Archive for the “Women composers” Category

Krys Bobrowski is up next in our series of interviews with composers who are premiering new works at the 10th Annual Outsound New Music Summit in San Francisco on Friday, July 22nd.  The Friday night concert, entitled The Art of Composition, starts at 8 pm at the Community Music Center, 544 Capp Street, San Francisco. Tickets are available online from Brown Paper Tickets, and you can also buy them at the door.  Listeners who don’t want to wait that long can get up close and personal with the composers, and learn about their creative process, at a free Monday night panel discussion at 7 pm on July 18th.

Krys is a sound artist, composer and musician living in Oakland, California. In addition to French horn she plays acoustic and electronic instruments of her own design. Her collection of original instruments includes prepared amplified rocking chairs, bull kelp horns, Leaf Speakers, Gliss Glass (pictured at left) and the Harmonic Slide.  Krys received her M.F.A. in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College and her B.A. in Computers and Music from Dartmouth College.  In addition to performing her own work, Bobrowski plays with the Bay Area-based improvisation ensemble Vorticella.

Her new work, Lift, Loft, Lull, is a series of short pieces exploring the sonic properties of metal pipes and plates and the use of balloons as resonators, performed by the composer and Gino Robair. The compositions have their origins in Bobrowski’s recent instrument prototyping work for the Exploratorium.

S21: Do your pipes, metal plates, and balloons come with any sound-generating history? Is there any “tradition” behind their use in music?

During my artist residency at the Exploratorium, I began experimenting with alternative resonators for musical instruments. I wanted to create an experience that would allow the listener to hear the ‘sonic bloom,’ the moment a resonator comes in tune and couples to a vibrating object.

As part of this project I started researching resonators in traditional and experimental instruments. I came across an interesting photo from the 1950s of someone playing an instrument made of glass rods attached to a series of inflated plastic cushions. The cushions were acting as the resonators for the glass. Later, I learned that the Baschet brothers, Francois and Bernard Baschet, invented this instrument along with dozens of other beautiful sound sculptures, including an inflatable guitar!

This started my exploration of using balloons as resonators, mostly for instruments made out of various kinds of metal: plates, pipes, bars, odd-shaped scraps. I also came across references to Tom Nunn’s and Prent Rodgers’ work with balloons and balloon resonators in a book by Bart Hopkin, ‘Musical Instrument Design.’ This led me to make a version of the ‘balloon gong’ instrument shown in the book.

The results of my sonic explorations and the ‘balloon gong’ will be featured in my composition, Lift Loft Lull. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Comments Off

Once upon a time in 2000, there was a brand-new underground music collective in the San Francisco Bay Area, presenting a monthly concert series named “Static Illusion/Methodical Madness”.  The SIMM series is still going strong today, and its parent organization, Outsound Presents, now additionally puts on the weekly Luggage Store Gallery concert series and the Outsound New Music Summit.

Outsound acquired a Board of Directors and incorporated its bad self in 2009.  Now with a 501(c)(3) IRS determination in hand, it’s a stalwart provider of experimental music, sound art, found sounds, improvisation, noise, musique concrete, minimalism, and any other kind of sound that is too weird for a mainstream gig in the Bay Area.

The upcoming 2011 Outsound New Music Summit is the 10th annual, running from July 17-23, 2011. All events will take place at the San Francisco Community Music Center, 344 Capp Street, San Francisco. Eager listeners can purchase advance tickets online.

Sunday July 17: Touch the Gear Exposition
Outsound’s free opening event allows the public to roam among the Summit’s musicians and sound artists and their sonic inventions, asking questions, making noise and learning how these darn things work.

Monday July 18: Discussion Panel: Elements of non-idiomatic compositional strategies
Another free public event in which composers Krys Bobrowski, Andrew Raffo Dewar, Kanoko Nishi and Gino Robair will discuss the joys and pains of creating new works some of which to be premiered in The Art of Composition.  The public is invited to participate in a Q&A session.

