composition

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Hans Otte

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Hans Otte

December 3, 1926 – Plauen, Germany
December 25, 2007 – Bremen, Germany

“Hans Otte was born to musical parents; both were amateur musicians and his mother became his first piano teacher. Already at an early age Otte was recognised as a piano and organ prodigy, which resulted after the Second World War in a grant from the United States to study organ and composition at Yale University. He became a composition student of Paul Hindemith while studying the organ with Fernando Germani at the same time.

Upon returning to Germany, Otte was offered a position as organist of the church of Santa Cecilia in Rome. With that job he would follow in the footsteps of Claudio Monteverdi, but he refused, preferring to refine his piano talents instead. He therefore went on to study piano between 1954 and 1956 in his native country as a student of the pianist Walter Gieseking (1895–1956), especially known for his interpretations of piano works by Debussy and Ravel. Studying the Classical, Romantic and French ‘impressionist’ repertoire with this masterly musician strongly established Otte’s relationship with tradition, while continuing to develop his sense of l’art de toucher le piano and the musical impact of sound colour in general.

In 1959 Otte was offered a job as department head of classical music by Radio Bremen. He was the youngest person the radio station ever employed in that specific function. Otte soon founded two festivals which proved of historical importance: pro musica antiqua, dedicated to Early Music, and pro musica nova. The last-mentioned festival was fully dedicated to ‘New Music’ and became an annual event from 1959 to 1984, during which Otte commissioned and introduced many of the best composers of the twentieth century for the first time in Germany, such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Olivier Messiaen. Perhaps even more characteristic, however, was Otte’s deep commitment to American music, some of which was hardly known in Europe at that time. It was Otte who brought not only Conlon Nancarrow, Terry Riley, LaMonte Young and Steve Reich to European audiences, but also such diverse musicians as pianist Keith Jarrett, and John Cage with whom he developed a deep artistic and personal friendship. Propagating such a huge diversity of styles by different composers made him fully aware of his own musical personality. Whether it was the emotional effect of minimalism that so much struck him, or the Cagean concepts of sound and silence, or the static, peaceful qualities of music from the East, Otte was amongst the first to fathom the importance of new or unknown art streams.

Hans Otte always kept composing and performing as a pianist, but his striking modesty prevented him from exhibiting himself to the world as a composer. In the latter rôle, Otte created instrumental, vocal and orchestral music, next to the creation of several multimedia installations. Many of his early works, such as Passages (1965) for piano and orchestra or Zero (1972) for choir and orchestra, were initially written in a modernist style. As is already apparent in those works, however, Otte always refused to discard tonality completely, characteristically letting traces of traditional tonality trickle through the otherwise dissonant, serialist textures. – Ralph van Raat” – from Naxos

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Paul Dresher

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Paul Dresher

January 8, 1951 – Los Angeles, CA, USA

“Paul Dresher is one of the foremost and most internationally recognized composers of his generation. Noted for his ability to integrate diverse musical influences into his own coherent and unique personal style, he is pursuing many forms of musical expression including experimental opera and music theater, chamber and orchestral composition, live instrumental electro-acoustic chamber music performances and scores for theater, dance, and film.

He has received commissions from the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA, the Kronos Quartet, the San Francisco Symphony, Walker Arts Center, Meet the Composer, University of Iowa, and the American Music Theater Festival. He has performed or had his works performed throughout North America, Asia and Europe. Venues have included the Munich State Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Festival d’Automne à Paris, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, the Minnesota Opera, Arts Summit Indonesia 1995, Festival Interlink in Japan, and New Music America in 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988 and 1989.

His evening-length collaboration with choreographer Margaret Jenkins, The Gates, premiered at Jacob’s Pillow and opened the 1994 Serious Fun Festival at Lincoln Center. In 1993, Dresher premiered his new “electric chamber band” on a five city tour of Japan as part of Festival Interlink. This ensemble performs the works of a broad range of contemporary composers utilizing a hybrid orchestration which combines both acoustic and electronic instrumentation. This Ensemble and has since commissioned several works from some of the most innovative of today’s composers and has toured the U.S. and to Europe and Indonesia.

