Saturday, December 28, 2013

In AK

I am back home in Alaska for the holidays, and will not be posting much here until I return to LA in 2014. 

The view from near my parents' house.
Look closely and you can see Mt. Susitna and Denali.
Baldy is the near peak on the right.
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Notations 21: Troy and Falcone

Here is the twenty-first installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are T.J. Troy and Madeline Falcone. All images are used with permission, and copyright is retained by each piece's respective creator. Click on the images to hear/see a larger view.

Great Western Railway by TJ Troy
T.J. Troy combines an eclectic knowledge of percussion from around the world with his innate musicality to create a distinct and powerful voice in the world of contemporary percussion. Be it as a member of many high caliber ensembles, a soloist or with the numerous artists he collaborates with, T.J. has established himself as one of the most multi-faceted and sought after percussion artists in Los Angeles. As a composer, T.J.’s writes for several different groups, including the Freshly Squeezed Music Ensemble (FSME), a chamber group whose repertoire draws from classical, contemporary, and world music traditions; February 2011 saw the release of “Roads 3,” the third volume of T.J.’s “Roads” series, cataloging his creative journey as a composer. T.J.’s latest project, Run Downhill, just recently saw the release of their debut EP, “Giants.” An active performer and composer for television and film, he was awarded the Gaia Award from the Moondance International Film Festival, for his score to Den Serras' film, "Seven Swans," co-written with composer Leon Rothenberg. His compositions have been performed by the University of Michigan Creative Arts Orchestra, the CalArts Percussion Ensemble, the Citrus College Percussion Ensemble, Condensation, OK Composer, and Freshly Squeezed.

More info at tjtroy.com

In the dreaming man's dream, the dreamed man awoke by Madeline Falcone

Madeline Falcone, violinist and violist, is a versatile performer with an interest in the promotion of contemporary music. She completed her undergraduate degree at Loyola University New Orleans, where she cultivated an interest in chamber music as a founding member of the New Orleans Chamber Ensembles and the Contemporary String Ensemble. Through these groups, Madeline initiated the premiere of new works by worldwide composers in unconventional venues throughout the city.  She continued her studies through the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music summer orchestras and California Institute of the Arts, where she received her MFA.  While at CalArts, Madeline appeared in solo roles including VLN & VLA at REDCAT and made her viola debut as soloist in the premiere of The House is Open by Alex Vassos. Primary teachers include Mark Menzies, Lorenz Gamma, Michel Zaïtzeff, and Amy Thiaville. As a Los Angeles chamber musician, Madeline is a founding member of The Isaura String Quartet and has performed with Classical Revolution L.A. and YMF’s Debut Orchestra and at venues including REDCAT, The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and Gibson Ampitheater. Her musical interests extend to genres including Irish fiddle, bluegrass, jazz, and popular music; she played fiddle with Los Angeles Irish band The Ploughboys, performed at New Orleans Jazz Fest, and appeared as a regular guest with the 2011 Thelonius Monk Sextet.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

REVIEW: Monday Evening Concerts' Kondo and Feldman, 12/09

The 75th(!) season of Monday Evening Concerts kicked off this week with music by Jo Kondo and Morton Feldman, performed by alumni and students from UCSD and Calarts, Southern California's prime upper-level institutions of contemporary music performance. The first half was devoted to two pieces by Kondo, Sight Rhythmics and Under the Umbrella, while Feldman's Words and Music took up the second half.

The evening began with Kondo's Sight Rhythmics, featuring banjo, steel drum, electric piano, tuba, and violin. The instrumentation reminded me of a exchange between Feldman and Earle Brown: "'Earle Brown once remonstrated, 'But Morty, just because you've chosen the instruments, that doesn't mean the piece is finished,' Feldman replied, 'For me it is.'" The interaction of deliberately disparate timbres seemd to be the focus of the piece. With that goal in mind, I found myself questioning Kondo's pairing of steel drums and electric piano, however, as those sounds did blend on occasion. Kondo also wrote a piano version of Sight Rhythmics, which the relative timbral homogeneity transforms into an entirely different piece:


The existence of simple, yet highly detailed structures in Kondo's linear music brought Scelsi to mind, while the crippled stasis of the piece invoked Feldman. I found myself wondering why Kondo chose western instruments like the banjo, rather than a timbrally-similar traditional Japanese instrument like the shamisen, though I assume he has written about his orchestrational approach sometime in his long career. Not knowing too much about Kondo, these pieces piqued my curiosity about his music and I plan on finding out much more about his work.

Under the Umbrella, a piece for 25 cowbells played by 5 percussionists originally commissioned by Toru Takemitsu for Nexus, was performed next by UCSD's Red Fish Blue Fish. This piece was my favorite on the concert, drawing up a whole panoply of references. Watching the musicians, one can quickly discern that the cowbells are dispersed low-to-high among the musicians in the following manner: Player 1 has the lowest, Player 2 has the next lowest, Player 3 has the 3rd lowest, etc. The resulting hocketed playing style seemed to simultaneously draw influence from gamelan and handbell choirs, while the sounds chosen by Red Fish Blue Fish brought to mind Cage's constructions, Partch's cloud chamber bowls, Gagaku, and (of course) the Swiss alps.

It was particularly good timing for me to hear this piece. On the Saturday prior I was playing my music at the Krampus Ball with Timur and the Dime Museum, and G.T.E.V. D'Oberlander presented several fantastic cowbell ringers! Something in the air, I suppose... Anyhow, as I listened to both of Kondo's pieces, I also couldn't help but notice the prominence of the number 5 - five instruments in Sight Rhythmics; five musicians in  Under the Umbrella, each playing five cowbells, etc. This is another concept I'm guessing someone more familiar with Kondo's compositional style would know more about.

