2016’s Thanks and Reflections

This year taught me about how necessary and fun it is to work with other people. From planning performances of I Was On the Side of the Highway with Annie Lyle Mason to starting All Score Urbana with Standard Rep Bassoon Quartet and Molly O’Roark getting my back, all of these interactions reminded me that creativity thrives with the intelligence, sensitivity, and compassion of others. (Check out some of this year’s pieces and performances above).

I had the opportunity to do music around the US, as well as Scotland, this year with a number of really encouraging people. I want to acknowledge them:

I also want to thank organizations and ensembles that made a big difference for me this year:

As this new year starts, I hope to keep these collaborative fires goings and finding new ways to support other people, their safety and expression. A big thanks to The Rogue Trio and Sonny Oram from Qwear for being part of this conversation and its many variations this year.


Brought the Ruckus to Chicago’s Slate Arts + Performance!

This weekend Tori Lupinek, Annie Lyle Mason, Connor Thummel, Dakota Wayne, and I got to play a show at the opening night of Slate Arts + Performance‘s PROTEST exhibition that included two Chicago premieres of my pieces (I Was On the Side of the Highway and Ruckus from the Quiet Zone).

Performing at Slate was everything we dream about as musicians: a warm, encouraging environment from Slate’s curators and a big, vibrant audience of people of all ages. (Apparently there was a girl in a dinosaur costume looking in the window at Annie during her solo performance of I Was On the Side of the Highway! Perfect first New Music experience!)

It also was an intriguing space with engaging, diverse works by artists including Soheila Azadi + Liz Cambron, Olga Guse, Gary Lehman, Chris Wanklyn (who I got to meet and was great!), Charity White, Chris Willie, and Jade Williams.

Annie and I found some great spots to do the different spatialized sections of Highway. The first part of it is always meant to be removed, distant and marginalized, which was in perfect contrast to Connor bringing the unfiltered thunder in Persichetti’s Parable no. 18.

Ruckus from the Quiet Zone centers around Chris Vaisvil’s canon, a homemade string instrument that we made available for the audience to try out afterwards. Tori, Dakota, and I joined Connor and Annie in contemplating the glacial ballet of the Green Bank Telescope and living in the National Radio Quiet Zone. See a bit of it in the video excerpt above!

So many thanks to Jenny and Ben for making it so easy to have a wonderful time at Slate!



First Episode of Penelope’s Endless Book of Magic


I’m so happy to share the first episode of “Penelope’s Endless Book of Magic.” Join Penelope and her friend as they try to understand the hurdles of growing up and try to see if magic can make it any more fun and easy. Come for the laughs, revel in the weird!

Big ups to the talented performers in this project: David Cyzak, Zachary Bowers, Liz Lewis, and Alfred Shaw!

Drive to the Edge Selected for Radiophrenia Glasgow!

I’m proud to announce that “Drive to the Edge” was selected to be part of Radiophrenia Glasgow is being broadcast from September 8-11 at 5:30 pm GMT (12:30 pm EST/ 11:30 am CST). Tune in and give it a drive if you are near Glasgow on 87.9 FM or stream online at http://radiophrenia.scot/listen/
This is the first time “Drive to the Edge” is being played as a movement a day on consecutive days. I love the multitude of possibilities a serial offers radio programming.
Thanks Radiophrenia Glasgow! And a big thanks again to the performers: Luis Brennan, Thomas Carroll, Ben Chew, Elliot Cobb, Zoltan Csikos, David Cyzak, Cheryl Lewis, Liz Lewis, Jack Alexander Madden,Ion-Alexandru Malaimare, Annie Lyle Mason, and Alfred Shaw!

Sonambient Sculptures at Museum of Arts and Design!

Ralph Bertoia No1

After such a lovely experience at WGXC’s Wave Farm, I went down to Manhattan to record the replica Bertoia Sonambient sculptures (made by Harry Bertoia’s son Val) at the Museum of Arts and Design as part of its Atmosphere for Enjoyment: Studio Sessions. Each month the exhibit is up different artists get a chance to record with the sculptures.

Ralph Bertoia No3.jpg

It’s neat that MAD continues its tradition of participatory exhibits: while the exhibit was shut down in some ways (all other audio turned off) so I could record without interference, MAD also offers times for the public to come try out the sculptures throughout the week.

Playing Bertoia’s sculptures was a strange experience: handling them felt foolproof but still full of sonic mystery. It was less how I activated the sculptures, and more that I (or someone did). That requisite (human?) touch and the resulting wandering, shimmering or vagrant reverberations were fascinating. More to follow once I have thought on this more.

Thanks for a great summer, WGXC and MAD!

Me in Greyscale Coffeeplace.JPG

(photo credits: Leila Zogby)

Premiere Broadcast of Penelope’s Endless Book of Magic!

Today is the start of something for me and the people involved in this radio serial opera, and I am so happy to be sharing it with you. We’ve talked about, worried about it, laughed about it, and dreamed about a confluence of an engaging if silly narrative structure and emotional electroacoustic music. Something that aspires to live on radio, be transmitted and readily enjoyed. Something with some bitey teeth and silly smirks. This is the first episode and there are more on the way.

Tune in today from 4 – 6 pm EST on WGXC 90.7-FM or stream on www.wavefarm.org for Saturday Afternoon Show host Tom Roe and I discuss and play Penelope’s Endless Book of Magic, what’s in store for it, and play and discuss other music and transmission works I have been doing.

Two especially enormous thank you’s are required:

To Galen and Tom at Wave Farm for being excited by the idea behind this work and encouraging its creation with an artist residency. I have had such a wonderful time here and feel so encouraged!

To the MAGNIFICENT Alfred Shaw (The real Alfred the Great) who has taken the lead role to new heights of fun and awesomeness and has been such a generous, animated collaborator.

(Update: Episode 1 and future episodes can be heard here!)

First Full Broadcast of Drive to the Edge Tonight on WGXC!

Drive to the Edge image

How does your visible world intersect with and affect the invisible signals your radio (or smart device) receive?

Tune in tonight (12:05 am EST) on WGXC 90.7-FM and at www.wgxc.org and explore it with Drive to the Edge. As part of your exploration, please record the transmission from Wave Farm and share it with us so we can air these variations of receivers and places on Saturday.

(Email them to ralphlewis.music@gmail.com)

Fresh Inc Festival / Wave Farm Residency – This Summer!

Coolbanner.jpgAfter a wonderful first year at University of Illinois with so many great times, new friends, and the opportunities to explore new ideas, I’m about to start a really fun summer.

In June, I’ll be attending the Fresh Inc Festival at University of Wisconsin-Parkside where some great musicians I’m just beginning to get to know will premiere social pressures on the moon for flute, oboe, bass clarinet, soprano sax, and trombone.

In July, I’ll be heading to New York to do an artist residency at Wave Farm, WGXC 90.7-FM and will be broadcasting the premiere of Penelope’s Endless Book of Magic, a radio serial opera I am working on.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out this series I did for Wave Farm early this year! It’s called Drive to the Edge.