Sunday, March 31, 2013

Catching up with composer and UB alum Otto Muller...

We were happy to sit down and catch up with University at Buffalo alum Otto Muller recently – Otto Muller completed his Ph.D. in music composition in 2008 after studying here as a presidential fellow, and has since gone on to become a member of the faculty at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. He has enjoyed a very active career as a composer and has had pieces premiered all across the globe, including the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy, the Zvuk i Vryska (Sound and Relation) Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the Tzlil Meudcan Festival in Tel Aviv, Israel. Otto also keeps busy as a scholar, and has recently presented a paper on semiotics and music composition at the College Music Society Northeast Conference, as well as a paper on the critical pedagogy of John Cage at the Future of Cage Conference in Toronto. We asked Otto to get us up to speed on his life since the University at Buffalo, and fill us in on his recent projects:
Otto Muller

“Since graduating from Buffalo, I’ve been teaching at Goddard College, which has been a pretty amazing opportunity, as it allows me to operate from a place of authentic uncertainty rather than any sort of feigned conviction. I work one-on-one with all kinds of different artists: musicians, photographers, printmakers, poets, etc. and in each case it’s about dialogue, designing some sort of inquiry alongside the student, a set of sources, a practice of experimentation and documentation, and then modeling critical thinking in the way that I engage with their work. 

“The program at Buffalo has been integral to my understanding of pedagogy and individualized education. I definitely felt like everyone was doing something different – there was no institutional “style” – but the imperative that we operated under was an idea of critical engagement where you were expected to know whatever musical discourse you were engaged in (be it graphic notation, microtonality, interactive media, etc.), but also to resist the orthodoxies within it and carve out some new approach. I think that David Felder does a really amazing job at fostering this ethos and pushing students to grow without dictating the direction of their maturation.

“This imperative has certainly shaped my writing, where I feel I am always in a process of new learning, seeking out ways to explore extramusical ideas within musical syntax and abstraction. For example, a news story about Libyan defectors being buried alive in bunkers at a military base, and being liberated by rebels who heard their muffled voices really stuck in my head. Apparently they dug holes everywhere because they continued to hear imaginary voices. The resulting piece, Inhumati (beautifully performed by Duo Stump Linshalm at the Tzlil Meducan Festival), is an orchestration of difference tone melodies that are created by high microtonal harmonies in the clarinets.” 

You can hear Inhumati, as well as several other pieces by Otto Muller, on his soundcloud. We’ll be looking forward to some upcoming premieres from Otto as well – a string quartet to be premiered by the Formosa Quartet in July, and a trio for Cello, Harpsichord, and Percussion to be premiered in Toronto in September. We’ll be sure to check back with Otto periodically to follow his developments as a composer and educator.  

Link to this post here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

David Felder's Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux premieres at Slee Hall April 23rd!

David Felder
photo by Irene Haupt
The Center for 21st Century Music is thrilled to announce to the world that the premiere of David Felder’s Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux, commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation, will be premiered at the University at Buffalo’s Slee Hall at 7:00 p.m. by a large assortment of musicians – not only the SIGNAL Ensemble with a variety of guests which total to a 35-piece orchestra, but also soprano Laura Aikin, bass baritone Ethan Herschenfeld, and 12 channels of electronics. We spoke to Felder about Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux last year, which is based on, among other texts, the writings of the esoteric French poet of René Dumaul. You can read our feature interview with him about his thoughts on the piece here. Also, please check out his new wikipedia page here.

The Buffalo News has issued a great press release, written by Patricia Donovan, featured below:

British music critic Hans-Theodor Wohlfahrt has written of composer David Felder that “he combines his deep knowledge of the past and the present with a constant searching on a philosophical, human and musical level – a Gustav Mahler for the 21st century."

Felder, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Birge-Cary Chair in Composition at the University at Buffalo, is an internationally acclaimed composer of contemporary music, with his works known for their highly energetic profile, lyrical qualities, and his use of technological extension for the elaboration of musical materials.  His work masterfully combines widely ranging materials in surprising way, achieving a new synthesis.

On April 23, the UB Office of the President and the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music at UB will present the world premiere of Felder’s “Les Quatres Temps Cardinaux,” a complex song cycle for two solo voices, a 35-piece orchestra and 12 channels of electronics.  It represents the pairing of the composer with two celebrated performers: dynamic soprano Laura Aikin, and bass baritone Ethan Herschenfeld.  Felder wrote the piece specifically for their voices.

Ensemble SIGNAL

The April 23 concert will begin at 7 p.m. in Lippes Concert Hall, Slee Hall, UB North Campus.

