“Toshiro Mayuzumi was the first Japanese composer to create works of musique concrète and electronic music. In 1951, he graduated from a Tokyo university and enjoyed a successful premiere of his composition, “Sphenogrammes,” at the ISCM festival. While spending the next year studying in Paris, Mayuzumi discovered the musique concrète scene. He returned to Tokyo and formed the composer group Sannin no Kai (“Group of Three”) and wrote the first musique concrète work (“X, Y, Z” ) and first electronic piece (“Shusaku I” ) in Japan. His experimentations also include the use of prepared piano and unusual instrumentations. From the late ’50s on, Mayuzumi’s music was increasingly influenced by traditional Japanese music and Buddhism, and was awarded the Otaka Prize twice (in 1958 and 1967) for work in this vein. He also composed for theater (including his collaborations with Mishima) and for film, including his award-winning electronic score for Tokyo Olympic in the mid-’60s. Later in his career, Mayuzumi also hosted a television show and served as the President of the Japan Federation of Composers.” – from Naxos
October 26, 1971 – Albany, NY, USA
“Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) was described by Pitchfork as “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” He was named DownBeat Magazine‘s 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist. In 2014 he began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University.
The New York Times observes, “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.” Iyer has released twenty albums covering remarkably diverse terrain, most recently for the ECM label. The latest include Break Stuff (2015), with a coveted five-star rating in DownBeat Magazine, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio, hailed by PopMatters as “the best band in jazz”; Mutations (2014), featuring Iyer’s music for piano, string quartet and electronics, which “extends and deepens his range… showing a delicate, shimmering, translucent side of his playing” (Chicago Tribune); and Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi (2014), “his most challenging and impressive work, the scintillating score to a compelling film by Prashant Bhargava” (DownBeat), performed by International Contemporary Ensemble and released on DVD and BluRay.
Iyer’s trio (Iyer, piano; Marcus Gilmore, drums; Stephan Crump, bass) made its name with two tremendously acclaimed and influential albums, Accelerando (2012) and Historicity (2009). Accelerando was voted #1 Jazz Album of the Year for 2012 in three separate critics polls surveying hundreds of critics worldwide, hosted by DownBeat, Jazz Times, and Rhapsody, respectively, and also was chosen as jazz album of the year by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, PopMatters, and Amazon.com. Iyer received an unprecedented “quintuple crown” in the 2012 DownBeat International Critics Poll (winning Jazz Artist of the Year, Pianist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Group of the Year, and Rising Star Composer categories), a “quadruple crown” in the JazzTimes extended critics poll (winning Artist of the Year, Acoustic/Mainstream Group of the Year, Pianist of the Year, and Album of the Year), the 2012 and 2013 Pianist of the Year Awards and the 2010 Musician of the Year Award from the Jazz Journalists Association, and the 2013 ECHO Award (the “German Grammy”) for best international pianist. Historicity was a 2010 Grammy Nominee for Best Instrumental Jazz Album, and was named #1 Jazz Album of 2009 in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Detroit Metro Times, National Public Radio, PopMatters.com, the Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, and the Downbeat International Critics Poll, and the trio won the 2010 ECHO Award for best international ensemble.
Iyer’s 2013 collaboration with poet Mike Ladd, Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project, based on the dreams of veterans of color from America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was hailed as #1 Jazz Album of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and described in JazzTimes as “impassioned, haunting, [and] affecting.” Along with their previous projects In What Language? (2004) and Still Life with Commentator (2007), Holding It Down rounded out a trilogy of politically searing albums about post-9/11 American life. These projects were hailed as “unfailingly imaginative and significant” (JazzTimes) and praised for their “powerful narrative invention and ravishing trance-jazz… an eloquent tribute to the stubborn, regenerative powers of the human spirit” (Rolling Stone).
