiered by the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Pan Sonatas Steel Orchestra in late October. You can listen to to the whole piece at WNYC's website.
Meanwhile, Owen Weaver and I have been recording Memory Palace for anticipated 2013 release. It sounds great! Check out a little snippet here (there's also a great video of him playing the whole piece on the same page).
All Wounds Bleed, a one-act opera I composed with Tony Asaro in 2011 was heard at OPERA America's New Works Forum. It will receive its staged premiere in March 2013 with Tulsa Opera at the Philbrook Museum. Details to follow soon!
In other news, I just finished a new work for electric guitar, percussion, and electronics, which was commissioned by the SF-based Living Earth Show, entitled Double Happiness. The piece will premiere out in SF in March at the Center for New Music, and hopefully come to NY in the coming months.
October 5, 2012
Hope you had a wonderful summer. I was lucky enough spend much of mine in Italy as a fellow at the Civitella Ranieri Colony, where I met some fantastic artists, composers, writers and otherwise fabulous people. While there, I composed a new work for the Brooklyn Philharmonic, which will be featured in two performances with the orchestra and the Pan Sonatas Steel Orchestra, a fantastic group from Crown Heights. I've been rehearsing with them lately and they sound great.
The first performance of my new piece takes place on October 25 at the Wintergarden at the World Financial Center in downtown New York. You can read all about it on the Brooklyn Phil's website. The concert's free and should be a lot of fun. And if you can't make it, WNYC will be streaming the performance on New Sounds Live. This coming April, the work will be heard again, this time with a full orchestra and the Pan Sonatas.
In that same set of days, some other exciting things are coming up, too:
On October 24, Omar Carmenates will play my new percussion and electronics piece Memory Palace in Arezzo, Italy. I had the pleasure of working with Omar while there, and he is a fantastic and thoughtful percussionist. The performances takes places at the Teatro of the Accademia Dell Arte in Arezzo at 8pm.
On October 25 and 26, Present Music will perform The Night Mare in a choreographed performance featuring members of the Milwaukee Ballet at the Helene Zelazo Center for the Arts in Milwaukee. You can read all about the performances and get tickets here. In other Nightmarish news, the piece was recently published by Project Schott New York.
And not least of all, my frequent partner in crime Owen Weaver will perform Memory Palace on October 26 in Brooklyn as part of the MATA Festival's Interval series. Owen was the winner of their annual call for proposals, and will perform my work alongside pieces by Ian Dicke, Lisa Coons, and Steve Snowden. The performance will also feature photographs by my very old friend, Lucas Foglia, an amazing photographer based in San Francisco in a collaborative exhibition. The whole thing takes place at Issue Project Room. Details and tickets here.
In a short run of other news, I'm currently working on a new piece for electric guitar, percussion, and electronics, commisioned by The Living Earth Show, a San Francisco-based group. Later this year I'll be composing a long work for the Color Field Ensemble, who were awarded a Chamber Music America grant to commission a new work from me. And last but not least, my first print publication is the song "That Night with the Green Sky," for voice and piano. It's available now from Schott Music. And you can buy a beautiful recording that Mellissa Hughes sang on for just $0.99. All of this consolodated into a single link. And the song's even on Spotify!
Here's the details, shortform style:
October 24, Accademia Dell Arte, Arezzo Italy, 8pm
La Villa Godiola, San Fabiano, 9, 52100 Arezzo, Province of Arezzo, Italy
Omar Carmenates performs Memory Palace in a solo recital. October 25, Wintergarden of the World Financial Center, 8pm, Free
220 Vessey Street, New York, NY
The Brooklyn Philharmonic performs Flows Beneath, a new work for steel pans and chamber orchestra.
October 26 and 27, Helene Zelazo Center for the Arts, 8pm
2419 E. Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee, WI
Present Music and members of the Milwaukee Ballet perform The Night Mare in a newly choreographed performance.
October 26 at 8pm, Issue Project Room, 8pm
160 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn (note change of address).
Owen Weaver performs Memory Palace as part of the MATA Festival's Interval Series.
