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.

Saturday, September 15, 2007
An inspiring video

As a composer, you hope your pieces get played - more than once. We all know the routine of a piece getting played a handful of times and then having it be more or less forgotten. Sad, but true. Then, there are a few pieces that seem to have a bit of a life. After it's initial performance(s), the work is played by another performer, maybe a student somewhere, or another aficionado of contemporary music. Sometimes, performances happen without the composer being directly involved (in either directly contacting the performers or scheduling the concert!), and that's sweet. Even better, sometimes the composer doesn't hear about the performance until well after the fact.

But, what happens when a piece of music becomes so admired that students and non-professionals want to devote a huge chunk of time to learn it? And, what if that piece is an hour long? And, what if that piece is Music for 18 Musicians? While the piece is difficult, it is not impossible; certainly, it is within the grasp of many players. The big question is whether or not they would take the time to learn it.

Well, apparently, bunch of kids did, and here is the video to prove it! Bill Ryan, the director of the new music ensemble at Grand Valley State University, managed to get together a group of students who were willing to practice Music for 18 for almost a year. Imagine the dedication, the inspiration for doing this!

I'm impressed with Bill - and I've got to say, it's great having people like this around. Watch the video, and get the CD when it comes out!