Iyer’s accomplishments extend well beyond his recordings. His recent composer commissions include “Playlist for an Extreme Occasion” (2012) written for Silk Road Ensemble (and released on their 2013 album A Playlist without Borders); “Dig The Say,” written for Brooklyn Rider and released on their 2014 album Almanac; “Mozart Effects” (2011) and “Time, Place, Action” (2014) for Brentano String Quartet; “Bruits” (2014) for Imani Winds and pianist Cory Smythe; “Rimpa Transcriptions” (2012) written for Bang on a Can All-Stars; “UnEasy” (2011) commissioned by NYC’s Summerstage in collaboration with choreographer Karole Armitage; “Three Fragments” (2011) for Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society. His orchestral work Interventions was commissioned and premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in 2007 under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies. It was praised by The New York Times as “all spiky and sonorous,” and by the Philadelphia City Paper for its “heft and dramatic vision and a daring sense of soundscape.” Other works include Mutations I-X (2005) commissioned and premiered by the string quartet ETHEL; “Three Episodes for Wind Quintet” (1999) written for Imani Winds; a “ravishing” (Variety) score for the original theater/dance work Betrothed (2007); the award-winning film score for Teza (2008) by legendary filmmaker Haile Gerima; a suite of acoustic jazz cues for the sports channel ESPN (2009); and the prize-winning audiovisual installation Release (2010) in collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison. Forthcoming commissions include pieces for Jennifer Koh, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and So Percussion. His concert works are published by Schott Music. An active electronic musician and producer, Iyer displays his digital audio artistry on his own recordings Still Life with Commentator, Holding it Down, Mutations, and Radhe Radhe, and in his remixes for British Asian electronica pioneer Talvin Singh, Islamic punk band The Kominas, and composer-performer Meredith Monk.
Iyer was voted the 2010 Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, and named one of 2011’s “50 Most Influential Global Indians” by GQ India. Other honors include the Greenfield Prize, the Alpert Award in the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, the India Abroad Publisher’s Special Award for Excellence, and numerous critics’ prizes.
Iyer’s many collaborators include creative music pioneers Steve Coleman, Wadada Leo Smith, Roscoe Mitchell, Butch Morris, George Lewis, Amina Claudine Myers, William Parker, Graham Haynes, Miya Masaoka, Pamela Z, John Zorn; next-generation artists Rudresh Mahanthappa, Rez Abbasi, Craig Taborn, Ambrose Akinmusire, Liberty Ellman, Steve Lehman, Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey; Dead Prez, DJ Spooky, Himanshu Suri of Das Racist, High Priest of Antipop Consortium, DJ Val Jeanty, Karsh Kale, Suphala, Imani Uzuri, and Talvin Singh; filmmakers Haile Gerima, Prashant Bhargava, and Bill Morrison; choreographer Karole Armitage; and poets Mike Ladd, Amiri Baraka, Charles Simic, and Robert Pinsky.
A polymath whose career has spanned the sciences, the humanities and the arts, Iyer received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the cognitive science of music from the University of California, Berkeley. He has published in Journal of Consciousness Studies, Wire, Music Perception, JazzTimes, Journal of the Society for American Music, Critical Studies in Improvisation, in the anthologies Arcana IV, Sound Unbound, Uptown Conversation, The Best Writing on Mathematics: 2010, and in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. Iyer has taught at Manhattan School of Music, New York University, and the New School, and he is the Director of The Banff Centre’s International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, an annual 3-week program in Alberta, Canada. Iyer recently finished a multi-year residency with San Francisco Performances, cultivating new audiences and working with schools and community organizations. He is a Steinway artist and uses Ableton Live software.” – from Vijay Iyer’s Official Website
The innovative and highly energetic music of Rob Smith is frequently performed throughout the United States and abroad. His music has received numerous awards, including those from the Aaron Copland House, ASCAP and the National Band Association. He has received commissions from the Texas Music Festival Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony Chamber Music Program, the American Composers Forum, and several nationally renowned university wind ensembles, among many others. A wide variety of ensembles have performed his music, including the Ethel and Enso string quartets, Soli Chamber Ensemble, American Modern Ensemble, New World Symphony Percussion Consort, Singapore Wind Symphony Percussion Ensemble, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Standing Wave Chamber Ensemble (Canada) and the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra.
In 1997, he was the recipient of a Fulbright Grant to Australia, which led to a teaching position at the University of Wollongong in 1998. Commercial recordings of his music are available by the Society for New Music (Syracuse, NY), Rutgers University Wind Ensemble, saxophonist Jeremy Justeson, Austrian toy pianist Isabel Ettenauer, and the University of Houston and Texas Christian University Percussion Ensembles.
Currently, he teaches at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music where he is Associate Professor of Music Composition and director of the AURA Contemporary Ensemble. From 2003-2014 he served as one of the artistic directors of Musiqa, a Houston-based contemporary chamber ensemble. Currently, he teaches at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music where he is Associate Professor of Music Composition and director of the AURA Contemporary Ensemble. Boosey & Hawkes, Carl Fischer, Southern Music, C-Alan Publications, and Skitter Music Publications publish his music.
