May features three IMPACT sessions with PHYLLIS CHEN on Tuesday, May 11, MARY D. WATKINS on Tuesday, May 18, and NINA C. YOUNG on Tuesday, May 25.
"The process of discovery is at the heart of my practice. Whether it be an unassuming object, a home-made instrument, a new collaborator, a site-specific story or an acoustical anomaly, it is the inquisitive and playful experimentation of a subject that leads me to great inspiration and excitement. Like a kid's "a-ha!" moment when discovering a scientific law, these findings, sometimes experienced as just a passing moment, reveal something (often mysterious) of the environment we live in. I am most in my element when I'm using my hands. I aim to translate these tactile experiences into the music I create. Figuring out how something works or exploring how an inanimate object makes a beautiful sound requires the practice of tuning in and slowing down. Often I don't exactly know where I'm going, but the journey is part of the discovery. My hope is that I find something that has a voice, an untold story, a sound that is overlooked or unheard in the everyday world. Revealing these discoveries is at the heart of my compositions."
Described by The New York Times as "spellbinding" and "delightfully quirky matched with interpretive sensitivity," Phyllis Chen is a composer, keyboardist and sound artist whose music draws from her tactile exploration of object and sound.
Phyllis started playing the piano at the age of five and came across the toy piano as an adult. Immediately she fell in love with it and felt a need to explore its possibilities. Being an instrument bound to no history or set ideas on how it should be played, the toy piano became her grounds for sonic exploration. Unlike the piano, the unrefined but beautiful tone of the instrument captured an ever-changing quality that has inspired Phyllis to use it in a variety of solo and chamber works. She has created several original miniature theatre works (The Memoirist, The Slumber Thief and Down The Rabbit-Hole) in collaboration with her partner and video artist, Rob Dietz. One of her latest large-scale solo works, Lighting The Dark, uses a variety of keyboards (two toy pianos, clavichord, accordion, Casio SK1) along with custom-made music boxes and projection. The work was described by the New York Times as "by turns poignant, humorous and virtuosic, Chen's performance offered a slyly subversive take on issues relating to femininity, technology and power…the looping, spellbinding music…became a fitting tribute to the modest, repetitive, yet quietly heroic work of women."
Phyllis was recently named a 2019 Cage-Cunningham Fellow by the Baryshnikov Arts Center, an annual fellowship curated by the legendary ballerina Mikhail Baryshnikov. The fellowship culminates in December 2019 where she will be collaborating with choreographer Jodi Melnick and performance calligraphist (shodo artist) Masako Inkyo. Phyllis has received commissions by ensembles and organizations such as the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), A Far Cry, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Claire Chase Density Project, Opera Cabal Opera SHOP, Singapore International Festival of the Arts, the Roulette-Jerome and others. She has received grants from New Music USA, Foundation for the Contemporary Arts, NYSCA (via Concert Artists Guild and Look & Listen Festival), Fromm Foundation and the Pew Heritage Trust via Christ Church of Philadelphia.
Phyllis's recent collaboration with Christ Church of Philadelphia, the International Contemporary Ensemble and fellow musician/composer, Nathan Davis, to create a large-scale site-specific work for the new Fisk 150 organ. The work, In Plain Air (funded in large by the Pew Heritage Trust), featured an outdoor music box installation, including a 400-foot long music box strip created in community engagement activities, later pieced together in a quilt-like fashion.
Reflecting her interest in homemade instruments, Phyllis has worked with her long-time collaborator, Ranjit Bhatnagar, to create miniature pipe whistles, toy record players, gong toy pianos and other altered instruments. In 2020, Phyllis will premiere a new work featuring automated toy instruments at the Morris Museum in New Jersey.
In 2007, Phyllis founded the UnCaged Toy Piano to promote new works for unusual instruments. Since its inception, she has received over 200 new pieces from composers around the globe. In 2011, Phyllis launched the first biennial UnCaged Toy Piano Festival, a three-day festival featuring new works and a variety of toy instrumentalists and sound-makers. Each year the festival has been greeted with great enthusiasm, with audience members crossing state borders and oceans to attend. In 2017, UnCaged Toy Piano joined forces with the Conlon Foundation in the Netherlands in search of new works for Robot Toy Piano. The winning pieces were presented as part of the prestigious Gaudeamus Muziekwiek (September 2017) and the 4th UnCaged Toy Piano Festival in NYC.
