An award-winning traditional performer and educator in her native country of Vietnam, Vo has found a particular freedom in the myriad genres and styles of music that surround her here in America—an influence that has filtered into both her musical ideas and the instruments and techniques she uses to communicate them.
When you visit Kenneth Kirschner’s über-minimalist single-page website, you get a clearer sense of how central the free distribution of his work is to him. No program notes are offered, no composer bio included. Just select a track and experience the music. “I think, being an experimental composer, it’s about encouraging a listener to take risks.”
Whatever genre of music he is engaging in, Derek Bermel is always mindful of its context. That mindfulness, coupled with an insatiable musical curiosity, manifests itself whether he is composing music for an orchestra, playing clarinet with various chamber ensembles, singing in his own R&B band, or jamming with traditional musicians from around the world.
As a singer and instrumentalist who has worked in at least a dozen different musical genres, Caleb Burhans has always been drawn to the inner voices preferring to, as he puts it, “play second violin or viola than first fiddle.” This attraction spills over into his own deceptively simple, extremely meticulous musical compositions.
If there were a music version of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” it could very well be “Six Degrees of Carman Moore” since Moore—in a career spanning decades—connects to everyone from Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen to John Lennon and Aretha Franklin. And yet, many people are unaware of Moore, even within the contemporary music community.
Composer and electric guitarist D. J. Sparr draws energy and inspiration from interacting with other musicians. “That’s why I compose,” he says, “to get to the point where I can be actively working with other musicians.” A full schedule of composition commissions, performances of his own music and that of other composers, and educational residencies ensures that he gets his fill of that vitality.
Originally a student of history before he refocused his efforts into music, Robert Carl’s interest in time, memory, and space are veins running through his compositions, his work more given to conjuring imagery than narrative plot. And whether inspiration is mined in the wake of a seascape or travelers on a speeding bullet train, the resulting music tends to carry a distinct organic beauty and rich, encompassing depth.