Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Guest Composer Marcos Balter

On Friday March, 27 guest composer Marcos Balter will be presenting his recent work as well as giving masterclasses to the PhD Music Composition students at the University at Buffalo.


Marcos Balter has been praised by The Chicago Tribune as “minutely crafted” and “utterly lovely,” The New York Times as “whimsical” and “surreal,” and The Washington Post as “dark and deeply poetic,” the music of composer Marcos Balter (b.1974, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) is at once emotionally visceral and intellectually complex, primarily rooted in experimental manipulations of timbre and hyper-dramatization of live performance.
Recent performances include a Miller Theater Composer Portrait in 2018 and appearances at Carnegie Hall, Köln Philharmonie, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wigmore Hall, ArtLab at Harvard University, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Hall, Teatro Amazonas, Sala São Paulo, Park Avenue Armory, Teatro de Madrid, Bâtiment de Forces Motrices de Genève, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago. Recent festival appearances include those at Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival, Ecstatic Music Festival, Acht Brücken, Aldeburgh Music Festival, Aspen, Frankfurter Gesellschaft für Neue Musik, Darmstadt Ferienkurse, and Banff Music Festival.
Past honors include fellowships from the John SimonGuggenheim Foundation, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and the Tanglewood Music Center (Leonard Bernstein Fellow) as well as commissions from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Music Now, Meet the Composer, Fromm Foundationat Harvard, The Holland/America Music Society, The MacArthur Foundation, and the Art Institute of Chicago. His works are published by PSNY (Schott), and commercial recordings of his music are available through New Amsterdam Records, New Focus Recording, Parlour Tapes+, and Navona Records.
Highlights in 2019-2020 include guest residencies at Stanford University, Harvard University, University at Buffalo, University of California San Diego, Yellow Barn, and Egelsholm Castle, a new work for countertenor Anthony Roth Constanzo and the Shanghai Quartet commissioned by the Phillips Collection and Chamber Music America, a new work for cellist Jay Campbell and pianist Conor Hanick commissioned by the 92Y, the release of flutist Claire Chase’s live recording of “Pan” at Meyer Sound Studio, and performances by theJACK Quartet, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Constelation Chor, nois saxophone quartet, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony’s Soundbox Series, and others.
Recent collaborators include the rock band Deerhoof, dj King Britt and Alarm Will Sound, yMusic and Paul Simon, Orquestra Experimental da Amazonas Filarmonica, American Contemporary Music Ensemble, American Composers Orchestra, and conductors Susanna Malkki, Steven Schick, and Karina Canellakis.
Having previously taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Northwestern University, Lawrence University, Columbia University, and Columbia College Chicago, he is currently an Associate Professor of Music Composition at Montclair State University and a guest scholar at the University of Pennsylvania (Fall 2019). He currently lives in New York City.




Marcos Balter: Descent from Parnassus (2012) from ICE on Vimeo.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Guest Composer Timothy McCormack

Timothy McCormack (1984) writes haptic, viscous music which makes audible the tactile, physical relationship between a performer and their instrument. Sometimes ecstatic, sometimes hermetic, his music embeds pitch within dense walls of noise to create strangely affecting sonic ecologies which alter one’s perception of time.

He has been commissioned by ensembles and organizations such as the ELISION Ensemble, Ensemblekollektiv Berlin, Klangforum Wien, the JACK Quartet, musikFabrik, Curious Chamber Players, the [Switch~ Ensemble], the Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, the impuls Festival, and ON – Neue Musik Köln. His music has also been performed by Ensemble Recherche, Ensemble Dal Niente, the TaleaEnsemble, Ensemble Nikel, and ensemble mosaik, and programmed on the MATA, Wien Modern, Darmstadt, Huddersfield, Maerzmusik, and TRANSIT festivals. He has forthcoming releases of his work on the Kairos and Huddersfield Contemporary Records labels.
                photo: Manu Theobald                   

McCormack is the recipient of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation Composers’ Prize (2018). He won the Impuls International Composition Competition (2019) which resulted in a new work for Vienna’s Klangforum Wien. He was also awarded the George Arthur Knight Prize (2014) for his piece you actually are evaporating, as well as the John Green Fellowship (2017) for his “demonstrated talent and promise as a composer,” both from Harvard University.
On Friday, February 14th, Dr. McCormack will host a masterclass with several of the University at Buffalo PhD composition students and will present a lecture on his current composition interests and projects.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Recent Graduate Student Professional Activities

Graduate composers at the University of Buffalo pursue many professional opportunities both at UB and outside of the university. We would like to celebrate the achievements of our current and former UB graduate composers by sharing their recent accomplishments.

Recent UB graduate Igor Marques performed his PhD Dissertation, Noturno (2018), with contemporary music ensemble Elision. A recording of the performance can be found here. Dr. Marques is now a Clinical Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the University at Buffalo where he continues to compose and focus on teaching and research.
  