Wednesday July 20: FACE MUSIC
This concert is devoted to the voice, the world’s oldest instrument, and artists who expand its horizons: Theresa Wong, Joseph Rosenzweig, Aurora Josephson, and Bran…(POS).

Thursday July 21: The Freedom of Sound
A night of operatic free expression, and power of spontaneous sound from Tri-Cornered Tent Show featuring guest vocalist Dina Emerson, Oluyemi and Ijeoma Thomas’ Positive Knowledge, and Tom Djll’s “lowercase big band”, Grosse Abfahrt with special guest Alfred Harth (A23H).

Friday July 22: The Art of Composition
Gino Robair
premieres his Aguascalientes suite based on scenes captured by Jose Guadalupe Posada, Andrew Raffo Dewar’s Interactions Quartet performs Strata (2011) dedicated to Eduardo Serón, Kanoko Nishi premieres her graphic scores along with bassist Tony Dryer, and Krys Bobrowski offers Lift, Loft and Lull, a series of short pieces exploring the sonic properties of metal pipes and plates and the use of balloons as resonators.

Saturday July 23: Sonic Foundry Too!
In a sequel to the first Sonic Foundry performance in 2006, 10 musical instrument inventors are paired up in 5 collaborations: Tom Nunn, Steven Baker, Bob Marsh, Dan Ake, Sung Kim, Walter Funk, Brenda Hutchinson, Sasha Leitman, Bart Hopkins, and Terry Berlier.

Comments 1 Comment »

Thus far, 2011 seems to be the year of the festival. From Tune Up to Tully Scope and beyond, a wide variety of adventurous outings have been offered in New York. Starting tonight, Symphony Space joins in the fun with their Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival.

If each festival has had its own identity – Tune Up reveling in the Park Avenue Armory’s generous space and acoustics, Tully Scope celebrating the diversity of its offerings and its newly remodeled digs – the emphasis of Cutting Edge seems, like so many events at Symphony Space, to be outreach and interaction.
All of the composers will be present at the concerts featuring their music. Each program will include onstage discussion between the featured composers and Victoria Bond. One hopes that meeting composers “in the flesh” and learning about their works firsthand will encourage audience members to approach their works with open minds and ears.
Tonight’s concert includes a world premiere by talented up and comer Hannah Lash, as well as a New York premiere by perennial audience favorite Peter Schickele. Kathleen Supove performs a work by Randy Woolf . Topping it all off is Hidden Inside Mountains, a new multimedia work by downtown luminary Laurie Anderson.
Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival is on four Monday evenings at 7:30 pm on
March 28, April 4, April 11 and April 25, 2011 at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre in
Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street in New York City.
More information about the Festival, including program notes, performer and composer bios, and
video interviews is available at  CuttingEdgeConcerts.org.
Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors).
To purchase tickets, visit  SymphonySpace.org or call 212-864-5400.

 

 
Program for Monday, March 28, 2011

Hannah Lash: Folksongs (world premiere)
MAYA: Sato Moughalian, flute; Bridget Kibbey, harp, John Hadfield, percussion
MAYA’s appearance is supported by the Jarvis and Constance Doctorow Family
Foundation
Peter Schickele: Music for Orcas Island (NY premiere)
Renee Jolles, violin; Daniel Panner, viola; Maxine Neuman, cello; Kathleen Supove,
piano
Jon Deak: Bye Bye
Sato Moughalian, flute; Kathleen Supove, piano
Randall Woolf: Righteous Babe
Sato Moughalian, flute; Kathleen Supove, piano
Laurie Anderson: Hidden Inside Mountains
Laurie Anderson, video and music

Comments Comments Off

Errollyn Wallen

Following up on Alex Ross’ post about the New York Philharmonic’s 2011-’12 season, which mentioned the lack of representation of American composers on the Contact! series and women composers throughout the schedule, we asked Sequenza 21 readers to share their lists of American women composers that the Philharmonic should consider programming (more comments/lists welcome).

Angelica Negron

Here’s my own take. I’ve compiled three chamber orchestra programs for the Contact! concerts and one for the regular subscription series: all consisting entirely of living women composers. One features American music and the other programs have a more diverse array of nationalities. I hasten to add that this just scratched the surface: one could do many, many more of these!

