New Focus Recordings
New Focus Recordings
Amy Advocat, bass clarinet
Matt Sharrock, marimba
1. Kirsten Volness | Year Without a Summer (2017)
2. Peter Van Zandt Lane | Exergy Bubblebath (2015)
3. David Ibbett | Branches (2015)
4. Lainie Fefferman | Hyggelig (2017)
5. Rudolf Rojahn | Somnambula (2014)
6. Mischa Salkind-Pearl | solm (2016)
7. Dan VanHassel | Epidermis (2017)
All tracks were written for Transient Canvas. Album Art by Tina Tallon. Engineered by Joel Gordon.
Year Without a Summer — On April 10, 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted, sending acplume of ash into the atmosphere that created a climate disaster the following year: temperatures fluctuated wildly, snow fell as far south as Virginia through August, and frost killed crops planting after planting in New England and Europe, leading to the most recent widespread food shortage experienced in the Western hemisphere. As climate change and conflict continue to cause hunger, will we tap our toes in the little cantina at the end of the world? Commissioned by Transient Canvas with generous support from the Boston Foundation. - Kirsten Volness
KIRSTEN VOLNESS is a composer, pianist and educator who grew up outside a small town in southern Minnesota — a place that fostered in her a keen interest in the outdoors and the wonders of nature. The magic to be found in the natural world informs and inspires her creative work as do various spiritual philosophies, social and environmental issues.
She has received commissions from the BMI Foundation, ASCAP/SEAMUS, the Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance, and World Future Council Foundation and ensembles such as Hotel Elefant, NOW Ensemble, REDSHIFT Ensemble, Colorado Quartet, Cambridge Philharmonic, and Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. She is 2017 Composer-in-Residence at the Music Mansion and curates a monthly chamber music series called First Fridays. She collaborates often: as co-director and pianist of new music ensemble/concert series Verdant Vibes (Providence), as pianist/multi-instrumentalist for Hotel Elefant (NYC), as co-music director of homeless advocacy group Tenderloin Opera Company, as composer/performer in Meridian Project, a multimedia performance/lecture series exploring astrophysics and cosmology, and as an affiliated artist of Sleeping Weazel. She was twice recipient of the Fellowship in Music Composition from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (2014 and 2010) and was awarded a 2011 grant from the New Music USA's Composer Assistance Program. Her electroacoustic work has been performed at numerous festivals including Illuminus Boston, Bourges, SEAMUS, NYCEMF, Electronic Music Midwest, Noise Floor, Electroacoustic Barn Dance, and Third Practice. Her acoustic work has been featured at festivals presented by the American Composers Alliance, Midwest Composers Symposia, and the Montréal and Edinburgh Fringe.
Kirsten teaches privately and at the University of Rhode Island. She served on the board of directors for the non-profit Boston New Music Initiative and is dedicated to fostering the creation, production, and promotion of new music and multimedia performance. With composition degrees from the University of Michigan (D.M.A., M.M.) and the University of Minnesota (B.A., summa cum laude), past teachers include Evan Chambers, William Bolcom, Betsy Jolas, Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty, Karen Tanaka, and Judith Lang Zaimont.
For more information, peruse her CV, see what's new, contact her directly, or JUST LISTEN.
Exergy Bubblebath is an unlikely homage to both the music of Aphex Twin and the music of Stravinsky’s serialist period. The electronic vocabulary and rhythmic orientation reaches back to Richard James’s “Analogue Bubblebath” acid-house albums of the early-90s, while the harmonic language of the piece employs a fairly strict use of rotational arrays of fixed-register intervallic series. Electronic sounds are controlled via marimba mallets, which have been outfitted with small transducers to trigger sampled sounds. Exergy Bubblebath was composed for Transient Canvas (Amy Advocat and Matt Sharrock) and completed in the summer of 2015. - Peter Van Zandt Lane
Peter Van Zandt Lane's music has been praised by critics for its"depth, character, and pleasing complexity" (Boston Musical Intelligencer), and has been recognized for its "appeal to musicians and audiences, no matter their personal musical aesthetic" (Asymmetry Music Magazine). He composes for chamber ensembles, band, orchestra, and often integrates live electronics into his concert music. Tapping into a visceral sense of rhythm and momentum, Peter's works traverse the space between the organic and the mechanical, combining an eclectic range of both classical and vernacular influences with a polyamorous harmonic language. His recent full-length ballet, HackPolitik, explores the unique topic of of cyber-dissidence through live music, dance, and electronics. Bringing contemporary music and dance into the cross-section of art, technology, and politics, HackPolitik was featured on BBC Radio, Boston Magazine, and Forbes (among a number of press outlets that rarely touch contemporary music), and was hailed by critics as "angular, jarring, and sophisticated . . . very compelling . . . Ballet needs live music, and this one offered it at the highest level." (Boston Musical Intelligencer). The NYC premiere of HackPolitik was a New York Times Critic's Pick, praised as "refreshingly relevant." (The New York Times).
