Friday, April 28, 2023

Chamber Musicians of the Slee Sinfonietta offer a tribute to Robert Phillips (1981-2023)


Chamber Musicians of the Slee Sinfonietta offer a tribute to Robert Phillips (1981-2023)

Photo by Megan Metté

On May 2, 2023 the Center for 21st Century Music’s flagship ensemble, the Slee Sinfonietta, will pay tribute to Robert Phillips, who left us far too soon on February 11 of this year. In 2017 Rob returned to Buffalo from Berlin, where he had spent several years working as a composer, to take on the post of Managing Director of the Center. Rob was an extraordinary composer, performer, and musical administrator who made an indelible impact of our extended community in myriad ways, reflecting both his multi-faceted talents and career trajectory and his personal warmth, graciousness, and dignity. His tragic and premature passing left us stunned and bereft, yet it is his music and life that we celebrate with a program that he helped plan. Our concert will feature two of Rob’s works performed by musicians who had the opportunity to play them in his presence. Rutaceae for bass clarinet and fixed media (2015) will be performed by UB clarinet professor Michael Tumiel, and Larghetto Rubato for bassoon, guitar and cello (2010) by bassoonist Jessica Wooldridge King, UB guitar professor Sungmin Shin, and Center Artistic Director and UB cello professor Jonathan Golove. The presence of Rob’s music in a site where he contributed so much, played by musicians with whom he worked closely, means a great deal to the many who have known and loved him since he arrived at UB as a PhD student in 2004.

             Photo by Hanae Utamura
 Design by Megan Mette & Hanae Utamura

     Photo by Hanae Utamura                   

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 May 2nd program was conceived to feature the Chamber Musicians of the Slee Sinfonietta in works by several of the recent holders of UB’s Visiting Slee Professorship. Thus, we will hear Eric Moe’s What Instruments We Have Agree (2015), Robert Carl’s Piano Quartet “Just Listen,” (2018) and a portion of Paula Matthusen’s between the smell of dust and moonlight (2016). Matthusen is the current Visiting Slee Professor, and Moe and Carl were our Slee Professors for Spring 2022 and Fall 2022, respectively. We will hear remarks from all three composers over the course of the evening. Tickets are $10 at the box office and may be purchased in advance here; UB students with valid ID receive one free ticket (Complete ticket information is available here). The concert will also be live streamed on the Center’s YouTube channel.


Robert PhillipsRutaceae (2015)

Rutaceae, for bass clarinet and fixed media, commissioned by and written for Heather Roche, features audio material comprised of hundreds of samples from a recording of her interpretation of Martin Iddon’s Ptelea, on May 9, 2014, in Leeds, UK. Though Iddon’s Ptelea is named after a tree nymph who bonded to an elm tree, the word also describes a genus of plants in the citrus family – the latin family name of the genus being Rutaceae.

This plant family name, Rutaceae, is also known as Rue, and is associated with remorse and regret, as in Shakespeare’s Richard II, “Here did she fall a tear, here in this place, I'll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace." Rue is also a verb that has fallen into disuse: to feel sorrow over, repent of, regret bitterly.

To rue contrasts strongly with the dark flavor of guilt – rather, it is to have a soft awakening to our complete past and present, to recognize hurt, to gently plant a seed with our tear. Like a knock at the door of the psyche’s growth, repentance is an invitation to forfeit the struggle to deny the pain we have caused ourselves and others, and an overture to exhale into relief, without shame, and gaze upon the flower of remorse as it blooms.

 – Robert Phillips  



Eric Moe, What Instruments We Have Agree (2015)

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

W. H. Auden, In Memory of W.B. Yeats

These lines from Auden’s elegy for Yeats came to me when I heard about the death of my friend Lee Hyla. They (along with the rest of that wonderful poem) kept running through my head as I was composing the piece. Similarly pervasive was a wailing bass clarinet riff from Lee’s House of Flowers which insinuated itself into my piece. I have drawn considerable comfort in this time of grief from Lee’s extraordinarily vivid, profound, inspiring music.

What Instruments We Have Agree was written for the superb musicians of counter)induction and was completed in April 2015.


– Eric Moe              



Robert Phillips, Larghetto Rubato (2010)

 Larghetto Rubato, for bassoon, guitar, and cello, was originally composed for Pascal Gallois, Magnus Andersson, and Rohan de Saram when they visited the University at Buffalo in 2010 to perform works by University at Buffalo graduate composers and present their own program. Since then, the trio has toured the piece many times in Scandanavia, including at the most recent Kalvfestivalen in Sweden.

 Larghetto Rubato plays with the relationship between the small spontaneous variations in tempi, the “rubato” which robs from the beats and rhythms around it, and the glissandi drifting of the melody. Each sonic element rises and falls, increases and decreases, and coordinates its movements like a net floating on water, loosening and tightening with the passing of each wave, as each wave gently distorts the temporal and harmonic surface.