Phyllis is one of the founding members of ICE, the International Contemporary Ensemble, based in New York City. Her latest album, "On The Nature of Thingness" (Starkland) a collaborative album with ICE featuring the chamber works of Phyllis and ICE composer/percussionist Nathan Davis, was awarded the 2016 Independent Music Award for Best Contemporary Classical Music Album.
|photo by Irene Young|
Trained in classical music at Howard University, Mary D. Watkins has composed three operas and has written for individual performers, symphony orchestras, chamber and jazz ensembles, film, theatre, dance and choral groups, in addition to being a popular recording artist for Olivia records in the 1970s.
Her music has been performed by the Berkeley Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Richmond (VA), Chamber Orchestra, Rohnert Park Symphony, Palo Alto Philharmonic, The Women's Philharmonic Orchestra, Camellia Symphony Orchestra, Plymouth Symphony and The New Black Music Repertory Ensemble of Chicago, among others.
Watkins' recent recordings include Prayer for Peace, a meditational CD, and Recorded Music of the African Diaspora (Albany Records, 2010: Center For Black Music Research; department of Columbia College in Chicago, IL).
|photo by Rebecca Allan|
Laura Kaminsky, cited in The Washington Post as "one of the top 35 female composers in classical music," frequently addresses critical social and political issues in her work, including sustainability, war, and human rights. Possessing "an ear for the new and interesting" (The New York Times), "her music is full of fire as well as ice, contrasting dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection. It is strong stuff." (American Record Guide).
Her first opera, As One, (2014; co-librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed) is the most produced contemporary opera in North America, with close to 50 productions to date in the U.S., as well as across Europe, Canada and Australia. "As One is a piece that haunts and challenges its audience with questions about identity, authenticity, compassion, and the human desire for self-love and peace" (Opera News). The original cast recording on the BSS label was named one of the best new opera recordings of 2019 by Opera News. The As One team has since been commissioned twice—by Houston Grand Opera for Some Light Emerges (2017) and Opera Parallèle/American Opera Projects for Today It Rains (2019).
With Reed, she has created Hometown to the World, inspired by the devastating Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in Postville, IA in 2008, commissioned by The Santa Fe Opera and Opera For All Voices as a co-commission with Hawaii Opera Theatre. Upcoming are Finding Wright (librettist Andrea Fellows Fineberg; Dayton Opera; 2022) and February (co-librettist with novelist Lisa Moore; Newfoundland's Opera on the Avalon; 2023). A new work, Uncover, for Hub New Music will premiere at the Morgan Library and Museum in 2022.
Recent recordings include Fantasy: Oppens Plays Kaminsky (Cedille Records CDR 9000 202) and Blythe Gaissert: Home (Bright Shiny Things BSTC-0137). Fantasy features iconic pianist Ursula Oppens performing Piano Concertowith the ASU Symphony Orchestra (Jeffery Meyer, music director), Piano Quintet with the Cassatt String Quartet, the solo Fantasy, and Reckoning: Five Miniatures for America for piano four-hands, where Oppens is joined by Jerome Lowenthal. On Home, Carne Barata (Scene 8 from Hometown to the World) is one of nine works responding to Gaissert's challenge "what is home?"
Grants, awards and fellowships include those from the National Endowment for the Arts, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Opera America, Chamber Music America, BAM/Kennedy Center De Vos Institute, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund, Virgil Thomson Foundation, Newburgh Institute for Art and Ideas, Roger Shapiro Fund for New Music, American Music Center, USArtists International, CEC ArtsLink International Partnerships, Likhachev-Russkiy Mir Foundation Cultural Fellowship, Kenan Institute for the Arts, Artist Trust, New York State Council on the Arts, Bronx Arts Council, Arts Westchester, North Carolina Arts Council, Seattle Arts Commission, and Meet the Composer. She has received six ASCAP-Chamber Music America Awards for Adventuresome Programming, a citation from the Office of the President of the Borough of Manhattan, the 2016 Polish Gold Cross of Merit (Zloty Krzyż Zasługi RP) awarded by the President of Poland for exemplary public service or humanitarian work, and the Polish Ministry of Culture National Heritage 2010 Chopin Award. She has been a fellow at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Centrum Foundation, Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, Millay Colony for the Arts, and the Camargo Foundation (France).