Peter has received fellowships from Composers Now, Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He has been commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, The Sydney Conservatorium Wind Symphony, the Composers Conference at Wellesley College, Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble, the Emory Wind Ensemble, and the Purchase Percussion Ensemble, among others. His compositions have been performed across the United States and abroad, by acclaimed musicians and ensembles such as the Cleveland Orchestra, the Lydian String Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble, Triton Brass, Xanthos Ensemble, East Coast Composers Ensemble, Ensemble Signal, NotaRiotous, The Quux Collective, Freon Ensemble (Rome), and the New York Virtuoso Singers. Peter's work has been recognized by a number of awards and prizes –most recently the American Prize and Lili Boulanger Memorial Prize (finalist)– and has been featured national and international music festivals and conferences including Spark, Original Gravity Concert Series, SEAMUS, LIPM/IEMS (Buenos Aires), Forecast Music, Firebrand Concert Series, Third Practice, Boston Cyber-Arts, Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Arts, and Festival Miami.
Peter is also an active bassoonist, focusing primarily on the performance of new works in a chamber or electroacoustic setting. He has participated in the premieres of dozens of works by living composers, was featured as a soloist at the world renowned Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, and across the nation at a number of music festivals and concert series, including the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, Spark Festival, New Gallery Concert Series, Music: Cognition, Technology and Society at Cornell University, the Festival of Contemporary Music (San Francisco), and 12-Nights Electronic Music and Art, SCI, and the Sound and Music Computing Conference (Copenhagen). Recordings of his music are available on PARMA/Navona Records, New Dynamic Records, and Innova Records.
Peter holds composition degrees from Brandeis University and the University of Miami Frost School of Music, and studied composition with Melinda Wagner, Eric Chasalow, David Rakowski, and Lansing McLoskey. He is currently Assistant Professor of Composition and Director of the Dancz Center for New Music at the University of Georgia Hodgson School of Music, and previously held teaching positions at Brandeis University, Wellesley College, MIT, and Harvard.
I began collaborating with Transient Canvas in early 2015, and was immediately drawn to the many deft and detailed rhythms that emerged organically from clarinet slaps and stabs, marimba tones and resonator clangs. I was excited to combine these sounds in complex layers, and thus began a process of electronic sampling and experimentation - Branches is the result. Over the course of the piece, contrasting grooves branch out from a central trunk, interweaving lyrical melodies with dance rhythms in an expanding world of sound. - David Ibbett
David Ibbett is a British composer based in Boston, USA. His music explores a fascinating conflux between the worlds of the classical, contemporary, acoustic and the electronic. By working to fuse key elements from a host of contrasting styles, David aspires to create a new form of art music that is rich, diverse, direct and dramatically deep.
David’s music increasingly reflects a passion for working with electronics, both as a voice and a tool in composition. This fascination began in 2008, when he undertook a residency at the Aldeburgh Music Festival, studying with Jonathan Harvey, composing Cellosamper for Olly Coates. The work was later selected for performance at the Faster Than Sound Festival at Bentwaters Airbase. From this moment, electronics have been the key to unifying the diverse influences that permeate David’s work – allowing sounds to be shaped, juxtaposed and transformed with seamless precision. His Ph.D. research focuses on sampling as a tool for bridging the difficult gap between live, breathing musicians and the software-controlled speaker cone of electronic music. He addresses these challenges through unique Max and Max for Live patches, often contributing to other composers’ works – including the Ph.Ds of Enrico Bertelli and Zezo Olympio at York University.
