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.
As a co-founder of the New Amsterdam record label and the NOW Ensemble, composer Judd Greenstein thinks deeply about the changes he wants to see in the field and dedicates his time and talents to putting them into action. He is by turns idealistic and pragmatic, motivated by a desire to challenge artists and audiences, but also to keep pace with economic and social developments. “The world that we as composers and performers were operating in expanded exponentially,” Greenstein explains. “Now the conversation is with everyone.”