There is an arresting, high-voltage energy that often infuses presentations of Marcos Balter’s music, and an obvious fascination on the part of the composer with exploring new sonic possibilities while keeping the human element—the living, breathing performer—center stage.
Neil Rolnick is extremely soft-spoken and self-effacing, but for over 30 years he has helped to create a much changed musical landscape in the United States in terms of musical aesthetics and the application of technology in concert performance.
Composer, improviser, and bassoonist Katherine Young is at home in a variety of musical communities: from the DIY band scene in Brooklyn to the improvised music scene in Chicago to the academic composition department at Northwestern where she now studies.
Although the legendary musical revolutionary Edgard Varèse would be his lifelong mentor, Chou Wen-chung is a consummate traditionalist who has devoted his entire life to reconciling the disparate musical legacies of East and West.
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.
If there is any way to distill the wide-ranging artistry of Matana Roberts, it might be to focus on the ways in which she eludes definitions. The Chicago-raised composer, improviser, and alto saxophonist offers a friendly yet confidant smile as she explains, “Basically, I don’t like being told what to do, or who I am, or what I am by other people. I prefer to make those statements myself.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the role text and stories frequently play in Elliot Cole’s compositions, but the core of his inspiration turns out to trace more of a pendulum swing: insider vs. outsider, text-rooted vs. pure sound, composer vs. performer, a musician dipping his toes into a wealth of styles and methods along the way.
Composing music is usually a solitary act, but Conrad Cummings is by nature a very sociable person. This has drawn him into some of the most fascinating collaborative projects such as Photo-Op created with the painter James Siena and The Golden Gate based on a novel in sonnets by Vikram Seth.
While Beata Moon eschews conforming to any particular compositional camp, generous melodicism and unusual metrical patterns have been a hallmark of her music since she veered away from her rigorous training as a concert pianist and began composing in her late 20s.
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.