David’s electroacoustic compositions aim to combine the depth and expression of a live performer with the power, control and rhythmic energy of electronic music. Projects are often collaborative as, to truly explore the sound of an instrument, who better a guide than the instrumentalist? A frequent collaborator is ‘cellist Gregor Riddell, the pair working together on Impulse Imagined [2010, premiered at Kings Place alongside Todd Machover and Islands, concerto for amplified ‘cello and electronics [2014, premiered at Birmingham’s Elgar Concert Hall with BEAST - the Birmingham Electroacoustic Sound Theatre - US premiere at the Electronic Music Midwest Festival with Craig Hultgren]. In 2012, David released For Now, an album of electroacoustic songs-without-words through iTunes and www.davidibbett.com, collaborating with many London based instrumentalists. He regularly performs his electroacoustic works as a live diffusion performer, with BEAST and other international multichannel systems.
David’s music has been performed at the Aldeburgh Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Barbican Total Immersion, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK National Portrait Gallery, Clare College Music Society, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Banff Centre (November 2014), Voiceworks at Wigmore Hall, BEASTiary concert series (2013, 2014, 2015), London Institute of Contemporary Art concert series, Spitalfields Festival, Hendon Festival, Logos Foundation (May 2015), EMM Festival, Klangspuren Festival Austria, Red Sonic Festival, Vortex Jazz Club recital series, The Village Underground concert series, Seven Bridges Project, Leeds University Music Festival, City of London Festival, Bath Festival, Mapmaking at LSO St Luke’s, Faster Than Sound concert series.
Hyggelig: (adjective) cozy and comfortable; convivial, engendering a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
Exploring the personal and the idiosyncratic aspects of music-making, Brooklyn composer Lainie Fefferman’s most recent commissions have been from ETHEL, Kathleen Supové, TILT Brass, James Moore, Eleonore Oppenheim, JACK Quartet, and Dither. Her recent evening length piece Here I Am for Newspeak and Va Vocals, the culmination of her residency at Roulette through the Jerome Foundation for the 2013-2014 season, was warmly received by a sold-out audience. Starting in April 2015, she began her time at HERE Arts Center as a resident fellow, where she will create a multimedia opera based on mathematical texts for sopranos Mellissa Hughes, Caroline Shaw, and Martha Cluver, with Mantra Percussion and lighting designer Eric Southern. She was LABA fellow at the 14th Street Y for the 2015/2016 season, which culminated in a collaborative performance with the JACK Quartet and film maker Stephen Taylor. Fefferman is the founder and co-director of Exapno, a New Music Community Center in Downtown Brooklyn, lead-organizes the New Music Bake Sale, and is co-founder of the New Music Gathering, a national new music event. She received her doctorate in composition from Princeton and continues to be a performing member of Princeton-based laptop ensemble Sideband.
som-nam- bu-lism /sämˈnambyəˌlizəm/ -- an abnormal condition of sleep in which motor acts (as walking) are performed.
Rudolf Rojahn (b.1980) is a Boston-based composer of contemporary art music. He is the founder and artistic director of Guerilla Opera, a chamber opera company and Boston Conservatory Ensemble-in-Residence for which he has written two works: Heart of a Dog and We Are Sons. He was the composer-in-residence for the Ludovico Ensemble from 2005-2010, a collaboration that resulted in several pieces including Antikythera Mechanism for bass clarinet and ensemble. His music has also been performed by Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP's) Club Concert Series, Juventas! New Music Ensemble, Lorelei Ensemble, Quincy Symphony Orchestra, the Arbelos Trio, Gabby Diaz, Kent O'Doherty, Rane Moore and the Green Light Consortium, among others. From 2004-2006 he ran the Proletariat Tanning Salon, an event series pairing young composers and visual artists such as Camille Wainer and Nicole Margaretten.
Rudolf was a lecturer in harmony and ear training at the Boston Conservatory and the New England Conservatory's School for Continuing and Preparatory Education from 2006-2014. He is the author of a textbook on advanced rhythmic training and theory entitled 'Complexity in Rhythm'. He graduated from the Boston Conservatory in 2004 with an MM in Composition under the tutelage of Andy Vores. Upon graduation he was awarded the Roger Sessions Award for academic and creative excellence. He currentlylives in Galveston, TX and teaches at Vivaldi Music Academy in Houston, TX.
