Composer Steve Reich drew concepts for his piece Radio Rewrite from Composer Perotin’s Proverb, composed in 1995. He also allowed Radiohead songs Jigsaw Falling into Place and Everything in Its Right Place influence the piece as well. This is the third track on his 2014 album titled after the piece itself, Radio Rewrite. The piece is in five movements, alternating in Reich’s typical fashion: Fast, Slow, Fast, Slow and Fast. Longtime friends of Reich ensemble Alarm Will Sound recorded this work under direction of Alan Pierson. The work calls for flute, clarinet, two vibraphones, two pianos, electric bass, and string quartet.
Electric Counterpoint and Piano Counterpoint are also featured on this album. Electric Counterpoint was composed in 1987 and originally performed and recorded by Pat Metheny. On this album it is recorded by Radiohead’s guitarist Jonny Greenwood. Reich heard Greenwood perform his work live and enjoyed the performance and then became interested in Radiohead’s music.
Piano Counterpoint is an arrangement of Reich’s Six Pianos by Vincent Corver in 2011. It is recorded by Pianist Vicky Chow. In this arrangement, four of the six piano voices are played as a recording while the performer plays the two remaining piano voices live.
SOLI Chamber Ensemble from San Antonio Texas recently released a new album titled “Portraits.” This album features four newly commissioned works from composers Erich Stem, Peter Farmer, Elliott Miles McKinley, and Diego Vega. Composer Erich Stem is also Associate Professor of Music at Indiana University Southeast and produced the album at New Dynamic Records. It was recorded in Louisville, Kentucky at TNT Productions. Daniel Gilliam interviewed Erich Stem and spoke with him about the concept for the album and the story behind each composer’s piece. You can listen to the interview below and you can purchase SOLI’s “Portraits” on iTunes and CD Baby.
Sebastian was commissioned by Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra for a new symphony. Mr. Chang was in town for the performance and talked with Daniel Gilliam about the creative process surrounding his first major work.
Rihm composed the music to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Philharmonic‘s concert hall, the Philharmonie, a concert venue known for its excellent acoustic properties and unique construction. IN-SCHRIFT 2 explores this unique space, by placing musicians from the orchestra around and within the audience, creating spatial and surround-sound effects. The work is also noted for not using flutes, violins or violas (standard orchestral instruments), instead focusing on the darker and deeper sounds of the ensemble. A preview of the premiere can be seen on the Berlin Philharmonic’s website.
A prolific composer of over 400 works, Wolfgang Rihm came to prominence in 1974 after the premiere of Morphonie at an historic new music festival in Donaueschingen. His output is often associated with expressionism, a style that can be traced back to Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg. Rihm has composed thirteen string quartets, four operas, and his oratorio Deus Passus was commissioned by the International Bach Academy of Stuttgart for the 250th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s death. He has been featured composer at music festivals in Lucerne and Salzburg, and his violin concerto was premiered in 2010 by Anne-Sophie Mutter and the New York Philharmonic. Rihm was born in 1952 in Karslruhle and is a professor at Karlsruhle University of Music.
The 2015 Award in Music is one of five Grawemeyer awards from the University of Louisville, each with a prize of $100,000.
Agata Zubel (b. 1978) has been described as ‘a rarity’ in the world of musical composition. A native of Wrocław, Poland, she studied percussion and music theory at the Karol Szymanowski High School of Music. Her studies continued at the Karol Lipinski University of Music in composition under the tutelage of Jan Wichrowski as well as vocals with Danuta Paziuk-Zipser. She is an active performer, composer, and music professor at The Academy of Music in Wrocław. She formed a vocal and electronic ensemble with Cezary Duchnowski, and together they perform under the name ElettroVoce. She has won numerous awards for her compositions, including the Polityka Passport Award for classical music (2005). Agata Zubel has received a special award for the duo ElettroVoce at the Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition in Amsterdam, and First Prize at the Krzysztof Penderecki International Competition of Contemporary Chamber Music.
The listener might think of calling her style “percussive vocalism” – beatboxing comes to mind. She has created a musical language that places the process of sound production in a place of equal importance to the sounds themselves. Her music is full of surprising contrasts, such as the pairing of long, lyrical violin playing with shouting. Zubel is a gifted performer and often performs the vocal part to her own compositions. Sound collages are created by making syllabic vocal sounds, for example, purposeful stuttering to begin a phrase; continued by stretching out the process of making the word or phrase come out of her mouth, and resulting in an overall statement. Her timbral requirements are daunting for the vocalist: pops, clicks, hisses, growls, and moans are included as part of the text. Sometimes these vocal acrobatics are paired with electronics to create loops or reverberation. The sounds are often stacked in layers to create complex and fascinating webs during the climactic moments of her music. Although instruments are often used in her works, they tend to play a secondary role to the vocal line. Her music is at once sensual and unpredictable, dynamic and unforgettable.
Zubel will be featured as a visiting composer and performer on the University of Louisville School of Music’s 2014 New Music Festival. She will be performing her pieces Cascando and Parlando during the festival. The following week she returns with the Illinois Modern Ensemble to perform Not I based on the monologue by Samuel Beckett, winner of the top award at the 60th UNESCO International Composer’s Rostrum and 2014 “Polonica Nova” Prize.
Michelle Gilfert, Jon Hodge, Matt Wetmore and Samantha Holman contributed to this article. They are students of Dr. Rebecca Jemian, a member of the music theory faculty at the University of Louisville.