Thursday, October 24, 2019

Welcoming New Students

The University at Buffalo doctoral program in music composition is delighted to welcome four 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.

Tyler Adamthwaite is a composer and performer who writes music which seeks to explore the existential and affective aspects of space through sound. This has led him to study linguistics, social theory, and architecture to write pieces that draw on the concept of being. Some of his biggest sources of inspiration come from the Japanese aesthetic philosophy of spacial design which give his music a shadowed quality. He has studied composition with Erin Gee and David Rakowski at Brandeis University, where her received his MFA. While there, he participated in numerous festivals as a composer fellow and has garnered attention for his sound design, resulting in being a collaborator in “White Rush,” an opera in one act by the creative team of John Aylward and Laine Rettmer. As a performer, Tyler has studied violin and stage movement. He has crafted multiple works that include the affective use of space including his solo set Interior||Exterior for solo man, organ, and electronics. His movement works have been hailed as being “haunting, and cleverly developed” by his movement mentor Susan Dibble. He is currently pursuing his PhD in music composition and theory from the University at Buffalo under the instruction of David Felder.

Below is a video of Tyler’s composition InteriorExterior for organ.

Colorado born composer Alex Buehler (b. 1991), earned a Bachelor’s of Music Education and a Bachelor’s of Music in Composition and a minor in trombone performance during his time at Colorado State University where he studied composition with Dr. James David, jazz composition with Mr. Will Swindler, and trombone with Colorado Symphony Orchestra Principal Bass Trombonist Mr. Gregory Harper. Alex taught k-5 general music and beginning band for 3 years in southern Colorado while continuing to composer for chamber ensembles and educational materials for his students. In 2017 Alex enrolled in the Music Composition program at the University of North Texas and studied primarily with Dr. Kirsten Broberg and Dr. Joseph Klein. He earned his Master’s of Arts in Music Composition in 2019 and enrolled in the PhD. program at the University of Buffalo where he continues his studies with Dr. David Felder.

Alex has had his works performed by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, CSU Percussion Ensemble, CSU Concert Band, Webber Middle School, The Ralston Valley High School Chamber Orchestra, Harpist Rachel Ellins, Oboist Elizabeth Sullivan, the NewEar Ensemble, Violist Michael Hall, soloists and chamber ensembles at UNT, and the UNT Lab Bands. Alex’s Music has also been performed at the Electric LaTex Festival, Charlotte New Music Festival, International Trombone Festival, and CEMIcircles International Festival of Experimental Music and Intermedia.

Sunrise: Mind-Numbing Day of Noise (2017) draws significant influence from the Hindustani raag Bhairav, a traditionally morning raag. For me, the morning is not a gentle waking experience; it is an abrupt slap in the face ripping you from a blissful state of non-existence into a mind-numbing day of noise. The music reflects this, as it slowly transitions from soft noise-textures to frantic melodic trading between the two voices. Eventually, the shock of waking is passed and a return to bliss is achieved. This piece was written for Violist Kathleen Crabtree and Clarinetist Dr. Aileen Razey.

Joel Kirk (b. 1996) is a musician currently studying for a PhD in composition at SUNY Buffalo under the tuition of David Felder. He previously studied at the University of Huddersfield under Aaron Cassidy, attending masterclasses with composers such as Bryn Harrison, Liza Lim, Rebecca Saunders and Evan Johnson. He has had his pieces workshopped and performed by ensembles such as ELISION, loadbang, line upon line percussion and the SEM Ensemble, and soloists such as Roberta Michel (flute) and Joshua Hyde (saxophone). He was one of seven composers selected for the SEM Ensemble’s 2018 “Emerging Composers Workshop” with Petr Kótik and has had a paper published in the Fields 2018 issue.

[internal resistance to flow is named viscosity] was Written for loadbang in the Summer of 2017, [internal resistance to flow is named viscosity] evokes the image of a thick, churning, viscous liquid evaporating into a gaseous imprint of itself. The piece has a strong mechanical grounding that is manifested in the process through which pitch, rhythm, and tempo in particular unfold in the score; layers of process are superimposed and encrusted into each-other, forming a dense, grotesque body of interference through which the limbs of its constituent parts poke out. The text for the work is taken from Guillaume Apollinaire’s series of six poems collectively entitled À La Santé, making use of poems I-IV of said six. The poems were published as part of the Alcools collection in 1913, written after Apollinaire’s short tenure at La Santé Prison (Paris) in 1911. À La Santé contains running themes of both physical and mental imprisonment, vividly capturing both the literal and metaphorical effects of incarceration on the mind of the poet

“[Viscosity is] a measure of the flow transport behaviour of a fluid. It is the phenomenon
in which a fluid will withstand a slight amount of molecular tension between particles,
which will cause an apparent shear resistance between two adjacent layers.
The term ‘viscosity’ is used to describe the fact that certain fluids flow easily,
such as gases, water, and mercury, while others do not, such as tar, treacle, and glycerine.
These fluids are broadly classified as thin and thick fluids.”