After an intermission came Words and Music, by Samuel Beckett and Morton Feldman. This piece was originally a 1962 radio play that Beckett's cousin, John Beckett, had written music for. It was revived in 1987 with new music by Feldman. Beckett's meta-narrative portrays a forcibly collaborative relationship between Words/Joe and Music/Bob, facilitated by a surly character named Croak, who rapped with a bass drum mallet on what appeared to be a Mahler box.

For my own taste, the angst of Words and Music felt like a particularly dated Eurocentric/East coast platitude - particularly after the timeless and confidently austere Japanese beauty of Kondo's music. I am always grateful whenever I have the opportunity to hear Feldman's music live, though perhaps I prefer a greater ratio of Bob to Joe. I found it disconcerting to hear Feldman's music, which I am used to hearing stretched across vast expanses of time, compressed into bagatelle-like structures. The music isn't allowed to properly unravel, the way it does in pieces like For Samuel Beckett (also written in 1987) or Neither (a 1977 collaboration between Feldman and Beckett).


At any rate, the theatrical performances by Jonathan McMurty and Jamie Newcomb were fantastic, and the direction of Kim Rubenstein was perfectly effective. I have seen many of the musicians in the ensemble play Feldman on other occasions, and they made it clear why MEC asked them to be a part of this season premiere performance.

The next Monday Evening Concert is January 6, featuring music by Chris Newman and Ludwig van...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Notations 20: Barel and Corral

Here is the twentieth installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday (Tuesday again this week...) we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Ori Barel and Daniel Corral (me!). All images are used with permission, and copyright is retained by each piece's respective creator. Click on the images to hear/see a larger view.

Python code from Out by Ori Barel

Ori Barel's music explores various fields including electronic music, chamber music, works for solo instruments and electronics, orchestral music and sound installations. His chamber music has been performed by The Formalist Quartet, Kobayachi Trio and The Ear Unit in venues such as MOSA series (New York), Redcat Lounge (Los Angeles), Ballhaus (Berlin), Santandler Festival (Spain) and Beyond Baroque (Los Angeles). He has performed his electronic pieces at various venues and festivals including: Redcat, Soundwalk Festival, Cemec Festival in Stanford University, Mills College and UCSD among others. In addition he has created soundscapes and compositions for various installations by different artists in museums and galleries such as Tel Aviv Museum, Jerusalem Artists’ House and Overtones Gallery (Los Angeles). He holds a B.A. in Music Composition at UCLA and a Masters degree from California Institute Of The Arts where he studied with Michael Jon Fink, Ulrich Krieger and Marc Sabat. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in music composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara studying with Clarence Barlow and Curtis Roads.

More info at oribarel.com

Compostional sketch for Diasporic Music #6: Histories by Daniel Corral

Daniel Corral is a composer and multi-instrumentalist born and raised in Eagle River, Alaska. His music is a rich collusion of styles, constantly blurring the boundaries between the familiar and foreign, mirroring the diasporic evolution of cultural identity in the twenty-first century. His unique voice finds outlet in puppet operas, accordion orchestras, handmade music boxes, electronic collages, site-specific installations, chamber music, and interdisciplinary collaborations. Corral’s music has gained great attention in Los Angeles, being commissioned and presented by venues such as REDCAT, The Hammer Museum, MOCA, USC’s Thornton School of Music, CSUN’s Mike Curb College of Arts, The Pianospheres Series, and The Santa Monica GLOW Festival. He writes, arranges, and performs with numerous music groups, including Timur & The Dime Museum, Free Reed Conspiracy, and Tears of the Moosechaser. Corral received his MFA from Calarts, where he studied with James Tenney, and Anne LeBaron.

More info at spinalfrog.com

Sunday, December 8, 2013

REVIEW: Now Hear Ensemble @ REDCAT, 11/02

On November 2, I got to hear the Now Hear Ensemble perform at REDCAT. Not to be confused with the Hear Now Festival or the NOW Festival, the Santa Barbara-based Now Hear Ensemble consists of students and recent alumni of UCSB. I first heard this group at REDCAT's Spring Studio, playing Federico Llach's 11 Points, in which a game of ping-pong acted as conductor while the ensemble went through a series of post-minimal loops and phrases.

The forward-thinking group has been on tour to promote their debut album, Made in California. The album features student and recent alumni compositions from various colleges around California, and the tour visited all of those schools. REDCAT acted as the Calarts-related venue, and Now Hear's Calarts delegate was Todd Lerew, whose Variable Speed Machine stood out in a concert of disparate musical tropes with the unique timbre of e-bow'd custom-made string instruments. The concert also featured music by USC's David Werfelmann, Mills' Mateo Lugo, Stanford's Iván Naranjo, UCSD's Carolyn Chen, Daniel Miller, and Wild Rumpus' Dan VanHassel.

The Now Hear Ensemble consists of clarinetist Amanda Kritzberg, saxophonist Isaac Lopez, percussionist Anthony Paul Garcia, violist Jonathan Morgan, and double bassist/artistic director Federico Llach. Their new album, Made in California, is available now on iTunes or CdBaby.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Headlands AIR 2014!

I'm happy to announce that I was selected to be a 2014 Artist In Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts!