Rob Smith will join colleagues from across the globe at the 2016 Florida International Toy Piano Festival in January 2016 presented by The New Music Conflagration, Inc.
1) How did you first become interested in the toy piano as a concert instrument?
I was commissioned by Isabel Ettenauer, an Austrian toy pianist.
2) What influenced you to come to the festival?
Since purchasing a toy piano so my toy piano works could be performed in Houston, I have programmed a number of works for toy piano with my ensemble, and I am always looking for more.
3) Who is your favorite toy piano composer and why?
I don’t have a favorite, but I particularly admire the terrific, idiomatic works Stephen Montague, HyeKyung Lee, Joe Cutler and Karlheinz Essl have written for the toy piano.
4) What do you see as the future of toy piano?
In the last 20 years the toy piano repertoire has grown exponentially, and I feel it will continue to grow as a solo instrument, in chamber ensembles and with electronics.
5) What local place or thing are you most excited to experience during your visit to the Tampa Bay Area for the festival?
The Tampa Museum of Art – I am a big fan of contemporary art!
CHECK OUT THESE WORKS BY ROB FOR NOT TOY PIANO AND MEET HIM IN JANUARY 2016 DURING THE FESTIVAL!
April 14, 1933 – Los Angeles, CA, USA
“Morton Subotnick is one of the pioneers in the development of electronic music and multi-media performance and an innovator in works involving instruments and other media, including interactive computer music systems. Most of his music calls for a computer part, or live electronic processing; his oeuvre utilizes many of the important technological breakthroughs in the history of the genre. His work Silver Apples of the Moon has become a modern classic and was recently entered into the National Registry of Recorded works at the Library of Congress. Only 300 recordings throughout the entire history of recordings have been chosen.
In the early 60s, Subotnick taught at Mills College and with Ramon Sender, co-founded the San Francisco Tape Music Center. During this period he collaborated with Anna Halprin in two works (the 3 legged stool and Parades and Changes) and was music director of the Actors Workshop. It was also during this period that Subotnick worked with Buchla on what may have been the first analog synthesizer (now at the Library of Congress).
In 1966 Subotnick was instrumental in getting a Rockefeller Grant to join the Tape Center with the Mills Chamber Players (a chamber at Mills College with performers Nate Rubin, violin; Bonnie Hampton, cello; Naomi Sparrow, piano and Subotnick, clarinet). The grant required that the Tape Center relocate to a host institution that became Mills College. Subotnick, however, did not stay with the move, but went to NY with the Actor’s Workshop to become the first music director of the Lincoln Center Rep Company in the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. He also, along with Len Lye, became an artist in residence at the newly formed Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. The School of the Arts provided him with a studio (pictures) and a Buchla Synthesizer. During this period he helped develop and became artistic director of the Electric Circus and the Electric Ear. This was also the time of the creation of Silver Apples of the Moon, The Wild Bull and Touch.
[The following is by Christian Hertzog from Contemporary Composers ] “The work which brought Subotnick celebrity was Silver Apples of the Moon. Written in 1967 using the Buchla modular synthesizer (an electronic instrument built by Donald Buchla utilizing suggestions from Subotnick and Ramon Sender), this work contains synthesized tone colors, striking for its day, and a control over pitch that many other contemporary electronic composers had relinquished. There is a rich counterpoint of gestures, in marked contrast to the simple surfaces of much contemporary electronic music. There are sections marked by very clear pulses, another unusual trait for its time; Silver Apples of the Moon was commissioned by Nonesuch Records, marking the first time an original large-scale composition had been created specifically for the disc medium – a conscious acknowledgment that the home stereo system constituted a present-day form of chamber music. Subotnick wrote this piece (and subsequent record company commissions) in two parts to correspond to the two sides of an LP. The exciting, exotic timbres and the dance inspiring rhythms caught the ear of the public — the record was an American bestseller in the classical music category, an extremely unusual occurrence for any contemporary concert music at the time. It has been re-released on Wergo cd with The Wild Bull.
