Meet the Composer’s latest venture, MTC Studio, will be unveiled on Monday at an event at the 92nd Street Y (Tribeca). It features members of the International Contemporary Ensemble and the first class of MTC Studio composers – Kati Agócs, Marcos Balter, Yu-Hui Chang, Glenn Kotche (of the band Wilco), Dohee Lee and Ken Ueno – in an evening of conversations and music making.

Yesterday, I caught up with Ken Ueno (University of California-Berkeley) and asked him about MTC Studio and some of his other recent exploits. In addition to his activities with Meet the Composer, Ueno is getting a portrait concert on the Baltimore Contemporary Museum’s Mobtown Modern series. What’s more, he’s spending the year as a Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

Ken Ueno. Photo Annette Hornischer

Sequenza 21: For those not in ‘loop’, what’s ‘Meet the Composer?’

Ueno: Meet the Composer is one of America’s most important and vital institutions supporting the creation of new musical work.  A core tenet of theirs is to foster exciting new ways for composers to interact with audiences and performers.

Sequenza 21: Tell us about their new project, MTC Studio.

Ueno: Meet the Composer sums it up this way: “MTC Studio is a website that documents the creative process of composers through video, blogs, and other web content offering a rare perspective into the raw inner-workings of a composer’s world. Viewers get the unique opportunity to follow a musical work from first note to stage and can take part in individually supporting commissioning projects.”

Sequenza 21: What was the process for creating your page on the website?

Ueno: Kevin Clark of Meet the Composer’s home office and Jeremy Robins (a videographer) came out to Berkeley to interview me over the summer.  During that time, we shot some initial footage.  They gave me a flip camera and I’ve been since shooting my own footage that Jeremy has been editing.  It’s kind of like keeping a video diary balanced with a more general introduction to who I am and what I do as an artist.  It’s been a lot of fun.
Sequenza 21: Have you had, will you have, interactions with the other MTC composers?

Ueno: Most of them I’ve already known for years!  I’m quite honored and humbled to be included amongst some of my favorite composers of my generation!  Glenn, I did not know from before.  But being a Wilco fan for years, I look forward to meeting him.
Sequenza 21: You’re busy on this trip to the US. Tell us your itinerary!

Ueno: I gave a lecture on my music at Columbia this week.  Next week, I have the MTC Studio event, a lecture at Stony Brook, and two performances of my new piece for the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players (at Stony Brook and at Merkin Hall).

Sequenza 21: How’s your residency in Berlin been? What’s the academy like and what are you writing there?

Ueno: Being at the American Academy in Berlin’s been great!  I have the time and space to concentrate on composing.  It’s a gracious gift of time.  What’s been especially enthralling and stimulating has been learning from the other fellows.  People like the literary critic James Wood, the journalist Anne Hull, the writers John Wray and Han Ong.

Two senior colleagues from UC Berkeley are there too: Martin Jay, a historian (one of the world’s foremost experts on the Frankfurt School), and his wife, Catherine Gallagher, a professor in English (an expert in the field of counterfactual fiction).  It’s been great hanging out with these folks and picking their brains about all sorts of things. I’m quite impressed with our youngest fellow fellow, Kirk Johnson, who started the List Project.  His organization has helped hundreds of Iraqi allies transition to the US.  This man has saved people’s lives!  Very inspiring.  We are also lucky to have Pamela Rosenberg be our dean of fellows, with all the experience she’s had in the arts.  Oh, and as a foodie, I’ve especially enjoyed the creations of the academy’s chef, Reinold Kegel.  He’s fantastic!

During my year at the academy, I’ll be working on a number of projects.  The first piece I finished was a 20-minute work for 11 instruments for the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, which will be premiered next week.  Next, I’ll work on an installation for SCI-Arc, a collaboration with the architect, Patrick Tighe.  After that, I’ll work on pieces for Alarm Will Sound and a solo for Evelyn Glennie.  If all goes well, I’m hoping to have time to work on my chamber opera, in which I’ll perform, but that’s due much later.

Event details:

Introducing Meet the Composer Studio

Monday November 15, 2010, 7:30 PM

Mainstage at 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson Street, NYC

Tickets: $15

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