Thursday, January 29, 2015

Performances, Commissions, Residencies: A busy Fall for UB Composers

Our composers have been up to really extraordinary things, and the Fall semester saw many of them composing new works, receiving commissions, and having works performed by some of the most skilled performers in the field.  Neither snow, nor rain, nor lake-effect thundersnow stays these composers from constantly creating new and exciting work!  Here is just a sample of what some of the group are up to:

Nathan Heidelberger has been hard at work on his dissertation, an extended single-movement work for string quartet.  The first two sections of the piece were read and recorded last Fall during the Mivos Quartet's residency at the Center, and he was enthusiastic about the results.  In addition, Nathan and pianist Daniel Walden were recently granted a Special Award from the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music (named for the virtuoso pianist who was a professor of music at UB from 1973-1993).  Nathan describes their next project:  "The grant will help support an upcoming collaborative project:  a recital-length program that will combine a new multi-movement piano solo of mine with a complete performance of the Luigi Rossi manuscript, a collection of bizarre 16th-century Italian harpsichord music that includes the only extant keyboard work by Carlo Gesualdo."  You can hear Daniel's performance of Nathan's song cycle Descriptions of the Moon, with vocalist Marine Fribourg ,below:

Robert Azaretto had two new works premiered in the Fall.  His solo piano piece, lago. paisajismo abstracto. 2., was premiered in Buenos Aires by Bruno Mesz in the gorgeous Teatro Nacional Cervantes, Argentina's national theatre.  His flute and bass clarinet duo, paisajismo abstracto. 4., was premiered at the Distat Terra festival in Choele Choel.  The latter piece was commissioned by Musica AntiquaNova for Austria's Duo Soufflé.

Matt Sargent
Matt Sargent has had a very busy Fall semester.  He collaborated on a duo concert of electroacoustic music with turntablist Dani Dobkin, which was presented at the Hartford Art School in November.  Then in December, the Ghost Ensemble performed his work Tide for nine "sliding instruments."  The Undue Percussion Duo (featuring percussionists Nick Fox and Trevor Saint) included Matt's stunning small stones in a program they played on six-city Midwestern tour in October.  Saint is a frequent collaborator of Matt's, and will be performing a new work of his for solo glockenspiel in March.  Matt will see another premiere in March:  he was commissioned to write More Snow to Fall, a work for two electric guitars and 'cello, which will be premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland.

Colin Tucker has received several commissions, and is no doubt hard at work composing new works.  Richard Haynes, clarinetist of ELISION, Weston Olencki, trombonist of Wild Rumpus/Fonema Consort, and Aaron Hynds, a tubist at Bowling Green State University all commissioned new solo works from Colin.  He also had several works performed in the Fall.  His solo saxophone work futures unmade in the boundlessness of the instant was performed at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur by Joshua Hyde, and was taken on a tour of Ohio universities by the New York-based saxophonist, Geoff Landmann.  In addition, his sound installation, voice dross, was commissioned by the Echo Art Fair, where it was installed in September.

Chun Ting Pang's Pulsating Garden—a commission by Hong Kong Composers' Guild—was premiered during the guild's annual new music festival, Musicarama, by Korea's Ensemble Eclat.  In addition, his Vocalize the Voicelessness for trombone, percussion, 'cello, and piano will have its German premiere in March by Ensemble Ascolta.  Chun Ting also became the composer-in-residence of the Hong Kong-based Zheng Quartet, ZhengMusic (the zheng is a Chinese zither).  A new commission for the quartet will be performed during this season.

Zane Merritt
photo by Megan Metté
Zane Merritt had two new works premiered in the Fall:  his chamber ensemble piece Sex-Bot (serial no. 5347) becomes self-aware and falls in love with an Allen wrench was premiered by Wooden Cities in October (read more about that performance here), and his orchestral work Dramatic Individuals was premiered by the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra in November.  This weekend, he and UB 'cello professor Jonathan Golove will premiere his Mercury Aqua Mirage for theremin 'cello and electric guitar at the SUNY New Music and Culture Symposium.  At the same event he will perform solo guitar works by fellow UB composers Nathan Heidelberger, Colin Tucker, and Meredith Gilna, and will premiere a new work by Megan Grace Beugger.  Megan will have two pieces played at this symposium:  in addition to her new guitar piece, her percussion duo Daring Doris will also be performed.  Megan is also gearing up for this year's MATA Festival in New York, which will see a performance of her piece for piano-dancer, Liason.