July 26, 2012
I'm about 4 hours away from departing for two months in Italy, where I'll be visiting family in Florence with Sarah before spending 6 weeks at the idyllic Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria. At Civitella, I'll be composing a big but yet-to-be-officially-announced new work. It's exciting. I'll tell you about it soon. I swear.
Something that has been officially announced is that I've received a Chamber Music America commission to compose a 15 minute work for the Color Field Ensemble, who will preriere the work in summer 2013. This fall I'm going to be writing a work for the dynamic San Fransisco based electric guitar and percussion duo, the Living Earth Show.
Stateside, there are some excellent performances coming up of my music in Madison, WI, and Toronto that you can read about on the events page. And for new listenings, you can hear a live performance of Recovering, my contribution to Sleeping Giant's evening-length work Histories, which was premired in its full iteration at Issue Project Room this past may. A recording of Memory Palace is coming very soon, too.
Speaking of recordings, I just recorded my new song commissioned by Opera America, "That Night with the Green Sky," with new music diva Mellissa Hughes yesterday. The song will be released on a 3 CD of new songs in the fall to celebrate the opening of their new opera center in NYC. The song will also be published as part of a book of new songs by Schott NY.
May 18, 2012
Whirlwind times! Things are wild, busy, and very fun. So much so, that there's not enough hours in the day to keep my site as up to date as I'd like, so here's a quick and dirty update:
Information about May and June performances by Red Light New Music, the Deviant Septet, Vicky Chow, and Owen Weaver (the premiere of a 22-minute long percussion-plus+electronics piece) are on the events page.
The press page is updated as well with new words from the Albany Times Union and New Music Box.
And last but not least, the LA Philharmonic has officially announced they're performing Invisible Overture next season as part of their Brooklyn Festival.
March 24, 2012
Happy spring-weathered March! I am busy trying to finish up the first three movements of a gargantuan percussion piece commissioned by the American Composers Forum Jerome Fund for a preview performance in a few weeks. I will post some more deets on this piece as it comes along, but it's scored for a host of homemade instruments including tuned boards of wood, specially string guitar, tuned metal pipes, disembodied crotales and glockenspiel bars, and half-drunk beer bottles; not to mention field recordings of Harriman State Park and my parents' windchimes. Owen and Ian have both been instrmental (pun intended) in bringing the work to life. Owen will play the three movements at the Fast Forward Austin festival on April 15, at the ND 501 Studios. But wait, that's not all: Through complete coincidence, I was also the winner of the Fast Forward Austin call for scores. So the lovely Vicky Chow will be playing Hoyt-Schermerhorn that same day. I'm going to TX!
There are a few more excited things that are just a few John Hancocks away from an official announcement, so please stay tuned.
February 5, 2012
Things to watch and listen! The Invisible Cities website has been updated with videos and a complete recording from the 2011 production! You can watch Yegor play Hoyt-Schermerhorn. And don't forget to come out to Carnegie next week!
January 22, 2012
"Adelma" from this past May's production of Invisible Cities:
January 17, 2012
The new year in short:
— Recovering, a new piece that is part of a new suite by Sleeping Giant premieres on February 10 at Skidmore College and February 14 in NYC at Carnegie. (If you can't make it, the Deviant Septet will be playing it in May and June in NYC and Washington, DC, respectively.)
— My new percussion/electronics piece has a premiere date: June 20, 2012 at The Stone. As part of the Sleeping Giant summer show. Owen's playing. More to come soon.
— My relationship with PSNY continues. Reading a Wave is to be published post-haste.
— Remaster, reorchestrate, rebuild: New recordings of The Night Mare and Hoyt-Schermerhorn.
November 10, 2011
Fall is here in Brooklyn (except when it was winter for two days, but that's a whole other issue)! I've been so busy that I've neglected to update my website, but here is a short run of the latest:
August 20, 2011
Oh no! I forgot to update my website! At least the news page. Preparing for a very exciting season with new ensemble works for Ensemble ACJW, Carnegie Hall, and Red Light New Music. A consortium of 10 percussionists (led by Owen Weaver) has commissioned a new work for percussion and electronics that will premiere in the summer of 2012. Invisible Cities receives its Boston premiere in June of 2011 with Boston Metro Opera. And I've also begun to start working on a new full length opera with Tony Asaro which will be developed, workshopped, and commissioned by American Lyric Theater. And more!
