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 eigth installment of what I call, “Mapping My Musical Twitterverse”, and features composers Amy Beth Kirsten, Francesco Di Fiore, Oliver Caplan, Joel Love, and Rob McClure.
Amy Beth Kirsten:
I met Amy Beth when she visited the University of Michigan as a guest composer two years ago. From her website, I listened to joujou, for two percussionists, flute, soprano and guitar, and Drink Me In, written for Alarm Will Sound.
Although these pieces are deeply lyrical and flow cohesively, I found them beset by moments of tightly compacted energy, vibrant rhythms and iridescent instrumental colors. These works’ forms were captivating, particularly that of joujou, whose material and texture mutated constantly, and delightfully, yet maintained enough clarity to make the piece pleasant to get lost in, but easy to follow.
Francesco Di Fiore:
Franceso is a composer and pianist based in Italy. From his website, I listened to part of his mammoth Miniatures 2011, for piano. And, from his SoundCloud page, I listened to excerpts of HGW: The War and HGW: Time Traveller written for the Folkalab ensemble.
Based on these works, Francesco’s music appears to employ a language rooted in expanded diatonicism. Each of these works stem from clear materials, but they differ greatly in terms of their media. In contrast to the reserved piano miniatures, the HGW pieces are dominated by compelling beats and synth textures typical of hard-driving electro-pop.
Oliver and I attended the 2008 European-American Musical Alliance summer program together. From his website, I listened to Lunastella Fuga, for string orchestra, Illuminated by the Light of Two Ships Passing in the Night, for piano trio, and Into the West, a double concert for flute, erhu, and orchestra.
Oliver’s music appears rooted in nineteenth century tonality. These works evince Oliver’s individual voice by twisting, slightly, this model in the realm of melody and ensemble color. Commonly, I felt these tweaks evoked nostalgia or a generalized far-off place, excepting Into the West, which trades on eastern images.
Joel and I worked together on a project with Da Camera Houston while I studied at Rice University and he studied at University of Houston. From his SoundCloud page, I listened to Aurora Borealis, for wind ensemble, and Lightscape and Syncronicity in Purple Minor, both for string quartet.
Joel’s music seems based on traditional tonality, but I found the heart of his compositional sound lay in instrumental color and ensemble texture. I was particularly impressed by his facility at creating delicate, vibrant textures for both string quartet and wind ensemble, which are obviously very different beasts to write for.
Rob and I overlapped at Rice University, and he currently teaches in China. From his website, I listened to Desert Miniatures: Insects, for bassoon trio, and Natural Selection, for large chamber ensemble and two speakers.
Texture and color emerge as strong forces in these works, and possibly Rob’s output at large. Desert Miniatures’ four movements reveal as much vitality and expressivity in their instrumental subjects as any other great set of character pieces. Moreover, Natural Selection uses color to shade the text and even its conveyance, as Rob overlays the two speaking parts, creative a dramatic narrative collage.