Friday, October 26, 2018

Welcoming new students

The UB Composition doctoral program is delighted to welcome three very talented composers, with unique aesthetic backgrounds and diverse geographical origins. We’ll take this opportunity to get to know them and their work, as we look forward to the music they will create in the coming years.

Although originally from New Jersey, Edgar Girtain comes to Buffalo from Chile, where he has been living with his wife for the last few years. Edgar writes music for orchestra, voice, and chamber ensembles. When the opportunity permits, his art is meditative and often has an explicit philosophical message. His motivation to create comes from a dual desire to lead both himself and his audience to truth and enlightenment. His influences include the minimalism of Steve Reich, modernism's use of color and texture, the philosophical/spiritual discourse of Brahms and the expression of carnal pleasure from contemporary popular music.

Strongly interested in music's potential as a source of social improvement and community building, Girtain has been active as a performer, music teacher and choir conductor. When asked about a musical experience that was important for him, Edgar mentions choral singing: "Singing with the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York completely changed my approach to music. Nikolai Kachanov, the director, is an amazing musician--a man of vision, talent, passion--who opened my eyes to a way of making music that I had never encountered before. The past few years for me have been completely shaped by processing, working through, and fleshing out the many, many fascinating ideas I encountered singing there."

(Edgar Girtain)

With respect to his work as a composer, Girtain is resolved: "Though the style of my music varies from piece to piece, I always strive for originality and a clear affect. I tend to write for the moment; I think more about specific performance contexts, and collaborative relationships, than necessarily "achieving" anything with my music. My more frequently performed works lean conservative (go figure). But whenever I get the chance to write for stellar players who are down to try new things, I definitely search for novel sounds and ways of pushing the notation. In general I prefer writing for genres that lack substantive repertoire. (women's choir, brass groups, violin quartets, anything with organ, etc)."
Below is a recording of his 2013 work Trio, for flute, violin and violoncello:

Born in Manchester, England, in 1992, John Aulich is a composer, performer and recording artist. Before coming to Buffalo to study with David Felder, he has studied extensively with Bryn Harrison and Aaron Cassidy at the University of Huddersfield. His work has been performed across England by artists such as Richard Craig and Tom Bell. In addition, he has participated in workshops with Philip Thomas, Peter Veale and Carl Rosman. John’s most recently finished projects include a miniature for the flautist Kathryn Williams and his second record as one half of the improvising avant-garde sort-of-Jazz band Aulich/Wood trio, released on Silent Howl. As a performer, John was heavily involved in the premiere performances of Tim Parkinson’s experimental opera, Time With People, at City University, London Contemporary Music Festival and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

(John Aulich)

"My most recent work has mostly been focused around visceral feelings (of empathy, of disgust, of frustration, etc.)" states John, while mentioning 
the physicality of performance and the ontology of musical materials as other areas of interest. "I try to creatively reimagine instruments: the flute is a snorkel, the timpani is a loom. I think of my music as an interacting network of forces constantly weaving a qualitative fabric of sensation: structural, formal, notational, physiological and psychological elements working in tandem to rupture or bind, make ambiguous or clarify, and propel or freeze the experiences of engaging with it either as a listener or performer. I am interested in the social and material relations brought about by various forms of notation and the sounds it gives rise to. For me, the music inscribed in my scores is incomplete without the input of performers and listeners: I try to invite people to become entwined with its interiority rather than gaze upon its surface."
Flesh brittle as I can think it, for two electric guitars, is a recent composition by John.

Matías Homar comes to Buffalo from Argentina. Originally from Salta, in the north of the country, Matías started studying electric guitar at the age of 14. By the age of 17 he went to the School of Fine Arts at the University of La Plata in Buenos Aires. There he began his formal music studies, which he finished with the degree of Professor of Music and Graduate in Composition.
He has presented works for soloists, small ensembles, and electroacoustic music, with particular attention to the saxophone. As a performer, Homar has been active in new music concerts, but he has also been part of several popular music groups, among which were a tango ensemble, a children's music band and the Imaymana duo, where he filled the roles of composer, arranger, guitarist and double-bassist.
As a scholar, Homar was a member of the Tonal Musical Language research group at the University of La Plata, where he worked on the music of folk composer "Cuchi" Leguizamón. He presented his conclusions at the last IASPM-LA Musicology Congress in Cuba, in the summer of 2016.

(Matías Homar)

In Buffalo, Matías has been able to hit the ground running: "This year has begun with great opportunities for me by writing a piece for HANATSU Miroir Ensemble and by collaborating with Mary Sullivan, who is doing her M.F.A in Dance at UB. I’m also very enthusiastic on expanding my boundaries as composer, musician and human being by getting to know and work with very interesting people. As a student I know that I will be pushed and motivated to go further in my education and knowledge by taking courses and lessons with amazing professors and composers. As a TA I am excited about learning new ways to deepen my pedagogical practice and my theoretical knowledge from the professor in charge of the course. And as a musician/composer I am sure that I will be experiencing new ways in which I will have to study harder and prepare myself more thoroughly to be up to the challenge of writing and performing music."

Matías shared with us his Dans av de Nordlige Stjerner (Dance of the Northern Stars), for saxophone duo. The work was written for Anja Nedremo and Morten Norheim, and it was premiered at the Nordic Saxophone Festival earlier this year. This piece is based on the structure of a traditional folkloric dance from the northern region of Argentina, and it involves a symbolic reinterpretation of its melodic, rhythmic, formal and choreographic features. In its origins, this traditional music was a representation of courtship between lovers; the final moment, with both lovers looking into each others' eyes, symbolizes the encounter of their hearts.

Edgar, John and Matías join second year student Tomek Arnold, a Krakow-born musician who has been working and living in the US for several years. Tomek's areas of musical interest include: composition, percussion performance (solo and collaborative), electronic music and improvisation. In his work he tries to develop a language of understanding that can function across a variety of genres and musical expressions. Five times winner of international solo marimba and percussion competitions between 2006 and 2011, Tomek has performed as a soloist and ensemble member in Poland, USA, Germany, Lithuania, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Croatia, Switzerland, Mexico and China. Before coming to UB, Tomek earned an MA in composition from Wesleyan University, an MM in classical percussion from the Manhattan School of Music, and Bachelor of Music degrees in percussion and composition from the Eastman School of Music.

(Tomek Arnold)

Dance and Noise, the work Tomek shared with us, shows multiple sides of his musical personality: composer, performer, improviser, and programmer.

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