There will be more exciting news in the coming weeks as more things are announced. But for now, check out the freshly updated events page for more information on upcoming concerts.
April 29, 2011
The fine gentlemen of Loadbang are taking How to Breathe Underwater out for another spin on May 1 and May 3 in Bloomsburg, PA and Baltimore, MD, respectively. If you're around, check them out!
April 20, 2011
NPR is currently running a feature on 100 notable composers under 40. I've been selected, alongside a host of very interesting and bright young talents. NPR certainly has an interesting conception of what constitutes a composer, and I don't know if affixing the title "composer" next to people like Aphex Twin and Sufjan Stevens (whose music, I by the way, love) makes their music and more or less legit, but I'm nonetheless honored to share an honor with those artists.
Also, Q2 (who helped assemble the under 40 list) recently featured a week devoted to composer collectives, and Sleeping Giant made the list. Read a bit more here! Thanks, Nadia!
Lastly, I'll be appearing on WKCR on May 11 at 10am when I'll be interviewed by Carl Schoonover for the upcoming performance of Invisible Cities on May 13 and 14th. And of course, don't forget, tickets are on sale now!
April 5, 2011
More good news! Still Life with Violin and Orchestra was awarded a 2011 ASCAP/Morton Gould Young Composer Award!
April 3, 2011
Things to hear:
—The recording of Still Life with Violin and Orchestra, one of my latest works, commissioned by the New York Youth Symphony
—An interview with me and the other Sleeping Giant guys is up at the Composers at Play website.
Things to see:
—Invisible Cities tickets are on sale! Get yours today!
March 7, 2011
So this is some big news. Also this photo is awesome and hilarious. Come out on the 13th!
January 14, 2011
Lots of new things, but let's get straight to the points:
—I've posted recordings and scores to most of the music I've composed in the last year, including my new piano piece Hoyt-Schermerhorn, my Mozart concerto, and excerpts from my EP of electronic music Five Days that was released last year.
—Concerts! New pieces with the Loadbang ensemble, American Lyric Theatre, the New York Youth Symphony, the world premiere of Invisible Cities, and a performance at Bargemusic this spring and summer. Fun! Come! All the info at events.
December 9, 2010
And the year is strangely almost over. Lots of great news:
—Invisible Cities will have its staged premiere in May 2011 at the Italian Academy at Columbia University on the 13th and 14th. There'll be two performances and a recording session thanks to the kind support of the American Music Center's CAP Recording Grant, of which I was a recipient of. Much more to come on this, but just wanted you to be the first to know.
—Invisible Cities will also be performed (in a concert version) by Boston Metro Opera next season. So if you aren't around on those two particular days of May. . .
—On Sunday, December 12 at 1pm the fantastic singers Adrienne Danrich and Sarah Heltzel will be performing a new operatic scena that I wrote with the librettist David Simpatico as part of American Lyric Theatre's Freshly Brewed Series. The scena, entitled Mother Let it Be features an incanting Italian strega from the old world that would give my own nonna the malocchia (don't worry if you understood none of that). The whole thing will be a casual affair with brunch and discussion featuring Mark Adamo, along with the three other composers and librettists working with ALT this year. It's at Opera America in NW Chelsea. Here's the link for tickets: here. I think you have to purchase tickets online before Friday night, so if you're coming, definitely order now! (Opera America, 330 Seventh Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10001)
—The following day, on my December 13th at 8pm, the ensemble I co-direct, Red Light New Music, will be performing a brand new score for the classic silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari at Roulette in TriBeCa. Twelve composers (myself included) have contributed music and it will be performed live by our house band, the Red Light Ensemble, conducted by Ted Hearne. We're all really excited about the results (and catch a preview here). We promise fear and shivers! Electric guitar virtuosi Dither will present an opening set with new music by New York composers. You can't miss! Roulette's a small venue and it may just sell out, so show up early! (20 Greene St, New York, NY 8pm)
I've been awful about putting up works, but will be posting the audio to my two most recent compositions in the next few days, as well as some older works.
