Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Anna Clyne: Collaboration and dialogue

The second in our series of June in Buffalo Senior Composer profiles is dedicated to another first-time faculty at the festival: Anna Clyne. Born in London, Clyne is a Grammy-nominated composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music who has been described as a "composer of uncommon gifts and unusual methods" in a New York Times profile and as "dazzlingly inventive" by Time Out New York,
Her work often includes collaborations with cutting-edge choreographers, visual artists, filmmakers, and musicians worldwide.

(Anna Clyne)

Clyne has served as composer in residence for several important American and European orchestras, such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (2010-2015), the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (2015-16), the National Orchestra of Île-de-France (2014-2016) and the Berkeley Symphony (2017-2019). The Scottish Chamber Orchestra recently announced Clyne as its Associate Composer for the next three years, through the 2020-2021 season. She has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, BBC Radio 3, BBC Scottish Symphony, Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Houston Ballet, London Sinfonietta, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, and the Southbank Centre, and her work has been championed by such world-renowned conductors as Marin Alsop, Pablo Heras-Casado, Riccardo Muti, Leonard Slatkin, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Clyne, a member of the compositon faculty at Mannes / The New School, was nominated for the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for her double violin concerto, Prince of Clouds. She is also the recipient of several prestigious awards including the 2016 Hindemith Prize; a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; awards from Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Jerome Foundation; and prizes from ASCAP and SEAMUS. Recent premieres include Restless Oceans with the Taki Concordia Orchestra and Marin Alsop at the World Economic Forum; Beltane with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard; Three Sisters, her mandolin concerto for Avi Avital and the Kremerata Baltica; Pocket Book VIII for Roomful of Teeth; Threads & Traces for 100 cellos, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and performed at Disney Hall; and her violin concerto, The Seamstress, performed by Jennifer Koh with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall, and with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Center, London.

This year's edition of June in Buffalo will feature three of Clyne's works. On their June 5th concert, the Mivos Quartet will play Roulette, a work from 2007 for string quartet and tape, whereas on June 8th, Ensemble Signal will perform Just as they are, for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (all amplified), and tape. The works have something in common besides the use of fixed media: both tapes include vocal sounds (breath sounds and melodies sung by vocalists Caleb Burhans and Martha Cluver in Roulette and a recording of John Cage in Just as they are).

(Clyne's Roulette)

Last but not least, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will play Clyne's Within Her Arms, for string ensemble, during their matinee concert on June 9th. The work, which has been described by Alex Ross as "a fragile elegy", was premiered in 2009 by the LA Philharmonic conducted by Esa-Peka Salonen, and is dedicated to the composer's mother.

(Clyne's Within Her Arms)

Monday, May 20, 2019

Lei Liang: Using music to free the imagination

This week we begin our series of Senior Composer profiles for the 2019 edition of June in Buffalo by presenting the work of Lei Liang, whom we are happy to welcome in his first visit as Festival faculty. Born in China in 1972, Liang has authored works that have been described as “hauntingly beautiful and sonically colorful” by The New York Times, and as “far, far out of the ordinary, brilliantly original and inarguably gorgeous” by The Washington Post.

Winner of the 2011 Rome Prize, Lei Liang has received other important distinctions, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Aaron Copland Award, a Koussevitzky Music Foundation Commission and a Creative Capital Award. His concerto Xiaoxiang (for saxophone and orchestra) was named a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music. He has been commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, the Taipei Chinese Orchestra, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, the Heidelberger Philharmonisches Orchester, the Thailand Philharmonic, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, the Fromm Music Foundation, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, the National Endowment for the Arts, MAP Fund, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Manhattan Sinfonietta, Arditti Quartet, Shanghai Quartet, the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, New York New Music Ensemble and Boston Musica Viva.

(Lei Liang)

Lei Liang studied composition with Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Robert Cogan, Chaya Czernowin, and Mario Davidovsky, and received a Bachelor's and Master degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music and a PhD from Harvard University. He taught in China as a distinguished visiting professor at Shaanxi Normal University College of Arts in Xi'an; served as honorary professor of Composition and Sound Design at Wuhan Conservatory of Music and as visiting assistant professor of music at Middlebury College. He is professor of music at the University of California, San Diego, where he served as chair of the composition area and Acting Chair of the Music Department. Starting from 2018, Lei Liang serves as the Artistic Director of the Chou Wen-Chung Music Research Center in China.

Seven portrait discs with his music have been released on several specialized labels, along with more than a dozen compilation discs. Between 2013 and 2016, Liang served as Composer-in-Residence at the Qualcomm Institute, where his multimedia works preserve and reimagine culture through combining advanced technology and scientific research. In 2018, Liang returned to the Institute as its inaugural Research Artist-in-Residence.