 – Robert Phillips 


Paula Matthusen, between the smell of dust and moonlight (2016)

between the smell of dust and moonlight engages with the idea of the gradual evolution of space and the multiple roles it may serve. Commissioned by the Metropolis Ensemble in 2016 specifically for the Phillips Collection, the piece draws on its present incarnation as renowned art museum as well as the traces of its domestic past, as evidenced by it unique doorways and fireplaces.

For the premiere performance, the multi-movement work was dispersed through multiple rooms of the Phillips Museum, with three separate trios staged in different areas. Additionally, the Metropolis Ensemble navigates the museum as part of the piece, which doubles in part as a sound installation, with recordings placed in the multiple fireplaces of the space. The musicians use their instruments to interact with the space and archival recordings from the time period of the museum’s founding, as well as recent field recordings. The performers perform on a wide variety of recording formats as well, from early 78s played back on DIY phonographs, to dictaphones, and to transducers resonating through percussion instruments. The audience, beginning in the Music Room, was encouraged to follow the musicians on their various paths and to listen in on different spaces, before returning to the Music Room for the final trio.

The separate movements of between the smell of dust and moonlight have been excerpted for separate performance. The most recent of these was the final trio, which was rerecorded and reorchestrated with video for the online performance organized by Metropolis Ensemble entitled Free Assembly.

The title is drawn from Don Hertzfeldt’s film It’s Such a Beautiful Day. Special thanks to Andrew Cyr, Nestor Prieto for his technical and research assistance, as well as to Erik DeLuca for his experiments with early recording technologies.

– Paula Matthusen


Robert Carl, Piano Quartet “Just Listen”

My colleague and friend David Macbride died suddenly in his sleep on September 7, 2018, at the very start of classes at the Hartt School, where we both taught. We had known each other since Fall 1984, the date we both arrived as novice faculty members. No one expected this. David was a strong, often quiet presence that grounded our community with his devotion to students, the sacrament of performance, and the mandate to write music that demanded attention because of its sincerity, craft, and essential economy. 

This work was written in a rush of energy and disorienting despair in fall 2018. The first movement channels that state, as well as being an evocation of being suddenly whisked from life before one would be properly aware of it. The middle movement was written first, then the fragmentary movements bordering it were added to build outwards from either end. In the fifth and final movement, the work folds in on itself in a shadow play of memory and stasis. 

[The piece reflects on David's creative persona in several ways: 

--David loved the music of Cage. Thus the second and fourth movements are each extremely spare, surrounded by silence. Their timings, 43" and 33" bear a reference to the seminal 4'33". A percussive sound in the fourth also makes a subtle reference to David's love and mastery of percussion writing. 

--He also loved Morton Feldman (I do too), and this influence is clear throughout the piece, but especially in the third movement. 

--And he played the viola. A cadenza for the instrument is featured in the center of the third movement.]

Above all, David was a musician who believed in his ear and his gut. I think that I, one who often loves to explore architectures that to me feel mystical, probably amused him with what he might have felt was incipient grandiosity. In respect to his values, this piece was written with almost none of the advance planning and exploration that usually prepares a work of mine. Instead, I allowed David to look over my shoulder and at times gently correct me if I got out of hand. He was saying: 

Just listen.

–Robert Carl



Robert Carl’s music is performed regularly throughout the US and abroad. It concentrates on solo piano, chamber, orchestral, choral, and electroacoustic media. Its aim is to create an experience of space that provides the listener with a sense of freedom and openness. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters (the 1998 Charles Ives Fellowship as well as a 2106 Arts & Letters Award). Residencies include MacDowell, Yaddo, UCross, Djerassi, Millay, Bogliasco, Camargo, Copland House, Tokyo Wonder Site, and Bellagio. He lived in Japan for three months as an Asian Cultural Council Fellow in 2007. New World Records has released three CDs his works (music for strings; electroacoustic pieces inspired by Japan; and large ensemble/orchestral).  In 2021 an all-orchestral CD was released by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project; and Harmony, an opera based on the meeting of Charles Ives and Mark Twain, with libretto by Russell Banks, was premiered in August 2021.

            He writes regularly on new music in a variety of forums and magazines, and is the author of Terry Riley’s In C (Oxford University Press). In 2016 Bloomsbury Press released Jonathan Kramer’s posthumous text Postmodern Music, Postmodern Listening, which Mr. Carl edited. In fall 2020 Bloomsbury also published a book of his essays titled Music Composition in the 21st Century: A Practical Guide to the New Common Practice.

            He was chair of Composition at the Hartt School, University of Hartford until Spring 2022. In Fall 2022 he was Slee Professor of Music at the University at Buffalo.



Paula Matthusen is a composer who writes both electroacoustic and acoustic music and realizes sound installations. In addition to writing for a variety of different ensembles, she also collaborates with choreographers and theater companies. She has written for diverse instrumentations, such as “run-on sentence of the pavement” for piano, ping-pong balls, and electronics, which Alex Ross of The New Yorker noted as being “entrancing”. Her work often considers discrepancies in musical space—real, imagined, and remembered.