The next eight years saw the production of several more important compositions for LP, realized on the Buchla synthesizer: The Wild Bull, Touch, Sidewinder and Four Butterflies . All of these pieces are marked by sophisticated timbres, contrapuntal rich textures, and sections of continuous pulse suggesting dance. In fact, Silver Apples of the Moon was used as dance music by several companies including the Stuttgart Ballet and Ballet Rambert and The Wild Bull, A Sky of Cloudless Sulfur and The Key to Songs, have been choreographed by leading dance companies throughout the world.”
In 1969 Subotnick was invited be part of a team of artists to move to Los Angeles to plan a new school of the. Mel Powell as Dean and Subotnick as Associate Dean and the team of four other pairs of artists carved out a new path of music education and created the now famous California Institute of the Arts. Subotnick remained Associate Dean of the music school for 4 years and then, resigning as Associate Dean, became the head of the composition program where, a few years later, he created a new media program that introduced interactive technology and multi media into the curriculum. In 1978 Subotnick, with Roger Reynolds and Bernard Rands, produced 5 annual internationally acclaimed new music festivals.
“In 1975, fulfilling another record company commission, (this time, Odyssey) Subotnick composed Until Spring , a work for solo synthesizer. In this work, changes in settings which Subotnick made in real time on the synthesizer were stored as control voltages on a separate tape, enabling him to duplicate any of his performance controls, and to subsequently modify them if he felt the desire to do so. While the use of control voltages was nothing new, it suggested to Subotnick a means to gain exact control over real-time electronic processing equipment. The next step in Subotnick’s use of control voltages was the development of the “ghost” box. This is a fairly simple electronic device, consisting of a pitch and envelope follower for a live signal, and the following voltage controlled units: an amplifier, a frequency shifter, and a ring modulator. The control voltages for the ghost box were originally stored on a tape, updated now to E-PROM. A performer, whose miced signal is sent into the ghost box, can then be processed by playing back the pre-recorded tape or E-PROM, containing the control voltages. As neither the tape nor E-PROM produce sound, Subotnick refers to their sound modification as a “ghost score”. By providing the performer with exact timings, co-ordination between performer and the ghost score is controlled.
Two Life Histories (1977) was the first piece involving an electronic ghost score; the bulk of Subotnick’s output for the next six years was devoted to compositions involving performers and ghost scores. Some of the more notable works in this series include Liquid Strata (piano), Parallel Lines (piccolo accompanied by nine players), The Wild Beasts (trombone and piano), Axolotl (solo cello), The Last Dream of the Beast (solo voice) and The Fluttering of Wings (string quartet). The subtlety, sophistication and control over real-time electronic processing that Subotnick demonstrated in these innovative works secured his reputation as one of the world’s most important electronic music composers.
Subotnick reached the apex of live electronic processing in his work Ascent Into Air (1981). Written for the powerful 4C computer at IRCAM, this piece involved many of the techniques which Subotnick had developed in his ghost scores. In addition to the processing normally available to him with his ghost boxes, Subotnick was able to spatially locate sounds in a quadraphonic field and to modulate the timbres of the instruments. But perhaps the most significant aspect of this work is its use of live performers to control the computer music; the live performers, in effect, serve as “control voltages” to influence where a sound is placed, how it is modulated and by how much, etc. — the reverse situation of the ghost score compositions. Even more remarkable is the ability of traditional musical instruments to control computer generated sounds.”
In addition to music in the electronic medium, Subotnick has written for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, theater and multimedia productions. His “staged tone poem” The Double Life of Amphibians, a collaboration with director Lee Breuer and visual artist Irving Petlin, utilizing live interaction between singers, instrumentalists and computer, was premiered at the 1984 Olympics Arts Festival in Los Angeles.
The concert version of Jacob’s Room, a mono drama commissioned by Betty Freeman for the Kronos Quartet and singer Joan La Barbara, received its premiere in San Francisco in 1985. Jacob’s Room, Subotnick’s multimedia opera chamber opera (directed by Herbert Blau with video imagery by Steina and Woody Vasulka, featuring Joan La Barbara), received its premiere in Philadelphia in April 1993 under the auspices of The American Music Theater Festival. The Key to Songs, for chamber orchestra and computer, was premiered at the 1985 Aspen Music Festival. Return, commissioned to celebrate the return of Haley’s Comet, premiered with an accompanying sky show in the planetarium of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles in 1986. Subotnick’s recent works — among them Jacob’s Room , The Key to Songs, Hungers , In Two Worlds, And the Butterflies Begin to Sing and A Desert Flowers — utilize computerized sound generation, specially designed software Interactor and “intelligent” computer controls which allow the performers to interact with the computer technology.
