New Music for the 21st Century
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VOX NOVUS NEWSLETTER - New Music for the 21st Century
> REVIEW: Composer's Voice - Hard Eight
> POSTCARD: Best Friends
> Fifteen Minutes of Fame - call for works for Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon
> Composer's Site - new opportunities
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Best Friends

Best Friends

The four trumpet players of the Honningsvåg Philharmonic in northernmost Norway were initially stymied when they discovered that the orchestra’s practical joking timpanist had hocked their instruments. But then Oodmar, the oft dipsomaniacal second chair, fashioned a solution out of four of her “best friends,” as she called them. Hence, the brass players were able to accord themselves very well indeed in Ein Heldenleben’s clamorous fanfare on the Saturday afternoon concert.

David Gunn

David Gunn

Composer's Voice Hard Eight

REVIEW: Composer's Voice Hard Eight

Composer’s Voice December 8 Reviewed by Jack Crager

Robert Voisey

The final 2013 performance of the Composers Voice Series at New York’s Jan Hus Church is significant for several reasons — not least being the birthday of series founder and creative spirit Robert Voisey. Sporting a full beard and with his trademark ponytail unfurled, Voisey welcomes the full-house audience to an equally unfettered show. The program’s theme, “Hard Eight,” is a gambling term having to do with high returns due to a unlikely combination — an apt title for this lineup.

The program gets of with a bang in the staccato opening chords of Voisey’s own composition, “run rabbit run,” featuring a lively interplay between Roberta Michel’s flute and Yumi Suehiro’s piano. Underpinning this is tightly synched choreography by Callie Hatchett performed by a trio of dancers: Caloline Dietz, Stanton Jacinto, and Lee Katherine. When the score shifts into intricate melodies, with flute and piano lines trading lead positions and weaving around each other, the dancing becomes more fluid, switching from unison forms to darting counterpoints and back again. As the music crescendos in a final flurry, the dancers thrust into skyward, arms-out backward stretches, as if looking to the heavens, before suddenly exiting the stage in three directions on the final chord. It’s an avant-garde mix with a surprise ending.

run rabbit run

The following piece is even more unconventional. Entitled “INNERTERP,” by TJ Hospodar, it features ASL performer Lisa Reynolds doing sign-language in front of a video camera, her back to the audience but her image on a television monitor (an old-time model with a jerky picture) set up behind her chair. She’s accompanied by electronic ambient music and free-form singing by Phillip Guelley and Ellen O’Meara. Unfortunately, as they’re getting started, a stage helper takes a cellphone call and chats away while walking toward the back of Jun Hus Church. Just as it seems he’ll leave, he wanders back, rudely talking and making several audience members visibly annoyed (one woman tries to shut him up). Soon it’s clear that this interloper is a performer: Matthew Gantt, who is, it turns out, telling a shaggy-dog story about a visit to a gambling casino into his phone. Tensions rise as the ambient noise gets more dissonant — all interfering with the sign-language performance, which most viewers can’t understand anyway (but which, it turns out, is an interpretation of Gantt’s gambling story). A few minutes in, the eerie chaos makes the rude phone guy seem rather “normal.” This amusing, disconcerting piece illustrates the disconnect of modern life — as electronics, language barriers, and fragmented signals (not to mention gambling) separate us more than ever.

Christos Marinos and Isabel Perez Dobarro

At this point in the program, it’s time for something different … ragtime, anyone? Performing music by the late great New York composer Douglas Townsend, pianists Christons Marinos and Maria Isabel Perez Dobarro bring a much more conventional march-meets-jazz sound to the mix. In “The Ridgefield Rag,” the pair trades robust bass patterns with treble flourishes; in Townsend’s interpretation of the traditional “Il Est Ne,” they wander the keys in both directions like four-handed Siamese twins.

During an equipment-setup interlude, the creative team behind the Composer’s Voice series offers an impromptu performance of their piece "Whale Cage." In the ensemble EMR, Douglas DaSilva (electric guitar) joins Robert Voisey (impressionistic vocals), with David Moneau’s iPhone sound effects, in an abstract melange that sounds like a cross between the whale voices in “Finding Nemo” and a voyage into outer space. This entertains the audience as instruments are set up for the next piece — which is even wilder.

run rabbit run

The show’s centerpiece and the trademark Composer’s Voice feature, Fifteen Minutes of Fame, is entitled “HARD EIGHT — Graphic Notation” and curated by composer Nate Trier. It’s based on one-minute works by 15 artists that are written in graphic scores — abstract to the layman — which the musicians interpret sonically. (These scores are included in the YouTube video of the performance.) The four players — Trier, Istvan Peter B’Racz, Bill Beckett, and Brendan Randall-Myers — play conventional instruments (two electric guitars, piano and keyboard) in such amorphous ways that they don’t sound familiar. Trier explains one approach used in his own piece called "Seis Six," notated by a series of geometric shapes: “Our pianist played the red long triangles as a cluster of notes and held them down so they would slowly decay, which parallels the fading red. The guitarist and I each played one triangle in each pair of brackets (one of us was blue, one of us was green)…”