As Artistic Director of the Paul Dresher Ensemble, he has guided the creation of the “American Trilogy”, a set of music theater works which address different facets of American culture, in collaboration with writer/performer Rinde Eckert. The trilogy began with Slow Fire (1985­88), developed with Power Failure (1988­89) and was completed in 1990 with Pioneer, a collaboration that includes visual artist Terry Allen, actress Jo Harvey Allen, tenor John Duykers and director Robert Woodruff.

Recordings of his works have been released on the Lovely Music, New World, Music and Arts, O.O. Discs, Starkland and New Albion labels. In 1993, New Albion released Dark Blue Circumstance, containing both chamber and electronic works. Opposites Attract, his collaboration with multi-woodwind performer Ned Rothenberg, was released by New World Records in 1991, Minmax Music/Starkland released Slow Fire in 1992 and in 1995 Starkland released Casa Vecchia, containing both electronic and chamber compositions. He has worked as producer on several recording projects and he was the consultant for engineering and production on John Adams’ 1993 Nonesuch release Hoodoo Zephyr.

Born in Los Angeles in 1951, Dresher received his BA in Music from U.C. Berkeley and his M.A. in Composition from U.C. San Diego where he studied with Robert Erickson, Roger Reynolds, Pauline Oliveros and Bernard Rands. He has had a long time interest in the music of Asia and Africa, studying Ghanian drumming with C.K. and Kobla Ladzekpo, Hindustani classical music with Nikhil Banerjee as well as Balinese and Javanese music.” – www.lovely.com

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Alex Shapiro

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Alex Shapiro

January 11, 1962 – New York City, NY, USA

Alex Shapiro (b. New York City, 1962) composes genre-defying acoustic and electroacoustic solo, chamber and symphonic pieces known for their lyricism and drama. Published by Activist Music, her works are heard daily in concerts and broadcasts across the U.S. and internationally, and can be found on over twenty commercially released recordings from around the world. Ms. Shapiro is sought after for her seamless melding of live and recorded sounds that often employ striking visual and physical elements, and known for her innovative uses of technology in her music for wind band ensembles.

Alex is a strong advocate for other artists through her speaking appearances, published writings, and volunteerism. She is the Symphonic and Concert music representative on the Board of Directors of ASCAP, and is a member of the Program Council for New Music USA. Shapiro has also served on the boards of U.S. music organizations including The American Music Center, the American Composers Forum of Los Angeles, The MacDowell Colony, and The Society of Composers & Lyricists. Educated at The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music as a student of Ursula Mamlok and John Corigliano, Alex moved from Manhattan to Los Angeles in 1983, and in 2007 relocated to Washington State’s remote San Juan Island, where she composes in a home perched on the water’s edge, surrounded by wildlife. An award-winning nature photographer, Alex’s images and music can be experienced on her blog, http://www.notesfromthekelp.com and her website, http://www.alexshapiro.org.” – www.alexshapiro.org

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Miriam Gideon

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Miriam Gideon

October 23, 1906, Greeley, CO, USA
June 18, 1996, New York City, NY, USA

“Miriam Gideon had a notable career as a musical educator and as a prolific composer whose works have been widely performed and published.

She was born in Greeley, Colorado, on October 23, 1906. She displayed early musical talents, which were encouraged with piano studies. She continued her studies in Boston, with Hans Barth, and with her uncle Henry Gideon, a composer and conductor. After settling in New York City, she continued studies with Lazare Saminsky and Roger Sessions. She also earned a B.A. degree from Boston University, an M.A. from Columbia University and, in 1970, a Doctor of Sacred Music degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTSA). She joined the faculties of Brooklyn College and CUNY, the Manhattan School of Music, and then in 1955 the newly formed Cantors Institute of JTSA.

In 1949, Gideon married writer-educator Frederic Ewen, a colleague at Brooklyn College. He died in 1989.

