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 second installment of what I call, “Mapping My Musical Twitterverse”, and features composers Joseph Prestamo, Corey Smith, Armando Bayolo, Christian Carey and Garrett Shatzer.
Joseph and I were colleagues at the University of Michigan from 2010-2012. From his website, I listened to Aftermath, for orchestra, A Hidden Place, for wind trio, and Two Pictures, for cello and piano.
Joseph’s music seems to be impeccably constructed; and, its beauty stems from this apparent attention to detail, namely in the realm of instrumental color. Although this characteristic is present in all three works, Two Pictures is a prime example of what I mean. Perhaps thanks to his impressive skill as a pianist, Joseph creates tremendously evocative colors from conventional piano sounds, which serves this work enormously.
Corey and I are colleagues at the University of Michigan. From his website, I listened to Atlas, as he is seen through a prism for solo cello, Gesture No. 1 for open instrumentation, and Streets for saxophone duo.
I perceive that Corey’s music is deeply conceptual. Atlas and Gesture No. 1 clearly demonstrate this in that they each execute a specific compositional experiment, but Streets, despite being a raucous, more ‘conventional’, saxophone jam, also possesses this procedural quality. The material and form of Corey’s music seems to stem from these basic goals, which leads to great stylistic freedom.
Armando is a composer and conductor based in Washington D.C. From his SoundCloud page, I listened to Armando’s trombone concerto, Absolute Music, Wide Open Spaces, for mixed chamber ensemble, and the orchestra piece A Shelter That Filters The Sun.
From these pieces, it appears Armando is capable of writing many different kinds of music. To this end, Absolute Music and A Shelter That Filters The Sun are very energetic, athletic works, and Wide Open Spaces is more intimate and abstract. Perhaps because of this contrast, I found Wide Open Spaces rather enthralling, though I thought all three works were delightful.
Christian is a composer and musicologist teaching at Westminster Choir College. From Christian’s SoundCloud page, I listened to Prayer for the Loadbang ensemble, Cloths of Heaven for viola and mezzo-soprano, and Solo for Piano.
These pieces are all very different. Prayer and Cloths of Heaven both feature vocal soloists, but use deeply contrasting musical languages – Prayer is microtonal, Cloths Of Heaven uses more conventional materials. Solo for Piano, like Prayer, is abstractly dissonant, but features more rhythmic freedom than the other works. Suffice it to say, Christian’s music commandingly covers a broad range of sounds and musical characters.
Garrett is a composer and choral conductor based in California. From Garrett’s website, I listened to The Holiday for seven-string guitar, The Shift & The Break for bass clarinet, violin, cello and piano, and his Piano Trio No. 1.
Based on this sample, it appears Garrett’s musical language is rooted in nineteenth century tonality, but not intransigently so. Elements of instrumental color in The Shift & The Break and free dissonance in The Holiday demonstrate the expressive latitude Garrett uses to counterbalance the traditional melodic, harmonic and formal principles that otherwise dominate his compositions.