—The Corrections by Jonathan Frantzen
—Morton Feldman Says (Collected Interviews)
October 26, 2010
Just a few small updates: My arrangement of the second movement of Mozart's piano concert can be now be heard streaming from the Red Light New Music website. I'll post it on my own site very soon. A nice New York Times review is here
A new piece, Hoyt-Schermerhorn, named after the eponymous subway station will have two performances my the amazing pianist Yegor Shevtsov on November 2 in NYC at Rockwood Music Hall and again on November 11th at the Kennedy Center. Events has more info.
September 16, 2010
Summer always surprises me — in both its length and fleetingness. This summer in particular. Rather than heading back to school as I've been doing for the last twenty-odd years, I'm still in New York, and I'm beginning to list my profession as "composer" and not "student."
This fall promises to be wildly busy — concerts every month! The November and December ones are still being ironed out, but there are three coming up in the next few weeks that should be super exciting:
First, my "deconstruction" (rearrangement, différance, etc) of the second movement of Mozart's 9th Piano Concerto — along with the first and third movements by Vincent Raikhel and Scott Wollschleger — will be heard at Symphony Space at the first Red Light New Music concert of the season. September 20 at 8pm! More info at Symphony Space's website. Next, Sleeping Giant will have our second concert this fall: we'll be doing two shows, one in New Haven at Yale University, and the second at (Le) Poisson Rouge. The Yale in New York concert series has kindly sponsored. More deets here: (new haven) and (nyc)
I've also started a residency with American Lyric Theatre, a wonderful opera composer development program. I'll be writing a new one-act for them this year. Exciting!
July, 31 2010
So many things, so little time to report on them!
1) As you may have noticed, this site has undergone a complete redesign. A lot of the same information, but hopefully a little more aesthetically pleasing.
2) I've been up in North Adams, MA for the last few days for the Bang on a Can marathon. The three student vocalists are performing Requiem For KV in a completely live version (before it had always been performed with one voice and pre-recorded tape). It's wonderful to hear an old piece in a new way, and the singers are doing a great job. And the people and vibe here is just amazing and completely positive. I'm already scheming about how to get back there next summer. Here's the schedule for the show: clickie
3) The audio from the Sleeping Giant concert at (Le) Poisson Rouge this past April is now streaming from WQXR's internet station, Q2. It features a recording of the whole concert (mine's at the end), as well as some lovely introductions to our music. Check it out! (And while you're at it, our next concert, also at LPR, is announced! )
4) There are some more exciting things in the works, and they're going to be great. But I can't say mum yet, cuz it's not official.
June 8, 2010
Much news to report! I'm no longer a "New Haven based" composer; as of June I am a Brooklyn-based composer. I'm looking forward to an exciting year as I begin to build a portfolio of works for my doctorate at Yale. Also. I've been commissioned by the New York Youth Symphony to write a piece for violin and orchestra for the much esteemed (and extremely well dressed) Hahn-Bin to be premiered at Carnegie Hall. I'm currently toiling away at that. The piece will then have its Canadian premiere at McGill University with my good friend Marjolaine Lambert as soloist. Also on the docket: I'm excited to be working with the fantastic director Luisa Proske on a staged production of Invisible Cities. The work is almost done now (and the audio for the penultimate scene, Adelma, is posted in the music section) and I'm very excited about transforming the work from a concert music piece to a drama. If you happen to be in North Adams, MA this summer, my piece Requiem for KV (normally for solo voice and two prerecorded voices) will be performed by three student sopranos at the Bang on a Can summer festival. I'm very excited to head up there and hear them perform it.
April 25, 2010Played a great show last tonight to a small but appreciative audience at The Big Room in New Haven. Tonight I'll be playing with my cohort Adrian Knight at Artspace Hartford at 7:30 along with a series of talented cohorts including Anne La Berge, Carl Testa, Juraj Kojs, Brian Kane, and Anne Rhodes. In very important news, my new CDEP of ambient music, entitled Five Days, is now available from Närproducerat Records (link here). It will be on iTunes, LaLa and all the other digital channels ASAP. Many thanks to my friend Viktor Timofeev for creating the art.