Recordings: Albany, Bridge, BSS, CRI, Capstone, Mode, and MSR labels. Kaminsky is a BMI composer.
Barcelona-born and Brooklyn-based Alexis Cuadrado is an award-winning composer, producer, bandleader, bassist and educator. He has become one of the most sought-after musicians in the New York scene. NPR Music says: "Listen to Cuadrado's compositions and you'll find every reason to take him seriously." NY Magazine: "His intricate and sharply defined compositions show that he's tapped into something much deeper."
Cuadrado's work draws from the crossover of jazz, world, flamenco and new music, exploring the confluence of the Hispanic and American cultures, as well as embracing a deep commitment to comment on social issues. His recent output is a restless exploration of cross-disciplinary works that embrace poetry, film, radio-podcasts, dance and design.
His main outlet for creative work is his own ensemble, the Alexis Cuadrado Group, for which he's written a plethora of commissioned pieces. Recent works include the live short film scores of pioneer female filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché's The Consequences of Feminism and Algie the Miner (2020), Harold M.Shaw's The Land Beyond the Sunset (2020) and Lois Weber's 1916 feature film Shoes (2018) which premiered at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
He's also composed for a large variety of jazz and chamber ensembles with pieces like Encuentros (2017) for string quintet, Trivium (2016) for piano trio, and the live score for the silent Charlie Chaplin 1916 film The Immigrant (2015) for a jazz-chamber tentet. Additionally, he has composed and produced music for radio and podcasts like The New Yorker Radio Hour, The Slowdown - Featuring U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, Fiasco (Slow Burn) and Studio 360.
Cuadrado has six albums as a leader/composer of his ensemble: Poetica (2016), A Lorca Soundscape (2013) and Noneto Ibérico (2011), which have all received extensive media accolades. His first albums: Puzzles (2008), Visual (2004) and Metro (2001) document his original work of the 2000s.
Alexis graduated in Jazz Performance and Composition from the Taller De Músics in Barcelona (1993) and went on to study with the legendary concert bass master François Rabbath in Paris (1995-98). In 2001 he received a Master's Degree in Jazz Performance and Composition at the Aaron Copland School Of Music-Queens College in New York. He is on faculty at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC, and teaches worldwide as a guest lecturer.
Tamar Muskal studied composition and viola at the Jerusalem Academy for Dance and Music (Israel), Yale University and CUNY. Recent and future commissions include a double concerto for saxophone and viola for the Williamsport Symphony, a work for percussionist Steve Schick and a digital/interactive sculpture by Daniel Rozin, music for a 50 minutes film for the historic, silent, black and white film about the Mexican revolution, a song cycle commissioned by ASCAP and music for a documentary film about finding a cure for blindness (narrated by Robert Redford).
Tamar received grants and awards from institutions such as ASCAP, Meet-the-Composer, the Jerome Foundation, American Music Center and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. She received an award from the Academy of Arts and Letters (2004), a grant from Meet The Composer (2006), the Theodore Front Prize from IAWM for "The Yellow Wind" (2007), a grant from the American Composers Forum/Jerome Foundation (2007), a grant from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University (2007) two grants from the American Music Center (2008, 2009), a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation (2009), a grant from Meet The Composer (2010) and a first-place winning prize from the "Third Millennium Ensemble (2013). "The Yellow Wind" was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. While at Yale, she received four awards for her compositions and achievements. Her piece The Yellow Wind was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
|photo by Rafael Rios|
Allison Loggins-Hull is a flutist, composer and producer with an active career performing and creating music of multiple genres. In 2009 she and Nathalie Joachim co-founded the critically acclaimed duo Flutronix, which was praised by The Wall Street Journal for being able "to redefine the instrument." Similarly, MTV Iggy recognized Flutronix for "redefining the flute and modernizing its sound by hauling it squarely into the world of popular music."
Allison has performed at The Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall (Chicago), World Cafe Live, and several other major venues and festivals around the world. She has performed or recorded with a wide range of artists including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Imani Winds, Lizzo, The National Sawdust Ensemble and others. With Flutronix, she has released two full studio albums (Flutronixand 2.0), a live album (Live From the Attucks Theatre), an EP (City of Breath) and is signed to Village Again Records in Japan. As a member of The Re-Collective Orchestra, Allison was co-principal flutist on the soundtrack to Disney's 2019 remake of "The Lion King," working closely with Hans Zimmer. On the small screen, she has been featured in an internationally broadcast ESPN Super Bowl commercial, the 62nd annual GRAMMYs Award Show and the Black Girls Rock! Awards Show.
