One of the things I have been looking forward to most is now right around the corner–New Music Gathering. On Friday June 23rd, Abby Williams Chin and Brant Roberts will perform a half hour program entitled “Memorial and Memory in Experimental Music and Dance” that will feature choreography by Sara Hook and Abby with music composed by Dave O Mahony and me. Pete Martin, who I have collaborated with before, plans to do a multi-camera recording of the performance.
The piece of mine included in this program “Another Chance So Suite” is one of those compositions you have hopes and dreams about when creating it. It centers around my interests in historical and current approaches to experimental music (and related creativity). During my research for my dissertation, I learned about how Merce Cunningham’s first aleatoric dance work was premiered where I was attending school, in a building I would walk by most days. I envisioned it as a travel piece that my colleague percussionist Dr. Mike Minarcek could take on the road–which he eventually did, performing it at College Music Society Great Lakes and Southern Conferences with Kayt MacMaster and Abby Williams Chin.
I had also hoped when writing the piece that I could join together with a choreographer to not simply tribute Cunningham only but to build something special that looked back but also looked ahead. It very much feels like this happened when Sara Hook and I began collaborating together. Throughout the rehearsals, previews, and performances in the last year and a half, it’s meant so much to be work with so many inspiring artists with different creative skills.
One fantastic little part of being a composer is finding out after the fact that someone has gone ahead and programmed your work. Such is the case with Christopher Newport University’s Electronic Music Ensemble performing “MoxTube” back in the Fall. I deeply appreciate them programming this work and embracing the “ensemble performs from the audience” approach you can take when presenting the work in a concert space.
Click this to open DuoTube in your browser window.
(While people can find DuoTube on YouTube pretty easily, perhaps some people will find this easier to open it during the presentation Ron Meiksins and I are giving).
For the first time in years, I have been traveling to present at conferences and festivals. I’m very thankful to be able to present about All Score Urbana at College Music Great Lakes Conference and at Penn State New-Music Festival and Symposium. In about a week I will be headed to New York City to perform “DuoTube” and present about it with flutist/YouTuber Robin Meiksins at SEAMUS National Conference.
It has been a wonderful and musical week.
On Thursday Mike Minarcek, Abby Williams Chin, and Kayt MacMaster performed “Dick and Janes” by Sara Hook / “Another Chance So Suite” by me at Jacksonville University for College Music Society’s Southern Regional Conference.
On Saturday, Desmond Clarke, Gaia Blandina, and Lucy Havelock premiered “our own parade” at York Unitarian Chapel as part of the Arc Project’s ReLaunch concert.
I’m excited to hear the recording from each of these concerts.
On Sunday, I attended New Music Mosaic’s Urbana concert. It was the first time I had been able to hear “Can’t Take You Anywhere” in person since 2020. Briar Darling performed it outstandingly.
As of yesterday, I have also begun duties as the first Member-at-Large for Outreach for Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, after winning an election earlier this month.
It is still January, but a very nice schedule has begun to emerge regarding music I’ve written and talks I will give.
Last week, in Estonia, a short work entitled “Uneven As You Do” was performed at Pärnu Days of Contemporary Music.
In February there will be three performances of my compositions: Mike Minarcek will perform “Another Chance So Suite” at CMS Southern Conference in tandem with Sara Hook’s “Dick and Janes” choreography performed by Kayt MacMaster and Abby Williams Chin. Briar Darling will perform “Can’t Take You Anywhere” as part of New Music Mosaic in Urbana, IL, and in York, UK, Desmond Clark, Lucy Havelock, and Gaia Blandina will be premiering a new work “our own parade” as part of the Arc Project’s Relaunch Concert.
In March, I will be traveling to two conferences, CMS Great Lakes and Penn State New Music Festival and Symposium, to present about All Score Urbana. In addition, I will get to see Mike Minarcek and Kayt MacMaster perform “Another Chance So Suite”/”Dick and Janes.”
In April (still working on the details) I will be performing “DuoTube” as part of SEAMUS’s national conference. Later that month, my collaboration with Chris Raymond and P.R. Martin, “Shadow’s Long Reach” will be included in the global telematic event Earth Day Art Model.
Recently, I completed “Long-Cooled Love,” a piece for trumpet and electronics for Dr. Nicole Gillotti. I’m looking forward to hearing her premiere the piece in the coming year.
Earlier this year I was selected to receive the first SEAMUS (Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States) CREATE Grant to support upcoming version of All Score Urbana. We were able to order several of Travis Thatcher’s photon tricorders to make available at our free-to-the-public events in 2023 and going forward.
A few weeks ago I was a special guest speaker for Five Towns College’s Graduate Analysis Course. I am from Long Island and some of my first and most inspiring memories happened on that campus when I was growing up. I presented about my work creating my dissertation “Aaron Cassidy’s Second String Quartet: Resilient Structures, Indeterminate Localities, and Performance Practice.” The class was extremely well-prepared regarding my research about Cassidy’s beautiful music, so we were able to move to a more conversational Q & A format.
I loved being in a situation with musicians including current public school music teachers, where we could talk frankly, safely, and thoughtfully about contemporary music. I thought the class had great, specific questions that reflected how they had delved into my research and thought about how it reflected on the needs of their practices. One of my favorite questions came from a very special member of the class, the man who, in the late 1990s, was the high school age assistant teacher that started me on viola (who apparently now runs that whole summer music program!). He was very curious about what would happen when performing Cassidy’s work with an ergonomic viola. I though it would be interesting to perform Cassidy’s work with one of them, especially because there is precedent in his other works where the individual performers’ reach, breath, and/or energy allows the range of the work to shift.
Starting this summer, I have been fortunate to have a series of performances and presentations of my work scheduled through the US as well as in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Japan. In the US, preview performances of my “Another Chance So Suite” as the musical portion of choreographer Sara Hook’s “Dick and Janes” have been happening every few months on the way to the official premiere on October 13th as part of the University of Illinois October Dance concerts.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to embark on the (virtual but based in Canada) Westben Performer-Composer Residency with my duo partner Dave O Mahony. In collaboration with Alex Hawthorn and Maddi Baird, we created a work entitled “From Ireland to Ojai.” In addition to its premiere as part of the residency, it has been selected for the Sonic Cartography at the University of Kent at the end of October.
Another portion of my very Canadian and virtual summer was spent collaborating with other creative folks as part of the Montreal Contemporary Music Lab. Our project “Manteau de Mains” has since been included in a New Music Mosaic virtual concert in August.
I’m also grateful for compositions also being featured as part of a ISSTA Soundwalk during the International Computer Music Conference in Limerick and for my friends flxnflx performing “Kib” live at De Montfort University’s Convergence 2022 recently. I have recently heard back from Audio Rocket Festival at Osaka University of Arts regarding programming one of my pieces and tomorrow, October 3rd, Anna Marshall will be giving the concert/world premiere of our site investigative work for horn and environmental drone “Hear There.”
In the last few years I have had the opportunity to contribute reviews to Computer Music Journal. As I update my website, I hope to keep a running list of links to them in the “Writing” tab above. One of my recent reviews of John Bischoff’s recent album Bitplicity and retirement concert (which I attended remotely). John’s music is very special and the concert’s dual focus on his careers as a solo musician and as part of collaborative network music groups felt like a thoughtful celebration. The solo set from the concert is half of the Bitplicity album, so including both seemed like a good idea. Looking forward, I am currently working on a few more reviews of some concerts and festivals for CMJ that I am hoping to deliver in a few months.