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1. If you could be an active composer in any other time period, when and why?
I would want to be a composer in the early part of the 20th century, maybe born around 1880, so my mature working years would span the first half of the century. I think the realm of sonic possibilities really exploded in this time period and included experimentation with and exploration of all the musical elements - pitch, rhythm, timbre, texture, form.
3. Would you rather...be a superhero and be hated by everyone or have no arms or legs but be loved by all?
It would be great to have a superpower of some sort but I am a people person so would choose to have no arms and legs but be loved by all. I could still be a musician, I'd still surpass vocal training and work to be a professional whistler.
4. You’re trapped on an island. There is one electrical outlet connected to a boombox from 1992. When you were stranded here you only had time to save one cassette out of collection of singles. What is the one pop song you will listen to for the rest of your life?
This is a tough one - I'll go with MJ's Thriller
5. Who are 3 composers from the past -AND- 3 of your own generation whose music you respect, enjoy, inspires you, etc…
Past: György Ligeti, Igor Stravinsky, Frédéric Chopin
Present: Nathan LIncoln-Decusatis, Chris Arrell, Tome Regulski
Away From It All (2012) for percussion duo. As a former percussionist, I couldn't resist listening to this one. I think the first movement's main idea could be complex. There are some nice moments of rhythmic interplay between the two players but the central theme doesn't do much for me. I like the economy of means idea and limiting oneself to see how far a simple idea can be extrapolated. But, I the material itself wasn't drawing me in.
When writing for unpitched percussion instruments, so much about the sound choices are left to the percussionists. When I was at Arizona, I frequently sat in master classes and percussion ensemble with the percussionists. Both Gary Cook and Norman Weinberg were very adamant about instrument choice and finding the right sound for the right piece. It is probably the reason why that studio had so many options for any given instrument. There is something about the cymbals in the second movement that just doesn't jive well with the other instruments. The tam tam is too gong-y, for my taste. I enjoy the vibraphone writing. It is one of the perils of writing for non-pitched instruments. You never know what it will really sound like until you get there.
The final movement is really where it is at for me. This is a really nice mallet duet and I would really encourage my percussionist friends to check it out. It is kind of like a slightly more atonal, less saccharine sweet Daniel Levitan (only the percussionists will know this). The non-pitched stuff coming back in at the end of the movement it is a really nice moment.
Caricatures (2013) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion. Matt presented this piece during his talk at the festival. I was really impressed by it. I loved the premise of musical personification of people that you really have a intimate knowledge of but wouldn't necessarily be call them friends (in some cases).
The six movements are entitled:
I. Lethargic - (slow and contemplative)
II. Quirky (rhythmic and syncopated)
III. Unkempt (fast and messy)
IV. Exuberant (fast and jazzy)
V. Snarky (short and gestural)
VI. The New One (slow and spacious)
The first movement is gorgeous. I love the gestural/melodic writing. And the big bass moment comes in at just the right time.
I remember really liking Unkempt. Perfect little ending. Again, really nice collective gestures.
I think when it came time for discussion, I made a comment about how the fourth movement is really disproportionate in length to the other movements. At the time, it seemed so. Now, when I am considering it again, I kind of dig the otherness that it creates. The piece isn't symmetrical nor is it meant to be. If it were a collection of miniatures then the length might be an issue. But, I think it gives the piece a character that sets it apart. I think we get in the habit of conforming our durations because the thought "this will seem out of place" is in the back of our minds. But, I think that is when truly magical moments can happen.
The other comment I made was that the dramatic arc seemed disorganized because again, the fast loud piece should go at the end. We've had 400 years of music to teach us that. And now that I am listening to it again, it seems perfect that a slow, static movement ends the piece. It defies our expectations. That could leave you feeling unfulfilled. I feel the opposite. I enjoyed having my expectations thwarted. What is fun about listening to a piece of music and raising your hand each time you predicted something was going to happen as if to say, "Yep, I knew that. Uh-huh, right here."