Her music has been performed by Dither, Mantra Percussion, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), orchest de ereprijs, The Glass Farm Ensemble, the Estonian National Ballet, James Moore, Kathryn Woodard, Todd Reynolds, Kathleen Supové, Margaret Lancaster and Jody Redhage. Her work has been performed at numerous venues and festivals in America and Europe, including the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, the MusicNOW Series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Ecstatic Music Festival, Other Minds, the MATA Festival, Merkin Concert Hall, the Aspen Music Festival, Bang on a Can Summer Institute of Music at MassMoCA, the Gaudeamus New Music Week, SEAMUS, International Computer Music Conference and Dither’s Invisible Dog Extravaganza. She performs frequently with Object Collection, and through the theater company Kinderdeutsch Projekts.

Awards include the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright Grant, two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers’ Awards, First Prize in the Young Composers’ Meeting Composition Competition, the MacCracken and Langley Ryan Fellowship, the “New Genre Prize” from the IAWM Search for New Music, and recently the 2014 Elliott Carter Rome Prize. Matthusen has also held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, create@iEar at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, STEIM, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Matthusen completed her Ph.D. at New York University – GSAS. She was Director of Music Technology at Florida International University for four years, where she founded the FLEA Laptop Ensemble. Matthusen is currently Associate Professor of Music at Wesleyan University, where she teaches experimental music, composition, and music technology, and she is the current holder of the Visiting Slee Professorship at UB.




Eric Moe, composer of what the NY Times has called “music of winning exuberance,” and recently described by his physician as a “pleasant male in no acute distress”, has received significant recognition for his work, including awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim Foundation; multiple commissions from the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, the Barlow Endowment, Meet-the-Composer USA, and New Music USA; fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; and residencies at MacDowell, Montalvo Arts Center, Yaddo, Bellagio, Camargo, VCCA, UCross, Aaron Copland House, Ragdale, Hambidge, the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, Avaloch Farms, and the American Dance Festival, among others.  

 Tri-Stan, his one-woman opera on a text by David Foster Wallace, was hailed by the New York Times as “a tour de force” that “subversively inscribes classical music into pop culture.” A recording is available from Koch International Classics. One review of his latest CD, Uncanny Affable Machines (New Focus Recordings), finishes up with “Killer stuff that feels like thinking man’s music”. Strange Exclaiming Music (Naxos) was described in Fanfare as “wonderfully inventive, often joyful, occasionally melancholy, highly rhythmic, frequently irreverent, absolutely eclectic, and always high-octane music.” Kick & Ride (bmop/sound) was a WQXR album of the week: “…it’s completely easy to succumb to the beats and rhythms that come out of Moe’s fantastical imaginarium, a headspace that ties together the free-flowing atonality of Alban Berg with the guttural rumblings of Samuel Barber’s Medea, adding in a healthy dose of superhuman strength.” Other portrait CDs include Meanwhile Back At The Ranch (New World Records), Of Color Braided All Desire, Kicking and Screaming, Up & At ‘Em, Siren Songs (Albany Records), and On the Tip of My Tongue (Centaur).   

 Moe founded and currently co-directs Pittsburgh’s Music on the Edge new music concert series. He studied at Princeton University and U.C. Berkeley. He is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Composition and Theory at the University of Pittsburgh and has held visiting professorships at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania, in addition to the Visiting Slee Professorship at UB for the spring semester of 2022.

                                                               Source: (

Robert Phillips (1981-2023) was an American chamber and electroacoustic music composer whose work integrates a diverse vocabulary of sound samples, multimedia tools, and interrogative approaches to musical style. A range of microtonal techniques and notation strategies are employed to inflect glissandi and vibrati variations within signature harmonic networks, and explore a broad, hyper-expressionist palette, superscribed over a diverse array of materials and samples from a variety of forms and genres.

His music has been featured at Internationale Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium, June in Buffalo, Opéra de Lille, Stuttgart American Days, Buffalo Fringe Festival, and others. His works have been performed by such ensembles and soloists as the Ictus Ensemble, Arditti and JACK Quartets, Ensemble SurPlus, Ear Massage Percussion Quartet, Distractfold Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Formalist Quartet, Curious Chamber Players, Ensemble Chronophonie, New York New Music Ensemble, Pascal Gallois, Rohan de Saram, Magnus Andersson, and Heather Roche. His collaboration with the Ictus Ensemble, Der Hunger von Spiegeln, was premiered at the Opéra de Lille in April of 2015. O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden was commissioned by Ensemble SurPlus for their 20th anniversary concert at the E-Werk, Freiburg. Aur, for string quartet and electronics, was recorded by the JACK Quartet at Slee Studios through a grant from the Mark Diamond Research Foundation, and Shindō no su, for Talea Ensemble, was recorded and performed at the Harvard University Summer Composition Institute. Phillips has held residencies at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stiftung Künstlerdorf Schöppingen, and PACT Zollverein. 

