I had an amazing time working with choreographer Wendell Gray II and the dancers and musicians of Periapsis Music & Dance this month in their first Emerging Artists Residencies. We had ten days to develop a work together, so instead of composing a piece and then bringing in a final product for Wendell to choreograph, I brought in different textures for the percussionist and I to experiment with over the course of the workshop, and eventually develop a piece based on the form of the dance. The goal of the way we were playing was to be able to focus on the dancers, to phrase with their movement and to have flexible material so that the music would fit exactly with the transitions, instead of asking the dancers to conform to set timings. Therefore, everyone in the room focused on a unified sense of movement in time.
I wrote about Anna Thorvaldsdottir's Aeriality for Music & Literature.
In anticipation of the New York Philharmonic performing Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Aeriality this week, this profile of Thorvaldsdottir discusses her inspirations from nature and her compositional process, and gives an in-depth listening guide to Aeriality.
Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s music is powerful and visceral. Merely saying that it represents nature does not express the depth of her compositional process. Many composers are inspired by the natural world, but what makes Thorvaldsdottir’s works unique is her imaginative rendering of nature—her ability to create the affect of tangible, physical landscapes through sound. She is enthralled by large-scale ensembles, and writes detailed orchestral scores that draw the listener in with layers of sonic perspectives. Read on
Experience Aeriality live with the New York Philharmonic May 19, 20, and 23 at David Geffen Hall.
Music Mondays Presents: Hear by Design: Music of Andrew Norman
This coming Monday, May 1st, at 7:30pm at Advent Lutheran Church I'll be playing the New York premiere of Andrew Norman's new string quartet, Still Life, on a portrait concert of his works as influenced by architecture.
Jennifer Koh, violin
Variation Trio - Jennifer Koh, violin; Scott St. John, viola; Wilhelmina Smith, cello
Rhythm Method - Leah Asher, violin; Maria Kifferstein, violin; Anne Lanzilotti, viola; Meaghan Burke, cello
Trident Ensemble - Daniel Moody, countertenor; Owen McIntosh, tenor; Edmund Milly, baritone; Jonathan Woody, bass-baritone
Aaron Wunsch, piano
From the Music Mondays website:
Composer Andrew Norman’s music of “daring juxtapositions and dazzling colors” (New York Times) has made him one of the most widely admired young composers working today. His “staggering imagination” (Boston Globe) draws inspiration from disparate sources, including architecture, cinema, and video games – resulting in music that is fun, funny, and deeply moving. The fourteen performers include violinist Jennifer Koh ("one of our most thoughtful and intense musicians," New York Times), the Variation Trio, and string quartet The Rhythm Method ("uncompromising and unreserved," examiner.com) - with Andrew on hand to introduce his music.
Andrew Norman: Stop Motion for String Quartet (New York Premiere)
Dufay - Nuper rosarum flores
Andrew Norman - Farnsworth: Four Portraits of a House
J. S. Bach - Two Part Inventions (arr. for strings)
Andrew Norman - The Companion Guide to Rome
Kurtág: Hommage à Ránki György
Andrew Norman - Still Life
Advent Lutheran Church
New York, NY 10025
For tickets, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/music-mondays-hear-by-design-music-of-andrew-norman-tickets-33777176444?aff=es2
I wrote a profile of Andrew Norman for Neue Zeitschrift für Musik that is in the February 2017 issue. The publisher has generously allowed me to share a PDF of the English version of the article. Here's an excerpt:
Try. Split. Suspend. Switch. Play. Many of the titles for Andrew Norman’s recent works are both a window into formal devices used in the piece and an invitation for the audience to engage in active listening. Often, Norman presents a complex texture at the beginning of a work that is slowly untangled through actions in the orchestra—actions which sometimes contradict each other as the orchestra tries to resolve the formal puzzle of non-linear narratives. Processing these contradictions in a meaningful way requires both the calm ability to recognize them, and the empathy to take on different perspectives. Contemporary music requires one to confront pre-conceived notions of sound, and challenges the listener to process these contradictions in real time. Therefore, although listening to a classical music concert is often considered a passive activity, Norman is asking the audience to make it an active one by questioning their aesthetic assumptions and being open to problem-solving. Read on
You may access the German version (translation by Friedrich Heinrich Kern) here: "Architektur der Gesellschaft: Der US-Amerikanische Komponist Andrew Norman."