Amy Williams

Program 1

Jennifer Higdon – Soliloquy

Sarah Kirkland Snider – newly commissioned work

Hannah Lash – A Matter of Truth

Amy Williams – Sala Luminosa


Helen Grime

Program 2

Angélica Negrón – Fulano

Errolyn Wallen – Concerto Grosso

Du Yun – Impeccable Quake

Helen Grime – Clarinet Concerto

Program 3

Alexandra Gardner – Tamarack

Unsuk Chin – Akrostichon-wortspiel

Tansy Davies – Residuum (After Dowland)

Vivian Fung – newly commissioned work

Lera Auerbach

Subscription Series Program

Augusta Read Thomas – Ceremonial

Lera Auerbach – Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra

Kaija Saariaho – Orion

Comments 11 Comments »

Yesterday, Alex Ross wrote a short essay on The Rest is Noise about next season’s offerings at the New York Philharmonic. After discussing several highlights, including Stockhausen’s Gruppen at the Park Avenue Armory, the NYPO’s first presentation of a piece by Philip Glass (!), and a new work by John Corigliano, he pointed out some curious omissions.

Ross wrote,”The Contact! series will elicit new works from Alexandre Lunsqui, Yann Robin, and Michael Jarrell. The series has no American music this year, nor is there any music by women in the entire season.”

Like Ross, I’m very excited by some of the other programs the NY Phil has in store for audiences, but I can’t help but wish that both Contact! and the season in general were more diverse.

Let’s help them out: a list of American women composers that should appear on Contact! and subscription concerts at the NY Phil.

Comments 2 Comments »

Gabriela Lena Frank

When the 2010 Composer Collaboration Awards call for proposals went out on May 10, 2010, music presenters, ensembles, and composers all over the San Francisco Bay Area called, paged, and emailed one another, then got together to put their dream projects down on paper in time for the deadline.

Today the staff and Boards of six organizations, their chosen composers, and their artistic collaborators are popping champagne corks and dancing around their offices.  They’ve received $75,000 each from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, to make six world premieres.

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary MusicLaura Karpman and Independent
Producers/Authors, The Kitchen Sisters
The Cabrillo Festival is one of the leading festivals dedicated to contemporary classical music. The work brings together Emmy award-winning composer Laura Karpman together with The Kitchen Sisters (authors and radio producers Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson) to create a multi­-media, full evening length symphonic production titled The Hidden World of Girls. The Hidden World of Girls will focus on stories of lives shaped by the secrets girls carry with them into adulthood. The premiere is scheduled for July 28 & 29, 2012 at the 50th anniversary season of the Cabrillo Festival.

Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (FAMSF)Sarah Wilson and Aerial Dance Company, Catch Me Bird
Inspired by the incredible architecture, landscape and visual arts collections of the de Young Museum, Off the Walls will be a new jazz composition for aerial dance, which will be performed at assorted locations outside, inside and on the sides of the museum. It will be an evening­ length, site-specific work performed by composer Sarah Wilson, Catch Me Bird Aerial Dance Company, and an ensemble of 12-18 Bay Area musicians and dancers. The premiere is scheduled for March 2013.

Jewish Community Center of San FranciscoMark Izu and Choreographer, Kimi Okada
The JCCSF’s Friend Center for the Arts aims to create a forum for innovative projects in multi­-disciplinary and multicultural contemporary and traditional performance. It will commission a multi-media, multi-disciplinary work composed by Mark lzu and choreographed by Kimi Okada entitled Mu. Incorporating Korean, African, Indian, Japanese, and Hawaiian traditional music and dance, the piece heralds the end of the Mayan calendar and uses the legend of Mu, an ancient empire of blessings and noble values destroyed by materialism and greed, as a parable for today. The premiere is scheduled for December 2012.

Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana de San Jose Incorporated (MACLA) - Guillermo Galindo and Chamber Ensemble, Quinteto Latino
MACLA is a San Jose-based contemporary arts space grounded in the Chicano/Latino experience. The company incubates new visual, literary and performance art in order to engage people in civic dialogue and community transformation. Guillermo Galindo and Quinteto Latino will create Voces del Desierto, a piece that will explore the journeys of unnamed immigrants who cross the Mexican-American border in search of a better life. The premiere is scheduled for late 2011 or early 2012.

San Francisco Girls ChorusGabriela Lena Frank and Librettist, Nilo Cruz
One of the premier girls’ choruses in the U.S., the San Francisco Girls Chorus will commission Gabriela Lena Frank to create a cantata for treble chorus, chamber orchestra, and vocal soloists in collaboration with librettist Nilo Cruz. Marrying Western classical music tradition with Latin American folk music, Holy Daughters (working title) examines the cultural clash and interchange between European colonialism and indigenous tradition, and the role and perception of women in both worlds. The premiere is scheduled for June 2013.

Z Space Studio (Z Space)Marcus Shelby and Co-Creator, Margo Hall
Known nationally as a premier performance development lab for artists, Z Space will create a new work by composer/musician Marcus Shelby and actor/director/singer Margo Hall. The new musical performance piece will explore the journey of a young black woman growing up in Detroit during one of the most exciting times for music and one of the most turbulent for civil rights. Loosely based on Ms. Hall’s life, Detroit represents a link to her childhood where her father was a well-known Detroit musician and as a child, she sang with her “aunties,” who were members of the Supremes band.  The premiere is scheduled for January/February 2013.

Comments Comments Off

YouTube Preview Image

This Friday and Saturday October 22 and 23, Andrea Liberovici’s multimedia work Mephisto’s Songs premieres a part of the Apollo Theater’s Salon Series. I’m not familiar with Liberovici, but I am familiar with Mephisto’s featured performer singer Helga Davis. In addition to Ms. Davis’ amazing vocals, the piece includes recorded narration by Robert Wilson and cello improvisations by The Kronos Quartet’s awesome Jeffrey Zeigler. Live musicians for this performance include Clarice Jenson (cello), Fred Cash Jr. (bass), and Abe Fogle (drums).

Some of you may be familiar with Helga Davis as a host of WQXR’s Overnight Music. She works frequently with composers Paola Prestini and Bernice Johnson Reagon who, in collaboration with Robert Wilson, created the critically acclaimed opera The Temptation of Saint Anthony with Davis singing the role of Hilarion. And some of you truly hip folks may know that she sings on two scores I composed for dance, Like Dirt for Racoco Productions and La Spectra for Movement Pants Dance. Davis is also a distinctive and powerful composer. Her solo shows combining song, spoken word, theater, and video at venues that include New York City’s Whitney Museum or Galapagos are not to be missed.

Check out the Apollo Theater website for ticket information for their Salon Series. An article about another one of Liberovici’s recent projects can be found here.

Comments 3 Comments »

Pyramid and Michelle Yom at Labotanica (Houston, TX)

This Friday, October 1st at 7pm, Michelle Yom will present her sound performance installation Back To Imagined Spaces at Houston’s alternative arts and music venue Labotanica located at 2316 Elgin Street. This is a part of Labotanica’s ongoing Hear/Her/Ear series spotlighting women in experimental music.

I got a chance to hear Michelle last month in a solo vocal set at Avant-Garden where she recorded and looped her singing in real time to additively build a series of haunting chorales. Michelle is perhaps best known as a flautist with a strong classical technique and the skills and imagination of a great improviser. Her flute and drums duo Doggebi features Michelle with drummer Spike The Percussionist – a musician I name checked in my Houston Mixtape #3: The Epicenter Of Noise – freely and (almost) breathlessly improvising music that is somehow stark yet filled with a minutiae of details.

