Author Archives: Alexandra Gardner

Sounds Heard: Judith Shatin—Tower of the Eight Winds

Composer Judith Shatin has been making engaging electro-acoustic music for years from her home base of Charlottesville, Virginia, where she serves as a professor and director of the Virginia Center for Computer Music at UVA. In her recent Innova release, Tower of the Eight Winds, she teams up with the Borup-Ernst Duo (Hasse Borup on violin and Mary Kathleen Ernst on piano) to present a vivid set of compositions, rendered in well-recorded, vigorous performances.

The Bravo Guy

Often at the symphony, there is a person in the audience who, well before the final notes of the work have faded completely, and before the applause begins, will shout “BRAVO!” cutting short the lovely bit of breathing room at the end of a piece and jangling the audience out of it’s reverie.

Sex, Guns, and New Music

Last week here at the Box we received a communication from a reader pointing out the tendency for the language of new music to employ terms that suggest violence or aggression. For instance, it was pointed out that it’s common to read press materials containing phrases like “aggressive,” “no holds barred,” “pedal to the metal,” “face-melting,” and the like.

Inner Demons

It seems that one of the greatest challenges for a creative person is to steer clear of being taken prisoner by the random workings of the mind, and focus on the real work at hand. There are so many reasons we can think of to not write music—it’s incredible the things we can concoct to avoid giving ourselves the quiet and the space to do the work that is really most important.

The Grass Is (Only Slightly) Greener

The academic year is fast winding down, and along with the peace and quiet of a school after finals are over, come the signs of those working in academia starting to relax; most noticeably the gleam in the eyes of academically ensconced friends anticipating summer.

Concert Organization Checklist

Successful concerts are what composers, performers, and audiences all hope for. This not only means the thoughtful programming of quality music, but also a smoothly run performance.

Power Play

The availability of adequate electricity is one of those things that should never be assumed—in much the same way that one cannot assume that the piano in the concert space (especially if it is in a club, bar, art gallery, or other non-traditional setting) will be accurately tuned.

Sounds Heard: Mike Vernusky—Music for Film and Electro-Theatre

Sometimes “soundtrack” CDs can invite a degree of skepticism, in that often the music composed for film or video does not stand alone as effectively as when paired with its accompanying medium. However, the second release from Austin, Texas-based composer and sound artist Mike Vernusky is an example of such a format that does not suffer from being presented as audio alone. This is a collection of music composed both for film and “electro-theatre,” defined as music for live actors with electronic sound, which creates a vivid radio play-like journey through sculptural forests of sound.

John Hollenbeck: Reveling in the Unknown

Composer and drummer John Hollenbeck seems most content when faced with musical uncertainty. In this article he discusses his composing process, the challenges of organizing tours both in the U.S. and abroad, his thoughts on genre definitions, and the role of spirituality in his music.