The Operating System

REMAIN COMPOSED :: IN CONCERT :: LAURELLO, LEREW, and WARREN AMERICAN COMPOSERS FORUM COMMISSIONS PREMIERE BY SO PERCUSSION (PRINCETON, NJ)

So_Percussion

Michael Laurello: An Overwhelming Capacity for Denial 
Todd Lerew: flagging entrainment of ultradian rhythms and the consequences thereof
Kristina Warren: Choose

in premiere performance by Sō Percussion
Sunday, July 20, 8 PM
Matthews Acting Studio, Lewis Center for the Arts
185 Nassau Street,
 Princeton, NJ
(FREE)

If you’ve been following their popular REMAIN COMPOSED entries, then you’ve already become familiar with the names Michael Laurello, Todd Lerew, and Kristina Warren — the three finalists of this year’s American Composers Forum competition — who have been sharing an intimate look into the composition process for this special edition of our ongoing FIELD NOTES series, alongside sound samples of their nascent works. After many months, the resulting pieces are complete, and ready to be premiered by the acclaimed new music ensemble So Percussion this Sunday in Princeton, NJ – the site of the group’s intensive summer institute.

In case you missed it: after initial receipt of a monetary prize, each finalist was asked to compose an eight- to ten-minute piece for Sō Percussion, which the composers worked on solo until this month, when they joined the group in residence to workshop in preparation for performance and official completion.

So Percussion’s Adam Sliwinski was kind enough to speak with us earlier this week — he was clearly enthusiastic about the work produced by the finalists, and had this to say about the group’s challenging job of judging such a brilliant (and diverse) swath of new compositions:

We’re now 5 days out from premiering the ACF pieces.  It was so difficult to whittle the many submissions down to 3 finalists.  With that kind of volume, there is no such thing as an objective judgment, and we made no attempt at one.  What we looked for was a balance of conceptual power – I guess you could say imagination – with solid compositional craft.  In our minds, percussion requires a special dose of the imagination component, because the composer is responsible for a new sound world each time.

We are so excited about the 3 newly commissioned pieces we have!  We are especially happy that we have a big old bucket full of apples and oranges.  The three composers’ visions are extremely diverse, and as far as we’re concerned that’s the way it should be.  We’ll have to declare a grand prize winner as part of the process, but we already know that we have three fantastic and original works.”

These final pieces, unsurprisingly, are rife with the myriad influences and innovative techniques so unique to each of these composers — whose complete scores highlight the instrumental, material, temporal, improvisational, synthetic, and even visual cues we’ve heard each working with so closely over the past few months; given this, they also include copious procedural notes for future performers preceding the staves of anything resembling the pages of any “traditional” composition.

In particular, the way in which these pieces are written to not only invite but necessitate on-site interpretation not only within the rhythms of the score but so too, as a for instance, within voluntary alteration to the physical attributes of instrumentation makes their premiere (and the judging of the decisions made therein for a final prize) a complicated undertaking.

Nonetheless, sunday represents the epogee of this process for all involved, a situation in which “loss” for even the runners up can hardly be spoken of as anything but an incredible opportunity — and one that has resulted in three challenging, brilliant new works. As Sliwinski notes, “the next important part of the process is getting into the room together.  Some of the pieces are very open, which speaks to a level of trust the composers have placed in us.  We’ll hash out some ideas in time and space together at Princeton for a few days before the premiere.  No piece of music is finished until there are sounds vibrating in a room!”

After sunday’s performance, one of the works will be chosen to receive the final prize, which includes an additional cash award and future public performances by Sō Percussion.

We’ll join again in not too long with the composers and invited members of Sō Percussion for a special REMAIN COMPOSED edition of our [RE:CON]VERSATIONS series, for talk back and reflection on the composition, workshop, and performance process. Tune in!

A B O U T   T H E   F I N A L I S T S

Michael Laurello (b. 1981) is an American composer and pianist. He has written for ensembles and soloists such as the Yale Baroque Ensemble, Sound Icon, the 15.19 Ensemble, NotaRiotous (the Boston Microtonal Society), guitarist Flavio Virzì, soprano Sarah Pelletier, pianist/composer John McDonald, and clarinetist and linguist/music theorist Ray Jackendoff. Laurello is an Artist Diploma candidate in Composition at the Yale School of Music, studying with David Lang and Christopher Theofanidis. He earned an M.A. in Composition from Tufts University under John McDonald, and a B.M. in Music Synthesis (Electronic Production and Design) from Berklee College of Music where he studied jazz piano performance with Laszlo Gardony and Steve Hunt. He has attended composition festivals at highSCORE (Pavia, Italy) and Etchings (Auvillar, France), and was recently recognized with an Emerging Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation (Boston, MA). In addition to his work as a composer and performer, Laurello is a recording and mixing engineer.

REMAIN COMPOSED :: FIELD NOTES entries:
The Aura of the Juno 60 :: Authenticity vs. Practicality,”
A Few Discarded Sketches“.

Todd Lerew (b. 1986) is a Los Angeles-based composer working with invented acoustic instruments, repurposed found objects, and unique preparations of traditional instruments. Lerew is the inventor of the Quartz Cantabile, which utilizes a principle of thermoacoustics to convert heat into sound, and has presented the instrument at Stanford’s CCRMA, the American Musical Instrument Society annual conference, the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition at Georgia Tech, and Machine Project in Los Angeles. He is the founder and curator of Telephone Music, a collaborative music and memory project based on the children’s game of Telephone, the last round of which was released as an exclusive download to subscribers of music magazine The Wire. His solo piece for e-bowed gu zheng, entitled Lithic Fragments, is available on cassette on the Brunch Groupe label. His pieces have been performed by members of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the Wet Ink Ensemble (New York), the Now Hear Ensemble (Santa Barbara), and the Canticum Ostrava choir (Czech Republic).

REMAIN COMPOSED :: FIELD NOTES entries:
Thoughts on Musical Failure : Part I
Thoughts on Musical Failure : Part II

Composer and vocalist Kristina Warren (b. 1989) holds a B.A. in Music Composition from Duke University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Composition and Computer Technologies from the University of Virginia. Recent works include Three Sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (soprano, electronics), Folk Studies No. 1 (Up in the A.M.), No. 2 (Vimeda Sakla), and No. 3 (Shousty) for voice-based electronics, and Pogpo (electric guitar quartet). Warren’s research interests include voice, electronics, and questions of aleatory and performance practice in conjunction with various non-Eurocentric musics, such as folk music and Korean p’ansori. Warren’s compositions have been performed across the US and in Europe, and she has been fortunate to study composition with Ted Coffey, Judith Shatin, Anthony Kelley, Scott Lindroth, and John Supko.

REMAIN COMPOSED :: FIELD NOTES entries:
Production and Groove (Part I) : P’ansori and Pogpo
Production and Groove (Part II) : Granulation a la Loopslider

For further information, visit www.composersforum.org and www.sopercussion.com.

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