Author Archives: Molly Sheridan

About Molly Sheridan

Molly Sheridan is a writer, editor, and producer specializing in classical and experimental music, with a focus on multimedia content designed for the web. A winner of ASCAP’s Deems Taylor Award for music journalism, she is the executive editor of NewMusicBox and Counterstream Radio, both programs of New Music USA.

Sounds Heard: Gabriel Kahane—February House

I’ve long been a fan of Gabriel Kahane’s songwriting. With February House, he has taken the strengths of his previous projects—smart lyrics, even smarter compositional choices—and played them out across a larger storyboard, creating distinct voices for his characters that still solidly carry the attractive marks of his own.

Evan Chambers: You Must Change Your Life

In conversation, Evan Chambers conveys his ideas using words in a strikingly similar fashion to how he delivers them in music: honestly, intelligently, with neither fear of open emotion nor of making a sharper point than his laid-back demeanor might at first lead you to expect. As he speaks about his familial roots in folk music, his love of poetry, and the responsibility he feels as an artist to acknowledge broader social, political, and environmental challenges, a portrait of the composer emerges that reveals again how incompletely shorthand genre descriptors and professional biographies capture art and artist.

Sounds Heard: Common Eider, King Eider—Sense of Place

There are plenty of unique albums out there, of course, but San Francisco-based Common Eider, King Eider’s Sense of Place is a particular standout in this regard. The unusual packaging of the project lends an air of mystery to the proceedings, like receiving keys and a map to an adventure of unknown parameters ahead.

Sounds Heard: Duo Scorpio—Scorpion Tales

With Scorpion Tales, Duo Scorpio doesn’t require you set aside all of your wedding prelude and garden party images of the harp before you hit play, but they are going to stretch those sonic ideas out of whack once things get going. This may be the sum distillation of the work included on this album—it doesn’t build barriers out of repertoire, but it does open quite a few windows in the library.

Lembit Beecher: To Tell a Tale, To Sing a Story

When Lembit Beecher was named composer-in-residence with the Opera Company of Philadelphia (in collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group of New York) in 2011, he didn’t bring a large portfolio of operatic work with him to the brand new three-year program. An instinct and affection for storytelling, however, already infused his compositions.

Sounds Heard: Robert Carl—From Japan

Taken as a whole, the work included on From Japan may stand as a document to Carl’s multifaceted exploration of the intersection between American and Japanese musical culture. In much broader and perhaps simpler terms, however, it is evidence of how careful a listener Robert Carl is, and how generously he invites us all to listen with him.

The Education of Randy Gibson

Plenty of composers flourish within the halls and harbors offered by academia, developing their artistic voices and finding their professional footing; Randy Gibson understood pretty quickly that he wasn’t one of them.

The Art of the $100 Guitar

A wide spectrum of guitarists have responded to the siren call of the $100 Guitar Project. No curatorial bar was set, no stylistic walls erected. It has been a community exercise, each musician encouraged to come to the project without preconceived ideas and to simply explore whatever the guitar suggests to them.

Sounds Heard: Due East—drawn only once

Both of John Supko’s pieces, showcased here with optional video accompaniment, ride a disquiet of rapid motion that contrasts with a simultaneously delivered deeper meditative and exploratory spirit.

Sounds Heard: Jherek Bischoff—Composed

Taken as an album-length work, the collection of unique voices Composed encompasses as part of its scheme is impressive; that it all comes together so seamlessly is a credit to the strength of Bischoff’s singular one.