Excited to share my debut EP, Wanderweg! It includes a piece for Noguchi sounding stones, an amplification of beautiful construction noise, a sickly, stuck cover of "Hawaiʻi Aloha," and a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Music by Anne Lanzilotti
Anne Lanzilotti, viola(s), mixing
Bernd Klug, mixing & mastering
Credits for birth, death:
Anne Lanzilotti, Noguchi sounding stones
Alice Teyssier, voice
Leah Asher & Marina Kifferstein, violins
Meaghan Burke, cello
Bernd Klug, recording engineer
Recorded at The Noguchi Museum, New York
Cover Photography: Salvatore Lanzilotti
In Boston this week to play Ted Hearne's Law of Mosaics and Andrew Norman's The Companion Guide to Rome with A Far Cry! Concert Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 7:00pm at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Tickets here.
Hearne's Law of Mosaics explores the idea of mosaics to an extreme. The piece asks: What does it mean to take things out of context? Do moments of beauty taken out of context lose their meaning? Is it enough to make a beautiful thing?
From A Far Cry's website:
A rare opportunity to hear A Far Cry's acclaimed album in a full live concert performance! Law of Mosaics features two brilliant works by Ted Hearne and Andrew Norman. In Norman’s Companion Guide to Rome, a 2012 Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, A Far Cry explores the composer’s favorite churches in the Eternal City as nine separate string trios. In “Law of Mosaics”, Hearne creates a magnificent sonic patchwork, imaginatively spun by A Far Cry as a unified ensemble.
In the words of the Washington Post: [the] dense, idea-intensive “Law of Mosaics” for strings focused more on pure music, cutting and knitting together sections from other works, deliberately upending any sense of narrative to explore new paths to meaning. Hearne’s writing is virtuosic, complex and imaginative — almost to the point of brutality — and A Far Cry played it with fierce dedication.
Excited to share this new viola version of Martin Bresnick's Josephine (the Singer) that I edited, now available through Carl Fischer Music: http://www.carlfischer.com/B3462
Bresnick explains in his program notes:
Josephine The Singer takes it's title from Franz Kafka's last published story, "Josephine the Singer or the Mouse People" . This valedictory tale was Kafka's prescient mediation both on musical divas and also what he considered might be the future of the Jews as a persecuted minority in Europe in the 20th century.
The composition is an extended passacaglia on a subject derived from my earlier work Songs of The Mouse People. This subject itself is found to be consistent with the narrow intervals employed in most mouse melodies.
Hope you enjoy this slightly deeper "rat" version of Josephine (the Singer)! Here are a couple excerpts from the premiere (Live at NYU Black Box Theatre, New York, NY. March 12, 2015).
I talked to Dennis Tobenski about advocacy, commissioning, and collaboration on his wonderful Music Publishing Podcast.
Here are links to the people I mentioned during the course of our conversation: Leah Asher, Ashley Bathgate, Martin Bresnick, Meaghan Burke, Emily Bookwalter, Dai Fujikura, Ted Hearne, Marina Kifferstein, Bernd Klug, Jennifer Koh, David Lang, James Moore, Andrew Norman, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Scott Wollschleger, ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble)
Thanks so much, Dennis, for having me on the podcast!
I got another chance to play with these incredible obsidian sounding stones by Isamu Noguchi! Although they are normally not displayed publicly, The Noguchi Museum staff has been very generously allowing me to improvise on them and record the sounds to workshop a new piece I'm writing for the stones, strings and voice [updated link to live recording and sheet music above]. The premiere of my piece will be part of a concert at The Noguchi Museum on Sunday, February 5, 2017 at 3pm. Here are a couple videos from last month when I was experimenting with different ways of playing the stones:
Concert description: In honor of the exhibition of Noguchi’s two sculptures Birth (1934) and Death (1934) together in the same gallery for the first time, The Noguchi Museum presents The Rhythm Method String Quartet featuring Alice Teyssier in a program entitled The Once and Future Maiden. In the same way that Noguchi sought a lifelong balance between figuration and abstraction, the various compositional voices on this program deal with fragmented portraits of women in life and death. In addition to my new piece, the program includes works by Dai Fujikura, Leah Asher, and Franz Schubert. The concert is free with museum admission.
COMPOSER PORTRAIT: Zosha Di Castri
Thursday, December 1, 2016, 8pm
Miller Theatre at Columbia University
Excited to be joining Yarn/Wire and Ekmeles for this portrait concert of Zosha Di Castri at Miller Theatre tonight! Read more about the concert from the composer herself in this recent interview for I Care If You Listen.