April 11, 2010Two things: One, I'm lucky to have been awarded a 2010 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award (press release here). Two, if you're in NYC on tomorrow (Monday, April 12) please come out to Sleeping Giant at LPR. It's going to be great. Tickets here. (PS: The concert is at 7:30, my events page notwithstanding).
March 2, 2010Spring is arriving in fits and starts here in New Haven, but with the warm weather there is much to update. First, my performance of Invisible Cities received this lovely review in the New Haven Advocate. Daniel Stephen Johnson calls the opera "a series of arresting musical moments" and "the most satisfying piece on the program." Read more here.
This coming April and May I'll have a spate of performances, both in New Haven and New York. On April 12, members of the Yale Philharmonia will be performing my piece Reading a Wave at the infamous Le Poisson Rouge in New York on a bill with works by my Yale compatriots Ted Hearne, Robert Honstein, Timo Andres, and Jacob Cooper. Tickets here.
Later that month (April 22 to be precise), the penultimate scene of Invisible Cities, Adelma, will be performed by singers and musicians from Yale on the New Music New Haven concert series.
On May 4, my new arrangement of the Charles Ives song Serenity will be heard at a Red Light New Music concert dedicated my dear teacher and the excellent composer Nils Vigeland. Tickets here.
Last but most certainly not least, the Narproducerat label will be releasing an EP of electronic works of mine in April. The release will take place at a yet-to-be determined gallery in Chelsea in NYC, and will feature a live performance with the artist Ian Campbell. Whew.
December 7, 2009
The recordings from the most recent performance of Invisible Cities are now available for streaming here. The cast, chorus, and orchestra were all fantastic, and I'm very excited about working with them in the near future.
In other news, you can download the two folk song arrangements I made for Rachel Payne and Reiko Fueting, "Tis the Last Rose of Summer" and "Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes" from the iTunes store here.
October 13, 2009I'll be giving a lecture at the Manhattan School of Music's Greenfield Hall to their composers, this Thursday, October 15, at 1:30pm. I believe it's open to the public. I'll be joined by Scott Wollschlger and Liam Robinson, fellow directors of Red Light New Music; we'll be speaking about our ensemble and its history.
September 27, 2009Correction: My Two Folk songs arrangements will actually be performed on February 4, 2009, not in October, by the fantastic soprano Mireille Asselin. Same location/time.
Small treat, a live recording of my Requiem for K.V. performed by Christiana Little at The Stone, September 4, 2009 (new studio recording coming soon!):
(right click to download, if you'd like)
Also up: new (and newly mastered) recordings of: an older (2006) work, Averno: A Fragment, my de/reconstruction of Stephen Foster's Beautiful Dreamer and the full (if scrappy) recording of Knotting and Loosening, my first orchestra piece from 2007 in a re-organized works section.
September 9, 2009This website has sadly been neglected for far too long. Much news to report in recent months: Portions of Invisible Cities were performed at New York City Opera's >VOX Festival this past May. It was a fantastic experience, and very educational. (You can read one review here. You can additionally listen to excerpts and watch a promotional video here.) From there, after coincidentally receiving my masters degree from Yale, I spent two weeks at the Virginia Arts Festivals' John Duffy Composers' Institute in Norfolk, VA, where two scenes from Invisible Cities were performed by the wonderful fellows there, and I received careful and wonderful guidance from John Duffy himself, along with Libby Larsen and Charles Wuorinen (note: two more opposing views on music are not humanly possible).
I almost immediately headed back to Yale for their inaugural Institute for Music Theatre. A truly fantastic and inspiring program, I had a devoted company entirely to my work where we more or less tore apart the libretto, revised the music, and I even wrote another scene and a half. The fantastic creative team of director Robin Guarino, dramaturg Cori Ellison (who I also got to know at VOX), and music director Julian Wachner (not to mention eight amazing singers) really helped re-shape the work for the better in innumerable ways.
After two lovely summer months in New York planning the new Red Light New Music season (our inaugural concert at the Stone this past Friday was fantastic, the soprano Christiana Little did a wonderful job with my Requiem for KV), I am now back in New Haven, beginning the intense first doctoral year, working on a thesis on computer notation, and hoping to finish Invisible Cities, which is slated for a full performance in the fall of 2010 with Red Light New Music in New York.
