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 twelfth installment of what I call, “Mapping My Musical Twitterverse”, and features composers Tony Solitro, Lane Harder, John Mackey, Patrick Harlin, and Alex Burtzos.
Tony is a composer based in Philadelphia. From Tony’s website, I listened to an excerpt of the orchestral work Impromptu & Rondo, and Interplay, for baritone saxophone, trombone, and bassoon. From Tony’s SoundCloud page, I listened to excerpts of his work Unclasped, for soprano and orchestra.
These works share a masterful treatment of the instrumentation, both in terms of general orchestration and the use of timbre as a structural device. This latter quality is most obviously present in Interplay, which depends on the thoughtful overlap and contrast of its instruments’ colors to give the work shape and direction over time.
Lane is a composer and percussionist based in Dallas, Texas. From Lane’s SoundCloud page, I listened to Whispered Interior, for electronics and chamber ensembles, Carey, for drumset and percussion septet, and Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Minor, for solo marimba.
Percussion is present in all these works, but I also found they share a unique, yet clear, style of lyricism. Granted, Carey is not conventionally lyrical, but I still heard an attention to line at the core of its unfolding. I was particularly fond of Whispered Interior, which abounds with subtle references to the music of Erik Satie.
John is an internationally-recognized composer. We met when John visited the University of Michigan in 2010. From John’s YouTube Channel, I listened to the work The Frozen Cathedral, for winds, and from the University of Texas Wind Ensemble’s YouTube Channel, I listened to John’s wind symphony Wine-Dark Sea.
These works are deeply earnest, undeniably grand and impressively economical. They both showcase John’s talent for melody and orchestrating for band; but, more importantly, take advantage of a serious understanding of form. As these are recent works, they may signify that John has honed of a powerful compositional device.
Patrick is a composer based in Ann Arbor, where we are colleagues at the University of Michigan. From Patrick’s SoundCloud, I listened to the wind ensemble version of his orchestra piece Rapture, and Adrift, for cello and piano.
Even though Adrift is more lyrical than Rapture, the works share an infectious approach to rhythm. For example, Rapture, even in its quietest passages, retains a foreboding pulse, which suits the work’s expression of the anxiety. Adrift also showcases a modular approach to harmony wherein Patrick draws on a familiar collection of sonorities, the order and arrangement of which is always surprising.
Alex is a composer and educator based in New York. From Alex’s SoundCloud page, I listened to 12.14.12 for large chamber ensemble and The Black Riders, for orchestra.
These pieces are both dark and tremulous, and feature material that frequently and dramatically changes character. This caprice, however, seems very purposeful and meaningful, a quality displayed most provocatively in 12.14.12. Alex describes the piece’s scoring as, “[four] levels of instruments and three conductors”, and the struggle for unity resulting from this setup helps to make the work’s evasive personality approachable and deeply expressive.