Posts in Spotlight
Troy Herion’s interest in making movies grew directly out of making music. It was a way to further extend the possibilities of what music can be. And in works like Baroque Suite and New York: A City Symphony, Herion has fused visual and sonic elements together so symbiotically that it is difficult to imagine them independent of one another.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over the past two years in cities throughout the U.S., groups of people have been gathering, digital music players in hand and headphones in place, to watch the sun rise or set. It must be an odd sight for anyone stumbling across these scenes—25 to 50 people all “plugged in,” intently facing in the direction of the sun. They are all listening to the same music by composer Nat Evans.
While Joseph C. Phillips Jr.’s music sometimes incorporates improvisation and his ensemble features several prominent jazz musicians, he does not consider himself a jazz composer. An adept multitasker who balances creating music for film, dance, symphonic bands, and his own 25-piece ensemble with teaching music to kindergartners, Phillips creates very clearly 21st-century music—incorporating a broad range of styles while being ultimately beholden to none.
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.
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.