Monday, April 16, 2012

J.T. Rinker on his work as a composer, installation artist, and Managing Director of the Center...

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with J.T. Rinker, the Managing Director of the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music, and catch up with some of his recent projects. J.T. maintains an active communications network of musicians, ensembles, and composers all over the world, organizes the Center’s concerts all year round, and maneuvers all of the complex logistics of the June in Buffalo Festival. On top of his managerial activities, J.T. is also an accomplished trumpeter, composer, and artist in a wide variety of mediums.

J.T. Rinker

J.T. describes some of his recent pieces and installations, “I’ve been revisiting my piece for crotales and electronics, frigate, for the recent Slee Sinfonietta concert and working it into a more portable version. I’ve also been working on a ten-string guitar piece for Magnus Andersson that has progressed, bit by bit, every time Magnus comes to Buffalo. The piece is tentatively titled trace, and is a continuation of my examination of braiding patterns to create musical materials. In trace, I map out an imagined matrix where the guitar strings, as well as the frets, are intricately braided together, and the intersections of the braided frets and strings create the pitch material for the piece. Even the sequence and the order of activity on the strings are created out of braiding patterns. A premiere of the piece has not been scheduled but Magnus has imagined a program where trace could appear with other recent works by composers with Buffalo connections – including Aaron Cassidy's electric guitar piece and a recently commissioned ten-string guitar piece by Elliot Sharp.

“This year I’ve been doing a lot of composing, in contrast to last year when I was working more on installations. I had a piece that was exhibited at the Burchfield Penney, in response to a request from the curator, Stefani Bardin, who was looking for artists that dealt with senses other than sight. The first of those projects focused on sound, so I decided to create a piece that dealt with the phenomenon of bone conduction, which is another way of experiencing the vibrations of sound. The installation itself was a long thin aluminum bar that was connected to the voice coils of four deconstructed speakers that vibrated the aluminum bar. The way in which you experienced the sound being projected through the aluminum was by placing your forehead against the bar. It’s similar to how you can strike a tuning fork and place it on your cranium to hear the pitch.

Tom Kolor performing J.T. Rinker's frigate

“Managing the Center for 21st Century Music can be a lot of work, but it also provides fuel for creative projects – the musicians and artists that come through are always inspiring, and of course the concerts the Center produces are deeply stimulating. I love talking with the performers and composers that come for residencies here. The research I do with David Felder for his creative projects is continually educational, and has lead to collaborations with people like Olivier Pasquet. Olivier and I are currently working on a set of MAX patches that deal with algorithmic rhythm generation, which we call “jtol”. It’s a library of MAX patches for generating different types of rhythms, based on tree structures [more information on jtol can be found here].

We asked J.T. about some of the other perks of being at the Center, “Though it is a lot of work to manage and organize all of the various activities, like June in Buffalo and the Slee Sinfonietta, there are definitely some fringe benefits to working at the Center. Such as, for example, when the JACK Quartet, SIGNAL, and Helmut Lachenmann were in residence, I had the opportunity to sit in on the dress rehearsal of Lachenmann’s 2nd String Quartet with JACK, and it was just the six of us. I remember Lachenmann saying, ‘the audience must not make any sound… Wait, I take that back – they can cough, and rustle around, and make small noises, but they are not allowed to breathe.’ While listening to the run-through, I realized that Lachenmann was right – the piece breathes for you.”

Check out the video below of Ryn Ozaki playing J.T. Rinker’s frigate as part of the “A Musical Feast” concert series at the Albright Knox.

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