Also to look out for, a new CD of folk song arrangements (including two by me) featuring soprano Rachel Youngberg Payne and pianist/composer Reiko Fueting, and, eventually, a new work for the trombone quartet, the Guidonian Hand.
Two upcoming performances, one small, one big:
11/19/09 New Haven, CT. 8pm. Yale University, Sprague Hall (College and Wall St, New Haven, CT): The first five scenes of Invisible Cities will be performed by four fantastic singers from Yale Opera, a choir of singers from the Yale Institute for Sacred Music, and members of the Yale Philharmonia.
March 16, 2009More exciting news. My opera-in-progress Invisible Cities will be performed at the first Yale Institute for Music Theatre, which is a new collaboration between the Drama and Music schools here at Yale. I'll be a fellow there during June, where I'm excited to be working with some of the finest producers, directors, and dramaturges around. There's more info (and an old photo of me here).
In other news, I'm hooked on twitter.
Janurary 20, 2009Oh my, it has been way too long since I have updated this. Lots of marvelous things are in the works, which I will enumerate post haste:
- I'm pleased to say that my opera (-in-progress) based on Italo Calvino's novel Invisible Cities will be performed by New York City Opera as part of their annual VOX festival this coming May in New York. I'm orchestrating like mad right now!
(Also participating in the VOX festival is my excellent friend and colleague at Yale, Ted Hearne, whose Katrina Ballads, is an amazing and innovative work.)
- Following VOX, portions of Invisible Cities will be performed again as part of the Virginia Arts Festival in late May, where I will be a fellow at the John Duffy Composers' Institute. In addition to the performance, I will have the opportunity to work (along with John Duffy himself), Steve Reich, Charles Wuorinen, and Libby Larsen.
In addition to all of this operatic fun, the three other recent works of mine will be performed several times in these coming months:
- The excellent saxophonist Eliot Gattegno has put together an group of students from UC San Diego who will be performing my piece Variations on a Still Point (along with pieces by Andriessen, Lindberg, Xenakis, and Takemitsu) in a tour of the northeast.
- My ensemble Red Light New Music will be bringing my piece Reading a Wave to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in mid-May in a concert of works by Grisey, Feldman, and my good friends (and co-directors) Scott Wollschleger, Vincent Raikhel, and Liam Robinson.
- The excellent soprano Christiana Little will be performing Requiem for KV at the Manhattan School of Music in early April. Also look out for her as Lucy Lockit in Britten's adaptation of John Gay's the Beggar's Opera around that same period of time at the Manhattan School.
- And somehow amid all this madness, I am starting my doctorate here at Yale. More to come on all of this soon!
September 15, 2008I've done a bit of spring (actually late summer) cleaning around here as I prepare for another semester of madness at Yale. The new backgrounds for the site are all reflections on its original design, which was spawned from a photo of me in this, an installation at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas. It consists of a hundreds of pieces yellow jumprope-like material hung parallel. But the cool thing is that if you enter it, you see the world through it as if God were designing the world on graph paper (please excuse the heavyhanded metaphor). My new background images try to reflect the nature of how "grids" occur in nature — invariably straight when manmade, invariably meandering and serpentine when naturally occurring in nature.
Interesting in it of itself surely, but also something that is important to my work as a composer. In music, especially live music, the measurement of time is never straight and perfectly measured, but uneven and subjective, more like a handmade rug than a Ikea desk. In my music this often goes further, when players are called to play and count independently of one another, so that their invariably subjective judgment of time creates a mosaic different results. This is huge in pieces like Reading a Wave, but also very important in my new piece, Invisible Overture, where players all called to pulse independently (resulting in a kind of layered "almost right" sound that I'm very fond of).
