Thursday, February 17, 2011

Aaron Cassidy: going places, coming home

Composer/conductor Aaron Cassidy is coming home. A proud product of UB's composition program, where his mentor was David Felder, Cassidy has been a Senior Lecturer in Composition at the University of Huddersfield in the UK since 2007. His career has been flourishing, with performances by ELISION, Ensemble SurPlus, musikFabrik, Ictus Ensemble, ensemble recherche, and other prominent groups; his music is featured at the Donaueschingen, Ultraschall, Warsaw Autumn, Huddersfield, Darmstadt, and Gaudeamus festivals, along with the ISCM World Music Days. His works have been played in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Austria, the Netherlands, Croatia, England, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal, Poland, Thailand, New Zealand, and Australia. ELISION has made two recordings of his music, with more to come. 

Cassidy returns to UB on February 23 for a residency that will include compositional masterclasses and seminars, lectures, and performance coaching. He will join the JACK Quartet -- a group that has long advocated his music -- for a composer reading workshop on February 25. (More about JACK's visit in an upcoming post.)

Cassidy's music can be characterized by an uncompromising dedication to instability and fragmentation. The received wisdom of performance practice is continually questioned and reasserted, often with intentionally unpredictable results. His recent works have experimented largely with the interaction of a performer with his/her instrument, introducing a decoupling of component performance techniques through a variety of extended tablature notations. Fracture is prioritized in timbral, structural, and rhythmic strata in such a way that resulting aural units are themselves only the byproducts or collisions of independent (and often cyclic) musical processes. The musical score becomes, then, both the locus of processual sediment and concurrently the cause of significant deterritorialization on the part of performer and listener alike.

Recent projects have included significant research of linguistic, semantic, and spatial theories, focusing in particular on heightened states of dislocation (as in Jakobson's analysis of aphasics or Deleuze and Guattari's writings on smooth and haptic space). It all may sound a bit abstract, but there's no denying the visceral impact of pieces such as I purples, spat blood, laugh of beautiful lips (2007). 

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