Thus the interpretation lies very much with the musicians — and the audience. The results range from the scatter-shot staccato dots and droning lines of Shawn David Bounkim’s “Sketch” to the playful cacophony of Elizabeth Jigalin’s “toy box”; from the shadowy figures and “smeared echoes” of Paul Elwood’s “Taos Junction” to the outright campiness of Daniel Mihai’s “Lucky Dice” — which sends up the rituals of craps games in spoken segments, interspersed with bizarre instrumental exchanges. By the end of these 15 minutes, the musical envelope has been pushed to its limits!

dance The afternoon’s finale is “Jor-El’s Juju: An Abiotic Evolution,” by Composer’s Voice Series Artistic Director Douglas DaSilva, with choreography by Erin Bomboy. This adventurous suite seems a study in seasonal mood swings: It begins with buoyant clarinet lines by Diego Vasquez playing hide-and-seek with cello parts by Jennifer Shaw, then segues into a playful exchange between Nicholas Handahl’s flute and Josh Henderson’s violin. Soon the spritely tempo gives way to slow, melancholy lines, as the dancers — D Pace Short, Meghann Bronson, Ali Berg Nocola, and Samantha Parsons — downshift accordingly. Before long the tempo picks up again, with two dancers springing into action as the other two seem groggy. By the time they reawaken, the musical tone is woeful again … but picks back up as all players and dancers revive, like a springtime wake-up call — which then ends on a note of suspended uncertainty.

It’s a suitable finish to a widely diverse program, closing out an eventful year for the Composer’s Voice Series. Stay tuned! The series resumes in 2014 with a performance on the second Sunday January 12, 2014.

Program and video of the concert can be found at the following link:

 Jack Crager

Jack Crager

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NM421 - New Music for the 21st Century


Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Fifteen Minutes of Fame


Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame: West Winds

Deadline: January 25, 2014

Vox Novus is calling for one-minute pieces for Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon composed for Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame: West Winds to be performed in conjunction with Living Arts in Tulsa for May 22, 2014.

This Fifteen Minutes of Fame call for "West Winds" is looking for works inspired by the folk music of the composer's current country of residence or his/her nationality. The one-minute pieces are to be written specifically for this project, which will be performed by West winds

The selected pieces will be announced Spring of 2014 and the selected composers will be contacted via email. The results will be posted on the Vox Novus website: and through the NM421 newsletter.

Dayna Smith holds a Bachelor of Music and a Masters in Business Administration degrees from Oklahoma City University , and continued her study in bassoon performance at Baylor University . A native of Lawton , Oklahoma , she has played the bassoon for over 25 years, performing in chamber groups, orchestras and professional bands. In addition to performing with the West Winds, Dayna also performs with Chamber Music of Tulsa, Starlight Bands, and Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra. Other recent performances include concerts with the Jackson Bay Quintet, Signature Symphony and the Tulsa Community College Orchestra. Dayna studied under Betty Johnson, Eric Arbiter and Dr. Kent Moore. Dayna also teaches bassoon privately in the Tulsa area.

Kristi Sturgeon holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Tulsa and a Master of Music from the University of Oklahoma where she studied with Dr. David Etheridge. During her career, she has performed with many area ensembles, including the Tulsa Philharmonic, the Signature Symphony, the Starlight Band, and in various venues in the Tulsa area as a freelance musician. Since 1993, Kristi has maintained a private studio at Owasso High School . In 2000, she joined the Ft. Smith Symphony in Ft. Smith , Arkansas as the group’s bass clarinetist and can be heard playing on three of the cds the orchestra has recorded on the NAXOS label. Kristi joined the faculty of the University of Tulsa as clarinet professor in 2010. When not playing, she can be found knitting or spinning yarn, arranging and composing, gardening, or enjoying life with her husband and two sons.

For over forty year, Mark Watson has been an active horn player in the Tulsa Area. He has been a member of the Tulsa Philharmonic, the Signature Symphony and the Starlight Band. Additionally, he has performed in the pit for Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Ballet Theatre, and many Broadway shows. Other musical activities have included numerous chamber music performances, church services and the occasional big band or solo performance. When he is not playing the horn, Mark is an information systems analyst support Maintenance and Engineering Systems at the American Airlines Maintenance Base in Tulsa . He enjoys fishing and camping and his life with his wife, Margaret, and their West highland Terriers

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