They just announced the full list of 2014 awardees, and I am honored to be able to participate in such a high-caliber community of creative people. I'm excited to find out who will be there at the same time as me, as every name I recognize on the list is someone whose work I highly respect.

Also, I have a profile page on the Headlands website, if anyone is interested in checking that out.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

NOW AVAILABLE: the wulf's Rounds LP

The Wulf has made an album called Rounds, which is available on their website as of today!

A group of LA-based composers were commissioned to write rounds for the project, including Adrian Tenney, Eric Km Clark, Casey Anderson, myselfJessica Catron, Michael Winter, Julia Holter, and more. There are also rounds by composer like Larry Polansky, James Tenney, and David Mahler.

Rounds is available either as a limited edition vinyl LP (including a digital download), or as a digital download.

While you're waiting for your download to finish, you can read Larry Polansky's extremely helpful article, Some Thoughts on Writing Rounds.

On December 15, there will be a Rounds record release party at the Wulf.


Monday, December 2, 2013

No Notations This Week

There won't be any Notations this week. I just got back into town and am once again playing catch-up with a bunch of projects.

So, it'll be back next week!

Also, stay tuned for more concert and CD reviews that have been lying in waiting (part of aforementioned catch-up)!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Notations 19: Overton and Shahab

Here is the nineteenth installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday (Tuesday this week again...) we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Adam Overton and Sepand Shahab. All images are used with permission, and copyright is retained by each piece's respective creator. Click on the images to hear/see a larger view.

inside joke piece by Adam Overton


Adam Overton is an experimental artist based in Los Angeles who works between performance, writing, experimental music, massage, workshops, and event-production. He connects regularly with a variety of artist-peers via several collaborative platforms, including Signify, Sanctify, Believe (with Tanya Rubbak and Claire Cronin, and involving the contributions of over 70 semi-secular artists), The Eternal Telethon, and UploadDownloadPerform.net. He works closely with Guru Rugu as co-director of the experimental meditation center of los angeles and as a ghostwriter for Guru Rugu’s Experimental Meditation Hour on KCHUNG Radio.

More info at plus1plus1plus.org

step filter by Sepand Shahab

Sepand Shahab was born in Tehran, Iran. He is a composer and harpsichordist living in Los Angeles and works with field recordings, chance procedures, and simple structures inspired in part by his experience with early music. Sepand studied composition at the San Francisco State University and the California Institute of the Arts and has been an artist-in-residence at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program and with the US Forest Service. Shahab’s recent work deals in creating simple structures that hold complex objects, relinquishing smaller details to chance procedures and/or performers, and text-based scores. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

REVIEW: Chris Schlarb's Twilight and Ghost Stories, 11/01

On November 1, Chris Schlarb presented Twilight and Ghost Stories at the Velaslavasay Panorama. This piece featured improvisation by a large cast of musicians including Mike Watt, Paul Masvidal, Nedelle Torrisi, Aaron Roche, Steuart Liebig, Philip Glenn, Ted Byrnes, Glenn Bach, Tabor Allen, Austin Wintory, Tom Steck, David Moyer, and Chris Schlarb. The music was broken into two sets, with some musicians playing only one of the two, and some playing both.

Both performances began in total darkness, and Schlarb used a charmingly archaic light board to switch on and off lights that were situated near each individual performer. When a performer's light was on, they played. The process reminded me of an indirect, slow-motion Cobra or conduction. The indirect nature of this communication medium offered interesting possibilities, as did the binary nature of simply playing or not playing. Schlarb was attentive to varying the density of the lit musicians, activating smaller ensembles throughout each set. Each set was bookended by Fahey-esque solo acoustic guitar performances by Schlarb, accompanied by lo-fi field recordings. These gave them the feeling of a cyclical narrative, as if some sort of abstract aural story had been told, before returning us to the world of the Panorama.

Anytime I am at the Velaslavasay, I am warmed by how fully the space lends its charm to whatever performance is happening. On the day between Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos, it was the perfect environment to drink a beer and listen to improvised music in the dark.

You can find to the album of Twilight and Ghost Stories on Bandcamp, along with more of Chris Schlarb's music:

Notations 18: Krieger and Griffin

Here is the eighteenth installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday (Tuesday this week...) we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Ulrich Krieger and Sean Griffin. All media is used with permission, and copyright is retained by each piece's respective creator. Click on the images to hear/see a larger view.

from Ancient Krell Music by Ulrich Krieger

Ulrich Krieger is well known as a saxophone player in contemporary composed and free improvised music as well as a composer of chamber music and electronic music. His recent focus lies in the experimental fields and fringes of contemporary Pop culture: somewhere in the limbo between Noise and Heavy Metal, Ambient and Silence. His original compositions go back and forth between Just Intonation, Silent Music, Noise, Instrumental Electronic, often asking for elaborate amplification, and works in the limbo of Rock culture – not accepting stylistic boundaries. He collaborates with: Lou Reed, LaMonte Young, Phill Niblock, Text of Light, Lee Ranaldo, Phill Niblock, John Duncan, Zbigniew Karkowski, Merzbow, Thomas Köner, DJ Olive, Christian Marclay, Kasper T Toeplitz, Antoine Beuger, Radu Malfatti, Mario Bertoncini, Michiko Hirayama, Miriam Marbe, Hans-Joachim Hespos, Ensemble Modern, Berliner Philharmoniker, Soldier String Quartet, zeitkratzer, just to name a few.

