Thursday, September 18, 2014

UB Composers have been up to Great Things!

Summer is often a very exciting and active time for composers, and that's especially true for those here at UB.  This past summer saw many of our composers having works performed, and participating in conferences, festivals, and seminars in the US and abroad.

Colin Tucker
Colin Tucker had a particularly busy summer.  While attending the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music, he presented a lecture recital with renowned Australian saxophonist Joshua Hyde.  The lecture dealt with issues of notation, interpretation, and performance practice in the solo pieces that Colin wrote for him (including futures unmade in the boundlessness of the instant).  In May, Colin had his newest piece, not this (2014) for bass flute, bass clarinet, saxophone, piano, percussion, mezzo-soprano, and strings premiered by the French ensemble, soundinitiative, in Paris.  Finally, his chamber piece, engulfed, constrained in a widening gap (2013), which was premiered at last year's June in Buffalo festival, saw three performances this summer, including two by the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble.

Su Lee also traveled to Europe, as her Melting Crystal for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, and 'cello was a winner of the Kazimierz Serocki International Composers’ Competition in Warsaw, Poland.  In addition, her exciting large ensemble piece, Soundless Cry, was performed at the Mise-en Music Festival in New York. 

Chun-ting Pang was also at this festival, which saw the US premiere of his Vocalize the Voicelessness for trombone, percussion 'cello, and piano.  On the festival’s last day, Chun-ting flew to Finland to attend Sävellyspaja 2014, an annual composition masterclass in Porvoo. While in Finland, he studied with Jukka Tiensuu, Jouni Kaipainen, and Tomi Räisänen, and heard the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra perform his piece, The Flowers Appear on Earth. Later, Chun-ting was privileged to be one of the fellows at the Composers Conference at Wellesley College, a course led by Mario Davidovsky, Steve Mackey, and Augusta Read Thomas.  At Wellesley, Chun-ting revised Vocalize the Voicelessness, which had a successful performance at the conference’s final concert. 

For the past year, Nathan Heidelberger has had the honor of being the first ever composer-in-residence for Oerknal!, a new music collective based in The Hague. The culmination of this partnership took place in June, a portrait concert of Nathan’s music called Lunatics!, featuring his pieces, My Hands Are Empty (which was premiered by the Slee Sinfonietta in April 2012), Descriptions of the Moon (his epic song cycle for soprano and piano), and Breather, a brand new sextet composed for Oerknal!. You can hear some live audio from the performance here.  “It was deeply rewarding to work closely with such a phenomenal great of young performers,” Nathan said, “and I'm looking forward to future collaborations with them.  I was grateful to received support from The Center to help cover my travel expenses.”

Juan Colón-Hernández traveled to Valdeblore, France for the Zodiac Festival, where his trio for clarinet, 'cello, and piano, Sobre el camino y otras cosas, was performed.  While there, he took master classes with composer Andrew List.  Later, Juan's string quartet, A Discontinuous Flux, was awarded third prize at the Malta International Music Competition where he participated in master classes with composer/performer John M. Kennedy.  Finally, Juan's solo guitar piece, Tropos, was selected as part of the 12th Annual Festival of Contemporary Music in San Francisco.

Weijun Chen
Weijun Chen's Canoe for string quartet was premiered by the Freya Quartet at the Charlotte New Music Festival.  Inspired by the poem 'I Am a Canoe' by the Misty Poet, Cheng Gu, Canoe won 2nd prize in the University of Louisville's Frank Robert Abell Young Composer Competition for New Chamber Music.  The reviewer, Perry Tannenbaum, said of Weijun's piece, "Strands of melody broke loose from the quartet harmonies as the score replicated the drift, the loneliness, the longing, the emotion, and the despair of the poem. Toward the end, there were ethereal passages that jumped beyond the template of the poetry and showed that Chen, unlike many of his contemporaries, is unafraid of lingering in intense expression."  Weijun's music was also celebrated when his wind ensemble piece, Distance, won the Hat City Music Theater's American Prize.

Wooden Cities prepares to perform in Cleveland, OH
Other UB composers packed up and took their works on the road.  Buffalo's up-and-coming new music collective, Wooden Cities—which features a number of UB composers among its members—played a five-city DIY tour across the Rust Belt that included performances in university concert halls, experimental theaters, indy bookstores, and even a dive bar. In addition to performing works by Berio, Eastman, Ives, and Zorn, the ensemble's performances were bursting with new music from UB composers, including Ethan Hayden's (tRas), Nathan Heidelberger's Occasionally, music, Zane Merritt's The Reputation, and Matt Sargent's Tide, in addition to UB faculty composer Jeffrey Stadelman's Koral 8.

Megan Beugger
Several other UB composers had eventful summers.  Matt Sargent's large-scale glockenspiel solo, Saint, was premiered by its namesake, percussionist Trevor Saint at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.  Matt also began an appointment as visiting lecturer in composition and electronic music at the Hartt School of Music.  Megan Grace Beugger spent the summer working on a new piece for her dissertation, as well as editing her Liason for piano-dancer, which was performed by Melanie Aceto at Hallwalls in late July (many of you will remember this intriguing piece from June in Buffalo 2013).  In addition to a performance of his bats with baby faces in the violet light at the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival and performances with Wooden Cities, Ethan Hayden saw the publication of his book on Sigur Rós's ( ) by Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series.

All in all, a remarkably busy summer for our composers!  We can't wait to see what's next for them this year!

—Ethan Hayden