Author Archives: Alexandra Gardner

Matthew Burtner: Engaging the Natural World

The music of composer Matthew Burtner is in large part inspired by his childhood experiences of the Alaskan landscape where he grew up. That influence applies not only to the content of the music, but to the way it is created.

Making Space

One of the best parts of traveling around to interview composers for NewMusicBox is often having the opportunity to see their living spaces. It’s always interesting, and in many cases surprising to see the spaces that composers create for themselves. But I wonder if the spaces in which we feel the most comfortable are always the best for composing?

Success Stories

It happens with the onset of every new year—as people take a bit of time to assess where they have been and look ahead to where they are going and/or where they wish to go, discussions revolving around the nature of success crop up.

The Role of Analysis: A Different Angle

A couple of weeks ago, David Smooke picked up a topic that had also been on my mind: how important is analysis to the performance of a new composition? My thoughts have been spinning on this topic since then, so I wanted to approach it from a slightly different angle.

Sounds Heard: Michael Harrison & Maya Beiser—Time Loops

For the recording Time Loops cellist Maya Beiser teams up with composer/pianist Michael Harrison to perform a number of Harrison’s works inspired by “music from ancient Greece and the Renaissance, Indian ragas and Minimalism.” All of his music is performed in just intonation, and the result is an ear-openingly clear, bright sound that fits the instrument beautifully and highlights the ecstatic, spiritual nature of the compositions.

Adventures in Orchestra, Part 3: Final Thoughts

A lot of ground has been covered in Part 1 and Part 2 of this little series on working with an orchestra. Here are a few final points, based largely on questions people have asked about the process and timeline of this composition for the Seattle Symphony.

Adventures in Orchestra, Part 2: Unlikely Collaborators

Before I signed on to the Seattle Symphony’s Sonic Evolution project, the orchestra had decided that this year one of the works would include a soloist, and I was invited to work with Alan White, long time drummer of the band Yes. My initial thought was, “How on earth am I going to deal with an honest-to-goodness rock star?”