Composer Anthony Cornicello (born in Brooklyn, New York, 1964) writes music that blurs distinctions between performers and electronics, timbre and harmony, composition and improvisation, and explores the boundaries of what may be considered post-classical concert music. His music is vibrant and visceral, full of rhythmic energy and harmonic sophistication, and his forays into live electronics have led to exciting combinations of instruments and processed sound. Cornicello’s background as a jazz pianist is evident not only in the rhythmic activity of his music, but also in his constant investigation of the rich sonorities available from a variety of instruments.

He has been commissioned to write music for the Scorchio Electric String Quartet, ModernWorks! (funding from Meet the Composer/ Commissioning Music USA), the Auros Group for New Music, the Prism Saxophone Quartet, the New York New Music Ensemble, David Holzman, the Group for Contemporary Music, and the InterEnsemble of Padova, Italy. His work has also been featured on the Guggenheim Museum’s “Works and Process” series. Cornicello’s works have also been performed by the Chicago Civic Symphony, Parnassus, ALEA III, Composers Concordance, Madeleine Shapiro, Robert Black, among many other outstanding groups and solo performers. His music has been presented as part of the Darmstadt International Festival of New Music as well as the June in Buffalo Festival.

Cornicello’s Second String Quartet has been recorded by the Atlantic String Quartet; the Second Sonata for Piano by David Holzman (Centaur). More recently, his Post-Modern Waltz was recorded by Eric Moe for Albany Records. A portrait CD of Cornicello’s works is scheduled for 2006 release on Albany Records.

As a performer, he has conducted or played piano in his own works on numerous occasions. While a graduate student at Rutgers, he formed and directed the Janus Ensemble, a group dedicated to contemporary music. More recently, Cornicello has begun performing on the laptop, using a variety of interfaces and the Max/MSP program. Those performances, mostly with EEE!, have had a notable impact on his music, as EEE!’s music ranges from hip-hop to experimental noise. EEE! is based at Eastern Connecticut State University, where Cornicello is an Associate Professor and Director of the Electronic Music Lab.

Cornicello received the Ph.D. from Brandeis University, where he studied with David Rakowski, Eric Chasalow, and Martin Boykan. His teachers also include Charles Wuorinen, Gérard Grisey, and Richard Beirach.

His current fields of interest include developing unusual interfaces for live computer music performances, as well as continuing to investigate resonance and spatialization. His recent and current projects (mostly for string instruments and electronics) have been exploring the latter two, and the series of experimental works ReZenant Garden, performed by EEE! have operated on all three areas of interest. Future projects will include works for instrumental groups or soloists and electronics, as well as turntablists.

Cornicello's works are published by C.F. Peters Corporation and APNM, and he is a member of BMI.

Sunday, February 26, 2006
Friday Sparks

I'm writing this on Sunday AM, as I wait for my return trip, so it's going to be a little sketchy.....

Paper Session 2

There were two outstanding papers from this session. Christopher Keyes came in from Hong Kong(!) to give a presentation on animating sounds to create a sense of motion through a three-dimensional space. Yes, spatialization is a topic in which I'm interested, so I really enjoyed this one. The other memorable presentation was given by Don Sinclair and Nur Intan Murtadza on a project in development involving gamelan, dancer, and Max/MSP/Jitter. They presented segments of their work - the visuals were stunning, and I'm hoping to be able to see the complete work. Don's a real cool guy as well!

By the way, this is really a Max event. Most of the projects used Max/MSP, and quite a few used Jitter. After seeing Don's work, I decided I have to learn Jitter.

Alvin Lucier Keynote Lecture

Alvin came and gave a talk, not so much about his own music, but about his colleagues from the Sonic Arts Group days. That was fascinating, as well as the stories he told about Cage. When he was preparing Music for a Solo Performer, Cage was quite encouraging. At one point, Alvin thought that the whole piece wouldn't work, but Cage insisted that Alvin perform it. Alvin then said how we should all think about how much music is going on in the world right now - tribal music, mothers singing to their children, concerts, jam sessions; if your piece doesn't work, will the world collapse?

The other outstanding item was Lucier discussing his own recent work Exploration of the Hall, which essentially takes a series of Beethoven fragments (all from a work titled Consecration of the Hall) and subjects them to the same kind of treatment he used in I am sitting in a room. It's a stunning work.

Electroacoustic Concert 3

I'm not going to give a blow-by-blow account of this concert, but just those pieces that made an impression.

Two Lucier pieces: Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra (actually for solo Triangle) and A Tribute to James Tenney . The former was wonderfully played by Elizabeth Draper on bass. It's a hard piece, as you're being asked to move around 30 cents up or down. Hats off to Elizabeth for pulling it off.

Another standout was The Age of Paper by Jan Trutzchler von Falkenstein , with it's somewhat hyperactive writing for strings (Ms. Draper was joined by Jacqueline Ferrier-Ultan on cello), often exploring the boundaries of sound production. I'm not sure how much was a controlled improv, but the execution was impressive. All this, with Stan Rothrock crumbling and tearing paper and sound processing.

I didn't get to the Paper Session 3. Sorry guys, it looked interesting.

Electroacoustic Concert 4

This was a marathon concert. I was only able to stay for the first half, as I had a tech rehearsal slated at 9:30.

Two Lucier pieces on this concert as well. Music for Accordion with Slow Sweep Pure Wave Oscillators and Nothing is Real. As with many of his works with sweep oscillators, Lucier has the performer hold sustained notes while the oscillator slowly moves through the note or notes being sustained. A beating pattern emerges, slows down and then stops as the two sound sources become perfectly in tune. Soon afterwards, the beating returns and speeds up as the oscillator continues its upward trajectory. The Accordion piece is one of the shorter explorations I've seen of these, and it was well performed on Friday's concert. Amazingly, although there are a few of these pieces, they all sound and work differently.

I didn't get to see the other piece, but I've actually played it. From what I've been told, the piece went over well. For those not in the know, fragments of Strawberry Field Forever are played on piano, recorded, and played back through a speaker in teapot, while the lid is raised and lowered. You've got to hear this piece to believe it.

Also on this concert, two pieces performed by Madeleine Shapiro: Petals by Kaija Saariaho and Mario Davidovsky's Synchronism No. 3. The Saariaho was so well done that a friend turned to me and said, "wow, that's a great cellist!". That should say it all. The Davidovsky was really well performed also, but the piece just sounds old. It still has its charms, but it hasn't aged well. I hear Mario is writing two new Synchronisms, and I'm curious as to what they'll sound like.

Those were all that stood out for me on the first half of the concert. We had our rehearsal after that, and then we discovered the "Golpher Way", this underground tunnel system connecting most of the campus. More on that later.

Did I mention that the campus is divided by the Mississippi River? There are a lot of cool things about this city, and that's one of them. The other is how liberal it all is.