Saturday, April 28, 2012

Partita by Ryan Streber

Tomorrow at the counter)induction's concert, I am going to play Ryan Streber's "Partita" for solo cello.
He wrote me this piece in 2007. I have performed it at c)i anniversary concert at Merkin hall, as well as at my recitals in Japan. So I would say I know this piece quite well.... but every time I play this piece, I am inspired to play it differently each time. This piece is like walking along side of a collage. Every time I play this piece, I see different characters, colors that I didn't notice before, hear different voices. So, please come to the concert tomorrow and let's discover this piece together.

What to do with all the boxes of CDs...

For the past few weeks, we have been living with boxes of CDs and posters in anticipation of our big CD release show tomorrow on 4/29.

Since we are indeed apartment dwellers, we thought we would put them to good use!

But we really hope they all wind up played on the stereo/computer in YOUR home

Hope to see you tomorrow! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

The groove has been established

I think it's safe to say that we're now in a comfortable performance-ready groove.  This particular set of rehearsals was NOT easy to put together.  In fact, our last major rehearsal was yesterday - a whole week before the concert.  And the one prior to that was also a week removed.  Of course there are a couple of odd little ones scheduled here and there in the interim, but the performance season approaches critical mass in late April - and even with almost three months' lead time on the scheduling, we just managed to get the requisite hours booked- whew!

One advantage I've noticed about having major rehearsals spaced so far apart is the 'percolation' factor: for me at least, both technical passages and musical ideas seem to develop in a less hurried way, and age nicely with more periodic contact.  Certainly better than cramming everything frantically into the few days before the show.

Thank goodness for Skype, bringing Doug to the vantage point of Steve's piano lid for tweaks and suggestions.  Kyle managed to make it up for rehearsals on her piece, and even though I'm not in that one, all feedback so far suggests that she BRINGS IT!  Can't wait to finish up the season in both a dramatic and celebratory way.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Brief History of A Brief History

Next week, c)i will premiere the chamber version of my work 'A Brief History of Acceleration' on our CD release concert.  This is an interesting work for me to have composed at this point and in this place;– it draws on improvisational practices that have not been a significant part of my musical activities since I was an undergraduate.  The 'big band' version of the piece was commissioned by the Williams Jazz Ensemble, an ensemble that served as one of my best and favorite compositional laboratories in which to explore musical possibilities. My time with the ensemble also helped me to develop an approach to music which focused on the experience of music rather than traces of music, on the performance and the performer rather than a score or a recording.  Inevitably my engagement with the WJE and the apparatuses of musicking moved my practice on– any technical system contains within it an inescapable tendency for change. Though the aesthetic distance between my work and the aesthetics of the WJE seemed to grow, my work increasingly evidenced efforts to reproduce the character of partnership and communitarianism that my experience with WJE embodied. The aleatory and tychism of all music of the last decade is an echo of those jazz based but not bounded experiments.

This chamber version of the work has been created specifically for c)i's upcoming concert; we were looking for repertoire that would capture c)i's energy and dynamism while at the same time being a bit of a party piece.  It also struck me as a fun chance to let the c)i performers step out as improvisors in a way that doesn't happen that often in our concerts.  

The acceleration of the title evokes multiple changes in speed – the expressive accelerando and ritardando of performance, the mechanical acceleration we associate with the power of internal combustion engines, or perhaps the increase of speed that Deleuze, Guattari and Lyotard associate with the economic and technological rationalization of the world. But at root, I intend to evoke the
acceleration described in the philosophical work of Steigler and Gille – the personal experience of a technical milieu changing at an ever increasing rate, an experience in which one, as a participant, contributes to and is caught up in that increasing change.  This slippage between a controlled fall and a mad rush is to some extent heard in the changes in tempo through out the piece, but mostly through increasing density, activity, and general ferocity.

A Brief History of Acceleration is dedicated to Andy Jaffe, from whom I learned more than can be easily listed or expressed in words.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Coming up soon!

Ten days until our CD release concert! Looking forward to rehearse this weekend and get back to Kyle Bartlett's squawks and quirky rhythmic figures (and to put the instrumental parts together with her own theatrical vocalizations) and to Douglas Boyce's groovy take on big-band swing, combined with his idiosyncratic experiments with "open pulse" and aleatoric writing.

I think it's great that we are presenting these two world premieres by Kyle and Doug and a premiere by Erich Stem at the April 29 concert, while the CD itself offers previous works by these three composers. Cool to highlight the ongoingness of c)i creativity. Our composer-member Ryan Streber's Partita for cello is featured on both the CD and the release concert, at which we will also give live and lively renditions of "Dead Cat Bounce", written expressly for c)i by Eric Moe, and "Ciao Manhattan", by Lee Hyla, who has had a close association with c)i for some years. Sciarrino's "Centauro Marino" - the only work by a non-American on the CD - represents just the sort of breathtakingly vivid conjuring of a soundworld that c)i is crazy about.

Come and join us to celebrate and have a great time on the 29th!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

On Tuesday the c)i players had the first rehearsal for our April 29 CD release show, which features a new piece for piano quartet and narrator by Kyle Bartlett, as well as a new arrangement of a big band piece by Douglas Boyce. It was a thrill to rehearse these two works with the ink still drying on the page, so to speak (we received the scores days before the rehearsal).
Kyle's piece will be our second with narrator in as many months; the text, written I believe by the composer, is most striking! Serial killers, obscenity! Thrilling; I can't wait to see this come together. And Doug has given us the chance to test our jazz abilities by taking solos, comping and so on. This program is all American, but with such excellent variety. I look forward to it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

adventures in marketing

So, last week I reached the double bar line on my latest piece for the band. It's called MOTHERS and it's about Grendel's mother and an Italian female serial killer. The idea came to me last November in a hotel in New York. I was in the city for a conference on new opera, and I was thinking a lot about the way composers talk about their work to others.

Fast-forward to 12:30 am. One thing I love to do when I'm staying in a hotel is watch the gristly, spooky true-crime shows on late at night. I don't watch TV much as a rule, and the coincidence of being able to stay up late and watch whatever I want on tv feels like a luxury.

Perhaps I was subconsciously on the market for an easy-to-explain subject for a dramatic work. Once it came to me, it seemed obvious - female killers! I had been wanting to do something with the character of Grendel's mother for some time. When I read about Leonarda Cianciulli, the "Soap-Maker of Correggio" who killed three women in a deluded plan to protect her son on the battlefield in WWII, I realized that both of these women killed on behalf of their beloved sons - Grendel's mother in retribution for Grendel's death, and Cianciulli as a protective sacrifice for her son's safety. (also to make what she called some "acceptable creamy soap.") Mother-love gone very, very wrong.

I hope you will come hear MOTHERS at our next concert - 4/29, Tenri Cultural Institute. I'll be doing the sprechstimme role. It's a big party for our CD release, so you'll hear some choice cuts from that as well as this world premiere and Douglas Boyce's A BRIEF HISTORY OF ACCELERATION in a brand new arrangement. Hot.