More info at ulrich-krieger.de


Rosemary Brown by Sean Griffin

Sean Griffin lives and works in Los Angeles. Encompassing many languages, styles, media and forms, Griffin's unique compositional works rely on interdisciplinary incongruities positioned at the intersection of sound, image, performance and the archive. His works manifest as music, large and small-scale operas, collaborative installations, complex numeric choreographies and historically weighted musical/performance works. His works have been commissioned and presented internationally by venues including Los Angeles' REDCAT, Armand Hammer Museum, and LACMA, June in Buffalo, Berlin's Volksbühne, Secession Vienna, London's Royal Academy and the Tate Modern, Festival d'Avignon, Taipei City Arts Festival, Walker Art Center, Centre Pompidou, and Festival BOM 2010 in Seoul, Korea, and EMPAC. He received an MFA from CalArts and a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. He studied with Mel Powell, Chaya Czernowin and George Lewis.


More info at seangriffin.org

Monday, November 11, 2013

Notations 17: Clark and Kallmyer

Here is the seventeenth installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Eric KM Clark and Chris Kallmyer. All media is used with permission, and copyright is retained by each piece's respective creator. Click on the images to hear/see a larger view.


Eric km Clark is an accomplished violinist, composer, and improviser that has performed throughout the world, with the majority of his shows taking place in Los Angeles, Toronto, and New York City. Originally from Victoria, Canada, Mr. Clark first moved to the US in 2004 to study at the California Institute of the Arts. Mr. Clark has collaborated in performance with many of the world's most innovative artists and ensembles, including Han Bennink, Michael Gordon, Guy Maddin, Ensemble Sospeso, and the Silver Orchestra. Mr. Clark also co-founded with composer Michael Winter “The Wulf.”, an experimental concert venue located in downtown LA.

More info at erickmclark.com

From Honfleur + Los Angeles by Chris Kallmyer

Chris Kallmyer is an artist living in San Francisco, CA who works in sound installation, composition, performance, and electronic music. He has presented work at the Walker Art Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the Hammer Museum, the Getty Center, REDCAT, Machine Project, and other spaces in America and Europe. Chris is an artist that works with Machine Project, is a member of wild Up, and earned his MFA in music from the California Institute of the Arts where he studied with Thomas Stevens, Vinny Golia, Wadada Leo Smith, and Aashish Khan. He holds a BA in trumpet performance from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

More info at chriskallmyer.com

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

REVIEW: This Clement World, 10/26


On October 26, I saw Cynthia Hopkins' This Clement World at REDCAT. Her 15-person band (including an 8-person choir) accompanied videos and songs inspired by her 2010 Cape Farwell trip to the arctic. These travelogues were couched between solo performances in which Hopkins shape-shifted into various characters that opined about the modern American's relationship to the natural world.

Hopkins changed into roles such as a disguised space alien, a native American princess, and a visitor from a post-ecological future. Though the topical nature of the piece was compelling, almost all of these adopted personae took an outside, sometimes accusatory stance. They were clearly not part of the problem; that would be the rest of us. One couldn't help but feel like Buber's It, rather than Thou. The alienation that this encouraged lent an air of condescension to the piece, coloring how one might react when the big Woodie Guthrie sing-along broke out. Whether you were willing to buy into that accusatory tone or not determined whether this musical moment was an ecstatic wave of energy or a painful flashback to sunday school. Earnestness is a risky card to play.

Regardless of any internal reactions, the musicians sounded great. Hopkins' arresting voice was bolstered by a mix of local professional musicians and Hopkins' New York musical collaborators. There is an aural richness that can only be produced by a quorum of sounding bodies in the room, and musical director William Daniel Smith effectively harnessed the scale of that ensemble.

These musical forces seemed to exist in support of a city-borne exotification of nature. While this naive perspective may at first be tiresome to those who grew up with trees or snow or ocean all around them, it shouldn't necessarily be invalidated or made suspect. It often takes the curiosity of out-of-town guests to inspire people to fully explore and experience the local beauty they've been gradually desensitized to. I assume that this romanticization of the wild is exactly what Cape Farwell is trying to harvest in the artists they invite on their trips around the world. Instead of directly hammering at public opinion, they opt to influence the work of artists whose creative output (hopefully) affects the collective unconscious. That sounds like a noble mission to me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Notations 16: Klopfleisch and Lerew

Here is the sixteenth installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are James Klopfleisch and Todd Lerew. All images used with permission, and copyright is retained by each image's respective creator. Click on the images to see a larger view.

The Virgin Joke by James Klopfleisch

James Klopfleisch is an experimental composer/performer currently living in Los Angeles. His work lies on the fault line between music + performance/event, realizing itself somewhere between the framing of sound in time and the overlapping of musical context with the structures of colloquial observation habits. He has written for such ensembles/events as:trio kobayashi, thingNY, and The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space.

More info at jamesklopfleisch.com

Celestial Mechanics by Todd Lerew

Todd Lerew is a composer and instrument inventor, currently pursuing an MFA in Experimental Sound Composition at CalArts. His work deals with the physical properties of sound and the nature of perception, exploring the use of sound as a plastic medium, and revisiting our understanding of what sound is and how it operates.

More info at soundcloud.com/todd-lerew

Monday, October 28, 2013

Notations 15: Anderson and Chaplin

After a brief hiatus, here is the fifteenth installment of Notations!

Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Casey Anderson and Clay Chaplin. All images used with permission, and copyright is retained by each image's respective creator. Click on the images to see a larger view.

from Other Cities (for 2) by Casey Anderson

Casey Anderson is an artist working with sound in a number of media, including composition, improvisation, electronic music, saxophone, text, and installations. He has performed with Jason Kahn, Ulrich Krieger, MKM, Fomoudou Don Moye, Michael Pisaro, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Mark Trayle, and the Dog Star Orchestra. Performances, exhibitions, and residencies include MOCA – Los Angeles (CA), ISSUE Project Room (NY), STEIM (NL), Atlantic Center for the Arts (FL), and Mass MOCA (MA). He currently lives in Los Angeles, California, teaches in the Media Design Practices department at Art Center College of Design, and works with Machine Project.

More info at caseyanderson.com

korg by Clay Chaplin

Clay Chaplin’s works have been performed internationally including performances at the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, the Bent Festival, the Busan International Computer Music Festival, the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Elektroakustiche Musik (DEGEM) studios, the Ear Zoom Sonic Arts festival, the Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music (STEIM), the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) conferences, the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College (CCM), the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival, the Olympia Experimental Music Festival, the Korean Electro-Acoustic Society Festival, the Sonic Circuits Festivals, the Santa Fe Electronic Music Festival and many others. Clay is currently the Director of the Computer Music and Experimental Media studios at the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts and is a member of the composition/experimental sound practices faculty.

More info at claychaplin.com

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sláturtíð 2013!

I am excited to be in Reykjavík, Iceland taking part in Sláturtíð 2013, organized by S.L.Á.T.U.R! This weekend, I will be sharing my music at the Reykjavík Art Museum Hafnarhús and at Harpa Concert Hall!

On Thursday night, I will playing solo and duo pieces with Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir at Hafnarhús

On Friday afternoon, we will present an accordion orchestra piece titled Neotrope in Harpa! Originally commissioned by Machine Project for the 2010 Glow Festival, Neotrope was premiered by Free Reed Conspiracy, who played it while riding on the Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel.

Finally, on Friday the Reykjavik-based experimental ensemble Fengjastrútur will premiere two movements from a new piece of mine called Maximiliana Counterpoint at Hafnarhús!

Below a video of the Santa Monica premiere of Neotrope.

Bless bless

Monday, October 7, 2013

To Reykjavik!

So, I have been bad about posting Notations in the last few weeks. but it has been an amazing whirlwind of activity! After a magnificent show at the Bootleg with Live Arts Exchange, I played electric accordion for 6 hours as part of the Glowmasphere at the 2013 Glow Festival.

I just got done playing with Timur and the Dime Museum in New York, and now I'm off to sunny Reykjavik, Iceland to participate in Slaturtid 2013!

Once I have landed and settled in Reykjavik, the Notations will continue once again, I swear.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

REVIEW: LBO's King Gesar

Last year, Long Beach Opera initiated their Outer Limit Series with Gavin Bryars' Paper Nautilus at the Aquarium of the Pacific. This year, they continued that series with Peter Lieberson's King Gesar, a monodrama/opera that tells the story of a legendary Tibetan warrior king.

Photo by Keith Ian Polakoff
This "campfire opera" was produced at Harry Bridges Memorial Park, right by the Queen Mary. Two narrators told the epic tale of King Gesar, accompanied by two dancers and a musical octet. Anyone expecting a traditional opera would have been disappointed, for the text was almost entirely spoken, with only a few moments of singing. The two narrators, Danielle Marcelle Bond and Roberto Perlas Gomez, did a fantastic job recounting a verbose narrative that spanned several decades.

Originally written for a single narrator, the text was bifurcated to give Bond and Gomez's characters distinguishable personalities. While Bond's character seemed in the vein of Shelley Duvall (a la Faerie Tale Theatre), Gomez portrayed a stearner counterpoint. Gomez also had all of the parts written in strict rhythmic unison with the musical ensemble. Many of these sections were lengthy, uptempo streams of language in odd time signatures that seemed to have no spaces for breaths, and I was surprised that they were able to pull them off. Dancers Javier Gonzales and Kelly Ray joined Bond and Gomez onstage, sometimes giving a literal physical portrayal of the story, sometimes holding symbolic masks or puppets.

Photo by Keith Ian Polakoff
Lieberson's score is in a 90's post-Stravinsky/post-minimal vein. While the instrumentation is similar to Histoire du Soldat, the rhythmic leitmotifs seem to recall the Augur Dance from the Rite of Spring, or Messiaen's rhythmic manifestions of his modes of limited transposition. There were some terrific moments of virtuosic playing, with Timothy Loo's cello solo being especially notable.

LBO always has creative venues for their performances. While the Paper Nautilus used the features of the aquarium to great effect, the framing of King Gesar as a "campfire opera" fit it nicely into the context of the outdoor performance space at Harry Bridges Memorial Park. It was an interesting outlier in relation to the types of outdoor performances I have seen in various parts of Asia.

During the performance, we were joined by an unexpected Long Beach resident, who sat down and promptly began talking on his cell phone during the performance. Ah, the peaks and valleys of social spaces! After a dramatic exit, the unexpected guest left and the audience could settle their attention back on the performers, who were doing an amazing job continuing their performance, remaining as unfazed as possible by the incident.

Long Beach Opera's next season starts on January 26 with Duke Ellington's Queenie Pie, followed by John Coolidge Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer opening on March 16.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

CONCERT REVIEW: The Electric Voice @ MorYork

On September 7, People Inside Electronics and LA Sonic Odyssey presented the inimitable bass baritone Nicholas Isherwood at the MorYork Gallery in Highland Park. The program was called The Electric Voice, and it featured 8-channel works written for, commissioned by, or dedicated to Isherwood.