Her roster of over fifty compositions includes selections for full and chamber orchestras, instrumental solos and ensembles, piano music, vocal solos, choral works, cantatas, and a chamber opera. Among Gideon’s honors are the Ernest Bloch Choral Prize and awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the National Federation of Music Clubs, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She received commissions from the New York Camerata, the Da Capo Chamber Players, the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation in the Library of Congress, and Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City, as well as a composer’s grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. A strong interest in literature guided her settings of poetry by Robert Burns, Cyril Connolly, Heinrich Heine, Robert Herrick, Friedrich Hölderlin, James Joyce, John Keats, Amy Lowell, Archibald MacLeish, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Christina Rossetti and William Shakespeare.

Gideon’s compositions include several of particular Judaic inspiration: Sacred Service, for soloists, mixed choir, flute, oboe, trumpet, bassoon, viola, cello, and organ; a Sabbath evening service entitled Shirat Miriam L’Shabbat [The Song of Miriam for the Sabbath], for cantor-tenor, mixed choir, flute, oboe, trumpet, bassoon, viola, cello, and organ; Spiritual Madrigals, for male voices, with viola, cello, and bassoon; a song cycle based upon biblical texts from Psalms and Proverbs called Eishet Hayil [A woman of valor], for soprano and piano;Adon Olam [Lord of all], an anthem for chorus, oboe, trumpet, and strings; a cantata based upon the Book of Proverbs, entitled The Habitable Earth, for solos, chorus, oboe, and piano or organ; Psalm 84, How Goodly Are Thy Tents, for women’s voices, with piano or organ; and a wordless spiritual, Biblical Masks, for violin and piano or solo organ. Her compositions are profoundly introspective and skillful. Crafted in the genre of what she preferred to describe as “free atonality,” they are highly concentrated and of strong impact. She said of herShirat Miriam L’Shabbat, “It is as much an expression of the meaning of Sabbath as it is of what I feel to be my place among the Jewish people.”

Miriam Gideon died in New York City on June 18, 1996. (by Irene Heskes)” – from Jewish Women’s Archive

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Michael Gordon

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Michael Gordon

July 20, 1956 – Miami Beach, FL, USA

“Michael Gordon merges subtle rhythmic invention with incredible power in his music, embodying, in the words of The New Yorker’s Alex Ross, “the fury of punk rock, the nervous brilliance of free jazz and the intransigence of classical modernism.” Over the past 25 years, Gordon has produced a strikingly diverse body of work, ranging from large-scale pieces for high-energy ensembles and major orchestral commissions to works conceived specifically for the recording studio. Transcending categorization, this music represents the collision of mysterious introspection and brutal directness. The Seattle Symphony, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and Yarn/Wire all present world premieres of Gordon’s work in 2015-16. Other 2015-16 highlights include the the UK premiere of “Ode to La Bruja…” performed by Grand Band, the Asian premiere of Timber by Mantra Percussion, the German premiere of The Carbon Copy Building, Rushes at the Park Avenur Armory, and Trance choreographed by Maud le Pladec in Rennes, France.

Michael Gordon’s enthusiasm for adding dimensionality to the traditional concert experience has led to numerous collaborations with artists in other media, most frequently with filmmaker Bill Morrison and Ridge Theater. Decasia, a Gordon-Morrison collaboration in which the audience is encircled by the orchestra and large projections, will be performed three times this spring, in Groningen, Rotterdam, and Spoleto USA. A large-scale, single-movement, relentlessly monumental work about decay — the decay of melody, tuning, and classical music itself — Decasia has become a cult favorite since its premiere in 2001 and was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2013, becoming the first film of the 21st century to receive that honor. Gordon and Morrison’s works together also include two film symphonies centered on cities: Dystopia (about Los Angeles) in 2008 for David Robertson and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Gotham (about New York City) in 2004 for the American Composers Orchestra. The pair premiere El Sol Caliente, a city symphony in honor of Miami Beach’s centennial, this spring, and will embark on a new collaboration with the Seattle Symphony in 2016.

Gordon has been commissioned by Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the BBC Proms, the Seattle Symphony, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival, among others. His music has been featured prominently in the dance works of Emio Greco | PC, Wayne McGregor (for Stuttgart Ballet, Random Dance), Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal, Heinz Spoerli (for Zürich Ballet), Ashley Page (for The Royal Ballet and The Scottish Ballet), and Club Guy & Roni. The recipient of multiple awards and grants, Gordon has been honored by the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His recordings include Rushes, Timber, Weather, Light is Calling, Decasia, (purgatorio) POPOPERA, Van Gogh, Trance, and Big Noise from Nicaragua. An album of his orchestral works will release on Cantaloupe in February 2015, including Dystopia and Rewriting Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, with Gotham releasing digitally at the same time.

