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.

Friday, February 24, 2006
Thursday Spark Festival

I'm going to try to do a nightly review of the Spark Festival, based on some notes and my own memory. This will get harder as time goes on, but I'll do my best. I'm going to try to talk about pieces that stand out to me. Here goes my first review:

9AM Paper Session

Four papers were presented, each with a very different topic. Jay Batzner presented a paper discussing a work by Per Bloland - both the work and the paper were interesting, delving into interpretation and meaning. Michael Ethen's paper on Bjork brought up some interesting textural items. David Muth showed an amazing Java applet that converts three-dimensional user-constructed objects into music. It's a fascinating program, and I'm looking forward to testing it out.
David Wetzel has converted an analog piece by Jonathan Kramer into a Max patch. His paper, and doctoral dissertation, focuses on the performance of works in which the technology is obsolete. It brings up a great question for all to consider - what do we do with those old pieces for Echoplex and ring modulator?

Electroacoustic Concert 1

This one was hard to review. Brian Sacawa did a wonderful job of playing these works. However, there were changes to the program order, and I was not present for that announcement. So, I'm not sure of most of the pieces.

The one piece that did stand out was Hyperacusis by J. Anthony Allen. . It had this rondo-like structure, and an ending that was quite drammatic, with all hell breaking loose. Other composers on the concert included Zac Crockett, Lou Bunk, and Per Bloland .

Panel Session

This session was on Net labels and on-line distribution. A little uneven and less informative than expected. One comment though, stood out. One of the panelists mentioned a study demonstrating that CD sales (I'm not sure if this refers to on-line or brick-and-mortar store purchases) are actually up, but that the consumers are buying a larger variety of artists. This, of course, baffles the companies, since it doesn't produce a huge hit.

Video Program 2

This concert presented eight works for video and sound. Most of the sounds seem to be rooted in granular synthesis, which of course got a little tiring after a while. The videos were different, varying from an animated film (Max by Cooper Baker and Simon Chung to geometric shapes and webs. Bret Battey's Autarkeia Aggreatum work stood out as an example of the latter.

Electroacoustic Conert 2

This was an amazing event. Every piece on the program was well-crafted, enjoyable, and performed with care and verve.
David Wetzel did his interpretation of Johanthan Kramer's Renascence , which was a standout. There were two pieces with dancers: Zac Crockett's Intoxication and the Plastic Energy Complex and Sheldon Smith's Stranger. Crockett's piece seem to use triggering mechanism taped to the dancer, although I'm not sure how she was triggering the sounds. Smith's piece was quite theatrical, but the visual effects were outstanding, complete with video delays, looping, stuttering, feedback, etc. It's enough to make me want to learn Jitter.

Miyuki Ito produced a wonderful piece for Bari sax and tape; I'm not a fan of tape pieces, but this one was well done. The tape part didn't try to blend with the sax, but presented totally different sounds, including sampled voice.

Spark Nitelife 2

The Nitelife series takes place at a local pub, and features performances of "club"-styled music, for a lack of terms. The concert started almost a hour late, so I only stayed for part of the event. I hear Nathan Wolek and Matt Roberts improvising on their laptops. The music they produced was metallic-sounding and nimble, often veering into minimalist textures that gradually built up to a roar. The other group I saw was called Improvised Explosive Device , who seemed to mix 60s rock with techno and electronica. I liked it, although the sax player was totally lost (sonically speaking, that is) without a microphone.

Overall, it was great first day for the festival. I'm looking forward to the next day of events!