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Posts tagged 'cello'

Welcome, Marcos Balter, To PSNY!

Marcos Balter seems to be everywhere these days: based in Chicago, in the past year he's composed new works for ICE, Dal Niente, the ACO, yMusic, Nadia Sirota, Ryan Muncy, Claire Chase, and has appeared in venues from New York to Curitiba, Brazil. One could say, without exaggeration, that he's one of the hardest working people in new music, a true collaborator who works with ensembles and perfomers to compose chamber works with his unmistakable voice, which is at once intricately emotional and intrinsically complex. 

In a compositional lineage ranging from Chopin to Sciarrino, Balter's compositions work on numerous levels, engaging listeners with immediate, visceral emotion, but also on a deeper level, with an embedded structure that rewards contemplation and deep listening. One such work is Ignis Fatuus, for solo violin, composed in 2008 for the Holland/America Music Society International Violin Competition. A meditation on timbre, the sonic qualities of the violin, and the paradox of polyphony on a monophonic instrument, this work draws the listener into its sound-world while expanding the boundaries of its own sonic possibilities. 

And yet Ignis Fatuus also uses Paganini's Caprice No. 6 as source material, linking the instrument with the diatonic trace of its inherent history. At once immediately acessable, the deep structure and historicity contained within Balter's work makes it a transcendent experience for both listener and performer. 

Another such work is delete/control/option, for alto flute and cello. Balter's collaborative mode of composition comes to the fore: the piece is as much composed by the performers as the composer, as they physically embody the taxing demands of the written score, which acts not as the "ur-text" of the composition, but rather as tablature for performance. Using the language of computer commands, this work is as much about syntax as it is the transcendance of syntax: the real, affective language that is translated, modified, and encoded by re-presentation.  

Balter's textural language shines in this piece, blending the timbres of alto flute and cello to create an emergent, organic body, re-imagining his compositional voice through the projected voice of the chamber ensemble. This effect is even more present in his work for saxophone quartet, Intercepting a Shivery Light, premiered by the Anubis Saxophone Quartet in 2012. In this work, the quartet is rendered as a single voice, with the appearance of Ligeti-like micropolyphony and timbral transformations. Again, the score acts as tablature for live, embodied performance: these visceral effects emerge from embodiment, again projecting a spectral, single voice into the polyphony of the quartet. And, like in Ignis Fatuus, the piece works on two (or more) levels: the immediate affective response is transformed when the listener learns that the title of the piece is an anagram of Radiohead's "Everything in its Right Place."   

From the colors in Balter's head to the tone-colors of the composition, this piece works on a wordless, affective level, creating a texture in the saxophone quartet approaching that of a modular synthesizer, granular in its machinations of sound. There's no wonder why Balter is such an in-demand composer: his works are an ecstatic embodiment of the possibilities of instruments and their players, written with performance in mind. We're thrilled to make these works available to the public through PSNY, and look forward to more in the future!  

 

New Music Mondays: Morton Subotnick, Mario Diaz de Leon, & Scott Wollschleger

With snow piling up across America, it's a great opportunity to spend some time indoors practicing... new music! This week we're excited to feature three newly-pubilshed works: Morton Subotnick's "Trembling", Mario Diaz de Leon's "Luciform", and Scott Wollschleger's "America".

Morton Subotnick's "Trembling" is scored for violin, piano and "ghost score" technology, Subotnick's interactive electro-acoustic software which autonomously spatializes and reacts to acoustic phenomena. Taking a recording of Joan La Barbara speaking the word "trembling," Subotnick "recorded, synthesized, and transformed" this utterance and used it as the basis for his composition. Check out a sample of the recording below: 

Mario Diaz de Leon's "Luciform", for solo flute and electronics, also plays with the interaction between performer and software, but in a different way; the work is a "journey inward, a movement through a series of vision states. A difficult path, a rite of passage, hovering between diabolical intensity and lucid wakefulness." Recently recorded by Claire Chase for her fantastic album "Density," "Luciform" is a complex, intensely virtuosic work with a profound depth of both acoustic and electronic textures. 

Though Scott Wollschleger's "America", for solo cello, does not include electronics, it remains connected to Subotnick's and Diaz de Leon's works through its exploration of "timbre, virtuosity, and differential repetition." Not bound to pitch-space or harmonic structures, Wollschleger's work explores the timbral possibilities of the cello with extended technique with both instrumentation and sonic organization. 

 

Two New Commissions for Alex Mincek

Alex Mincek was awarded two commissions in September: a Barlow Endowment Commission for a new percussion trio for Line Upon Percussion, and the French Commission of the State for a large ensemble piece for Ensemble Linea. 

Alex's award from the Barlow Endowment will allow him to create a new work for Adam Bedell, Matthew Teodori, and Cullen Faulk, who make up Line Upon Line Percussion, hailed as "the premiere new music percussion ensemble in Texas" by The Austinist. We think they'll be a great fit for Mincek's work, as evidenced by some of their past performances: 

We're equally excited about Mincek's new work for Ensemble Linea, who have performed his music in the past; here they are playing poco a poco, available on PSNY: 

And coming up in NYC, cellist Mariel Roberts premieres Mincek's flutter for solo cello on September 26th, 2012, and the work will be available for sale immediately after the performance. Be sure to stop by the concert, presented by Issue Project Room, which takes place at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn Heights. 

 

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