He received his B.A. degree in music from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied with Chaya Czernowin and Steve Takasugi, and his Ph.D. in music composition from the University at Buffalo, SUNY, where he studied with David Felder. He lived and worked in Berlin for several years before returning to Buffalo in 2017 to assume the position of Managing Director of the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music, a post he held until his untimely passing in February of this year. His scores are published by Edition Gravis.


Photo by Megan Metté


Brian Patrick Caswell is a composer and organist. His diverse performance experience includes serving as a church organist in Phoenix, NY and Watertown, NY, as well as playing keyboards in jazz, rock, and funk bands in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and New York City. Brian is currently a Ph.D. student in composition at SUNY University at Buffalo.

Violist Leanne Darling reaches across many genres to create a powerful new voice for the viola. Leanne holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Cleveland Institute of Music and has held principal and assistant principal positions in the Florida West Coast Symphony and the Missouri Chamber Orchestra. Specializing in Classical Arabic music as well as Jazz and European classical music, she combines styles to create repertoire for solo viola and loops generating layers of sound that simulates a whole room full of musicians. During her time as a freelancer in New York City she collaborated with oudist Simon Shaheen in Carnegie Hall, with poets Robert Bly and Clarissa Pinkola-Estes at the Omega Institute, and with the Cedar Lake Ensemble's premiere performance in Chelsea. As a composer, Ms. Darling’s work earned many Meet the Composer grants and earned her the New York Innovative Theater Award for best original music in 2007. Leanne currently teaches viola and chamber music at the University at Buffalo and leads improvisation workshops in the Buffalo area.

Nicholas Emmanuel holds a PhD in historical musicology and a masters’ degree in piano performance from the University at Buffalo.  He has studied piano under Eric Huebner, Natalie Phillips, Maria Clodes-Jaguaribe, Oksana Lutsyshyn, and Lee Jordan Anders. He is active as a performer and educator in the Western New York area, where he strives to promote new music and the work of young composers. Emmanuel’s academic research focuses on Central European music and politics in the 20th century, modernist aesthetics, transcription, and the work of György Ligeti. He spent last year conducting archival and field research in Budapest, Hungary, with support from the U.S. Fulbright Commission and the Liszt Academy of Music.  

James Peter Falzone was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1986. Active as a composer-performer, he is trained as a pianist, organist, and percussionist. Falzone is a founding member of both The Providence Research Ensemble and of Ordinary Affects, a new music collective, which has commissioned works by such composers as Christian Wolff, Jürg Frey, and Eva-Maria Houben.  A double-album featuring compositions by Falzone and violinist Morgan Evans-Weiler, Chordioid, was released by Another Timbre in 2020.  Falzone is currently a PhD student in music composition here at UB.

Cellist-composer Jonathan Golove is a dedicated performer of both new and traditional works, as well as of improvised music. He has performed throughout the United States and Europe at venues including Weill Recital Hall (Carnegie Hall), Zipper Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and London’s Southbank Centre. He has been featured as cello soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Slee Sinfonietta, and New York Virtuoso Singers. One of only a handful of performers on the theremin cello, Golove has appeared as soloist with the Asko/Schoenberg Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, and International Contemporary Ensemble, and he is a member of the 1. Deutsche Stromorchester. He is also active as an electric cellist, particularly in the field of creative improvised music. He has performed and recorded with jazz groups including the Michael Vlatkovich Tryyo and Quartet, Ubudis Quartet, and Vinny Golia’s Large Ensemble, and made appearances at the Vancouver Jazz Festival, the Eddie Moore Jazz Festival (Oakland), and the International Meeting of Jazz and New Music (Monterrey, Mexico). He has recorded for the Albany, Centaur, FMR, pfMENTUM, and Nine Winds labels, and his performances and interviews have been heard in broadcasts by numerous National Public Radio stations, as well as on Radio Nuevo León, West German Radio, CBC, and Radio France. His summer appearances include numerous festivals devoted to new works, including the Holland Festival (Amsterdam), Festival d’Automne (Paris), Lincoln Center Festival, June in Buffalo, and the Festival del Centro Histórico (Mexico City). Mr. Golove’s original compositions have been performed at venues including the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C., Venice Biennale, Festival of Aix-en-Provence, Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society II, and the Kitchen, and he has received awards and grants for his work from organizations including ASCAP, the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, and Meet the Composer. He is an Associate Professor in UB’s Department of Music, and he has recently been announced as the Director of UB’s Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music and June in Buffalo festival.

