Profiles

Paul Moravec: The Whole Range of Human Emotion

Paul Moravec in Central Park

Shakespeare’s plays, a novel by Stephen King, and personal letters from American soldiers written in wartime have all served as inspiration for compositions by Paul Moravec. However, when he is composing more abstract instrumental works, like his extremely beautiful Violin Concerto, Moravec claims there is always “a kind of musical narrative” at work even if it does not have a precise verbal meaning.

Jessie Montgomery: Conjuring Memories

Jessie Montgomery standing against a red wall.

Although she grew up in a very culturally diverse New York City neighborhood that has also long been a hotbed for artistic experimentation and rebellion, composer/violinist Jessie Montgomery most strongly identifies with European classical music.

Muhal Richard Abrams: Think All, Focus One

Muhal Richard Abrams sitting in front of the New Music USA mural (created by the staff at New Music USA in 2015)

To Muhal Richard Abrams, there are no boundaries. Any label we put on something—fixed composition vs. spontaneous improvisation, group vs. individual, even old music vs. new music—is artificial and limits possibilities. From his vantage point, all dualities are contained within each other.

Saad Haddad: It’s Not Going to Be Exact

Saad Haddad

Though born, raised, and compositionally trained in Southern California and currently pursuing a master’s degree at Juilliard under the tutelage of John Corigliano, 23-year-old Saad Haddad has been focused on creating music that incorporates traditional Middle Eastern musical aesthetics. But he is not at all dogmatic in his transfer of Arabic music theory to pieces that are designed to be interpreted by musicians trained in Western classical music and performed for its usual audiences.

Missy Mazzoli: Communication, Intimacy, and Vulnerability

Missy Mazzoli in her composition studio.

Whether she is writing for orchestra, chorus, solo piano, an opera, or her own indie-rock inspired chamber ensemble Victoire, Missy Mazzoli is still “asking the same questions” and “finding different answers to the question of how to bring an intimate, vulnerable, human experience to a situation.”

Daniel Wohl: The Seamless Ideal

Daniel Wohl

Wohl’s talent for seamless integration of acoustic and electronic timbres generated significant buzz after the 2013 release of his album Corps Exquis, and it is praise that will likely only cling more tightly in the wake of his full-length follow-up Holographic.

Rudresh Mahanthappa: Getting To Know Who I Am

Rudresh Mahanthappa standing in the yard outside his home with trees and a hill behind him.

Rudresh Mahanthappa explores his composite cultural identity through an extremely wide range of fascinating musical activities. Some of these projects have been direct attempts to synthesize contemporary jazz and much older Indian traditions. Perhaps even more intriguing, however, has been music in which jazz and Carnatic elements co-exist alongside many other components.

Kate Soper: Real Communication

Kate Soper

Extended techniques and integrated theatrical elements are a hallmark of Kate Soper’s compositional style, and presenting her work herself is a good way to push the performer into new territory with confidence. “I will do anything as a performer that I as a composer ask me to do.”

Royce Vavrek: So Many Juicy, Amazing Words

Royce Vavrek sitting down in front of a graffiti-strewn wall.

While an extremely wide range of composers are writing operas in the United States today, many of these disparate operas share an important trait—a libretto written by someone who was born in Alberta, Canada: Royce Vavrek. The gregarious Vavrek at first seems like an unlikely candidate for the mysterious, and regretfully somewhat anonymous, profession of writing opera librettos, but he loves telling stories and collaboration.

Mary Jane Leach: Sonic Confessions

MJLHomepage

For decades Mary Jane Leach has been composing music that explores and exploits various psychoacoustic “ghost” sounds such as beat tones and combination tones. As a result, she has created numerous works for multiples of the same instrument or voice. She is also drawn to physical spaces where such sonic phenomena are at their most pronounced, such as churches, which is why she lives in one.

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