- Carl Schaschke, 2014

Ruixing Wang (Xia fu yu xiang, the meaning is summer’s fragrant), born in Ningxia, Yinchuan in 1994. Richard completed his undergraduate studies at the Xi'an Conservatory of Music, majoring in solfeggio and composition theories (2012-2016) and Master’s at SUNY - Fredonia.  Now he studies at SUNY - Buffalo in the Music Composition PhD program.  He started Learning the piano at the age of 6, began to self-study classical composition at the age of 8. From 2015 - 16 Richard followed the composer Dr. Wang Lu (Guggenheim Award winner, graduated from Columbia University, now teach at Brown University) to learn modern composition, and received rigorous and standardized training. Since the age of eight, he has composed nearly 150 art music works and more than 150 pop songs. His primary works are: Salon Symphony 1-3, symphonic chorus Mass in D minor, symphonic sound painting Van Gogh Suite, Pioneer Symphony Overture Sunset • Particle(PM2.5) and Viaduct, Chinese national orchestra concerto Praise The West Lake, and Piano Sonata 1-10.  In 2016, he successfully held a concert of personal works at the Concert Hall of the Xi'an Conservatory of Music, the first undergraduate student to organize his own works concert in this conservatory.  In December the same year he held a personal pop concert at the Xi'an University of Electronic Science and Technology. His most successful works are The moon and shadow, and Praise The West Lake, which was played by China Central Television.

The Kyrie from Richards Mass in d Minor can be heard below.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Yarn/Wire Residency at the University at Buffalo

Yarn/Wire will be in residence at the Center for 21st Century Music at the University at Buffalo on Friday, November 1st for a graduate composition workshop and an evening concert of some of the ensemble’s favorite music. Yarn/Wire is a quartet of two percussionists and two pianists. This instrumental combination allows the ensemble flexibility to slip effortlessly between classics of the repertoire and modern works that continue to forge new boundaries.

Founded in 2005 while at Stony Brook University, Yarn/Wire is admired for the energy and precision they bring to performances of today's most adventurous music. The results of their collaborative initiatives with genre-bending artists such as Two-Headed Calf, Pete Swanson, and Tristan Perich point towards the emergence of a new and lasting repertoire that is "spare and strange and very, very new." (Time Out NY)

Yarn/Wire will read new compositions by PhD. students Alex Buehler, Joel Kirk, and Ruixing Wang during the day on Nov. 1. Their concert will begin at 7:30 PM in Lippes Concert Hall and will feature Enno Poppe’s Feld, Linda Caitlin Smith’s Morandi, and Misato Mochizuki’s Le monde des rondes et des carrés

Poppe describes his music as “dented nature”: While grounded in compositional guidelines taken from the fields of acoustics, biology, and mathematics, his pieces gradually disobey their own rules, contorting and evolving through an almost hallucinatory atmosphere of unexpected sounds. Highly respected as both a composer and a conductor, Poppe has led the Berlin-based ensemble mosaik since 1998, and has presented his orchestral, chamber, and operatic works throughout Europe. In 2015, Poppe’s Speicher received its US premiere at EMPAC, performed by the Talea Ensemble. 

Smith’s Morandi (1991) is named after the 20th century Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. While I was writing this work, I was thinking about his numerous still life paintings, which reveal a preoccupation with the same objects, in muted colours, painted over and over again. Morandi was commissioned through the Ontario Arts Council by Kitchener-Waterloo’s New Art Quartet. 

