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 ninth installment of what I call, “Mapping My Musical Twitterverse”, and features composers Kevin J. Cope, Christopher Healey, Corey Cunnigham, Hannah Kendall, and John Arrigo-Nelson.
Kevin J. Cope:
Kevin is a composer and classical guitarist based in Philadelphia. From Kevin’s website, I listened to Unknown Origin: A Pole Was Journeying, for guitar and alto saxophone, Solstices, for solo guitar, and Sirocco for solo clarinet in A.
Kevin’s comfort zone is the guitar, which is why I will note the compelling non-guitar elements of the above works. By this, I mean the overwhelmingly lyrical solo parts in Unknown Origin and Sirocco. Kevin skillfully makes the most of these instrument’s ability to carry long, flowing melodies, which shows he works well beyond the idiom of his home instrument.
Christopher is a composer based in Brisbane, Australia. From Christopher’s SoundCloud page, I listened to his Cello and Piano Sonatina and Mountain Prelude, for solo piano.
Based on these works, I get the sense Christopher’s music is mostly based on triadic harmonies, though these pieces differ significantly in their style. The Sonatina, as the title suggests, has a very “classical” tone, and treats its instruments in a traditional manner. Like a Debussy prelude, Mountain Prelude is more contemplative and evades many of the harmonic conventions of the Sonatina, though it is not wild nor abstract.
Corey Cunnigham and I were colleagues at the University of Michigan from 2011-2013. From Corey’s SoundCloud page, I listened to In Misty Heights and Distant Sea, for orchestra, To Watch The Moon Silently Vanish, for solo cello, and Take a Place in the Light, for fixed media.
These works succeed wonderfully at establishing and contrasting distinct musical spaces. Moreover, the sound worlds Corey creates and uses to build his pieces are, unto themselves, deeply attractive. Whether by sonic color, material character or another element, Corey seems to produce and use terrific sound spaces in any musical setting he likes.
Hannah Kendall is a composer based in London, England. From Hannah’s website, I listened to Kanashibari, for chamber orchestra, Vera, for clarinet, violin, viola and cello, and an excerpt of The Great Dark for large ensemble.
Hannah’s musical language is abstract and very idiosyncratic. A great example of this is Vera, which Hannah describes as a work based on a twelve-tone row, but the piece is rather playful and generally does not sound like a stereotypical twelve-tone piece. Overall, these works were filled with intense, striking ideas presented scrupulously through the thoughtful use of their given instrumentation.
John Arrigo-Nelson is a composer based in Pittsburgh. From John’s SoundCloud page, I listened to Phosphene, for chamber orchestra, and fluttazione/attimo, for two pianos and two percussion.
It appears, from these pieces, that John’s music is typified by abstract musical materials whose nuance is offset by emergent rhythmic transparency. Both of these pieces, for example, open with shifting micro-moments that careen towards passages of rhythmic, if not also melodic and harmonic, regularity. In Phosphene, this form yields a stunning, yet fleeting, passage of lyrical solo piano whose poignancy is amplified by its contrast to the work’s preceding material.