Composer Highlight: Nicholas DeMaison

Don't let this photo scare you away! Nick is great, and we are thrilled to share his music with you tonight! He is also a wackadoodle and we highly recommend chatting with him at the show--you are bound to leave with some fun anecdotes and a smile on your face. 

Read his answers to our questions, and savor them, for this is the last composer highlight of 2014! 

Also, today is the day that we have all been waiting for! The show is TONIGHT at 8 PM at Cloud City (Williamsburg, Brooklyn).  We will be on the first half at 8, and the lovely and brilliant Fragments Duo is up on the second half. They will be playing music by Eric Shanfield, Lisa Bielawa, and Gyorgy Kurtag. Definitely now to be missed!


Can you describe your piece in three words?

Actually, I think the title of the piece is three words: 

from perfect nowhere

That's rather convenient, wouldn't you say?

But wait - you were looking for something more insightful - so let's turns that into a haiku, because that has 3 lines, which is kind of like three words, and what better way to infuse a useless response with deep and profound insight:

it's so convenient

my title is three words long:

from perfect nowhere

Now you can use all of the words that you want!

The title is a part of a line of an e.e. cummings poem. Don't tell his publisher, please. Maybe he's old fashioned by now, but I still really like the way cummings treats language as a kind of raw material - introducing chaos into what seem to be structures intended to provide organization, using organizational structures to clarify and to confuse, the play between sound and meaning, etc. etc. He's like the Grisey of poetry, in a way. (Don't make me defend that statement.) I try to think about sound and musical organization in a similar way - a (hopefully interesting) play between familiar patterns of organization, bits of chaos, and toying with what it is that seems to be providing the organization and what it is that seems to be in chaos. 

The piece develops out of the idea of vibrato. It's just a sound that is a given part of string playing...one might say it's the first "intentional sound" that comes out the perfect nowhere of a straight tone drawn on a string. 

But that's a very "composerly" response. Probably I should say something about a supernova, or bending time, or the need for groovey-ness, or socioeconomic realities. Yup - all of that.  

What inspired you while writing this piece?

Why, the TWO OF YOU did, of course! 

Well, you two and the very regular calendar imposed on me by my teaching schedule that demands I work when I must. 

What are you listening to on repeat these days?

http://auroranealand.com/store/

Buy their CD! Yes! Buy it! 

What is your go-to midnight snack?

Corn tortillas toasted in the toaster oven and slathered with peanut butter. Or with cheese. But generally not both.

Any fun winter travel plans? Bundled up, bathing suited up, or staying put?

Troy, NYC, Rochester, NYC, Troy, NYC....just big circles on the New York State Thruway. Aren't you jealous?

 

Composer Highlight: Brendan Faegre

Hello, and we are back with our Composer Highlight series! We are rehearsing tons and getting really excited for our Permutations show that we are splitting with the Fragments Duo (Sarah Goldfeather, violin and Justine Aronson, voice) at Cloud City this Wednesday, Dec. 17th at 8 PM.

We performed Brendan's Four Koans on our first concert together on Fire Island back in the Summer of 2012, and it holds a special place in our heart. At that time we didn't even have all four of them, only three! We really wanted to give everyone a chance to get to know him better (and Maya just always wants to know what everyone is snacking on). 

Without further ado, here is the man of the hour!


Can you describe your piece in three words?

four musical koans

Now you can use all of the words that you want!

Great!  I remember when I was a teenager my dad told me about Zen Buddhism and the fascinating techniques they had developed for pursuing enlightenment.  Things like meditation, raking gravel, koans.  The idea of a koan--an irrational statement, story, or question designed to foil the logical mind and allow for an intuitive and spontaneous type of comprehension--stuck with me over the years.  I tried to meditate on a few koans in one of my dad's books, but I didn't have the patience to sit down and contemplate a mysterious question for a week.  However, I found that I did have the patience to sit down for that long and contemplate sounds and musical ideas.  So I composed these four musical koans as a way of translating part of the koan idea into a purely sonic medium, so that audiences, performers, I, and other sonically-inclined folks could all really grapple with the idea.

What inspired you while writing this piece?

Oops.  I think I just said all that in the last question.  I could also add that from the geeky composer side of things, Lasse Thoresen's ideas about "spectromorphology" were a big inspiration.

What are you listening to on repeat these days?

The Bad Plus's "Made Possible"

What is your go-to midnight snack?

Right now, these gluten-free crackers that taste kind of like Saltines, with some olives, and mint tea.

 Any fun winter travel plans? Bundled up, bathing suited up, or staying put?

Going with my wife to visit her family in Argentina for the holidays.  Bathing suited up indeed!

 

Check out more things from Brendan on his website! http://www.brendanfaegre.com