Several composers attended festivals and conferences in the Fall.  Su Lee was one of of eight composers selected to attend the Goethe-Institut Boston's December symposium.  There, she took part in composition workshops with composers Raphaël Cendo and Isabel Mundry.  Su was also commissioned to write a new piece for the New York-based ensemble mise-en, which the group will premiere during their 2015/16 season.  Weijun Chen's work In Search of a Shore was heard at the Composition in Asia Festival in Tampa, and he is planning on presenting other pieces at several conferences in the Spring, including the RED NOTE New Music Festival Composition Workshop (Normal, IL), the Mise-En Music Festival (New York, NY), and the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition 30th Anniversary Conference (Louisville, KY), where his string quartet, Canoe, will be performed by TALEA Ensemble.  Just this week, Weijun has been named a composition fellow at this summer's Aspen Festival.

Esin Gündüz recently revised a piece she composed for the Meridian Arts Ensemble (during their Fall 2011 residency at the Center) for performance by the Cleveland-based Factory Seconds Trio.  The revised work will be premiered at Baldwin Wallce Conservatory this spring.  She is also hard at work on a commissioned work for violists Yuri Gandelsman and Tuba Ozkan, which will be performed in September at Turkey's Mersin State Conservatory.  As the composer-in-residence at Buffalo's Friends of Vienna, Esin is writing another trio which will see an October premiere.  Also active with the Buffalo-based ResAUnance, Esin (a skilled vocalist) recently made a debut recording of folksong arrangements and original works with the improvisatory ensemble, which should be mixed and mastered by mid-semester.

Ethan Hayden had several works performed in the Fall, including his percussion quintet Clicks & Beeps, which was performed by the Concert Percussion Ensemble at Florida Atlantic University, and his four-voice arrangement of Kurt Schwitter's Ribble Bobble Pimlico, which was performed by ThingNY at two concerts in November.  He performed his (tRas) for solo voice and electronics at the INTIME symposium in Coventry, UK in October.  Ethan is also the artist-in-residence this year at the Electronic Poetry Center's annual Digital Poetry & Dance concert, at which he'll be premiering a suite of new pieces for voice, video, and electronic sounds called "…ce dangereux supplément…".

Matthew Chamberlain spent his Fall finishing a string trio commissioned by Ensemble Chartreuse, as well as a guitar solo that will soon be premiered by Zane Merritt.  Matthew is also the director of UB's Contemporary Music Ensemble, and is often hard at work preparing new works for performance with that group.

Clinton Haycraft
Several composers have been collaborating with choreographer Melanie Aceto, from UB's Department of Theatre and Dance.  Clinton Haycraft's work, Advocate, for violins, was choreographed by Aceto, and has already seen three performances throughout the Western New York area.  Jiryus Ballan collaborated with Aceto and UB percussionist Alexander Chimienti on a series of works.  After joining Aceto's modern dance class as an accompanist (Jiryus is an accomplished Buzuq player), he and Chimienti began an ongoing collaboration that began with live improvisation and eventually coalesced into 25 tracks of recorded compositions.  For Jiryus, a key part of the project was the intercultural exchange.  "I think the most important thing was the combination of different musical elements from diverse cultures.  For example, I used quarter tones in some of the tracks and employed the Maqam [a system of melodic modes used in traditional Arabic music]."  He compares this kind of compositional process to the manner in which traditional folk music is created.  "In my culture (Palestinian), the folk music was created by the people.  They repeated melodies and they remembered them by heart and with time these melodies attained their own unique characteristics."  An excerpt of some of these collaborations can be heard below:

With all this activity just last semester, we can't wait to see what's next for these composers in the coming months!

—Ethan Hayden