Formed in 1983 as the Michael Gordon Philharmonic and renamed the Michael Gordon Band in 2000, Gordon’s own ensemble has performed across Europe and the United States at venues as diverse as Alice Tully Hall and the punk mecca CBGB, on the Contemporary Music Network Tour, and at the Almeida Festival in London.

Gordon is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music collective Bang on a Can. His music is published by Red Poppy Music (ASCAP) and is distributed worldwide by G. Schirmer, Inc.” – michaelgordonmusic.com

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Phil Kline

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Phil Kline

Akron, OH, USA

“Phil Kline is a composer and sound artist, who makes music in many genres and contexts, from experimental electronics and sound installations to songs, choral, theater, chamber and orchestral music.

Raised in Akron, Ohio, he came to New York to study English Literature and music at Columbia. After graduation, he dived into the downtown New York arts scene: founding the rock band The Del-Byzanteens with Jim Jarmusch and James Nares, collaborating with Nan Goldin on the soundtrack to The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, and playing guitar in the notorious Glenn Branca Ensemble.

His early compositions grew out of his solo performance art and often used boombox tape players as a medium, most notably in the Christmas piece Unsilent Night, which debuted in the streets of Greenwich Village in 1992 and is now performed annually in dozens of cities around the world.

Other notable early compositions include Zippo Songs, a song cycle for Theo Bleckmann, based on poems Vietnam vets inscribed on their Zippo lighters, The Blue Room and Other Stories, written for string quartet Ethel, and Exquisite Corpses, commissioned by the Bang on a Can All-Stars. The music theater spectacle, Locus solus, based on the novel by Raymond Roussel, was presented at the Ryerss Mansion Museum in Philadelphia in 2006.

More recent works include the Mass John the Revelator, written for vocal group Lionheart; The Long Winter, written for pianist Sarah Cahill; and scores for three evening-length dance pieces by Wally Cardona: Everywhere, Site and Really Real. The sound installation World on a String opened the season at the Krannert Center in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in September 2007 and SPACE for string quartet and electronics was performed by Ethel at the gala reopening of Alice Tully Hall in 2009.

2011 saw the premieres of A Dream and its Opposite, written for the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra, Canzona a due Cuori, commissioned by the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, and a book of organ pieces commissioned for the gigantic Kotschmar Organ of Portland, Maine. A new monodrama for Theo Bleckmann, Out Cold, premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival in October 2012.
Kline is currently working on an opera, Tesla in New York, in collaboration with writer-director Jim Jarmusch. He lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with his wife and daughter.” – philkline.com

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Steve Roden

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Steve Roden

1964, Los Angeles, CA, USA

“Steve Roden is a visual and sound artist from Los Angeles, living in Pasadena. His work includes painting, drawing, sculpture, film/video, sound installation, text and performance.

Roden’s working process uses various forms of specific notation (words, musical scores, maps, etc.) and translates them through self invented systems into scores, which then influence the process of painting, drawing, sculpture, and composition. These scores, rigid in terms of their parameters and rules, are also full of holes for intuitive decisions, failures and left turns. The inspirational source material becomes a kind of formal skeleton that the abstract finished works are built upon.

In the visual works, translations of information such as text and maps, become rules and systems for generating visual actions such as color choices, number of elements, amounts of time and form building.

In the sound works, singular source materials such as objects, architectural spaces, and field recordings, are abstracted through humble electronic processes to create new audio spaces, or possible landscapes. The sound works present themselves with an aesthetic Roden has described as lower case – sound concerned with subtlety and the quiet activity of listening.

