New Music News Wire

AMC Honors Seven American Music Leaders

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Seven leaders in contemporary American music will be honored in a formal ceremony held at New York City’s Chelsea Art Museum on May 5 as part of the American Music Center’s annual meeting, open to AMC members, the press, and invited guests. AMC Letters of Distinction will be presented to Robert Ashley, Joan LaBarbara, Edgar Meyer, Ned Rorem, and Joan Tower. Steve Reich will receive the AMC’s Founders Award, and Derek Bermel will be given the AMC’s Trailblazer Award.

According to AMC Chief Executive Officer Joanne Hubbard Cossa, “The individuals we are honoring in our award ceremony this year are musical icons who have greatly impacted our musical community not just through their own compositions, but also through their extensive contributions as musical citizens.”

The American Music Center has awarded the Letter of Distinction annually since 1964, to recognize individuals and organizations which have made “a significant contribution to the field of contemporary American music.” Previous recipients include George Balanchine, Leonard Bernstein, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Morton Feldman, Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Reich, Michael Tilson Thomas, Virgil Thomson, Randy Weston, the Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can, and the American Composers Orchestra. The Founders Award, established in 1999, celebrates lifetime achievement in the field of new American music and is awarded at the discretion of the Board of Directors. Previous winners have included Elliott Carter and Lou Harrison. The Trailblazer Award, inaugurated in 2003, recognizes and celebrates early and mid-career individuals deserving of support and applause for their efforts toward furthering new music. Last year’s Trailblazer Award recipient was eighth blackbird.

For more detailed information, please read the announcement (PDF) at the American Music Center website.

Compositions Selected for 2008 Gaudeamus Music Week

Thirteen compositions, including works by American composers—Huck Hodge and Jenny Olivia Johnson—have been selected for performance during the Gaudeamus Music Week, taking place from September 1 to 7, 2008 in Amsterdam. The works, each of which is hereby nominated for the Gaudeamus Prize 2008, were chosen from a total of 415 submitted works coming from 52 different countries. A jury, which this year consists of Michael Daugherty (United States, 1954), Peter Swinnen (Belgium, 1965) and David Dramm (United States/the Netherlands, 1961), will select the prize winner during the Music Week. In addition to the selected compositions for the competition, other new works—for the most part written by young composers—will be performed. The complete program will be announced in May 2008 on the Gaudeamus website.

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Huck Hodge

Huck Hodge (b. 1977, Eugene OR) has received numerous commissions, awards and honors from organizations and ensembles such as the Centre Acanthes, Gaudeamus/New Music Center the Netherlands, the American Composers Forum, the Jerome Foundation, the Manhattan Sinfonietta, the Carlsbad Music Festival’s Composition Competition, the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players as part of the 19th Annual World Premieres Series, and from Musik der Jahrhunderte as part of the ISCM World New Music Festival. His recent music is influenced by East Asian musical traditions, music of the early Renaissance, Western and Eastern philosophical inquiry and the fields of Psychoacoustics and Cognition. Hodge has been Assistant Professor of music composition at the University of Washington in Seattle and is currently a DMA candidate in composition at Columbia University.

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Jenny Olivia Johnson
photo by Fadi Kher

Jenny Olivia Johnson (b. 1978, Santa Monica CA) has been commissioned by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City–whose Vital Records recording Transient Glory includes her choral work The Smiling Eyes (published by Boosey & Hawkes)–as well as the Columbia University V-Day College Initiative, the Delaware Shore Project for the Arts, and numerous solo musicians, including organist Maxine Thevenot, who premiered Jenny’s organ solo Champagne Red and a Slow Freeze at Washington National Cathedral in June 2003. Her music has also been read and/or performed by Alarm Will Sound, the Riverside Symphony, Speculum Musicae, Penta Sonic Winds, the Manhattan Composers Orchestra under David Gilbert, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Jenny has also been the drummer for the all-female indie rock collective Renminbi. Her two short operas Leaving Santa Monica (2006) and The Endings (2007) were featured on New York City Opera’s past two VOX contemporary opera festivals. Jenny is a Ph.D. candidate in music studies at New York University’s Graduate School of Arts and Science.