Le monde des rondes et des carrés tries to put in space and music, geometric combinations from these two forms – exploring the relationships that musicians can maintain between them: in opposition for the square, or in union for the round. Mochizuki wrote this piece bearing in mind the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, and asking herself what causes men to kill each other

From left to right: Ian Antonio, Laura Berger, Ning Yu, and Russel Greenberg

Ian is a percussionist. As a founding member of Yarn/Wire, he has performed to great acclaim across the US and collaborated with the most innovative composers alive. In addition to his work with the quartet, Ian performs with the Wet Ink Ensemble, Talujon, and the Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf. From 2003-2012 Ian was a member of the difficult-to-categorize band Zs. He also appears frequently with the International Contemporary Ensemble and S.E.M. Ensemble. Ian holds a B.M from the Manhattan School of Music and an M.M. and D.M.A. from SUNY Stony Brook. He has been a Tanglewood Music Center fellow, a Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival participant, and a member of the Mettawee River Company. Ian's playing can be head on the Carrier, Nonesuch, Kairos, Warp, Social Registry, and 31G record labels, among others.

Laura Barger is sought-after for her dedication to contemporary music and her energetic, committed performances. As a founding member of the chamber quartet, Yarn/Wire (called "fearless" by TimeOut NY), Laura has helped to commission numerous new works for the repertoire by leading composers of our time. In addition to her work with Yarn/Wire, Laura has performed with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Argento Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble, and Lost Dog New Music. International appearances include the Lucerne Festival, The National Gallery of Ireland, Västerås Konserthus, Darmstadt Festival for New Music, and the Banff Centre for the Arts, among others. Laura holds degrees from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (BM) and SUNY Stony Brook (MM, DMA). She teaches at the 92nd Street Y School of Music in Manhattan.

Ning Yu brings her multi-faceted virtuosity and adventurous spirit to a wide range of music, both as a soloist and in collaborations with some of today's most distinguished artists. A member of Yarn/Wire (proclaimed "fearless" by TimeOut NY), since 2011, Ning has worked to promote new and challenging music around the United States. In addition to working with Yarn/Wire, Ning has appeared with the Bang On a Can All-Stars, Signal Ensemble, and the Mabou Mines theater group. In 2010, she won the André Boucourechliev Prize at the 2010 Orléans International Piano Competition in France, which focuses on contemporary piano repertoire. Ning has worked numerous composers including Terry Riley, Michael Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Reich, and David Lang, among others. She has performed worldwide at the Muziekgebouw, Kölner Philharmonie, Kwai Tsing Theatre, and Alice Tully Hall in New York.

Russell Greenberg is a proponent of new and experimental music spanning multiple genres. As a founder of the percussion and piano quartet, Yarn/Wire (hailed as "intrepid, engrossing" by the New York Times), he has performed at numerous venues around New York City and the United States and has worked closely with composers to creat new repertoire for the ensemble. In addition to his work with Yarn/Wire, Russell has performed with Wet Ink Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Argento, Signal Ensemble, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and Two-Headed Calf, among others. Russell received degrees from SUNY Stony Brook (MM, DMA) and the University of California, Berkeley (BA). He has appeared internationally at the Darmstadt, Acanthes, Klangspuren, and the Lucerne festivals. He is currently on faculty at Lucy Moses School (Manhattan), and SUNY Suffolk College.

General Public Tickets: Online - $15 plus $2.18 fee and minimal credit card charge at (up to 90 minutes prior to concert time) or

In person, in advance - $19 at UB’s Center for the Arts (Tue-Fri, 12pm-6pm), At the door (one hour before concert time) - $22

Seniors/UB faculity, staff, alumni/non-UB students Tickets: Online - $10 plus $2.18 fee and minimal credit card charge at (up to 90 minutes prior to concert time) or

In person, in advance - $14 at UB’s Center for the Arts (Tue-Fri, 12pm-6pm), At the door (one hour before concert time) - $17

All UB students with a valid ID will receive one complimentary ticket to all UB Music Department events.

More information available at

Tickets available here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Slee Sinfonietta Night of Percussion

The Slee Sinfonietta is the professional chamber orchestra in residence at the University at Buffalo and the flagship ensemble of the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music. The Sinfonietta’s second concert of the Fall Semester at UB will feature percussion music by Luciano Berio, Salvatore Sciarrino, Giacinto Scelsi, and Franco Donatoni. The performance will take place on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 7:30 PM in Lippes Concert Hall.