Alex Huddleston’s string quartet, I found a few configuartions//some stripes, was performed by the Mivos Quartet and was the winner of the 2018 Kanter Prize. Alex has received several commissions including from percussionist Steve Solook entitled how quickly for forget An Adolescence for drum set and a commission from trombonist Juna Winston for his duo project “Blechtrommell” for trombone and percussion. Huddleston is a music critic for Cambridge University Press’s TEMPO and has had several works presented as topics in lecture settings at UB, particularly of note was his work ThePreservation III in Musicologist Seth Brodsky’s lecture “Is there
music after analysis”.

John Aulich has had several opportunities to work with contemporary music ensemble Elision. He composed a piece for lap-steel, Uilleann pipes, and double bass for Elision which was workshopped last summer and received a request from Elision to compose them a second piece for bass clarinet, bassoon, cello, trombone, and saxophone. This new piece will be premiered May 2nd in Melbourne at the Melbourne Recital Center which will be attended by John for the performance and a recording session.





In May 2019 Ka Shu Tam’s work, Beyond the Frontier of the Great Wall for SATB Youth Choir was premiered in Hong Kong and will be commercially published this year. Tam also had a work premiered in June 2019 by the Arditti Quartet during the Bilkent Composition Academy in Ankara, Turkey entitled …IntoDirt…. This coming April 2020 Tam’s string trio, Flux, will be premiered in Christchurch, New Zealand during the International Society for Contemporary Music and Asian Composers’ League Conference.





Edgar Girtain IV was appointed Director of La Casa de las Artes for the Universidad Austral de Chile in Puerto Montt in June where he conducts the Symphonic and Chamber Choirs, and maintains a piano and composition studio. In October, Edgar premiered a four hand piano concerto with Ximena Vasquez on a concert featuring several new works by North American composers. Edgar’s choir toured Schubert’s G Major Mass with a full string orchestra and in January Edgar will be doing some educational programs with a local wind band and performing several premieres with ensemble Nucleo Experimentacion Sonora Chiloe directed by Alejandro Lavanderos.



Jessie Downs's current focus is composing and producing her new opera The Second Sight. The opera's first performances will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo on June 27th 2020 at 7pm, and June 28th 2020 at 2pm. In 2019, Jessie was awarded both a Dissertation Fellowship and a Mark Diamond Fund award to help support this project. Additional fundraising is underway. In November, a piano transcription of a scene from the opera's third act – Diskana’s Lament - was commissioned by and premiered as a musical offering at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo. Jessie was a participant in the 2019 June in Buffalo Festival, and her ensemble - the Sotto Voce Vocal Collective - presented performances of her opera's second scene as well as a new mass by Brien Henderson. In April, her 2016 duet for piccolo and prepared piano, shadow a thing, was performed on a UCSD graduate student recital featuring Michael Matsuno. Jessie also continues performing regularly as a soprano soloist. Recent performances include Britten's "Ceremony of Carols," Hensel's "For the Feast of St. Cecilia;" scenes from Verdi's Rigoletto (as Gilda) and La Traviata (as Violetta) presented on programs hosted by UUCB, Buffalo Master Choral, and Nickel City Opera; and the soprano duet from Alex Huddleston's "The Sonnets" with Julia Anne Cordani for the 2019 MUGSA symposium.



During the fall semester, Joel Kirk, wrote a piece - "Titration" - for the Yarn/Wire Ensemble which was workshopped and recorded by them during their residency at the University at Buffalo in November. He has also been working on an acousmatic piece for electronics and multimedia - "Rust" - with visual artist Eloise Shaw which will be completed in the coming months. Joel is currently writing a string quartet for the Arditti Quartet’s Buffalo residency in April and is also in talks with the UK-based Leyland Brass Band towards writing a piece for them to perform later in 2020.




Ruixing Wang is a classical music composer and also works as a pop music producer. Recently he has been collaborating with local Buffalo musician Carly Beth to create an original pop song. Back View was recently published in Chinese media and has over 500 thousand online plays and downloads.





Alex Buehler conducted a performance of his work Z/28 for 16-piece trombone choir at the International Trombone Festival in Muncie, IN, in July 2019. In October, his work Obsolescense for open instrumentation and improvised electronics was performed by composer/violinist Dr. Andrew May at CEMIcircles International Electronic and Experimental Music Festival 2019. Recently Alex was commissioned by the Amorsima String Trio as a part of their new music miniatures concert series which will take place in June 2020.



In Fall 2019, Su Lee’s dissertation composition "Die Radikalen Tasten", a concerto for organ with keyboard ensemble, written specifically on our own tremendous Fisk Op.95 organ at UB, received attention for the innovative and radical aspects of its organ repertoire. It was premiered at her dissertation fundraiser concert with the support of the Mark Diamond Research Fund and generous donations from the Buffalo/WNY community. An audience of approximately 150 attended. (A recording is available on YouTube). After successfully completing her defense, she is expecting to receive her PhD in composition in February 2020.