Also active as a scholar, Liang has published articles in many specialized magazines, including Contemporary Music Review (on the music of Chinese composer Xiaoyong Chen), Sonus, and the Journal of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. He has particular interest in the research and preservation of traditional Asian music, but his texts also examine issues at the intersection of national identity and music, as he did in "About being Chinese", which provides an interesting discussion of the place of Western Classical music in contemporary Chinese society. Liang himself, however, conceives music as "a way to free one's imagination from the artificial confines of cultural identities".

During June in Buffalo, local audiences will have several opportunities to hear Liang’s music. On June 5th, the Mivos Quartet will play Serashi Fragments, from 2006. The title is a reference to a Mongolian musician from the last century whose work Liang helped preserve by co-producing a release containing his historical recordings. Although not an imitation of the Mongolian traditional music that inspired it, the center section of the Liang's quartet does contain a brief allusion to this repertoire. The work has enjoyed an active performance history: after its premiere by the Arditti Quartet is has been taken up by JACK and the Left Coast Ensemble, among other groups.

Liang's piano solo My Windows will be performed at Dal Niente’s evening concert on June 7th by Winston Choi. The work is in four movements, titled Tian, Seven Rays of the Sun, Magma, and Pausing, Awaiting the Wind to Rise… Finally, on June 8th, Signal Ensemble will perform Aural Hypothesis, from 2010, a composition for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and vibraphone. The composer has described the piece, which was inspired by a comment made by Chou Wen Chung and is dedicated to him, as “a quasi-fantastical study on how lines may find expression in sound.”

(Liang's Seven Rays of the Sun, from My Windows)

Friday, May 3, 2019

June in Buffalo 2019 Participant Composers Announced

The June in Buffalo Festival is pleased to announce that 25 talented emerging composers have been selected from a distinguished pool of applicants to participate in this year's festival. Their names are listed below, with additional information about their pieces featured at the festival. 

Charles Colwell (CUNY): (re)voicings, for fl, cl

William David Cooper (Walnut High School for the Arts): Dyptich, for fl, cl, perc, vn, vc

Georgi Dimitrov (University of Southern California): Growing Bell Peppers, for fl, ob, cl, bsn, hn, tpt, tbn, tba, perc (2), pno, vn (2), vla, vc, cb

Jessie Downs (University at Buffalo): Excerpt from The Second Sight Act I, Scene 2, The Rain Scene, for sop (2), ch (SSAABB), fl, cl, eh, hn, perc, hp, pno, vn, vc, db

Miles Friday (Cornell): A Corpus Resounding, for pno, vn, vla, vc, cb

Eren Gümrükçüoglu (Duke): Bazkir, for string quartet

Brien Henderson (University at Buffalo): Missa Brevis, for ch (SATB), ob, cl, perc, vn, vla, vc, cb

Manuel Hernandez (CUNY): Field of Change, for fl, cl, perc, pf, vn, vc

Scott Kehoe (Peabody Institute): In a restaurant, for sop, pno

Jihyun Kim (Rice University): A Gentle Whisper, for afl, bcl, pf, vn, vc

Tonia Ko (University of Chicago): Hum Phenomenon, for cl, pno, vn, vc

Vasiliki Krimitza (NYU): Gra-V, for fl, cl, perc, pno, vn, vc

Dongryul Lee (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign): Unending Rose, for string quartet

Joungmin Lee (Ohio State University): Abandoned, for fl, cl, pno, vn, vc

Christopher Mitchell (Arizona State University): Spaces Between, for fl, cl, vn, vla, vc, cb

Bryndan Moondy (University of California Santa Cruz): Entwined to Fray, for string quartet

Reagan Mullin-Martin (Peabody Institute): Nimbus, for bcl, pf, cb

Zvonimir Nagy (Duquesne University): Anima Animae, for string quartet

Qi Shen (University of North Texas): The Voice of Mountains, for string quartet

Jinwei Sun (University of California Santa Cruz): Quintet, for perc, vn (2), vla, vc

Ka Shu Tam (University at Buffalo): Reaction II, for vn

Joseph Vasinda (University of California Davis): Mikro Atmos, for vn

Mengmeng Wang (University of Wisconsin Madison): Dream, for fl, cl, pno, vn, vc

Kyle Wernke (Missouri University of Science and Technology): Trio, for pno, vn, vc  

Hua Xin (New England Conservatory): Moon is a Distant Bear, for fl, cl, pf, vn, vc