Back To Imagined Spaces imagines the human body as a collection of cells that sing and are heard in a “self-imposed timeless space” contained within the pyramid Michelle has constructed inside Labotanica. Regarding the music she will perform, Michelle writes: “The first set is a series of staccato vocalizations with syllables from the mantra, Asato Ma Sad Gamaya, processed through seven delays. The second set will be a live performance of tonal pieces titled Heart, Ears, Kidney, and Stomach, also using vocal sounds. The pieces are intended to capture a version of imaginary but prudent sounds, much like taking a microscope and focusing the lens into singing, living cells.”

Also on Friday’s program are performances by artist, vocalist and electronic composer Melanie Jamison and Labotanica’s tireless curator, visual and sound artist Ayanna Jolivet McCloud.

There is a $5 cover charge for the show. All proceeds go to the musicians. Michelle Yom’s installation will be up October 1st through October 9th, 2010.

Comments 2 Comments »

Composer, violinist, and performance/video artist Laurie Anderson has never been one to rest on her laurels. But Homeland, her latest project for Nonesuch takes her farther afield than she’s previously been.

Rather than staying at home to record, Anderson developed the album’s songs over a two year period of touring. And, for the first time, she’s involved her partner Lou Reed in a collaborative recording process (he receives a co-producer credit). The results sound recognizable as songs by Laurie Anderson; but the sonic formula has been tweaked – indeed, refreshed – by the risks taken and departures made during the recording process.

A recurring character is Fenway Bergamot, Anderson’s “male alter-ego,” who graces the album cover and performs on the recording.

Below are a couple of “making of” videos Nonesuch has posted to YouTube.

Comments 1 Comment »


Outside the Eldorado Ballroom, Houston, TX (Photo by Chris Becker)

…(Houston is) one of the epicenters of noise bands and experimental music. Nobody even knows that, you know?Dan Workman of Houston’s Sugarhill Studios.

Here’s an excerpt of a recording I made of a Houston thunderstorm using a Zoom H4 recorder positioned just behind the front screen door to our house. You might want to turn down the volume about half way through if you listen to this headphones:

Houston rain and thunder

Part One

New York City – the city where I lived for twelve years before relocating to Houston, Texas – is LOUD. In my mind’s ear, I can STILL hear the car horns, the jackhammers, the fire truck sirens (we lived one block away from a fire station), the garbage trucks flipping over dumpsters filled with glass and concrete (BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!) and…the subways. Oh Lord, the SUBWAYS! Two musician friends of mine wore earplugs every time they traveled underground. My wife ALWAYS covered her ears when the trains screeched to a halt at the platforms. Loudspeakers in the stations and on the trains intermittently blared out jaunty yet nearly incomprehensible warnings about rerouted trains and “suspicious packages.” (Remember…if you SEE something, SAY something!) And microphone feedback? The MTA’s gotcha covered.

Quick! Without thinking, imitate a New Yorker! You started YELLING, right?

So being a sensitive composer with sensitive ears, the first thing I noticed about Houston once we’d moved down here is how much quieter it is compared to New York City. And what tweaked my ears my first few weeks on the ground wasn’t the omnipresent hum of the Interstate 610 loop. It was the unpredictable antiphonal chatter of Houston’s bird population. The screeches and cooing were so intriguing to me, I spent the first couple months in our new city composing a piece of “musique concrete” utilizing several recordings I’d made of the birds in our front and back yards. There is a truly rural almost wild (as in wilderness) vibe to the city outside of downtown and the aforementioned beltways.

How did a city that to my ears is so much quieter than NYC come to be known as an “epicenter of noise”? Make no mistake, some of the Houston noise artists I’ve checked out make Nine Inch Nails sound like Sting. But one thing the Houston musicians I’ve reached out to regarding the “noise” scene agree on is that one person’s “noise” is another’s poetry. The hierarchal notion that a note from a clarinet somehow contains more emotional profundity than the sound of a hammer hitting a nail doesn’t really exist in the minds of (most) 21st century musicians (One of my “non-noise” composer friends pointed out that noise just like “music” can “evoke a wide range of sentiment”). But my research yielded so MANY Texas musicians either explicitly flying the “noise” flag (Concrete Violin, Spike The Percussionist, Richard Ramirez) or so loosely attached to however one might define “noise” (the grime meets speed metal music of B L A C K I E is one such example) that I wondered who or what exactly I could write about in this dispatch.