Jessica King plays bassoon and contrabassoon for Symphoria, Syracuse's musician-run professional orchestra. She has premiered solo and chamber works in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Richmond, VA, at the New Music on the Point festival in Vermont, and with Eastman Broadband at Carnegie Hall. She helped found an improvising double reed trio called New Leaf Ensemble and facilitates improvisation among musicians of all ages and experience levels through Music for People.
Jessica holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the Eastman School of Music. Her teachers include John Hunt at Eastman, and Lynn Hileman at West Virginia University. She has had the honor of playing in masterclasses for Pascal Gallois, Christopher Millard, and Gilbert Audin. She has held positions teaching bassoon and world music at several colleges and currently serves on the faculty of Hamilton College.

  Shannon Reilly specializes in the study and performance of contemporary music. As founder and violinist of Duo Purla with guitarist Tom Torrisi, Shannon has performed for the 2022 21st Century Guitar Conference, Black House Collective’s 2023 New Music Workshop in LA, Liminal Space Ensemble, and as the 2021 zFestival Ensemble in Residence. A dedicated collaborator, Shannon has played numerous world premieres for her colleagues at Bang on a Can, the Eastman School of Music, June in Buffalo, and the Keybank Rochester Fringe Festival, and spent 4 years at University at Buffalo as violin professor. She regularly plays with the Buffalo Philharmonic and can be heard on recordings by Anna Heflin, Connor D’Netto, and Duo Purla. Shannon holds a MM in violin performance from Eastman, where she studied with Reneé Jolles. She teaches at Buffalo Suzuki Strings and is reading Dune by Frank Herbert.

 Korean-born American musician Sungmin Shin maintains a vigorous schedule seamlessly navigating the unpredictable musical landscape of the 21st century. Sungmin is an artist-teacher, arts leadership advocate, composer, consultant, engineer-producer, ensemble director, entrepreneur, improviser, multi-instrumentalist, music theorist, and scholar. Redefining what it means to be genre-bending, Sungmin balances his serious classical training with his deep roots in diverse musical cultures to seek new modes of expression through performance, improvisation, and composition. He is frequently invited to adjudicate, compose, perform, speak, and teach at major international competitions, events, and festivals including the Guitar Foundation of America International Convention & Competition, Iserlohn International Guitar Festival (Germany), Rochester International Jazz Festival, June in Buffalo and many more. A frequent collaborator with various musicians, he is a member of the internationally acclaimed guitar ensemble Tantalus Quartet and 8-piece rock band Lauren and the Good Souls.

An advocate for performing music of living composers, Sungmin has collaborated with notable musicians and ensembles in the new music scene including Emi Ferguson (flute), Alex Greffin-Klein (violin), Yuki Numata Resnick (violin), fivebyfive, Ensemble Signal and Slee Sinfonietta. He has worked with leading composers and conductors in new music including David Felder, Yuanyuan (Kay) He, Edie Hill, Jerry Hou, Julien LeRoy, David Liptak, Brad Lubman, Andrea Mazzariello, Alan Pierson, Steve Reich,  Kamala Sankaram, Frank Ticheli, Melinda Wagner, and more. During his graduate studies at Eastman, he frequently worked with Rochester based contemporary music ensembles Musica Nova, Ossia, and Rest Is Noise.  Also, he studied with guitarist-composers Dusan Bogdanovic and Roland Dyens on performing their music during his time at the University of Southern California. Committed to sharing his music with diverse audiences, he regularly engages in outreach performances throughout the community.

 Dr. Shin is a devoted educator that believes high quality music education should be available and accessible to all students and shares his passion for music with students of all ages and levels. He is Associate Professor of Practice at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York where he directs the guitar program and guitar ensembles. He has presented concerts and masterclasses at top level university music programs including at the Eastman School of Music, Seoul National University of Education (South Korea), Shenandoah Conservatory, University of Louisville, University of South Carolina, and more. Former students of Dr. Shin have gained admission to top music schools such as Belmont, Berklee, Eastman, Northwestern and many more at the undergraduate and graduate levels with scholarships and are currently working as professional musicians in the Western New York region and beyond . Dr. Shin is the Director of the Penfield Guitar School and serves on the faculty of Guitar Workshop Plus in Toronto during the summers.
Sungmin plays and endorses D’Addario Strings. For full bio and more information, please visit -

 Michael Tumiel presents a diverse repertoire as a soloist, collaborator and freelancer. He has been featured with the Slee Sinfonietta performing David Felder’s Coleccion Nocturna and with the Amherst Chamber Orchestra in Mozart’s Concerto for Clarinet. Mr. Tumiel has played principal clarinet with the Slee Sinfonietta, Buffalo Opera Unlimited Orchestra, and the Finger Lakes Symphony, among others. At home performing music new and old, he has given numerous premieres at the prestigious June in Buffalo festival hosted by the Center for 21st Century Music and has recorded two CDs with the period instrument ensemble Newberry’s Victorian Cornet Band on the MSR Classics label.

Mr. Tumiel joined the faculty of SUNY Buffalo in 2019, teaching clarinet, chamber music, and On the Edge performance seminar. Prior to his appointment, he was the assistant to Jean Kopperud while earning his Master of Music and Advanced Certificate in Contemporary Music at Buffalo. He received his Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music in the studio of Kenneth Grant. His primary teachers have been John Fullam, Kenneth Grant, and Jean Kopperud.

