In Epidermis the the bass clarinet and marimba merge into a single machine-like entity playing funky rhythmic patterns made up of percussive sounds, with the electronics forming a noisy protective layer around the live players. At the beginning of the piece the acoustic and electronic sounds are quite closely aligned, but as the piece progresses they begin to move apart. Melodic patterns begin to appear in the bass clarinet and marimba, while the electronics become noisier and more abrasive. This piece was commissioned by Transient Canvas and premiered in November 2017 with funding provided by the Johnstone Fund for New Music.
- Dan VanHassel
The music of composer and multi-instrumentalist Dan VanHassel (b. 1981) has been described as “energizing” (Wall Street Journal), “a refreshing direction” (I Care If You Listen.com), and “an imaginative and rewarding soundscape” (San Francisco Classical Voice). His works create a uniquely evocative sound world drawing from a background in rock, Indonesian gamelan, free improvisation, and classical music. His piece for chamber ensemble and electronics Ghost in the Machine, performed by the Talea Ensemble at the MATA Festival in New York City, has been praised as “something of a masterpiece…this piece needs to be heard, seen, talked about, and learned from” (New Classic LA). fzzl for snare drum and live electronics, featured at the International Computer Music Conference in Perth, Australia, was called a “magnificently-crafted composition…VanHassel has created a consistently fresh and surprising dialogue between the live performer and the electronically induced sound” (Lontano Music).
His music has been recognized by grants from Chamber Music America, the Barlow Endowment, and New Music USA and he has received honors and awards from ASCAP, New England Conservatory, UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, the Guerrilla Composers Guild, and the Kalamazoo New Music Project.
Recent performances of note include the world premieres of Mission: Ammonia, a song cycle commissioned by Wild Rumpus and soprano Vanessa Langer, Distill performed by the UC Berkeley Symphony featuring the composer on electric guitar, and Ever Expanding, a trio with live electronics commissioned by Shanghai Conservatory’s Electronic Music Week. His work has also been performed by Dinosaur Annex, pianists Gloria Cheng and Keith Kirchoff, Empyrean Ensemble, Ignition Duo, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Red Fish Blue Fish percussion ensemble, Now Hear Ensemble, and has been featured at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, Bowling Green New Music Festival, UC Davis Music and Words Festival, Wellesley Composers Conference, June in Buffalo, Music11 Festival, the SEAMUS National Conference, and the Original Gravity Concert Series.
Recordings of his music appear on Ablaze Amidst the Horns, the debut album from Ignition Duo featuring Reverie for two electric guitars, and Music from SEAMUS, Vol. 25 featuring fzzl. His music can also be heard on releases from the Soundset, Perishable, and Thinking OutLoud labels.
Also active as a concert producer and performer on piano and electric guitar, Dan was a founding member of contemporary chamber ensemble Wild Rumpus in San Francisco and artistic director through 2016. Cited as a “fresh young ensemble” by the Wall Street Journal and “a showcase of virtuosity and imagination” by San Francisco Classical Voice, Wild Rumpus is devoted to presenting the music of the present, with an emphasis on commissioning young and emerging composers.
Currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts, Dan has degrees from the University of California-Berkeley, New England Conservatory, and Carnegie Mellon University. He has studied composition with Edmund Campion, Ken Ueno, John Mallia, Michael Gandolfi, Leonardo Balada, and Nancy Galbraith.