Roden has been exhibiting his visual and sound works since the mid 1980′s, and has had numerous solo and group exhibitions internationally, including: Mercosur Biennial Porto Alegre Brazil, Centre Georges Pompidou Paris, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, UCLA Hammer Museum Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art EMST Athens Greece, Singuhr-Horgalerie in Parochial Berlin, Center for Book Arts New York, The Kitchen New York, Pomona College Museum of Art, La Casa Encendida Madrid, Susanne Vielmetter LA and Berlin Projects, Studio la Citta Verona Italy, and others. In 2010, curator Howard Fox organized the exhibition “steve roden / in between: a 20 year survey”, which opened at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, and was accompanied by a full color catalog.

Roden has performed his soundworks at various arts spaces and experimental music festivals worldwide including: Serpentine Gallery London, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, DCA Dundee Scotland, Redcat Los Angeles, Crawford Gallery Cork Ireland, as well as performance tours of Brazil and Japan. Recent performances include John Cage’s Cartridge Music with composer Mark Trayle at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, and a tribute to Rolf Julius at the Hamburger Banhof Berlin. Since 1993, Roden has released numerous CDs under his own name as well as under the moniker “in be tween noise” on various record labels internationally.

Recent has created numerous site-specific sound works for spaces such as MOCA at the Pacific Design Center in response to a group of paintings by Mark Rothko, the Henry Art Gallery’s James Turrell Skyspace, the Mak center for Art and Architecture/Schindler House in Los Angeles, a live collaboration with Stephen Vitiello in a room of 50 pieces of sculpture by Donald Judd at Chinati, Daniel Libeskind’s Run Run Shaw new media building at City University of Hong Kong, a sound/sculpture/drawing installation for Thomas U. Walter’s 1848 building at Girard College Philadelphia for the Hidden City festival, and a permanent public artwork at Hayvenhurst Park, in West Hollywood California.

In 2008, the Getty Research Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA) and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), commissioned Roden to direct a reconstruction/reinvention of Allan Kaprow’s seminal performance “18 Happenings in 6 Parts”. Collaborators and participants included: Michael Ned Holte, Simone Forti, Rae Shao-Lan Blum, Steve Irvin, Flora Wiegmann, Stephanie Smith, Elonda Billera, Skylar Haskard, Roy Dowell, Renee Petropoulos, Justin Lowman, Elizabeth Leister, Fran Siegel, Brad Eberhard, Mark Dutcher, Doug Harvey, Steve DeGroodt, David McDonald, Paul McCarthy, Vaughn Rachel, Corel Kaprow, Carol Stakenas, and Martin Kersels

In 2011, the Atlanta based record label Dust to Digital published Roden’s “I Listen to the Wind that Obliterates My Traces” – a 250 page hardback book containing hundreds of music related photographs from 1860-1930, along with 2 discs of rare recordings of early American music culled from Roden’s archive, and an essay on archives, collecting and listening. The book has received praise from the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Reader, Record Collector, Pitchfork, and others.

From 1979-82 Roden was the lead singer of the Los Angeles Punk band “Seditionaries”. The band performed at numerous clubs and non-club spaces in the Southern California area including the Troubador, Cathay de Grande, T-Bird Rollerdome, Godzillas, HJ’s, LA Press Club, and numerous garages. The band performed with many immortals such as the Damned, TSOL, Sacharine Trust, Minutemen, Alley Cats, 45 Grave, Urban Gorillaz, Social Distortion, Circle Jerks, Adolescents, DOA, Mau Maus, etc.

Roden received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA in 1989, and his BFA from Otis Parsons in Los Angeles in 1986. Over the past 15 years he has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses at numerous Southern California institutions including: UCLA, Art Center College of Design, Otis College of Art, Claremont Graduate University, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Long Beach, and others. He has lectured and/or been a visiting artist at numerous universities including: Harvard, Columbia College NY, University of Illinois Chicago, University Southern California, Cal Arts, San Francisco Art Institute, University Texas Austin, Virginia Commonwealth University, and others.

Roden’s works are in the permanent collection of the following institutions: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, CA; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; The Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA; The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, Austin, TX; The Palm Springs Museum, Palm Springs, CA; The Pomona College Museum of Art, Pomona, CA; The ASU University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ; The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece.

Roden’s artwork is currently represented through Susanne Vielmetter LA Projects, Los Angeles; and CRG Gallery, New York.” – inbetweennoise.com