One can't help but be amazed as soon as you step inside MorYork. It might be the most unassuming building in what Huffington Post calls America's "Hottest Neighborhood," but what lies within is only comparable in uniqueness to the likes of Culver City's Museum of Jurassic Technology. It was a perfectly surreal setting for this otherworldly concert of contemporary vocals and electronics.

As soon as Isherwood began singing, it was immediately obvious why the likes of Stockhausen, Eötvös, Bussotti, Messiaen, and numerous other composers and musicians have desired to work with him. The undeniable richness of his voice is coupled with a clear and deep commitment to musical experimentation, making for a startlingly powerful performance.

The concert kicked of with Michael Norris' Deep Field I, which drew inspiration from the Hubble Space Telescope. After a false start, the performance was underway, with Isherwood's voice reverberating around the 8 channel system, channeling early astronomical texts.

Otro, by Jean-Claude Risset  found Isherwood navigating an acousmatic sound environment populated with errant harps, synthesizers, voices, fires, and other aural miscellany. In such an intimate space, I imagined what it would have been like if Isherwood could have been singing from the center of the audience. The piece seemed to portray the interaction of the external world of recorded sounds with the internal world of the singer, and that sort of centralized spatialization could have further enveloped the audience within the introversion of that aural role.

This was followed by Lissa Meridan's shafts of shadow, in which Isherwood wore headphones and reacted in immediate vocalize imitation to the sounds he alone could hear. The piece involved spatialized echoes and delays, but during this piece the wireless mic started noticeably cutting out. However, there were moments when I was grateful fo this. The parts when the microphone failed and the voice carried its own weight reminded me of Demetrio Stratos or Cathy Berberian solos. It was a fascinating A/B between the otherworldly, effected sheen of the intended piece and the raw talent going into it, vaguely similar to hearing the vocals-only track by David Lee Roth (though Isherwood's was entirely different and much better).

After attempts to replace the delinquent wireless mic led to a brief intermission, Isherwood premiered PIE artistic director Isaac Schankler's Mouthfeel. On the surface it was a mere commentary on consumption and industry, pairing a mass-produced consumer item (Doritos Locos Tacos) with the aesthetics of laptop electronics and voice. However, that pairing also implied a commentary on programmatic subject matter in contemporary music, banging the gavel of absurdity at both.

Following a longer intermission, it was time to hear Stockhausen's Capricorn. As is inevitable with a Stockhausen piece done right, all other attempts at spaciness, zaniness, or eccentricity were trumped. After the recorded track began, Isherwood took the stage dressed in an amazing silver bodysuit with silver facepaint. One got the impression that this was a more natural state for him, while the other version was the real costume. After standing silently for some time, his sudden strong vocal entrance recalled Andy Kaufman's Mighty Mouse. What followed was a stellar performance by an amazing performer - one that brought the house down and was the highlight of an already ambitious evening of music.

I was surprised that this was somehow my first People Inside Electronics show, but it will definitely not be my last. Their next concert is on October 8, featuring the Lyris Quartet. The last time I attended an LA Sonic Odyssey show, it featured Stockhausen's Kontakte, and I'm very happy that the Sirius flag has been waving high this last year.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Notations 14: Denio and Krausas

Here is the fourteenth installment of Notations! Apologies for not posting any Notations last week, but I was busy with work and no one voiced any objections...

Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Amy Denio and Veronika Krausas. All images used with permission, and copyright is retained by each image's respective creator. Click on the images to see a larger view.

Seal Love/Sluice Gates Tilted by Amy Denio

Amy Denio (rhymes with ‘Ohio’ or ‘gennaio’) is a composer, singer, multi-instrumentalist, audio engineer, international collaborator, and record producer. Her collaborative efforts have been seen and heard at Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Seattle Opera House, Detroit Institute of Art, Venice Biennale, Roman Theater Trieste, and on top of 3 Metro Busses in Seattle. She recently completed a 2-year commission from Meet The Composer to compose the sound track for Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin's toy theater/puppet piece 'Who's Hungry? - Santa Monica'. Fascinated by 'unheard voices', she is now doing research for her new oral history project called 'Mythunderstandings' in collaboration with the Tiptons Sax Quartet, which will be first presented in Seattle in January, 2013.

More info at amydenio.com

from Inside the Stone by Veronika Krausas

Veronika Krausas has had commissions and performances by the Penderecki String Quartet, San Francisco Choral Artists and the Alexander String Quartet, Ensemble musikFabrik, Esprit Orchestra, The Vancouver Symphony, ERGO Projects, Continuum Music, Toca Loca, and Motion Music. She has music composition degrees from the University of Toronto, McGill University in Montreal, and a doctorate from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Of Lithuanian heritage, she was born in Australia, raised in Canada, and lives in Los Angeles. Krausas is an Assistant Professor in the Composition Department and the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Theory at the Thornton School of Music, on the advisory council of Jacaranda Music, an associate artist with The Industry, a lecturer at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and an artist with Catalysis Projects.

More info at veronikakrausas.com

Thursday, September 12, 2013

X-Ray Sunsets Album Release Show, 9/21 at the Bootleg!


I am very excited to announce that Timur and the Dime Museum will be performing a release show for our new CD, X-Ray Sunsets, on Saturday, September 21 at the Bootleg Theatre!

X-Ray Sunsets is an album I am particularly proud of, having produced, mixed, arranged, and edited it. I also wrote most of the music and recorded much of it. These are songs that Timur and the Dime Museum has been playing live for a while. The recordings expand on that energy and will blow you away! You can stream the album right now on Bandcamp, but this show will be the only place to get a physical copy for some time, so don't miss out!

