HAPPY 2014!

Oh my! I can't even believe how quickly November and December have flown by! A new year is always so exciting and full of possibility. I think about the year that has passed and how different things are now from how they were at the end of 2012. I love resolutions and always make WAY too many for me to keep, and I recognize it, but  continue to do it. I feel like I am striving towards a goal, and even if it is impossible for me to write a letter every week, travel more, stop biting my nails, run every day, read three books a month, volunteer at an animal shelter, knit a pair of socks, become more like Martha Stewart, and practice my thirds and tenths every day, I still like writing them all down and doing a little more of all of those things during the year. 

andPlay has some exciting concerts this coming year, and I always look forward to the intense rehearsal periods. What could be better than hanging out with a dear friend and playing fun music?! This year I am resolved to make an andPlay tour happen. It will be lots of work and planning, but a tour would be the perfect way to kick off the fall semester running! I will keep you all updated (I am so sorry for my long radio silence--nothing since our October show!). 

I am looking forward to a 2014 full of friends, sparkles, and new music! xoxo, M

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Composer Highlight: David Bird

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And for the the last in our 'Composer Highlight' series, (drumroll, please) it is my pleasure to introduce you to David!  

 Could you tell us about the title or inspiration for your piece?

A Bézier curve is a parametric curve used in computer graphics and associated fields. In vector graphics, Bézier curves are used to model smooth curves that can be scaled indefinitely. In the time domain, particularly in animation and interface design, a Bézier curve can be used to specify the velocity over time of an object such as an icon moving from A to B, rather than simply moving at a fixed number of pixels per step. So when animators or interface designers talk about the "physics" or "feel" of an operation, they may often be referring to the particular Bézier curve used to control the velocity over time of the move in question.

I compose much of my music in a graphic design software called Adobe Illustrator. A graphic-based software like this allows me to get fairly expressive with the look and design of my notation, and one of the expressive tools I use most frequently is the Bezier curve. In fact, the third page of my score for andPlay employs a number of Bezier curves for expressive depictions of timbral transformations over time. So as I was inputing the sketched material for the andPlay piece into my computer I became curious about the history of this graphic design tool, as the name Bizier seemed somewhat exotic in this context. 

I found that the device was named after Pierre Bézier, a French engineer and one of the founders of the fields of solid, geometric and physical modeling as well as in the field of representing curves. He was also a designer and engineer at the French automobile company Renault, where he became a leader in the transformation of design and manufacturing through mathematics and computer-aided design and three-dimensional modeling. His curve algorithms were used in the design of many of Renault’s automobile bodies in the 1960s and 1970s.

As a kid I was fascinated with car design, and it seemed as if most of my elementary school science projects had something to do with wind-tunnels or aerodynamics. I owe this interest to my father who had studied to be a car designer, but whose intuitive artistic talents landed him positions as a graphic designer for an array of car magazines in the Los Angeles area. After researching Pierre Bézier for the andPlay piece, and noting his influence on both the fields automobile and graphic design, I called my father to speak of this interesting historical confluence, as it seemed strangely relevant to his discipline.  

After our conversation, I realized that it had been an unusually long time since I had last spoke to him, and for this I felt particularly guilty and self-centered. I knew at this point, that this communication was more important to either of us than the particular histories of graphic or automobile design, and I was embarrassed to have used this as a premise for conversation. Of course there was something unique about the chain of events leading to this moment, something as digressive and curvaceous as the contours of a parametric curve, a sequence of events as rambling as this programatic description or even the piece which will have its premiere this Friday, and I found something forgiving in the smoothness of this curve, which hung at the apex of Pierre Bézier and connected two disparate individuals for the first time in a while. 

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What can listeners expect or listen for in your piece?

More circuitous ramblings.

 What is your current snack of choice?

 Nutella.

What have you been listening to?

Death Grips.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf74SP9o-GI

To read more about David and his compositions check out his website  www.davidbird.tv

 

Composer Highlight: Chris Goddard

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Here we go! Now that you have met Jesse, let's all say 'hi' to Chris! He currently lives in Montreal, and we are so excited that he will be making the trek down to Greenpoint for our concert this Friday. We have been working with him via email and sending him recordings of his piece, AndChase, so it will be great to actually hear his feedback in person at the dress rehearsal!  Let's see what he has to say...

 

Could you tell us about the title or inspiration for your piece?

In writing a duo for any instrumentation, the question must be asked: are these instruments working with each other, or against each other? Whether the instruments are identical or totally different, either approach would seem to be valid depending on how it's treated. The violin/viola pairing is, however, uniquely difficult because you have two instruments that are almost identical in make-up, but also different in profound ways - like two siblings that are in completely different weight-classes. So this piece sort of confounds the cooperative vs. antagonistic idea, featuring two instruments that are pulling in the same direction, but squabbling along the way. 

What can listeners expect or listen for in your piece?

This 'chase' features the quick, agile violin and its pursuer, the slightly bulkier -yet stronger - viola. As the chase weaves its way up the register, the instruments become steadily more similar, and in the end, it's a dead heat...

What is your current snack of choice?

I enjoy a good pita chip with hummus (pine-nut or seven pepper), although I wouldn't turn down some of Hannah's vegan gingerbread cake. 

What have you been listening to?

I played Steve Reich's 'The Desert Music' this past summer and I've been revisiting it recently - it was a real eye-opener for me (but I wouldn't look for traces of it in my piece!)

 

Check out more of Chris' compositions and performances (he is also an incredible pianist) at christophergoddard.com

Composer Highlight: Jesse Diener-Bennett

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As you all (hopefully/should) know, andPlay's concert at East Bank Music in Greenpoint is this coming Friday (October 25th) @ 8 PM! We have three premieres by three composers, and we thought that it would be fun for everyone to get to know them a bit! Jesse Diener-Bennett is our first composer highlight of the week, with his piece Moebius . Enjoy his words on the work and other things below...

 

 Could you tell us about the title or inspiration for your piece?

I started writing Moebius while revisiting my childhood fascination with the Moebius strip. I used to make them with some paper and tape, and then trace their one side with my finger, knowing that I would end up where I started, but each time not believing it until I got there. 

It’s a shape of contradictions. There’s a sense of stasis invested in it, and an equal sense of movement. Its form is very simple, very comprehensible, but at the same time complex in a way that violates our common-sense understanding of the world.

When andPlay approached me about writing a piece for them, I starting thinking about what that could mean in the realm of sound. I ended up writing a piece that is very simple and static at first glance, but full of energy and movement just under the surface.

What can listeners expect or listen for in your piece?

A lot of the action goes on in the noises and colors underneath the notes, and in the visual and auditory interplay between the motions of the violin and viola bows. I think you can listen to this piece in a lot of different ways and come away with something, but it’s probably most rewarding to pay attention to all of that stuff that’s usually at the basement level of music. 

What is your current snack of choice?

Homemade Everything Chips! Potato chips, kale chips, beet chips, collard chips. If you don’t like a vegetable, just make it into a chip. Everything tastes better as a chip.

What have you been listening to?

I was just looking through my old CDs for the first time in probably a couple of years, and found my old Pixies best of compilation, Wave of Mutilation. I still remembered all the words. And on Saturday night the awe-inspiring Tak ensemble just performed a concert of music by David Bird, Marcelo Toledo, and others. It was one of the best concerts I’ve heard in a long time. 

 

Find more of Jesse's compositions and writing at jessedb.com