Black Mountain Songs, co-commissioned by BAM and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, will receive its world premiere on November 20 with performances through the 23rd. Featuring new music by Jherek Bischoff, Bryce Dessner, Tim Hecker, John King, Nico Muhly, Richard Reed Parry, Caroline Shaw, and Aleksandra Vrebalov (performed by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Choral director and conductor Dianne Berkun-Menaker), the piece invokes the creative spirit of the fabled Black Mountain College. We caught up with co-curator and featured composer Bryce Dessner to pick his brain about his work and this special run of concerts.
Bryce Dessner – Photo by Anne Mie Dreves
Do you consider yourself to be a guitarist first or a composer first? How does your classical guitar pedigree inform your works for voice, orchestra, and chamber ensemble?
I actually grew up learning music on the flute and piano and switched to guitar later as a teenager because I wanted to play in a rock band. Shortly after I started studying classical guitar which eventually led me to contemporary music and studying composition at Yale. A lot of my early experiences as a professional musician were playing contemporary music by composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass on electric guitar. I don’t really think of myself as a guitarist or composer first, they are both essential parts of me. Like most composers who have an instrumental background, the guitar is my primary instrument and it is still what I play best. I have been ‘composing’ for a long time, and my interest in instrumentation has expanded naturally as I’ve written more music and I have been given access to larger ensembles and orchestras. Writing for chorus, and especially the young singers of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, has become one of of the greatest experiences of my musical life.
[Read more →]
Posted by Jarrett Goodchild »
On Saturday, November 8, the San Francisco Symphony (Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor) will perform Samuel Adams’s Drift and Providence, a 19-minute orchestral piece co-commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and the New World Symphony, and funded in part by the Composer Assistance Program of New Music USA. We talked to Adams about it.
Samuel Adams – Photo by Nathan Phillips
Getting to work with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas must be extremely exciting and a huge feather in your cap. What were some of the challenges you faced, both internally and externally, when writing Drift and Providence for the San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony?
Yes, it is a privilege working with this wonderful group of musicians. I am so glad that MTT, the San Francisco Symphony, and New World prioritize the support of young artists.
The project’s genesis was through New World Symphony directly. Each year, the organization curates an evening of new work. In 2012, I was asked to create a piece to be presented alongside the work of composers Marcos Balter, Amy Beth Kirsten, poet Malachi Black, and visual artist James Nares.
[Read more →]
Posted by Jason Charney »
At Roulette, on Sunday, October 26, the Paul Dresher Double Duo will perform Double Ikat Part 2, Dresher’s invented instrument duo Glimpsed From Afar, John Cage‘s Six Melodies for Violin & Keyboard Instrument and Martin Bresnick‘s Fantasia on A Theme By Willie Dixon. TwoSense performing the world premiere of Dresher’s three movement duo for cello & piano Family Matters. We asked 5 questions to Dresher.
Paul Dresher – Photo by Andrew Constantini
When you are composing for traditional instruments or those of your own invention, are the processes different? Do you find yourself adapting the language of one onto the other?
A composer always has to be very conscious of the instruments they are writing for and when working with invented instruments, it’s really no different. One has to understand what the instrument and the performer are technically capable of and then one builds one’s work in relationship to that. Of course, because my approach to inventing instruments sometimes results in – when I’ve been successful – musical resources that are not easily produced by conventional instruments, one has to be well aware of how those resources interact well, or not, with conventional instrumental resources. For example, the Quadrachord – because of it’s long string length (140 inches) and low open string fundamental pitches (at the bottom of the piano range) – is able to easily and with complete pitch accuracy play the intervals of harmonic series up to the 24th harmonic and beyond. But it is very limited when it comes to playing accurately in equal temperament. So, when I compose for the Quadrachord in combination with other traditional instruments, I have to be continuously aware of the contrasting intonational resources and thus I’ve had to develop some unique strategies in order to make such instrumental combinations possible.
[Read more →]
Posted by Arlene & Larry Dunn »
Matthew Gallagher is a multifaceted artist working in a wide range of visual and sonic media. An Oberlin grad (Studio Art and Technology in Music and Related Arts), he is rapidly gaining traction in the Cleveland art world and is a frequent performer in the burgeoning experimental music scene.
Matthew Gallagher at 3 Door Studios, Oberlin (photo: Will Roane)
Your artistic instincts take you in multiple directions, what is the underlying aesthetic that motivates your work?
Discovery is the key word. No matter what media I’m working with, the process must be experimental, generative, and uncover more questions than answers. As an artist, I think of myself as a facilitator of reactions. My work is very formulaic, in that I design specific variables and then process them with some sort of chance influence to create a product. It’s an empowering spiritual practice for me. It allows me to pursue hypotheses and experiment in a non-institutional framework.
[Read more →]
Posted by Thomas Deneuville »
Tomorrow night, MATA will hold its annual Benefit at Tibet House (tickets are still available) and will honor two of new music’s leading advocates: Robert Sirota and Steve Smith. We decided to talk to MATA’s recently-appointed artistic director: Du Yun (first name: Yun, last name: Du). Born and raised in Shanghai, China, and currently based in New York, Du Yun is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and performance artist, working at the intersection of orchestral and chamber music, opera, theater, cabaret, pop music, oral traditions, visual arts and noise. We had 5 questions. She had five answers.
First of all, belated congratulations on your appointment! What do you hope to bring to MATA during your tenure?
Thank you. It was beyond my delight to succeed Yotam Haber’s position at MATA.
MATA has reached an all time high in its number of submissions and its scopes of initiatives. However, the artistic vision will stay the same, which translates to: never the same, ever so new, indefinable and tirelessly creating shifts. And I hope to continue building a tight community for our MATA composers, MATA musicians, MATA artists, and our MATA Alums.
Music, more than ever, is equally about creating content as well as presenting a context. In that regard, MATA also function as a presenting organization. We are thinking about ways we could pioneer in presenting that vigorous duality; we are thinking about how do we reflect and challenge, champion and advocate our composers’ ever shifting and diversifying attributes in their creative practices.
[Read more →]