Thursday, May 2, 2024

June in Buffalo 2024: Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon

Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon will return to the University at Buffalo as a senior composer for the 2024 June in Buffalo Festival. Zohn-Muldoon held the prestigious visiting Slee Professorship for the UB Music Department in fall 2020 and is the current Chair of Composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.  

Zohn-Muldoon spent his early music career performing and composing in Guadalajara, Mexico before relocating to the United States to study music at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Pennsylvania. His work has received international accolades and awards, including the Mozart Medal from the Austrian Embassy in Mexico, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Tanglewood Music Center, and Mexico’s Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte. In 2011, Zohn-Muldoon's scenic cantata Comala (2009) was named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Music. Inspired by the Mexican writer Juan Rulfo (1917-1986), Comala captures his compositional style—vivid colors swirling with complex rhythms and contrasting moods, often spurred through his readings and personal introspection.

Below is a recording of the Center for 21st Century Music's first "Pan-Americana" concert on October 17, 2023. We had the tremendous pleasure of hosting Zohn-Muldoon, whose piece, Páramo (1999), concluded the program. During the interview with guest conductor Christian Baldini (1:34:44), Zohn-Muldoon describes his intense connection to literature and how this manifests within the music (The performance of Páramo follows the interview, beginning at 1:56:05).

Slee Sinfonietta's "Pan-Americana"
October 17, 2023

Zohn-Muldoon cites the performers realizing his works as crucial to his creative voice, leading to the establishment of Zohn Collective in 2017. His collaborators include Tony Arnold, Molly Barth, Stuart Gerber, Dieter Hennings, Hanna Hurwitz, Daniel Pesca, Paul Vaillancourt, Colin Stokes, and Tim Weiss.

Candelabra IV performed by Duo Damiana
Molly Barth, flute
Dieter Hennings, guitar

For more information and a complete list of his works, visit Zohn-Muldoon's website.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

With Great Anticipation: June in Buffalo 2024

 The 2024 June in Buffalo Festival promises a vibrant and provocative week of new music and new relationships. Senior composers Jonathan GoloveKarola ObermuellerHilda ParedesAmy Williams, and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon will work with dynamic emerging composers (announcement forthcoming) throughout the week of June 9-15. The festival boasts a week of intense creative and scholarly work, including lectures, masterclasses, workshops, seminars, and public concerts featuring esteemed new music ensembles and individual performers. The Center looks forward to welcoming the Arditti Quartet, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Slee Sinfonietta, and Switch~ Ensemble, as well as vocal soloists Tiffany DuMouchelle (soprano) and Nicholas Isherwood (bass-baritone). 

The Center for 21st Century Music remains steadfast in its mission for June in Buffalo: to stimulate the production of new works, thereby expanding our collective understanding of music and challenging musical conventions. The care and intensity undergirding the festival bespeaks the University at Buffalo’s greater new music tradition, which includes numerous composers and music academics.

Morton Feldman (1926-1987)

The potentialities available to new music in Buffalo attracted Morton Feldman, an influential new music composer of the late 20th century. Feldman organized the inaugural June in Buffalo in 1976 and directed the proceeding four festivals. His former student, David Felder, whose legacy as a composer and pedagogue reverberates on university grounds to this day, revived the festival in 1986. The festival is now overseen by cellist-composer and University at Buffalo faculty member, Jonathan Golove. Throughout its history, June in Buffalo has presented us with both the grandeur of a multigenerational music tradition and the invigorating promise of new art, and this year will be no different.

Monday, April 22, 2024

UB Composers in Action

This Tuesday, April 23 at 7:30pm in Lippes Concert Hall, the extraordinary saxophonist Kyle Hutchins will premier works by the University at Buffalo composition students William Brobston, Maria Lihuen Sirvent, Jackson Roush, Chi-Yen Huang, Francisco Corthey, and Thomas Little. These pieces are the result of Hutchins’ year-long residency at the University, during which time he worked with students on their pieces for this concert and performed Tiffany Skidmore’s The William Blake Cycle, a saxophone opera in five acts, as well as her opera the golden ass (Read more about The William Blake Cycle here and the golden ass here).