Part of the reason I'm fond of it is that, in spite of everything modern, despite the fact that I often use electronics, the live performance, which with all its imperfections is more like the rug than the desk, is what composers need. Unlike many other kinds of contemporary music (pop, rock, hip-hop at least in their commercial incarnations) — you are getting the realest version of a piece by a composer when you hear it live. To me that's beautiful. I could rant on further about how this relates to Platonic realism and where ideal forms exist in modern culture, I'd rather contradict myself completely and post the recording of my new piece, Invisible Overture. If you for some reason were not able to make it to the premiere in Metz, France this past summer, it's coming to my native shores in November at Yale. More to come on that!
Orchestre National de Lorraine, Diego Masson, conductor
June 9, 2008Summer officially began on June 6th, when I mailed the score and parts of my new orchestra piece, Invisible Overture, to Paris for the Acanthes Festival, where I will be a composition fellow this coming July.
Until then, my work regiment precluded the possibility of doing almost anything except work and sleep with one notable exception: To celebrate the opening of the Stanton Chapter, a new art gallery on the Lower East Side in New York, I participated in a 24-hour improvisation session with my artist/musician friends Bryce Hackford, Viktor Timofeev, and Ian Campbell. (I only made it to the last 12 hours due to the orchestral deadline). When I arrived about halfway through, the others had settled down for quiet hours of loops and tape delays in the middle, but we re-energized for the finale, with everything from tambourines to Japanese flutes to bass guitars and slowed-down LPs generating an explosive and live finale.
I'm constantly inspired by my artist friends' conception of music because it is so similar in motivation to my own, but with such a different background. To them, Stockhausen and CAN go so naturally together, much more than CAN and Britney Spears or Stockhausen and Mozart, that the whole thing flows from genre to genre, and the effect achieved is very natural, but extremely different from the slow, agonizing process of "composing." But to me, as a composer, these sort of things are extremely valuable to inspire the work that I do, even if it sounds completely different.
Here is a summmertime treat, a brief "piece" of mine composed over the last year, which has not yet found a home on a concert, but it may wind up as part of a larger work, or colllection of electronic works. It is based on a field recording I took in Charleston, SC, while staying with some friends in the New Music Collective, a wonderful group of musicians out there. Tentatively titled Flence*, I include it here for your listening enjoyment.
*From whence, Flence? Allora, Qui:
"I told him, only half joking, about how I imagined the soul of each person, myself included, as being a sort of flexible neon tube inside. [...] So when people I like do something terrible," I said, "I just flense them and forgive them." "Flense?" he said. "What's flense?" "It's what whalers used to do to whale carcasses when they got them on board," I said. "They would strip off their skin and blubber and meat right down to the skeleton. I do that in my head to people — get rid of all the meat so I can see nothing but their souls."
—Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard
May 6, 2008The end of an academic semester always reminds me a bit of what it must feel like to be Wile E. Coyote when he's chasing the Roadrunner and suddenly runs off of a cliff: he keeps on going and going and going — and when he finally looks down, there's nothing beneath him.
The semester ends with such an odd combination of a bang and a whimper (so much work and yet so little sense of conclusion) that I barely noticed it. But certainly the highlight of the last weeks of this semester has been this past Thursday when I had the opportunity to present my music to a jury of music and architecture critics at the Yale Architecture School final critique and to follow it up with a performance of Morton Feldman's Piece for Four Pianos at 2 in the morning.
Let me explain: Recently, a few other Yale composers and I had the opportunity to consult some architects in Frank Gehry's class at the architecture school. Their project, which was an overhaul of the New York Philharmonic's current Avery Fisher Hall, resonated strongly with all of the composers (and I would have to guess anyone who has attended a concert there). In particular, I wanted to see a hall that would destabilize the sense of proscenium so common in music theaters, thus opening up the hall to a multiplicity of performing situations (spatialized works, players in the audience, etc) rather than defining the performer-audience relationship as fixed from the get-go.
This seemed to resonate very strongly with all the architects, and in fact, one of the students, Santiago del Hierro, had already designed a hall that would allow performers to be in at least seven different places in the hall. Since several of my most recent works have been spatial in setup, it seemed an ideal situation for a collaboration.
Therefore, when he presented his new design this past Thursday (to the awe-inspiring panel of Gehry, Alex Ross, Peter Sellars, Jean Nouvel, Zarin Mehta, among others), he presented Reading a Wave in the context of hall with a speaker setup simulating the work's spatial setup. I can only hope that my work resonated with the panel, but as, Peter Sellars put it (roughly), "to actually hear a new work in the context of talking about music all day long put the project in a whole new perspective."