  Katie Weissman began playing the cello at the age of three at Buffalo Suzuki Strings after seeing Yo-Yo Ma appear on Sesame Street. She holds a Bachelors of Music in Cello Performance from Boston University, and her principal teachers include Nancy Anderson, Feng Hew, Michael Reynolds, Amanda Truelove and Roman Mekinulov. When at home in Buffalo, Katie is cellist and backup singer in the Little Cake Cover Band and is a substitute for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. She also plays with contemporary music ensemble Wooden Cities, the composition think-tank Evolution of the Arm, free jazz group Root Cellar, folkrock bands TEOA and Birddog, and various other chamber music outfits in the Western New York area. She has toured at home and abroad, and has lent her playing to many recording projects in the studio, including multiple albums and stage performances by Buffalo's own Goo Goo Dolls. She teaches privately in her own studio, and currently lives in Williamsville with her dogs, rabbits and parakeet.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

April 18: A visit with composer and pianist, Amy Williams  

            Composer presentation, 12-2pm, and performance, 7:30pm in Baird Recital Hall.

TheCenter for 21st Century Music is excited to welcome the upcoming composer presentation by Amy Williams (Professor, University Pittsburgh), followed by a performance on the Department of Music’s faculty recital series with soprano Tiffany Du Mouchelle on April 18, 7:30 pm at Baird Recital Hall. The program will feature original works by Ms. Williams, as well as songs by legendary UB piano/composition faculty member Yvar Mikhashoff.


Some background about Amy Williams from her website:

Amy Williams was born in Buffalo, NY in 1969, the daughter of Diane, now retired violist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Jan, percussionist and Professor Emeritus at the University at Buffalo. She started playing the piano at the age of four and took up the flute a few years later (her first teacher was the legendary Robert Dick, so she could soon play “Chopsticks” in multiphonics…). She grew up in the heyday of the Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, hearing all the latest contemporary music and meeting composers who would later become influential to her: John Cage, Morton Feldman, Lukas Foss, Elliott Carter, Julius Eastman and many others. She went to Bennington College and, while there, decided to devote her life to performing and composing contemporary music. After a fellowship year in Denmark, she returned to Buffalo to complete her Master’s degree in piano performance at the University at Buffalo with pianist-composer Yvar Mikhashoff and her Ph.D. in composition, working with David Felder, Charles Wuorinen and Nils Vigeland. She returned to Bennington in 1998 as a member of the music faculty and she then moved on to a faculty position at Northwestern University in 2000. Since 2005, she has been teaching composition and theory at the University of Pittsburgh, where she is a Full Professor. She was a 2017-2018 Fulbright Scholar at the University College Cork, Ireland and a Visiting Professor of Composition at the University of Pennsylvania in spring 2019. 

Amy’s compositions have been presented at renowned contemporary music venues in the United States, Asia, Australia, and Europe, including Ars Musica (Belgium), Gaudeamus Music Week (Netherlands), Dresden New Music Days (Germany), Festival Aspekte (Austria), Festival Musica Nova (Brazil), Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Thailand International Composition Festival, Music Gallery (Canada), LA County Museum of Art, Piano Spheres (Los Angeles), Lincoln Center, Roulette, Bargemusic (NYC) and Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music. Her works have been performed by leading soloists and ensembles, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Orpheus, JACK Quartet, Ensemble Musikfabrik, Ensemble Surplus, Dal Niente, Wet Ink, Talujon, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), H2 Saxophone Quartet, Bent Frequency, Grossman Ensemble, pianist Ursula Oppens and bassist Robert Black. Amy’s pieces appear on the Parma, VDM (Italy), Centaur, Blue Griffin, New Focus and New Ariel labels, in addition to two portrait CDs of solo and chamber works on Albany Records: “Crossings: Music for Piano and Strings” (2013) and “Cineshape and Duos” (2017). 

Amy formed the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo with Helena Bugallo, while both were graduate students at the University at Buffalo. The Duo has been featured at important contemporary music festivals and series throughout Europe and the Americas, including the Ojai Festival, CAL Performances (California), Miller Theatre (New York), Ciclo de Música Contemporánea (Buenos Aires), Festival Attacca (Stuttgart), Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City), Warsaw Autumn Festival, Cologne Triennale, and Wittener Täge für Neue Kammermusik. The Duo’s debut CD of Conlon Nancarrow’s complete music for solo piano and piano duet (Wergo, 2004) garnered much critical acclaim. Subsequent Duo CDs on Wergo include, Stravinsky transcriptions (2007), Morton Feldman/Edgard Varèse (2009), György Kurtág (2015) and a second volume of Stravinsky transcriptions (2018), as well as the original version of Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion in a recently published facsimile. Amy has performed John Cage’s masterpiece, The Sonatas and Interludes, all over the country and often includes new interludes written for her by over a dozen composers. 