Allison has composed for Flutronix, Julia Bullock and others and has been commissioned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carolina Performing Arts, Alarm Will Sound and The Library of Congress. She was a co-producer of Nathalie Joachim's celebrated album "Fanm d'Ayiti," which was nominated for a 2020 GRAMMY for Best World Music Album. In support of her work, Allison has been awarded grants from New Music USA and a fellowship at The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, Florida.
Allison is on the flute faculty of The John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. She's a teaching artist at The Juilliard School's Global Ventures and is a former faculty member of The Juilliard School's Music Advancement Program.
|photo by Jeffrey Herman|
Frank J. Oteri is a composer and music journalist based in New York City whose syncretic compositional style has been described as "distinctive" in The Grove Dictionary of American Music.
His compositions include: Fair and Balanced, a saxophone quartet in quartertones premiered and recorded by the PRISM Quartet; Imagined Overtures, for rock band in sixth-tones recorded by the Los Angeles Electric 8; Love Games, settings of poems by Elizabethan sonneteer Mary Wroth premiered at SubCulture by the Young People's Chorus of New York City conducted by Francisco Núñez; and Versions of the Truth, a 12-song cycle based on the poetry of Stephen Crane for dual-voiced singer and piano commissioned by the ASCAP Foundation Charles Kingsford Fund and premiered by Phillip Cheah and Trudy Chan (The Cheah Chan Duo). MACHUNAS, the performance oratorio inspired by the life of Fluxus-founder George Maciunas which Oteri created in collaboration with Lucio Pozzi, premiered under the direction of Donatas Katkus during the Christopher Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2005.
Other interpreters of Oteri's music include pianist Sarah Cahill, harpsichordist Rebecca Pechefsky, guitarists Dominic Frasca and David Starobin, the Ray-Kallay Duo, Pentasonic Winds, Sylvan Winds, Magellan String Quartet, the Locrian Chamber Players, and Central City Chorus.
In addition to his compositional activities, Oteri is the Composer Advocate at New Music USA and the Editor of NewMusicBox, a web magazine he founded which has been online since May 1999. He is also the Vice President of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) and serves on the board of directors of the International Association of Music Information Centres (IAMIC).
An outspoken crusader for new music and the breaking down of barriers between genres, he has written for numerous publications and is also a frequent radio guest and pre-concert speaker.
Oteri is a graduate of New York City's High School of Music and Art and holds a B.A. and an M.A. (in Ethnomusicology) from Columbia University where he served as Classical Music Director and World Music Director for WKCR-FM. He was the recipient of ASCAP's Victor Herbert Award in 2007 and he received the Composers Now Visionary Award in 2018.
|photo by Markus Sepperer|
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Get to know Casenave's work:
Third movement from "Concerto"
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Thursday, December 17, 2020
Bill Banfield has produced a body of music, arts scholarship and creative activities, teaching and lecturing, writing, producing recordings, and multiple avenues of professional service that combine to form a rich life within contemporary arts and leadership. He was the founding director of the Africana Studies Center at Berklee College of Music, and Dr. Banfield taught in the College from 2005 until his retirement in 2020. Other scholarly honors include the following: appointments as a 2019 research associate with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, as a W.E.B. Dubois fellow at Harvard University, and by Toni Morrison to serve as the visiting Atelier Professor, Princeton University (2003).
Banfield's award-winning music output includes symphonies, operas, and chamber works that have been commissioned, performed and recorded by major ensembles including the National, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Dallas, Akron, Detroit, New York Virtuoso, Grand Rapids, Akron, Richmond, Toledo, Savannah, Chicago Symphonia, Indianapolis, Sphinx, Sacramento, and San Diego Symphonies and the Havana Camerata of Cuba. His works as a composer and performing jazz artist are carried on Atlantic, TelArc, CollinsClassics (London), Centaur, Albany/Visionary and Innova Records labels. His music has been performed and/or recorded by George Duke, Patrice Rushen, Don Byron, Leon Bates, Najee, Ron Carter, Delfeayo Marsalis, Oliver Lake, Regina Carter, Rachel Z, Jon Faddis, Marcus Belgrave, Billy Childs, Nnenna Freelon, Alphonso Johnson, Ndugu Chancelor and Nelson Rangel.