Matias Homar has performed in a tour of Argentina in June and July with the Imaymana Duo and was a special guest speaker at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata for the composition department and also gave a workshop in composition for the IV Jornadas Musicales de Formacion Instrumental y Vocal in Salta, Argentina. Homar also completed new works Dans av Hjerter fra Nord for the Norwegian group Current Sax and Metamorphosis for Ensemble Mise-En. This year he is recording and producing Imaymana Duo’s 2nd CD to be released in July and writing a new work for Ensemble Mise-En and the ECI Ensemble to be premiered in August in La Plata, Argentina.


Tyler Adamthwaite is a Presidential Scholar at the University at Buffalo and a graduate of both Colorado State University and Brandeis University in Buffalo. In the Fall of 2019 he had a recent composition workshopped and recorded by New York-based Ensemble Mise-En.




Tomek Arnold received the 2019 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award for his work Non-AggressiveMusic Deterrent in May. In September 2019 his composition Are you a Vineyard? was premiered by the Mivos Quartet at the Academie Voix Nouvelles in Royaumont Abbey.










Friday, November 22, 2019

Ensemble Mise-En Residency at the University at Buffalo


Ensemble Mise-En will be in residence at the Center for 21st Century Music at the University at Buffalo from Friday, December 6 through Sunday, December 8 for a graduate composition workshop and two rehearsals of David Felder’s Jeu de Tarot 2. Ensemble Mise-En is a New York-based contemporary music collective led by composer Moon Young Ha. Comprised of talented young musicians, their personnel strives to bring a repertoire of challenging new sounds to diverse audiences. Mise-En wishes to impart an experience that is simultaneously multicultural and intellectually and aesthetically pleasing. As a collective, the multinational personnel has coalesced around a real aesthetic agenda, crystallized in the name “mise-en”: “mee,” in Korean, means “beauty,” and “zahn,” “to decorate,” and the group unabashedly promotes “beautiful” artwork to increasingly diverse audiences of contemporary sounds.

Ensemble Mise-En

The ensemble promotes large-scale, dynamic performances of contemporary music featuring the works of established and budding composers. Since its inception in 2011, Ensemble Mise-En has collaborated with such esteemed partners as Washington Square Contemporary Music Society, International Alliance for Women in Music, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, Open Meadows Foundation, New York University, New York Foundation for the Arts, I-Park, Goethe-Institute Boston, Villa Gillet (FR) and others. To date, the ensemble has presented a total of 281 pieces, including 114 works written for the group, and 86 US/NY premieres. The ensemble has performed at exciting venues such as (le) poisson rouge, Bohemian National Hall, Italian Academy, the DiMenna Center, Tenri Cultural Institute and the cell.

Mise-En will read, workshop, and record new compositions by PhD. students Tyler Adamthwaite, Matias Homar, Kenneth Tam, and Richard Wang during their residency. 

Adamthwaite’s composition for alto flute, clarinet and bass clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, and piano is titled Silent Embers. The work is based on a poem that he wrote:

“The process of node flowing to path.
The feeling of ruminating.
A particular image.
Emotion. Idea. Identity.”

Homar’s composition is Metamorphosis, based on Kafka’s homonymous text. He has used the text to derive the musical elements, from the formal structure to the motivic ideas both in the melody/harmony as well as in the rhythms. The three sections of the piece develop the idea of metamorphosis by transforming the elements from more ’simple’ to more ‘complex.' The use of the live effects, as well as the way in which the sonic objects accumulate throughout the two thirds of the piece, is a way to represent the idea of metamorphosis following his own interpretation of the story being told by the author of the text. It is scored for flute, clarinet, percussion, and electronics.

Cover of Kafka’s short story, The Metamorphosis

Tam has written his composition, Path of Earth, for a large chamber ensemble of flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, viola, and cello. Tam’s program notes for his piece are,

People seek for an ideal world. We hope for peace and freedom. We hope to live a calm and simple life. For that, people fight. Riots are all over the world, using aggressive and complicated means to achieve the ideal living conditions. There is no real utopia. Humans themselves are the subject of complexity. Where there are people, there are problems. We try to fix those problems, but we should also admit there is no way that we can reduce the world into an ideal simplicity. Most of us recognize the nature of the world. Why do we still hope for utopia? Why don’t we try to embrace the complexity? Why should we have to frame the world into simple forms and structures? The world needs a variety of people to maintain its function. If we could truly accept the nature of the world, we might be able to find at least a path to a temporary utopian moment among the complexity.”

The North Side of Li Mountain, written by Richard Wang, is composed using multi-tonal scales and neo-romantic stylings. Wang is a Chinese composer who was raised in northwestern China and has always had an interest and passion for mixing folk and historical music in his works. His piece tells stories of the Li Mountain from the Qin Dynasty to present day. The composition is scored for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, percussion, and piano.

All four works will be workshopped on Friday, December 6th and then recorded by Mise-en on Saturday, December 7th. Mise-en’s residency at UB will conclude on Sunday morning.