I spent part of the summer of 2016 in Japan, where I hardly speak the language and can understand only the most fundamental words for functional communication. The effect of being there is that words cease to be language and become sound, subtle differentiated but absent of expression. Meaning is lost, while the sound acquires form, gesture, and texture.
solm aims for such an experience in music, dealing in the familiar, repetitious, submerged and veiled. The performers navigate the landscape of the score among self-similar aural signals, carving a path through the surface of the sound. - Mischa Salkind-Pearl
Mischa Salkind-Pearl is a Boston based composer of instrumental and vocal music. His music is informed by questions of humans' relationships to nature; through the musical qualities which grow from this relationship, feelings of mystery, anticipation, and the unexpected are common threads in Mischa's music. The Boston Globe wrote of his opera Troubled Water, premiered in September 2015 by Guerilla Opera, that “the invoked virtues, literary and musical, so fascinatingly and congruently avoid the conventionally operatic." Boston Classical Review listed Troubled Water as the Best Premiere of 2015. His works have been performed throughout the United States, Japan, Germany, and Italy, and have been featured at music festivals and concert series in Boston, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Fairbanks, Tokyo, Freiburg, Pavia, and elsewhere. He has received commissions and performances from numerous ensembles and soloists, including Boston’s Guerilla Opera, Dinosaur Annex, and Ludovico Ensemble, the Boston Conservatory Sinfonietta, Alea III, Chamber Cartel, Callithumpian Consort, Sinopia Quartet, the DMC percussion-clarinet duo, Ensemble SurPlus, Diagenesis Duo, Transient Canvas, Finland's Uusinta Ensemble, Juventas New Music, and UMBC’s faculty ensemble, RUCKUS; percussionists Trevor Saint and Masako Kunimoto; saxophonist Philipp Stäudlin; guitarist Gregory König; cellist Jennifer Bewerse; pianists Elaine Rombola, Miki Arimura, and Kate Campbell; as well as conductors Russell Ger, Eric Hewitt, Jeffrey Means, and Yohei Sato. He holds a BA in Music from Skidmore College, a Certificate in American contemporary music from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and an MM in Composition from the Boston Conservatory. His primary teachers have included Linda Dusman, Marti Epstein, and Dalit Warshaw, with additional studies under Anthony Holland and Carlo Alessandro Landini. Mischa is co-founder and artistic director of the Boston area Equilibrium Concert Series. He currently teaches at the Boston Conservatory as a member of the Composition, History, and English as a Second Language departments. He is composer-in-residence for the Ludovico Ensemble.
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.
Bass clarinet and marimba duo Transient Canvas release their second recording on New Focus, “Wired”, continuing to chronicle their tireless work commissioning young composers to write for their instrumentation. “Wired” focuses on works written for the duo with electronics. The recording opens with Kirsten Volness’ work Year Without a Summer. Inspired by the impact a volcanic explosion in Indonesia ultimately had on wide reaching locations in Virginia, New England, and Europe, Volness’ rock inspired work creates a haunting atmosphere. In her program note, she asks the question, "As climate change and conflict continue to cause hunger, will we tap our toes in the little cantina at the end of the world?” Peter Van Zandt Lane’s Exergy Bubblebath channels the rhythmic energy of 90s electronic music and acid house and the pitch language of late period serialist Stravinsky. A freer second section features a bass clarinet melody with marimba chordal accompaniment, before the infectious groove reenters briefly at the very end of the work. Like the Volness, David Ibbett’s Branches revels in a pop influenced electronics track, establishing and then subverting expectations as the piece unfolds. Lainie Fefferman’s Hyggelig consists of wavelike descending arpeggios in the marimba that emerge and recede, as the clarinet alternates between wind sounds and sustained long tones. By the end of the piece, the clarinetist has adopted the fleet arpeggiations of the marimba. Somnambula by Rudolf Rojahn depicts being stuck in a perpetual waking dream, unable to escape. A harmonic cycle repeats as rhythmic material becomes increasingly complex, but the protagonists remain unable to escape the dreamstate. Mischa Salkind-Pearl’s solm aims to mimic the experience of hearing the sounds of a foreign language without understanding the words. Fragmented sounds dot the instrumental and electronic parts as one might hear the component syllables of words divorced from their meaning. The listener enters into a vague, disconcerting sound world that captures the isolating sensation of being unable to understand a language. Dan VanHassel’s Epidermis merges the clarinet and marimba into one entity playing syncopated rhythms, while the electronics provide a “noisy, protective layer.” As the piece progresses, the electronics become noisier and more disconnected from the instruments, which become more melodic. Transient Canvas’ performances throughout this diverse set of new works are meticulously coordinated and persuasive across varied stylistic contexts.