All My Hummingbirds Have Alibis (1994) was an interactive concert work and a CDROM (perhaps the first of its kind), Making Music (1995), Making More Music (1998) were his first works for children, and an interactive ‘Media Poem’, Intimate Immensity, premiered at the Lincoln Center Festival in NY (1997). The European premiere (1998) was in Karlsrhue, Germany. A string quartet with CDROM, “Echoes from the Silent Call of Girona” (1998), was premiered in Los Angeles by Southwest Chamber Music.
Subotnick is also doing pioneering work to offer musical creative tools to young children. He has authored a series of six CDROMS for children, a children’s website [creatingmusic.com] and developing a program for classroom and after school programs that will soon become available internationally. These works are available from Alfred Music Publishers.
At present (2010) he is developing a music curriculum for young children. The curriculum centers around the creating music. The child will learn from creating original music. He has been commissioned to complete the larger version of the opera, Jacob’s Room. This will be premiered in 2010 at the Bregenz Festival in Austria. He is also working closely with the Library of Congress as they are preparing an archival presentation of his electronic works. He tours extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe as a lecturer and composer/performer. Morton Subotnick is published by Schott Music.” – from Morton Subotnick’s Official Website
August 18, 1957 – Changsha, China
“The world renowned artist Tan Dun, following in the footsteps of his musical icons composer/conductor’s Mahler and Bernstein, has made an indelible mark on the world’s music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical music, multimedia performance, and Eastern and Western traditions. A winner of today’s most prestigious honors including the Grammy Award, Oscar/Academy Award, Grawemeyer Award for classical composition, Musical America’s Composer of The Year, Bach Prize of the City of Hamburg and Moscow’s Shostakovich Award, Tan Dun’s music has been played throughout the world by leading orchestras, opera houses, international festivals, and on the radio and television. As a composer/conductor, Tan Dun has led the world’s most esteemed orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestre National de France, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Filharmonica della Scala, Münchner Philharmoniker, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra, and has recently been named Honorary Chair of the Carnegie Hall China Advisory Council. As a global cultural leader, Tan Dun uses his creativity to raise awareness of environmental issues and to protect cultural diversity. In 2010, Tan Dun served as “Cultural Ambassador to the World” for World EXPO Shanghai and most recently, UNESCO appointed Tan Dun as its global Goodwill Ambassador.
Tan Dun’s individual voice has been heard widely by international audiences. In recent seasons, a new percussion concerto, The Tears of Nature, for soloist Martin Grubinger that premiered with the NDR Symphony Orchestra and Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, a symphony for 13 microfilms, harp and orchestra inspired by the secret Nushu calligraphy of Tan Dun’s home province of Hunan and commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. His first Internet Symphony, which was commissioned by Google/YouTube, has reached over 15 million people online. His Organic Music Trilogy of Water, Paper and Ceramic Concerti has frequented major concert halls and festivals. Paper Concerto was premiered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the opening of the Walt Disney Hall. His multimedia work, The Map, premiered by YoYo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has toured more than 30 countries worldwide. Its manuscript has been included in the Carnegie Hall Composers Gallery. His Orchestral Theatre: The Gate was premiered by Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra and crosses the cultural boundaries of Peking Opera, Western Opera and puppet theatre traditions. Other important recent premieres include Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo for the Berlin Philharmonic and Piano Concerto “The Fire” for Lang Lang and the New York Philharmonic. Tan Dun was commissioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to write the Logo Music and Award Ceremony Music for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Most recently, Tan Dun has been appointed as Honorary Artistic Director of China National Symphony Orchestra.
For Tan Dun opera has always been a leading creative outlet and source of inspiration. Marco Polo was commissioned by the Edinburgh Festival and has had four different productions including, most prominently, with De Nederlandse Opera directed by Pierre Audi; The First Emperor with Placido Domingo premiering the title role, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera of New York; Tea: A Mirror of Soul, premiered at Japan’s Suntory Hall in 2000, has since had new productions with Opera de Lyon, a co-production by Santa Fe Opera and The Opera Company of Philadelphia; and Peony Pavilion, directed by Peter Sellars which has had over 50 performances at major festivals in Vienna, Paris, London and Rome.