This event is part of Live Arts Exchange (LAX), a home-grown performance series that showcases some of the most innovative artists and independent companies in LA, creates social events that encourage cross-genre hangouts, and provides opportunity for peer to peer critique.

X-Ray Sunsets is an album I am really excited to present, and September 21 will be a unique evening of music that I very much hope you will want to share with us. I sincerely hope to see you there!

Get your ticket online HERE, and use this discount code to get 40% off when you purchase in advance:
LAXFAM

Timur and the Dime Museum
7pm
Bootleg Theatre
2220 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90057

P.S.
I will also be collaborating with writer Mandy Kahn on a performance for the LAX Launch Pad on Sept. 19! This piece will incorporate Kahn's poetry and an accordion quartet by me, performed by Free Reed Conspiracy. It will be an exciting evening curated by The Series' Nicole Disson, so check it out as well!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Happy 101st Birthday to John Cage!

Today is John Cage's 101st birthday! While last year's centennial was widely celebrated, this year's post-humous post-centennial seems to be a less lauded event.

A great way to celebrate is to come to SASSAS' free Kids Play Cage performance this Sunday afternoon at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts! Local high school students will perform Cage's music and original compostions along with the directors of the Southland Ensemble.

This free concert starts at 2pm. You can RSVP on the SASSAS website, and/or check out the Facebook page for more info.

In the meantime, here is a 1986 performance of John Cage and Sun Ra at Coney Island!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Notations 13: Nini and Tholl

Here is the thirteenth installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Odeya Nini and Andrew Tholl. All images used with permission, and copyright is retained by each image's respective creator. Click on the images to see a larger view.

Untitled by Odeya Nini

Composer and vocalist Odeya Nini, constructs acoustic, electro acoustic, and electronic music, incorporating experimental improvisation and malleable forms. At the locus of her interests are textural harmony, gesture, tonal animation, and the illumination of minute sounds, in works spanning chamber music to vocal pieces and collages of musique concrete. Utilizing various mediums of expression, space, atmosphere, acoustics, tone, performance and syntax are reconsidered to allow novel ways for sonic experiential reverberations.

More info at odeyanini.com

Holistically Yours by Andrew Tholl

As a composer, Andrew Tholl’s interest lies in the exploration of the passage of time, the physicality of making music, noise, nostalgia, memory, and the merging of diverse musical styles. He has been commissioned by wild Up, the New Century Players, Machine Project, Danny Holt, and more. His works have been heard at REDCAT at the Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles), the Dartington International Summer Festival (England), Complice (Berlin), Beyond Baroque (Los Angeles), Princeton University (New Jersey), Listen/Space (New York), Gridlock (Vancouver), CNMAT (Berkeley), and the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles).

More info at andrewtholl.com

Monday, August 26, 2013

Notations 12: Violette and Llach

Here is the twelfth installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Andrew Violette and Federico Llach.

All images used with permission, and copyright is retained by each image's respective creator. Click on the images to see a larger view.

From Amor Dammi Quel Fazzolettino by Andrew Violette


Andrew Violette, a composer and pianist, has assembled a large portfolio of works since the early 1970's, when he was a student of Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at the Juilliard School. Mr. Violette is a Romantic with Minimalist leanings, although his language does not easily fit into either category. His Romanticism, in other words, is evident in his penchant for monumental chord blocks and swirling filigree, but there is also a hefty measure of more contemporary dissonance and angularity. He has adopted the Minimalists' techniques of repetition and gradual expansion, but since his music is somewhat spikier and less consonant than typical Minimalism, one doesn't hear it as being of the Minimalist school.

More info at www.andrewviolette.com

From Perishable Music by Federic Llach

Federico Llach is a composer and double bass player. Prior to moving to Santa Barbara - where he is studying composition with Clarence Barlow and others - he worked with some of the most remarkable performers and conductors of Buenos Aires' contemporary music and jazz scene, both as composer and performer. Earned a Degree in Compositon (IUNA, 2009) and graduated from Escuela de Música Contemporánea (2003). In 2009 was awared with the Melos‐Gandini Scholarship. Received the Sadaic award in Composition for his work "Talampaya", for orchestra, premiered by Argentine National Symphony Orchestra. He is currently the Artistic Director and double bass player of the Now Hear Ensemble.

More info at www.federicollach.com

Thursday, August 22, 2013

REVIEW: SW Chamber Music @ The Huntington, 8/11


On August 11, I had the pleasure of attending one of Southwest Chamber Music's Summer Festival concerts on the peristylar loggia of the Huntington Art Gallery. I had spent that afternoon on a panel for the Society of Experimental Musicians, discussing the importance of context in music. As we entered the Huntington estate and boarded the loggia, it occurred to me that there may not be a more appropriate context in the Los Angeles area to hear chamber music by the likes of Wagner, Reger, and Brahms.

For those unaware of the Summer Festival at the Huntington, it is available from two angles. The musicians are positioned on the outer edge of the loggia, facing the art gallery's entrance. The more affluent audience members sit up on the loggia with the chamber ensemble facing them. The rest of the audience sits on the lawn, with a view of the musicians' backs. However, this doesn't diminish the experience of attending the concerts. The music is still perfectly audible, and it allows these audience members the chance to picnic and luxuriate on the expansive lush pasture, similar to attending a Cinespia screening at Hollywood Forever (but less crowded).