It occurs to me that one of my favorite recordings, “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground,” was created by a Texan (Blind Willie Johnson in case you didn’t know). The timbre Johnson’s vocal lies somewhere between a whisper and a scream while his phrasing conveys a feeling of both defiance and resignation. Consider the title Johnson gave to this recording. Has the uniquely Southwestern connection to the earth – the dirt that we all will return to one day – disappeared in the years since the 1920’s when Johnson tracked his performance? I don’t think so. And in the noise of that recording (the slide on the guitar strings…the rumble of the grooves of the record itself…) is there some precedent for the Dadist freak outs of Houston ’s Red Krayola? Or the electric jug playing of the 13th Floor Elevators? Or the stinging strings of Lightning Hopkins, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, or Little Joe Washington?

Perhaps “noise” – that succinct descriptive noun – is actually in practice a portal to a sensory experience that isn’t so easy to describe but one we immediately feel and understand. To quote Morton Feldman: “…these moments when one loses control…and with a thrust there is no sound, no tone…nothing left but the significance of our first breath.”

Like rain and thunder. Or “cicadas making noise…” Or the crazy Houston doves that carry on their pygmy like conversations from the trees around my house from sun up to sun down.

Part Two


Alexandra Marculewicz Adshead at Labotanica (Photo by Chris Becker)

Houston’s gallery and performance space Labotanica is currently hosting a monthly concert series called hereherhear that features women in experimental music. The first concert in June included artists from Houston, Baltimore, and New York. Last Friday, I attended July’s hereherhear concert event featuring the collective Pear Prickley Pear, vocalist/ composer Alexandra Marculewicz Adshead, and DJ/Electronic artist Khrystah Gorham. On display at Labotanica was Yet Torres’ mixed media installation EYE-CANDY DELECTABLY which explores objectification and the body via Torres’ own mysterious, grotesque, and at times humorous iconography. Plenty of people turned up for the concert, and I was happy to see that at a little after 7pm the performers would be playing to a full house.

Earlier in July, Alexandra invited members of the Houston community to email her mp3s of samples that she might incorporate into her performance at Labotanica. I responded with my front and back yard bird piece and was delighted when Alexandra contacted me to say that she would indeed use it for her upcoming gig. Samples from Pear Prickley Pear and composer Steve Layton would also become a part of Alexandra’s show.

Alexandra’s recorded works blend composed structures with improvised sometimes heavily processed vocals that at times is character driven or seemingly inspired by the sounds of nature, animals, and even her one-year old daughter. What struck me when I first listened to her music online was the sound of her voice – her tone and the emotive quality it contained. A voice sometimes jumps out at you in that way.

In performance, Alexandra utilized the laptop computer to play back the composed structures of her works while processing her live vocals through a variety of unpredictable effects. In one piece, she told the story of a woman’s descent into madness with a delivery that initially sounded as if she were reading a slightly unnerving bedtime story until flange and delay transformed her spoken words into the sound of the voice you hear when your frontal lobe isn’t functioning. Her closing piece did indeed incorporate my bird (noise?) piece into multidimensional landscape where slowly looping chorale-like vocals rose to several crescendos before morphing dramatically into a texture that included percussive effects and (more) bird song from Layton. The whole set was a thoughtful and engaging blend of techniques and technologies.

Outro

I wonder if “noise” as Houston has come to know it is due for yet another wave of creative development. For a movement that is by nature very “underground” – much of Houston’s experimental artists are well documented thanks to the Internet and what I believe is a very Texan impulse to preserve history (and share some good stories) in words both written and sung. Or screamed. Houston is a comfortable and nurturing place for experimental artists. And there are probably many reasons for that fact that I have yet to sort out.

(Special thanks to Joseph Benzola, Douglas Henderson, Mark Kemp, Daniel Salazar, Ryan Supak, John Stone, Yet Torres, and Michael Vincent Waller for their sharing with me their thoughts on noise.)

Comments Comments Off