Tan Dun records for Sony Classical, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Opus Arte and Naxos. His recordings have garnered many accolades, including a Grammy Award (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and nomination (The First Emperor; Marco Polo; Pipa Concerto), Japan’s Recording Academy Awards for Best Contemporary Music CD (Water Passion after St. Matthew) and the BBC’s Best Orchestral Album (Death and Fire). Tan Dun’s music is published by G. Schirmer, Inc and represented worldwide by the Music Sales Group of Classical Companies.” – from Tan Dun’s Official Website
From experimental chamber rock to avant-garde, Amy O’Dell thunder punches the Atlanta music scene. She connects these worlds with a passionate and focused energy that permeates her performances. Amy is known as the quirky, energetic keytarist/keyboardist in Clibber Jones Ensemble appearing in venues all over Atlanta. Since 2012 she has been the adventurous, imaginative pianist of Chamber Cartel. Amy’s involvement in these groups has led her to collaborate and commission numerous works from composers in the US and Europe. She can be heard on albums by the Clibber Jones Ensemble and Chamber Cartel. Amy’s latest projects will be a tour across the U.S. of toy piano and percussion music with Chamber Cartel partner-in-crime, Caleb Herron. She will also be releasing a CD of solo toy piano music in December 2015! www.amy-odell.com
Amy O’Dell will join colleagues from across the globe at the 2016 Florida International Toy Piano Festival in January 2016 presented by The New Music Conflagration, Inc.
1) How did you first become interested in the toy piano as a concert instrument?
I first became interested in the toy piano as a concert instrument after hearing the music of Yann Tiersen for the film Amelie in 2001 which included quite a bit of toy piano. In fact, my first toy piano was in search for a similar Michelsonne toy piano he uses often for his music. I had it shipped all the way from France. Oh the things we do for such a delightful instrument! I later discovered Phyllis Chen and Margaret Leng Tan and they immediately became my role models.
2) What influenced you to apply for the festival?
A couple of days after I played a premiere toy piano concert, Aaron Michael Butler (whose piece I had just premiered) sent me a link to the festival website and told me he was submitting his piece and I had to play it. Of course, I was in. New music people are already the best people to nerd out with, but toy piano new music people are in a whole different kind of awesome nerd category.
3) Who is your favorite toy piano composer and why?
I’m not sure if I can answer this question. Immediately several composers such as Karlheinz Essl, Otto Lechner, and John Cage popped into my head. It’s so difficult to narrow down because so many composers have such a creative and unique voice on this wonderful instrument.
4) What do you see as the future of toy piano?
To continue from the last question, I think this instrument somehow brings so much imagination to one’s mind. Everyone, despite their musical background or knowledge, immediately has a connection with it. I believe this instrument can become the gateway for anyone to become interested and involved in New Music today.
5) What local place or thing are you most excited to experience during your visit to the Tampa Bay Area for the festival
I look forward to seeing the beach! To be completely honest though I can’t wait to meet and nerd-out with other folks obsessed with toy piano! I believe our faces are going to be sore by the end from smiling/laughing so much. It’s going to be a grand time!
CHECK OUT THESE PERFORMANCES BY AMY ON NOT A TOY PIANO AND MEET HER IN JANUARY 2016 DURING THE FESTIVAL!
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
April 30, 1939 – Miami, FL, USA
“ELLEN TAAFFE ZWILICH, Francis Eppes Distinguished Professor, is widely considered to be one of America’s leading composers. She studied at the Florida State University and the Juilliard School, where her major teachers were Roger Sessions and Elliott Carter. She also studied violin with Richard Burgin and Ivan Galamian and was a member of the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski.
Zwilich is the recipient of numerous prizes and honors, including the 1983 Pulitzer Prize in Music (the first woman ever to receive this coveted award). She was elected to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters and, in 1995, was named to the first Composer’s Chair in the history of Carnegie Hall. Musical America designated her the 1999 Composer of the Year. A prolific composer in all media except opera, Zwilich has produced four symphonies and other orchestral essays, numerous concertos for a wide variety of solo instruments, and a sizable canon of chamber and recital pieces. Her works are commissioned and played regularly by the leading orchestras and ensembles throughout the world.
Many of her works have been issued on recordings, and Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (8th edition) states: “There are not many composers in the modern world who possess the lucky combination of writing music of substance and at the same time exercising an immediate appeal to mixed audiences. Zwilich offers this happy combination of purely technical excellence and a distinct power of communication.” – from Florida State University