The 13 nominated compositions for the Gaudeamus Prize 2008 are:
Alejandro Castaños (Mexico, b. 1978), Match, for live percussion player and video projection (2006, 7’)
Chieko Doi (Japan, b. 1978), Splicing, for 3 piccolos (2008, 8’)
Eric Maestri (Italy, b. 1980), Tracce della Luna, for soprano and ensemble (2007-2008, 23’)
Francisco Castillo Trigueros (Mexico, b. 1983), Solar, for 13 players (2007, 7’)
Hikari Kiyama (Japan, b. 1983), Luminous Orchestra 2008, for 16 musicians (2007-2008, 10’)
Huck Hodge (USA, b. 1977), Parallaxes, for chamber orchestra (2005, 11’)
Hugo Morales Murguia (Mexico, b. 1979), \_/ for amplified triangle (2007, 13’)
Jenny Olivia Johnson (USA, b. 1978), Leaving Santa Monica – a chamber opera for soprano, mezzo, chorus and amplified ensemble (2005, 20’)
Marios Joannou Elia (Cyprus, b. 1978), Elpis, for 6 accordions & 2 percussionists (2006-2007, 12’)
Miguelangel Clerc Parada (Chile, b. 1978), What about woof?, for five percussionists on five tables (2007, 13’)
Peter McNamara (Australia, b. 1980), Landscape of diffracted colours, for mixed ensemble and pre-recorded electronics (2005, 8’)
Stephanie Lepp (Germany, b. 1980), Sambirano, improvisation for solo-flute over tape-composition (2007, 9’)
Valerio De Bonis (Italy, b. 1981), Un cadeau pour, video (2007, 6’)

Allen Strange (1943-2008)

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Allen Strange

Composer, performer, educator, and electronic music authority Allen Strange passed away on February 20, 2008 near his home in Bainbridge Island in Washington state.

Born in Calexico, California in 1943, Strange studied composition initially with Donal Michalsky at California State University in Fullerton, and later studied with Harry Partch, Kenneth Gaburo, Robert Erickson, and Pauline Oliveros at the University of California, San Diego.

Strange received two grants from the San Jose State University Foundation (1969 and 1974) for research into electronic music and in 1970 became professor of music and director of the electronic music studios at the university. His book Electronic Music: Systems, Techniques, and Controls, originally published in 1972, was the first comprehensive study of analog music synthesis and remains a hallmark text detailing the beginning of electronic music.

He also wrote Programming and Meta-Programming the Electro-Organism (1974), the operations manual for the Buchla Music Easel and has documented the 200 Series synthesizers made by Buchla. And in 2001, Scarecrow Press published The Contemporary Violin: Extended Performance Techniques which he co-authored with his wife Patricia Strange.

In the late 1960s, Allen and Patricia founded BIOME, a pioneering live-electronic music ensemble, and in 1976, they co-founded the Electric Weasel Ensemble with synthesizer designer Donald Buchla. Since then he has remained very active in the performance of live electronic music.

Strange’s own musical compositions include works for live electronic instrumental ensembles, for live and taped electronics with voices and acoustic instruments, and for the theatre; most of his works for acoustic instruments require extended performance techniques. Many of Strange’s later works involve linear tuning systems, spatial distribution of sound, the isolation of timbre as a musical parameter, and composing for groups of like instruments or voices. Some also employ elements of vaudeville, rock-and-roll, and even country-and-western music.

A frequent guest lecturer on electronic music and performance, Strange served as president of the International Computer Music Association from 1993 to 1998. A longtime professor of music at San Jose State University, Strange retired in 2002 to pursue a full-time career composing and concertizing. He is survived by his wife Patricia; daughters, Erin and Robin Strange; son-in-law, Doug Morse; and grandson, Donovan Strange-Pruss.

(Compiled and Edited by Frank J. Oteri)