He has authored 6 books on music, arts and cultural criticism, history and biographies, covering everything from contemporary Black composers, to Ornette Coleman, Nikki Manaj and Kendrick Lamar. Titles include: Landscapes in Color: Conversations With Black American Composers (2002); Black Notes: Essays Of A Musician Writing In A Post Album Age(2004); Cultural Codes: Makings Of A Black Music Philosophy (2010, Scarecrow Press); Representing Black Music Culture (2011); Ethnomusicologizing: Essays On Music In a The New Paradigms; and Pat Patrick: American Musician and Cultural Visionary ( Scarecrow Press). He was commissioned by Quincy Jones to write approaches and curriculum to teaching the history of American popular music (2010).
He is founder/director of JazzUrbane, a contemporary jazz art recording label. The seminal project, released in 2014, was produced by legendary icon George Duke and included such leading artists as Christian Scott, Terri Lyn Carrington, Najee, Greg Osby, and Grace Kelly.
Bill Banfield has served as a Pulitzer Prize judge and chair in American Music and is recognized as a national public radio show host, having served as arts and culture correspondent for the Tavis Smiley Show. He was founding chair of Black Music Culture for the Association of American Culture and the Popular Culture Association of America conferences. His awards include recognition and grants from: National Endowment For The Humanities, ASCAP, National Endowment For The Arts, Jerome, Lily, Lila Wallace, McKnight, Unisys, and Telluride Foundations. He has served on panels of the American Symphony Orchestra League, American Guild of Organists, Opera America, Motown Museum, and National Endowment for the Arts.
A native Detroiter, William Banfield received his Bachelor of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, a Master of Theological Studies from Boston University and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Michigan. His formal composition studies were under T.J Anderson, George Russell, Theodore Antoniou, Bill Bolcom, and Bill Albright. Dr. Cornel West has called him "one of the last grand Renaissance men in our time...a towering artist, exemplary educator, rigorous scholar, courageous freedom fighter..." Henry Louis Gates wrote of him: "Bill Banfield is one of the most original voices on the scene today...he tunes us into the conversation happening worldwide between the notes of contemporary musical culture..."
Gustavo Casenave, 2019 Latin GRAMMY®WINNER, six-time nominated, Uruguayan composer and pianist, is a Steinway Artist, two-time Gold Medal Winner at the Global Music Awards, ACE Awardee, American Prize in composition Awardee, selected as one of 10 best composers in 30 years' time by the Berklee College of Music, and considered among 'The Greatest Uruguayan Musicians' by the city of Montevideo. Based in New York City since 1997, he has performed worldwide, collaborated and recorded with artists as diverse as: Yo-Yo Ma, Bette Midler, Deepak Chopra, Robert Duvall, Paquito D'Rivera, Neil Sedaca, John Patitucci, Eddie Gomez, Mark Egan, Miguel Zenon, Charlélie Couture, Jane Ira Bloom, Manolo Badrena, John Benitez, Federico Britos, Avishai Cohen, Pedro Giraudo, Nestor Torres, Ray Vega and Hector del Curto.
|photo by Quique-Cabanillas|
Puerto Rican-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón writes music for accordions, robotic instruments, toys and electronics as well as chamber ensembles and orchestras. Her music has been described as "wistfully idiosyncratic and contemplative" (WQXR/Q2) and "mesmerizing and affecting" (Feast of Music) while The New York Times noted her "capacity to surprise" and her "quirky approach to scoring". Angélica has been commissioned by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, loadbang, MATA Festival, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Sō Percussion, the American Composers Orchestra, and the New York Botanical Garden, among others. Her music has been performed at the Kennedy Center, the Ecstatic Music Festival, EMPAC, Bang on a Can Marathon and the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial and her film scores have been heard numerous times at the Tribeca Film Festival. She has collaborated with artists like Sō Percussion, The Knights, Face the Music, and NOVUS NY, among others and is a founding member of the tropical electronic band Balún. Angélica holds a Master's degree in music composition from New York University and pursued doctoral studies at The Graduate Center (CUNY) under the guidance of Tania León. She's a teaching artist for New York Philharmonic's Very Young Composers Program working with young learners on creative composition projects. Upcoming premieres include works for the LA Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Girls Chorus, and NY Philharmonic Project 19 initiative. Negrón continues to perform and compose for film.