When composer and educator Bill Ryan interviewed to teach composition at Grand Valley State University in 2005, he laid out what his ideal collegiate program would look like. What no one—perhaps even including Ryan—likely anticipated, however, was how swiftly and successfully he would be able to make his vision a reality and how, in the process of so doing, he would put the university’s program on the national contemporary music map.
Shara Worden is arguably one of the most prolific collaborators working in music today. In the midst of her other activities, Worden has written and recorded a new set of her own original songs under the moniker of her chief creative vehicle, My Brightest Diamond. But unlike MBD’s previous two full-length albums, she substitutes overtly rock sonorities with the instrumental colors of indie chamber sextet yMusic.
What would happen if Sun Ra, Link Wray, and Stockhausen made a recording together and had King Tubby do a dub mix of it all? Well, it might sound a little like the musical universe of guitarist and composer Roger Kleier.
Most people who play the marimba use four mallets, but Robert Paterson uses six. It makes him laugh when people who see him perform on the instrument this way call him “Edward Mallethands.” Though he admits he’s not the first percussionist to explore this technique, he might have devoted more of his energies to it than anyone else thus far. Using those extra mallets also seems to exemplify his entire approach to making a successful career in new music.
Classically trained violinists are, generally speaking, a focused breed accustomed to long hours in the practice room refining a phrase down to static perfection. This is perhaps what makes the Oberlin and Juilliard-trained violinist Jennifer Choi’s seemingly voracious appetite to try new things so striking. From Brahms to improv to serving as the concertmaster for the pit orchestra of South Pacific, Choi seems unable, or at least unwilling, to sit still.
Many scores are visually striking, but Will Redman’s catalog carries a particularly strong “take this piece and frame it” vibe. In his work, fragments of traditionally notated music can be found free-floating on an eight foot scroll or overlayed on top of one another to form a dense nest of competing musical ideas, with lines and other abstract graphic symbols implying mood and character.
Claiming Chaya Czernowin as an American composer is somewhat disingenuous. Although she currently resides in the United States where she is the Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music at Harvard University and holds degrees from Bard College and the University of California, San Diego, the Haifa-born Czernowin has spent a great part of her life in many other places.
Coming to the USA from Serbia not only jump started Aleksandra Vrebalov’s compositional career early on, it also transformed her and led her to write deeply emotional music which, even though it clearly echoes the centuries-old traditions of her native land, she probably would not and could not have composed had she stayed there.