Amy has received fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Goddard Lieberson Fellowship), American-Scandinavian Foundation, Howard Foundation, John S. Guggenheim Foundation and MacDowell. She received a Fromm Music Foundation Commission to write Richter Textures for the JACK Quartet and a Koussevitsky Foundation commission for soprano Tony Arnold and the JACK Quartet. An avid proponent of contemporary music, she served as Assistant Director of June In Buffalo, Director of New Music Northwestern, and is currently on the artistic boards of the Pittsburgh-based concert series, Music on the Edge, the Amphion Foundation and the  Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music. She has been the Artistic Director of the New Music On The Point festival in Vermont since 2015.

She recently completed a piano trio for the Junction Trio, a co-commission from the Denver Friends of Chamber Music, the Celebrity Series (Boston) and Chamber Music | OC (Orange County), as well as a commission for the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association.



Amy Williams, Cineshape 4 (2015)


Amy Williams, Richter Textures (JACK Quartet)


Amy Williams, Telephone (The Grossman Ensemble)


Thursday, April 13, 2023

March 31-April 1: Ben Leeds Carson (Assoc. Prof. of Composition, UC Santa Cruz)

Masterclass and composer presentation, in conjunction with performances of several of his piano works, including one world premiere, by Prof. Eric Huebner (April 1, Lippes Concert Hall)

Ben Leeds Carson, an Associate Professor of Composition from University at California San Cruz, visited the Center for 21st Century Music, working with UB composition students on March 31. We are very thankful for his visit and for the great discussions he inspired.


One participant commented on the event as follows: “In his talk and following discussion, Ben Leeds Carson led a thorough examination about the perception of fine gradations of non-pulsed rhythm. To this discussion he brought his extensive experience of perceptual testing and software modeling to identify specific rhythmic relationships that hinder hierarchical perception of steady pulse which the composer believes to enact a rejection of forced hegemony.”

Brian Caswell, UB doctoral Candidate in composition

Some background about him from UC Santa Cruz’s website:

Ben Leeds Carson's work as a composer and improviser is supported by a variety of research, including empirical studies in perception, theory of mind, and theory of musical form. Dr. Carson offers courses in theory and analysis, perception studies, and popular culture.

Born in North Carolina, Ben spent a good part of his first 8 years in the trailer parks, highway rest areas, and rural campgrounds of 47 different US states, following parents who worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, while bird-watching and fossil-hunting their way back and forth across the country. Later, in Walla Walla Washington, he was led to music by Argentine composer José Rambaldi (d. 1989) and comedian-singer Bradley Hunt (d. 1988), whose lives were cut short by AIDS while Ben was still a teen. Ben went on to study music and theater at Willamette University, and then composition at the University of Washington and the University of California at San Diego; fortunate for the mentorship of John Peel, John Rahn, Roger Reynolds, Jann Pasler, Brian Ferneyhough, Harvey Sollberger, Jerry Balzano, George Lewis, and many others. His dissertation under Reynolds' mentorship at UCSD—a large collection of works for orchestra and for solo piano—explored "the establishment and erosion of musical boundaries, the evolution/devolution of melody, and the use of silence as a structural component" (Robert Schulslaper, Fanfare Magazine July/August 2012); in the same music, the critic Christopher Williams has described tonal tension between small-scale and large-scale harmonic progressions, producing a paradox, in which "each element in a false dichotomy defines and becomes the other", allowing us "the opportunity and responsibility to navigate our [own] uniquely useful paths" ("On the Piano Music of Ben Carson", in The Open Space Magazine, Issue 5, December 2005, pp. 246-247). 

 Carson's music is available on Centaur Records, Albany Records, and on San Diego's "Soundcheck" series, and has been performed throughout the U.S. and at international festivals, including Aspen, "June in Buffalo," Gerngesehen (Köln), and New England Conservatory's Summer Institute for the Contemporary Piano. 


You can read more about his works here:


"Sea and Beneath" for Percussion

Pieces, Threaded
℗ 2011 Centaur Records, Inc

March 27-28: David Sanford Big Band residency

Open rehearsal, UB Band master class, composer presentation and Slee Hall, performance on the 28th of March

The Center for 21st Century Music was pleased to welcome a visit by David Sanford and the David Sanford Big Band in a residency that took place on the 27th and 28th of March. It was a really unique experience, we are beyond grateful for this residency.


One participant reported on the David Sanford residency as follows: “David Sanford's highly individualistic, poly-stylistic perhaps even kaleidoscopic music demands each listener to re-assess what the Big Band does. In person, David Sanford is a thoughtful and sensitive messenger of his own, collaborative music. To paraphrase founding member of Sanford's band, and UB faculty, Jon Nelson, what Sanford does is create a highly unique space for musicians to do their thing - there's nowhere else you can play this music!”