Advance tickets are available at the UB Center for the Arts box office 716-645-ARTS (716-645-2787). Prices are $12 (general public), $9 (alumni, faculty, staff and seniors), and $5 for students.

Tickets also may be purchased at the Slee Hall box office on the night of the performance and will be $20 (general public), $15 (alumni, faculty, staff and seniors) and $8 (students). The box office number is 716-645-2921.

The premiere will be the focal point of a two-day program that marks the start of a new university tradition, which President Tripathi is introducing as a way to celebrate the university community’s rich and thriving legacy of innovation and distinction in the arts and letters.  Other programming being held as part of this celebration include a rehearsal open to the campus and local community; a brown bag lunch discussion with the composer, conductor, and musicians; a panel discussion with faculty and students focusing on the interpretation of texts as works of art; and an alumni-sponsored reception and Q&A with the composer and performers.

“UB has a long and storied tradition of creative excellence and innovation at the vanguard of the arts,” said UB Satish K. Tripathi.

Laura Aikin
“This event is a wonderful opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the outstanding individuals who embody this tradition, from David Felder’s visionary achievements in contemporary composition, to the expression of that vision by world-renowned alumni like Laura Aikin and the distinguished faculty performing in the Slee Sinfonietta, to poets like the late Robert Creeley, whose voices are woven into the performance in surprising and remarkable ways.  I am very much looking forward to what will surely be an evening to remember.”

The program will open with “Tweener,” a 2010 Felder composition for solo percussion, electronics and large chamber ensemble.  The soloist will be Thomas Kolor, assistant professor of music at UB and one of the country’s top young specialists in late 20 century American percussion music.

The orchestra for both compositions will comprise ensembles dedicated to the presentation of contemporary chamber orchestral music, the acclaimed Ensemble Signal, conducted by world-renowned Brad Lubman, and the Slee Sinfonietta, the flagship professional chamber orchestra of the Morris Center.

Both works employ electronics, with “Tweener” utilizing the KAT mallet controller as an addition to the wide variety of traditional percussion instruments that make up the battery of resources used in the solo part.

Ethan Herschenfeld
One of the most important elements of “Les Quatres…” is the poetry that Felder has incorporated into the piece.  It includes the eponymous “Les Quatres Temps Cardinaux,” a poem composed by French poet René Daumal near the end of his life.

Daumal’s early career emphasized the conversion of poetry into a form of theater in which speech, gestures, breath, voice stops and other elements of performance form a totality.

“Later,” says Felder, “after his contact with ancient Hindu texts that detail the aesthetic purposes of poetry and theater, Daumal reconsidered his purpose, and his late poetry is simple, profound and luminescent.  ‘Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux’ is one of his last two poems, and alludes to times of the day, the four elements, the four seasons and the four corresponding ages of life, emphasizing the trans-personal.

We’re excited that such a large, complex, and deeply thought-out work from an innovative American composer and commissioned by a highly respected commissioning foundation can be featured at our very own Slee Hall and feature such respected performers and musicians. Tickets will be limited and in high-demand, so please reserve yours in advance. Hope to see you there!

Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux
April 23, 2013, 7:00 p.m. in Lippes Concert Hall, Slee Hall, UB North Campus.

Advance tickets at the UB Center for the Arts box office: 716-645-2787
General Public: $12
Alumni, Faculty, Staff, Seniors: $9
Students: $5

Night of the performance:
General public: $20
Alumni, Faculty, Staff, Seniors: $15
Students: $8

Contact the Slee box office at 716-645-2921.

Link to this post here.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Percussionist Patti Cudd comes to Buffalo to perform music by UB composers and offer a master class

Patti Cudd
We’re looking forward to welcoming all-star contemporary percussionist and UB alumna Patti Cudd to the University at Buffalo later this month for an exciting two-day residency. Her visit here will kick-off with the Hiller Computer Music Studios annual Electroacoustic Black Box concert in the Black Box Theatre in the Center for the Arts on UB’s North Campus, at 7:30 p.m., on Wedesnday, March 27th. For the concert, Cudd will perform a program of pieces for percussion and electronics written by University at Buffalo composers, both past and present. The next day, Cudd will give a master class to UB graduate percussionists where they will discuss and workshop approaches to performing and interpretting contemporary percussion music.

The press release from the Hiller Computer Music for the Black Box concert follows:

“The Hiller Computer Music Studios of the UB Department of Music will present its annual spring "Black Box" concert of electro-acoustic and computer music next month, featuring works for percussion and electronics played by internationally recognized performer Patti Cudd. A member of the new music ensemble Zeitgeist and professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Dr. Cudd has given concerts and master classes throughout the United States, Korea, Thailand, China, Mexico, and Europe and has worked closely with some of the most innovative composers of our time, including Brian Ferneyhough, Morton Feldman, Roger Reynolds, Pauline Oliveros, John Zorn, and Frederic Rzewski.