Circles is a composition for female voice, harp and two percussionists by the Italian Composer Luciano Berio. Written in 1960 Circles is a setting of three poems by E. E. Cummings, including the poems "Stinging", "Riverly Is a Flower", and "N(o)w". Circles was written for Berio's wife, the American mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian. The work followed by two years the landmark composition Thema (Omaggio a Joyce) in which Berio deconstructed Berberian's voice through the use of innovative electronic manipulation. Throughout Circles, Berio explores similar sound textures while limiting himself exclusively to acoustic means. The work was commissioned by the Fromm Foundation, with a dedication in the score to Mrs. Olga Koussevitsky. Berio follows an A-B-C-B-A arch form in Circles (the text from the first two poems being repeated with a different setting). In this way too the form of the composition itself expresses a circle. Berio gives precise instructions in the score for the location of the performers and percussion instruments on stage. Throughout the course of the work the singer moves backwards as if receding into the ensemble. She is also required to perform on specific percussion instruments such as finger cymbalsclaves, and various kinds of chimes.

Stage Layout and Diagram for Berio’s Circles

Circles will be performed by soprano Tiffany Du Mouchelle, harpist Kristen Theriault, and percussionists Tom Kolor and Stephen Solook. Tifanny Du Mouchelle is praised for her musical versatility, an electric stage presence, and exceptional dramatic sensibilities. Most recognized for her fearlessness in exploring new and challenging repertoire, she ushers the voice into new realms of expressivity, including a vast array of musical styles and languages, featuring over 100 different languages, and exploring the genres of classical, world, contemporary, cabaret, and theatrical works. 

Kristen Theriault has emerged as one of Canada’s most vibrant and innovative young harpists. A versatile performer, Kristen’s artistry is evident whether exploring new music,, playing with pre-eminent symphony orchestras, or engaging new audiences at downtown clubs and festivals.

Soprano Tiffany Du Mouchelle performing

Pierrot Lunaire, photo by Irene Haupt

Tom Kolor will also be performing Franco Dontoni’s Mari I for solo marimba. Dynamic evolution is used to indicate structural sections; Mari I can be seen as one large crescendo starting from pianississimo to forte followed by a diminuendo back to dal niente, or to nothing.  Donatoni was born in Verona, Italy and began studying violin at the age of 7, and attended the local Music Academy. Later he studied at the Milan Conservatory and at the Bologna Conservatory. Mari I is from Donatoni’s joyous period of composition, a period of development characterized by Donatoni's understanding of, what he referred to as, codes to found or borrowed material. These codes operate on multiple levels and control many musical parameters, the codes for Mari I deal primarily with the development of dynamics over the course of the work.

Tom Kolor will be joined by fellow percussionists Stephen Solook, Tomek Arnold, and John Bacon to perform Salvatore Sciarrino’s Un Fruscio Lundo Trent’Anni for four percussionists. Sciarrino has won many awards, among them are the Prince Pierre de Monaco (2003) and the prestigious Feltrinelli Prize (2003). He is also the first prizewinner of the newly created Salzburg Music Prize (2006), and international composition prize established by Salzburg. Sciarrino received the 2001 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award of Contemporary Music for renewing the possibilities of vocal and instrumental music and for the singularity of his sound materials. He has developed a new and unique syntax and a manner of combining extreme synthesis with richness of detail.

Composer Salvatore Sciarrino

The percussion quartet will also be performing Giacinto Scelsi's work, I Riti: Ritual March "The Funeral of Achilles" on the Night of Percussion Concert. The secretive, mystical Giacinto Scelsi saw music as a spiritual revelation. His early works are influenced by music from all eras - medieval, neo-baroque, twelve-tone - and by Eastern philosophies. His later works are distinguished by their concentration on single notes and sounds. This piece for percussion quartet is a 'Ritual March for the Funeral of Achilles'; it is quite short, brooding, and off-kilter. Scelsi uses a combination of group textures and short motifs that draw attention to themselves to create a tense atmosphere.

General Public Tickets: Online - $15 plus $2.18 fee and minimal credit card charge at (up to 90 minutes prior to concert time) or

In person, in advance - $19 at UB’s Center for the Arts (Tue-Fri, 12pm-6pm), At the door (one hour before concert time) - $22

Seniors/UB faculity, staff, alumni/non-UB students Tickets: Online - $10 plus $2.18 fee and minimal credit card charge at (up to 90 minutes prior to concert time) or

In person, in advance - $14 at UB’s Center for the Arts (Tue-Fri, 12pm-6pm), At the door (one hour before concert time) - $17

All UB students with a valid ID will receive one complimentary ticket to all UB Music Department events.