On December 16, I announced my plan to listen and briefly record my responses to the music of the composers who follow me on Twitter. This post is the first installment of what I call, “Mapping My Musical Twitterverse”, and features composers Elliot Cole, Kristin Kuster, Jennifer Jolley, Chaz Allen and William Zuckerman.
Elliot and I were colleagues at Rice University. From Elliot’s website, I listened to the first movement of Postludes for vibraphone and four bowing performers, the third etude from Elliot’s Etudes for Piano, and the first part of De Rerum, a, “hip-hop lecture,” he wrote with composer Brad Balliett.
What I heard of Postludes and Etudes for Piano disembodied, sonically, the instruments for which they are written, and the details of De Rerum’s production appeared similarly minded. Color and space bind these diverse pieces together, and each uses these qualities to bring the listener into its particular musical world.
Kristin teaches composition at the University of Michigan, and was my private composition instructor in 2012-13. From Kristin’s website, I listened to Two Jades, a concerto for violin and symphony band, Jellyfish, for soprano saxophone and piano, and Bleed, for chorus, percussion and string quartet.
Texture is an important part of all three pieces, particularly Two Jades where the potential for imbalance is elegantly masked by the nature of Kristin’s musical ideas. Comparatively, Bleed and Jellyfish have more fluid forms and materials than Two Jades but space, depth, transparency and opaqueness remain prominent features of the music’s unfolding.
I met Jennifer at the 2011 Midwest Composers Symposium. From Jennifer’s SoundCould page, I listened to the first movement of Emoticons, for horn quartet, The Silent World, for small chamber ensemble, and Sounds from the Gray Goo 3.0, for a woodwind soloist and live processing.
These pieces, although scored differently, are all built around a simple germ that commands their form. In the first movement of Emoticons and The Silent World this is a foundational musical motive, but Gray Goo supplements this structural force with a palindromic design enabled and facilitated by the live audio processing featured in the work.
Chaz and I were both masters students at the University of Michigan from 2010-2012. Also a talented pianist, he has videos of performances of his clarinet and piano duo Magnitude and his orchestra work Forged By The Sun are up on YouTube.
I wrote about Magnitude for Sequenza21 in 2011, so I will focus on Forged By The Sun. This straightforward and dramatic work centers on the contrast between two musical spaces, one that is rhythmically active and another that is less so. Chaz exploits their opposition through disciplined development, and uses clearly articulated thematic material to maintain musical unity.
William and I overlapped for a year at the University of Michigan before he graduated and moved to New York City to start his own ensemble with the help of David Bloom, one of the founders of Contemporaneous. William’s website seems to no longer be active, but you can find samples of his large work Music in Pluralism on BandCamp.
I wrote about William and his work with Symphony Z for Sequenza21 in March and August of 2012, and the release of his Music In Pluralism CD was also covered on ComposersCircle.com. It is unclear what William’s current projects are.