Friday, April 15, 2011

A student looks back


Moshe Shulman, PhD candidate in composition at UB, recently shared some observations about his music.

"2011 is my last year in Buffalo, NY. Since 2007 I was studying music composition mainly with David Felder but also with Cort Lippe and Jeffrey Stadelman one semester each. During these years I wrote for brass, woodwind, and percussion ensembles, two string quartets, mixed ensembles including voice, a little piece for piano and a couple of solo pieces. Some of these were successful, some came to be tryouts, one of these even received third prize in a Composition contest in Russia in 2009.


"When the time for writing dissertation piece came, writing for a larger ensemble with a soloist was an obvious choice, mainly because I don’t have anything like that in my portfolio. Another reason for writing a piece for solo violin with orchestra was personal. I started to play violin at the age of five and writing a dissertation piece 28 years later seems like a circle that has been completed. Thanks to David Felder, this project was approved, well-advised and will be realized on April 18th, 2011 in a recording with the Slee Sinfonietta and most talented musician and a friend, violinist Yuki Numata.

"Before getting to what I wanted to achieve in the dissertation work I will try to remember what aspects of music concerned me during these years. One of the first pieces I wrote within the walls of Buffalo University was Frozen Moments for flute, violin, cello and piano. Here are the program notes of that piece:

Frozen Moments is a piece about different states of motion and motionlessness. The piece introduces different musical moments of those states as well as arrivals and departures from them. First movement deals with the sound as motion and silence as static process. Second movement is concerned with repetitions as motionlessness and the motion between the repetitions. The third movement can be actually called anything but Frozen Moment. This movement is full of energy and motion however the static quality is present on a new level. The motionlessness is present within the motion as if one runs down the street and suddenly stops for a second. Beyond that, the motion-motionlessness states are in counterpoint in that movement which gives the listener an option to hear both actions at the same time.

"Another musical aspect that concerned me was writing for a certain instrument as if it were another instrument - for example, treating brass instruments like strings. “Subito” for Brass Quintet is the outcome of that idea. My Second String Quartet was written for the Copland House Project during November 2009. My thought was to create a set of short movements that would exist within a margin of extremes (whatever those extremes might be: speed, dynamics, motion, etc.). Some movements contrast in their extremes with other movements, while others contain their diversities within.
There were many other issues during the years, of course, but these made their way into the dissertation piece that, for now, is titled Kivunim.

"Kivunim is a Hebrew word and it can have multiple meanings. But the ones I am referring to can be translated as directions, movements, goal-oriented processes. Here, in some sense, I come back to the issue I was resolving in Frozen Moments. The soloist and the ensemble arrangement distribute naturally the roles of motion and motionlessness.

"The dissertation defense will take place on May 3rd and everyone is welcome to attend, to listen and hopefully to enjoy."

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