Projection from The William Blake Cycle
Photo from Tiffany Skidmore's website

The spring semester also saw an incredible feat by Skidmore’s composition studio, in collaboration with Duo Gelland and Buffalo String Works on April 10 of this year. Buffalo String Works, a local non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the musical education of the community's primary school age children of refugee or immigrant families (read their mission statement here), premiered pieces by composers Francisco Corthey and Jonathan Rainous with Duo Gelland. The duo also premiered pieces by James Falzone, Chi-Yen Huang, Thomas Little, and Tyler Sebastian. (Read more about the UB composition students here.)

Portions of this concert will be performed again on Wednesday, June 5 at 6pm in Lippes Concert Hall. Both concerts are free and open to the public.  

Francisco Corthey (UB composition student)
Martin Gelland and Cecilia Gelland, Duo Gelland
Mason Cancilla (conductor and UB alumnus)

Buffalo String Works students
Photo courtesy of Francisco Corthey

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

From the College of Arts and Sciences: Ming Tsao Appointed as Birge-Cary Professor of Music Fall 2024

 The Center for 21st Century Music is thrilled to welcome composer Ming Tsao to the University at Buffalo. Professor Tsao will be joining the ranks of the senior faculty of the Department of Music in the fall of 2024, and we await his leadership of the vital composition program at UB with great anticipation!

Tsao's artistic philosophy challenges the hierarchical structure of Western art music, forming bridges between genres, techniques, and expressive disciplines from across the world. For more information, visit his website.

Click here to view the College of Arts and Sciences official press release.

Slee Sinfonietta Pan-Americana Part II

 The Center for 21st Century Music looks forward to an electrifying concert by the Slee Sinfonietta on Tuesday, April 16 at 7:30pm in Slee Hall under the baton of Prof. Jaman Dunn-Danger. Featuring the works of Lukas Foss, Su Lian Tan, Chou Wen-chung, and William Kraft, this performance takes as its point of departure the pan-American theme from the Sinfonietta's October 17 concert, now turning our attention to musical interactions between America and Asia.  


German composer and conductor Lukas Foss established what became an intimate connection to Buffalo’s music culture after his arrival in 1963 to direct the Center for Creative and Performing Arts at the University at Buffalo and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Foss’s compositional style shifted from Western neoclassicism to experimental in the mid-twentieth century.  

Lukas Foss

An elegy for distinguished Japanese composer, Toru Takemitsu, For Toru cycles through moods of tender sorrow and longing, punctuated by flickers of joy. Foss evokes grief and signals Takemitsu’s musical lineage through the flute’s melody, which features bent pitches and contrasting soft, fluttered, and sharp articulations. Though the work is overarchingly tonal, Foss provides few moments of resolution, alluding to Takemitsu’s enduring influence.

Toru Takemitsu

William Kraft was an American percussionist and composer whose works reflects a variety of genres, including serialism and experimental jazz. The recipient of several awards and grants—a fellowship from the Guggenheim and Ford Foundations and several awards from the Kennedy Center among them—Kraft dedicated his career to absorbing new techniques and creating new music performing ensembles.


Encounters V, “In the Morning of the Winter Sea” channels the form and mood of Carl A. Faber’s homonymous poem. To capture the cautious optimism of a soul recovered, Kraft uses starkly contrasting dynamics, juxtaposing articulations for both cello and percussion, and drastic temporal shifts. The piece exhibits his connection to a variety of musical traditions through instrumentation, including an array of four tam tams from Asia. Kraft's influences bespeak the common interests of West Coast composers and performers who borrowed from Asian traditions, including major figures with whom he collaborated, such as Lou Harrison and John Cage.