After all this, I immediately rushed to get ready for the Yale IGIGI marathon concert (IGIGI is the undergraduate composers organization who has been hosting an all-night concert of new music every year since the 80s; these concerts were the inspiration for the Bang on a Can marathons we all now know and love) where Daniel Vezza, Andrew Norman, Matthew Wright and I performed Feldman's epoch-making Piece for Four Pianos to a sold out crowd of 11 at 2 in the morning. At which point, I looked down and the semester was over.
On the next: a short orchestral work for the Orchestra National de Lorraine to be performed at this summer's Acanthes festival, where I will be in residence and studying with one of the great masters of the late 20th century: Salvatore Sciarrino.
April 10, 2008I've posted a new recording of Reading a Wave in the music section (to replace the grainer one from the premiere) which is fresh off the press from its performance last week at New Music New Haven. I highly recommend listening to it with headphones; the recording projects the spatial setup of the players and the space in the hall much better when you can hear the panning.
One of the nicest things about living a double life as the co-director of a new music ensemble and as a graduate student at Yale is that I have the opportunity to have almost everything I write performed twice. This affords me the opportunity to tinker around with all of the things I didn't like about it on the first go-round.
I feel very lucky to have the chance to do this. Too often, I think, young composers blame themselves for the faults of their piece if the premiere goes poorly because they only have the recording of one performance. If anything, I think pieces only begin to become themselves after 2 or 3 or 4 performances; how can someone possibly understand all the complexities of their own work in a single performance? Especially with the often limited number of rehearsals new pieces receive?
Speaking of multiple performances, the amazing Daisy Press will be performing my Requiem for K.V. on the 18th and 19th of April. Check out the events section for more information.
March 20, 2008One of the most rewarding experiences that I've had recently has been working with the ensemble I co-direct, Red Light New Music, on a series of adaptations of Stephen Foster songs. The project had its genesis in a radio show that Red Light was participating in in Louisville, Kentucky. Given the theme of the show, "Lunchtime Classics," the radio station had asked us to put some "normal" music on the program.
So instead of simply throwing a Bach cello suite onto the program, we opted to rework several Stephen Foster songs (Foster in particular seemed like a good choice since so many of his songs reference Kentucky). The project had the added bonus of introducing audiences perhaps unfamiliar with contemporary music to extended instrumental techniques and elements of indeterminacy in a context they were familiar with. My realization of Beautiful Dreamer is here (as performed by Red Lighters John Popham, Jessie Marino, Natacha Diels, Kevin Sims, with guest soprano Emily Albrink):
In addition, fellow Red Light composers Vincent Raikhel and Kyle Hillbrand had a phenomenally clever arrangement of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair. This and the rest of the program (which features works by Reiko Fueting, the aforementioned two composers, and Derek Muro) can be found archived here. The whole show, including the Foster songs, will be performed live tomorrow in Charleston and on Wednesday, March 26 in New York at the Tank. More info on that here.
If you're going to be in New Haven on April 2, my piece Reading a Wave, for 9 instruments spatialized around the audience will be given its NH premiere as part of New Music New Haven, Yale's New Music series alongside works by Bryan Senti, Angel Lam, Yoshi Onishi, Andrew Norman and guest composer Ellen Taafe Zwilich.
February 14, 2008The Red Light concert this past Sunday was about as close to perfect as a concert could get. Full house, press from Alex Ross and the NY Times, and an amazing performance of my new piece, Reading a Wave, which was really well received. But I think what was most special was that this concert was to me the moment when Red Light after three years has really came into its own as a group (composers' collective? ensemble?). What's amazing to me about the group is that it puts forth the idea that music can be both sophisticated without being pretentious. The pieces on the concert were musings on the words of Plato, Rumi, Margeruite Yourcenar, and Italo Calvino. But the works were not antagonistic to an audience either. Many of the pieces were quiet and quite gorgeous soundscapes. But they also offered new sounds and ideas.
February 5, 2008My website has finally been launched.