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 fourth installment of what I call, “Mapping My Musical Twitterverse”, and features composers Steven Snowden, Joel Puckett, Tony Wardzinski, Steven Berryman and Steven Bryant.
Steven and I attended the Aspen Music Festival together in 2011. From his website, I listened to Speed Studies, for saxophone quartet, an excerpt of Land of the Living, for amplified cactus and live electronics, and Mobbing Calls for flute and percussion.
Yep, Steven wrote a piece for amplified cactus; and, although it may seem like a novelty, I found it epitomizes the fundamental sonic curiosity that powers Steven’s compositions. Overall sound acts like an extra dimension in his music, the pursuit of which produces as captivating a musical dramaturgy as the flow of Steven’s melodic or harmonic ideas.
Joel Puckett is a composer who teaches at the Peabody conservatory. From his SoundCloud page, I listened to Bill-ytude, for solo piano, his flute concerto The Shadow Of Sirius, and Asimov’s Aviary, for wind ensemble.
Underlying the works of Joel’s I listened to is a kind of uncontainable virtuosity. Clearly, this is what one would expect from a concerto and solo piano piece, but what I detected was more inherent in the way the instruments and ensembles come alive in the hands of Joel’s music. In turn, the energy and facility of the music infects the listener phrase by phrase.
Tony is a composer based in Southern California. From Tony’s SoundCloud page, I listened to two string quartet pieces: To escapism, rain on the roof and instant coffee and From a thousand wounds. Recorded excerpts of more of Tony’s music are available on his website.
These works demonstrated a commanding use of melodic line and counterpoint that was not only compelling on the first listen, but also appeared to play an important part in these pieces’ structures. I would be interested to see how this powerful and promising characteristic manifests itself in other, differently scored, works of Tony’s.
Steven Berryman is a composer and teacher based in London. From his SoundCloud page, I listened to Echo, for women’s choir and piano, Cypher, for orchestra, and Vera est in loctum, for choir.
To be clear, Steven’s output is not as bifurcated as my selection reflects, but, nonetheless, I think these works indicate the fluency within different idioms he possesses as a composer. In other words, the choral works and Cypher sound very different but, each is unfailingly persuasive. Certainly, this is a credit to Steven’s ability and discipline in knowing what will work best in these varied compositional settings.
Steven Bryant is a composer and conductor based in Durham, North Carolina. From his SoundCloud page, I listened to The Machine Awakes, for wind ensemble, the Concerto For Piano and Orchestral Winds and Whirlwind for winds and percussion.
Though all three of these works exhibit active textures, they each rely on a slowly unfolding lyricism – every piece evolves from a basic melodic germ. However, Steven disguises this simplicity by superimposing a variety of short-lived musical contexts upon the works’ lyrical foundation. This variegation serves to blur the overall form of the music as one listens from moment to moment.