Flyer for the Black Box Concert on March 27, 2013
“This year's black box concert will feature pieces by composers from throughout UB's history, including works by current and former faculty, students, and alumni. Dr. Cudd herself received her Master of Music Degree at UB, where she studied with percussionist Jan Williams. A wide variety of pieces for a wide variety of percussion instruments will be performed. UB associate professor Cort Lippe's Duo for Cajón and Computer is composed for the titular Afro-Peruvian instrument, a box-shaped drum on which the performer sits and plays by striking the box's front face with her hands. Current Ph.D. student Ethan Hayden's In Wahrheit saß ein buckliger Zwerg darin… is composed for the kalimba, a hand-held thumb piano from the Sub-Sahara. Works by UB alumni Jeff Herriott and Brett Masteller take two very different approaches at expanding the repertoire for bass drum and electronics while alum Barry Moon's Snare Alchemy explores and expands on the timbres of the solo snare drum. Former UB visiting professor Richard Dudas' piece will feature, among other instruments, the West African djembe, and rounding out the program will be an electroacoustic piece by alum Kostas Karathanasis entitled Trittico Mediterraneo.

“As a percussion soloist and chamber musician, Dr. Cudd has premiered over 150 new works, and this year's Black Box concert will feature five works composed especially for her, including two premiere performances by Dudas and Hayden. Put on with support from the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music and the UB Music Department, the concert will take place at the Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre on Wednesday, March 27th, at 7:30 p.m. Entrance is free.”

If you'd like to get a glimpse of Patti Cudd performing some contemporary music for percussion and live electronics, check out the video below of her interpretation of Cort Lippe's 2010 piece Music for Hi-Hat and Computer:

Hope to see you at the concert!

Link to this post here.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Composer Josh Levine travels in from Oberlin College to present his music

We’re looking forward to hosting prominent Oberlin-based composer Josh Levine for a lecture and discussion later this month on Wednesday, March 27th, when he will present his music and share his recent projects. Levine has enjoyed an exciting and productive career as a composer, and won awards, prizes, and fellowships from a wide variety of international festivals and competitions, including the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (Premier Prix and special jury prize), Darmstadt Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (Stipend Prize), both the Gluck and Weill Fellowships for Composers at the University of California, San Diego, a lengthy composer residency at the Foundation Patiño/Republic of Geneva in Switzerland, and many more.

More information about Josh Levine’s work and career can be found in his biography, included below:

Josh Levine
“American composer Josh Levine (b. 1959 in Corvallis, Oregon) trained in Switzerland as a classical guitarist before studying composition there with Balz Trümpy. Further studies took him to the Paris Conservatory (1985-86 with Guy Reibel) and IRCAM (1994-95). After several years working in Europe as a freelance composer and guitarist, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, where his thesis adviser was Brian Ferneyhough. From 2000 to 2008, he lectured in composition, electronic music, and music theory at San Francisco State University and has also taught composition at UC San Diego and Stanford University. Currently he is Assistant Professor of Composition at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.
“Josh Levine’s tape composition, Tel, received First Prize at the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition in 1987 and a Euphonie d’0r in 1992. His music has been commissioned and performed internationally by prominent new music soloists and ensembles, including Magnus Andersson, Aiyun Huang, Marcus Weiss, Jürg Wyttenbach, the Arnold-Huang-Rosenkranz trio, Calliope Duo, Ensemble Contrechamps, Les Solistes de l'Ensemble Intercontemporain, and the Ensemble Intercontemporain under David Robertson. Numerous other excellent musicians have performed his music in venues ranging from IRCAM and the Cité de la Musique in Paris to Merkin Hall in New York, and from festivals in Melbourne and Los Angeles to World New Music Days in Stockholm.

“In addition to his composing and work as an educator, Josh Levine has long been active as a guitarist in new music ensembles. He participated in many concerts and broadcasts with the noted Swiss ensembles Contrechamps and the Ensemble der IGNM-Basel, and, more recently, performed as soloist with the Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain. He has also played concerts with members of the sfSound Group (San Francisco), SONOR (San Diego) and in the Akoe quartet for improvised music.”

Below is a video of a great performance of Josh Levine’s work, Breathing ritual (Inflorescence V), commissioned for the soundSCAPE faculty trio, and premiered at the 2012 soundSCAPE festival in Maccagno, Italy, by soprano Tony Arnold, percussionist Aiyun Huang, and pianist Thomas Rosenkranz. More of Levine's music can be heard on his website.

Link to this post here.