By combining data, algorithms, and sampled sounds, Brian Foo is using his computer programming skills to learn how to make music. In the process, he’s turning these raw materials into deeply engaging and memorable sonic experiences.
There’s a transformation happening in improvised music involving the embrace of a greater intervallic palette. Bay Area-based composer, saxophonist, and musical theorist Hafez Modirzadeh has been one of the key architects of this sonic expansion.
“It’s not your skill level, it’s how much you communicate,” cellist Erik Friedlander advises. “It’s how much you express that the audience really wants to hear. They come to hear you be real.”
Violinist Miranda Cuckson embraces even the sharpest, most unapproachable-seeming pieces, conveying the music with such palpable control and insight that it’s as if she’s holding the door into these worlds open for the audience.
With a background that spans music theater, woman-at-the-piano club shows, and the presentation of experimental work, Gelsey Bell finds herself most at home in spaces of creative risk and vulnerability.
Composer, conductor, and Trinity Church music director Julian Wachner believes that all music is meant to induce a transformative experience upon the listener and believes that changing listeners’ lives through music is a “moral responsibility of the compositional craft and the performative craft as well.”
Thomson’s often-complex work is carefully designed and communicates powerfully in live performance without exhausting the audience. We chat with him off stage about how he navigates multiple projects and genres while keeping listeners on the edge of their seats.
Composer, improviser, and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn came up playing country and western music, but her ear eventually led her down a decidedly more singular experimental path. “You’ve got be naked in your mind to be able to play and express yourself—you have to be naked and fearless and that’s not easy, especially the older you get.”
“I like things that are minimal, unexpectedly simple, and surprisingly powerful… In math and music I think it’s really striking how you can take these tiny little ideas, and they can explain huge reactions.”
Unlike composers who grew up in the United States where just about any kind of music seems part of our tradition, Shanghai-born Du Yun approaches all traditions as somehow exotic, whether classical, pop, avant-garde, or even the traditional Chinese music that deeply influences so many other Chinese émigré composers.