Our regular listen to and look at living, breathing composers and performers that you may not know yet, but I know you should… And can, right here and now, since they’re nice enough to offer so much good listening online:
Caroline M. Breece (b.1977 — UK/US)
Michael G. Breece (b. 1971 — US)
Mike over at Avant Music News this week purely by chance beat me to posting about Caroline. I’d planned showing off her and her husband Michael, ever since I bumped into them on Myspace last summer. A number of married composer couples come to mind, but few if any will have the story that’s Caroline’s and Michael’s. A lot of it may only be known to them, but the part we see shows the real possibilities in what might at first seem the improbable.
Caroline, until recently a British native, has the “official” classical education and experience. Playing, studying and composing from a very early age, touring with the Suffolk Youth Orchestra, degrees from the University of East Anglia… all the standard classical upbringing. Yet there’s something in how she relates these and other details (found in her site’s generous writings), and in how her own music works, that is anything but standard.
Michael on the other hand, starts right out of the gate as anything but standard, and there’s every indication that he should have rightfully just kept careening down that highway to oblivion. Hard life in a tough blue-collar non-musical family, serious emotional hurdles, not much if any financial or educational support… Yet part of that mind, against everything that says culture and environment shape us, grew its own seeds of artistic awareness. Schooled by instinct and the resources of the Indianapolis Public Library, he found something incredibly important in the work of composers from Debussy through Varèse and Cage, all the way up to the avant-garde of today. And something told him that he had to not just listen, but *make* this stuff, using whatever means he had.
The meeting of the two? I don’t have a clue. But somehow the English composer with her fresh MMus degree ran into this thundercloud of a self-made musician, and the next thing you know she’s in America. It’s definitely not a fairytale yet; Caroline and Michael both work as janitors to pay the bills, stealing whatever free time they can to create what they have to create. Yet there’s nothing “poor” about either’s music; there’s an incandescence and a real sense of discovery in there. You can hear for yourself when you visit their websites, since they’re both offering entire CDs for free download (though you can do the right thing and send them a few reasonable bucks for a full-spectrum CDR straight from their hands to your ear). And take the time to read through; nothing I write can tell you anything better about them than a few paragraphs in their own words.