Brian Caswell, UB doctoral Candidate in composition

Some background about the David Sanford Big Band from their website: 

The New York-based David Sanford Big Band (formerly the Pittsburgh Collective) was formed in 2003 and comprises twenty musicians specializing in jazz, avant-garde, classical, funk and Latin genres. 

Members and soloists have included Hugh Ragin, Jon Irabagon, Anna Webber, Josh Roseman, Mike Christianson, Steven Bernstein, Bruce Johnstone, Chris Washburne, Adam Kolker, Ted Levine, Tony Kadleck, Hiro Noguchi, Dave Ballou, and players from the Meridian Arts Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva, the Knights, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, the Denver Neophonic Jazz Orchestra, and most of the prominent big bands in New York City.

Along with presenting original works written expressly for the ensemble, the group performs big band literature that draws heavily on classical idioms (Stravinsky), classical works (Tomkins, Mahler) and popular music (Nick Cave, Sia), as well as jazz standards (Gillespie, Mingus, Elvin Jones)


A Prayer for Lester Bowie (David Sanford Big Band feat. Hugh Ragin)


Scherzo Grosso (cello soloist, Matt Haimovitz with the Pittsburgh Collective Big Band) 


And the concert he gave at UB on the 28th of March 2023.
All compositions by David Sanford, except Moors of Spain by Hugh Ragin, and Three Card Molly by Elvin Jones arranged by David



March 17: Charles Curtis (Professor of Cello, UC San Diego)

Presentation for composers

The Center for 21st Century is excited to report on the presentation of Charles Curtis, who is a Professor of Cello from University at California San Diego. Many thanks for his fabulous presentation, "Materialities of Realization" on the 17th of March.

Some background about him from UC San Diego’s website: 

Called by ArtForum "one of the great cellists" as well as "spellbinding and minimal," Charles Curtis has woven a unique career through the worlds of classical performance and musical experimentation. A student of Harvey Shapiro and Leonard Rose at Juilliard and the recipient of the Piatigorsky Prize, upon graduation Curtis was appointed to the faculty of Princeton University. Subsequently he was Principal Cellist of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, where he appeared as soloist with conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, André Previn, Günter Wand, John Eliot Gardiner and Christoph Eschenbach. Curtis has been guest soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, National Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Janacek Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Orchestra de la Maggio Musicale Florence, Orchestra del Teatro Communale Bologna, and orchestras in Brazil and Chile, among many others. 

For more than thirty years Curtis has been closely associated with the legendary avant garde composer La Monte Young. As soloist and as director of Young's Theatre of Eternal Music String Ensemble, Curtis has participated in more performances and premieres of Young's music than any other musician. He is one of the few instrumentalists to have perfected Young's highly complex just intonation tunings and is one of only a handful of musicians to have appeared in duo formations with Young. The La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela three-hour-long solo composition, "Just Charles and Cello in the Romantic Chord," for solo cello, pre-recorded cello drones and light projection, the only solo composition composed by Young for a performer other than himself, received performances in a variety of places.

Solo concerts in the last few years have taken him to Christchurch Spitalfields London, the Auditorium of the Louvre in Paris, the Hebbel-Theater in Berlin, the Kampnagelfabrik in Hamburg, Issue Project Room in New York, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and to festivals, museums and alternative spaces in Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Canada.



One participant reported on the visit as follows: “Charles Curtis is justly recognized as one of the leading exponents of what may be termed something like the ars subtilior of the present-day.  During his visit, Curtis spoke of his close collaboration of 30-some odd years with Éliane Radigue and the central role that the acoustic phenomenon known as the “wolf” played as a catalyst in the realization of her piece, Naldjorlak

At Fitz Books on Saturday, Curtis, who is also an important interpreter of Alvin Lucier’s work, gave a performance of the composer’s Glacier, a work that traces a graph of the mean mass balance of 30 glaciers over a 24-year period, sonified as a slowly descending and only occasionally upwards-tracing glissando.  Also on the program was the Adagio from a three movement work by Dallapiccola, Intersection 4 by Morton Feldman, and Alison Knowles’ Rice and Beans for Charles Curtis.

Curtis’s conversation is marked by the same careful search for exactitude and subtlety in terminological matters that characterizes his musical realization as a performer.  In his talk at UB, Curtis also gave advance notice of his performance of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s Just Charles & Cello in the Romantic Chord…, recently announced by Blank Forms for 2 & 4 June.”


  James Falzone, UB doctoral candidate in Composition


Charles Curtis - Ultra White Violet Light / Sleep

Saltern · Éliane Radigue – Naldjorlak (Los Angeles, 2020) (excerpt)Charles Curtis – Éliane Radigue – Naldjorlak (Los Angeles, 2020)

Charles Curtis – Éliane Radigue – Naldjorlak (Los Angeles, 2020)

Bach: Solo Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major (BWV 1009)-- Bourrees
Charles CurtisBach: An Imaginary Dance • 2012