With a perusal of the festival's program book, one could infer a curatorial exploration of dichotomy as a festival theme. The first night opened with Stravinsky's Wind Octet, while another concert closed with Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht. This coming weekend's concert presents Benjamin Britten and Hans Werner Henze together, perhaps recallling the warring factions of Western Europe's great wars of the 20th century. The presence of dualities could explain the programming of Wagner's Albumleaf for Betty Schott on this particular concert. The first music that Wagner wrote after completing Götterdämmerung, you can hear the composer taking a breath of fresh air as this refreshing piece floats on a breeze of ornamentation. While pianist Ming Tsu did a great job treating this piece with due delicacy, my favorite moment was when the doppler effect of a distant small plane inched it's way across the tonal center for a brief second in the piece's opening. It was a wonderful moment of subtle Lucier-esque magic, and a perfect way to open the evening's proceedings.

Returning to the theme of context and dichotomy, Reger's Quintet in A major for Clarinet and Strings, Op. 46 was presented as the work of an intermediary composer between Wagner and Brahms. I must admit that I am less familiar with Reger's output than I'd like to be, so it was a welcome treat to hear his music live. The ensemble, featuring clarinetist Jim Foschia, presented a clear and articulate performance of Reger's work. Much of the writing involved the clarinet playing long, lyrical phrases while the string quartet churned and arpeggiated around it. Southwest Chamber Music's string quartet, consisting of Lorenz Gamma, Shalini Vijayan, Luke Maurer, and Peter Jacobson, did a stellar job as usual melding their playing into singular musical entity, gilding Foschia's clarinet.

After an intermission, Andrew Pelletier took the stage with Ming Tsu and Lorenz Gamma to perform Brahms' Trio in Eb for Violin, Horn, and Piano, op. 40. Pelletier played against brass stereotypes with his skillful ensemble blending and tasteful dynamics. I especially enjoyed their performance of the melancholic Adagio. Again recalling context, the relatively unadorned austerity of the Brahms drew attention to itself in contrast to Wagner's Albumleaf. With Reger couched between the two, the result was an evening-length treatise on late 19th century European music.

Southwest Chamber Music has one more concert in their Summer Festival at the Huntington, and it is this weekend. On August 24 and 25 they will present pieces by Benjamin Britten, Hans Werner Henze, and Leos Janácek. I would suggest treating yourself to a wonderful evening of music at the Huntington.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Notations 11: Fink and Wadle


What is often described as imperfection is in fact the true the beauty of the world. With that in mind, here is the eleventh installment of Notations, once again a day late!

Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday (Tuesday this week...) we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Michael Jon Fink and Douglas C Wadle.

All images used with permission, and copyright is retained by each image's respective creator. Click on the images to see a larger view.

Sketch for A Folio of Large and Small Worlds Ending
by Michael Jon Fink
Michael Jon Fink is a composer/performer who resides in the San Fernando Valley just north of Los Angeles. For the last thirty years he has served on the faculty of the Herb Albert School of Music at the California Institute of the Arts where he teaches Composition, Orchestration and Analysis. He has composed concertos for soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, violin and cello as well as incidental music for two plays by W.B. Yeats and three by Wajdi Mouawad. "A Folio of Large and Small Worlds Ending", a chamber concerto composed for world-renowned avant-garde cellist Frances Marie Uitti (who plays with two bows at the same time) was premiered at REDCAT in March 2012. He recently composed the score for Tareq Daoud’s short dramatic film La salle des maîtres, an Official Selection of the Film Festival Locarno. His “Prelude to Alone” for clarinets, trombones and electric guitar appears on the new “Cold Blue Two” CD Anthology (Cold Blue Music: CB0036 ). M.J.F. has been a composer/improviser with experimental and new music groups that have included the Negative Band, Musica Veneris Nocturnus, Stillife and Ghost Duo; and currently plays electric guitar with Pickaxe (Noise), Gods of Rain (Experimental Metal), the Feedback Wave Riders (Free Improv) and Trio Through the Looking-Glass (Jazz-inflected). His music appears on the Cold Blue, Contagion, C.R.I., Trance Port, Raptoria Caam and Wire Tapper labels.

More info at michaeljonfink.com


Logos No. 4 by Douglas Wadle

Douglas C. Wadle was born in 1977 in Hammond, Indiana and currently resides in Los Angeles. His work is rooted in the American Experimental tradition and frequently features extended just intonation and alternative notations. He also draws upon experimental literary and theatrical practices and his studies of auditory and visual perception, logic, and philosophy (of language and mind, primarily). Wadle has composed for various chamber ensembles and is an active performer in, primarily, interdisciplinary contexts, utilizing trombone, voice, text, visual arts and movement. He is a founding member of ,, duo and performs with The Unbuttoned Sleeves, a transdisciplinary improvisational quartet under the direction of dancer/poet Simone Forti. He studied Comparative Literature and Music at New York University (BA), Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles (MA), and Music Composition, with James Tenney and Marc Sabat at the California Institute of the Arts (MFA). He previously taught at the California Institute of the Arts and is currently pursuing graduate studies in philosophy. Wadle's scores are published by Plainsound Music Edition. He co-authored the book Unbuttoned Sleeves (Beyond Baroque Books, 2006) with Simone Forti, Terrence Luke Johnson, and Sarah Swenson. His visual art scores, Amphibolyand Logos prior Logos, are included in the anthology, Notations21 (Mark Batty Publisher, 2009). He is a contributing editor for (The Open Space Magazine). His music has been recorded on Exit Records.
More info at douglaswadle.com