The Permian Divide by Amelia Kaplan
Pollination by Nathan Andrews
The Fate of the Dollar by Cecilia Suhr
Scherzo by Charles Halka
Fractals by Nate Krebs
Protolith by Paul A. Oehlers
Venture Picayune by Ian Evans Guthrie
Child of Noise by Ralph Lewis
Upon a Wheel of Cloud by Anne Neikirk
Bios and Program Notes:
Amelia Kaplan is a composer whose music reflects the riotous mix of sounds and cultures cohabiting in our increasingly fragmented world. She seeks to create meaning by juxtaposing, and recontextualizing refined gestures crafted from the myriad musical and non-musical sounds accessible in our wired environment. In recent years her music has mostly responded to the ecological and political crises beseting our warming planet. Ms. Kaplan has won residences at Copland House, MacDowell, Ucross, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has received commissions from numerous ensembles and soloists, and her work has been performed at festivals around the world, including Mise-En, Thailand New Music Festival, SCI, SICPP, IAWM, Wellesley Composers Conference, Gaudeamus, Darmstadt, and others. Recordings are available on Albany, Ablaze, Centaur, and Navona Records, and several compositions are published by TrevCo Music. Ms. Kaplan holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, an AB from Princeton University, and diplomas from the Accademia Musicale Chigiana and the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau. She is Associate Professor of Composition at Ball State University where she teaches theory and composition and directs the New Music Ensemble. She previously taught at Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Iowa, and Roosevelt University.
The Permian extinction took place about 250 million years ago and divides the Paleozoic and Mesozoic periods. The history of life on our planet is punctuated with five notable dips in the number of species, known as extinction events and defined as a sudden and massive loss of life on a global scale (we are currently in a sixth extinction, likely caused by humans). These extinction events usually took place over tens of thousands of years, but from the perspective of 550 million years, the duration of life on our planet so far, 1000 years is the blink of an eye. The Permian extinction was the largest extinction event: over 90% of all species died out. Ferns, conifers, therapsids (which evolved into mammals), and archeosaurs (which evolved into dinosaurs), were some of the few species to survive. Although the reason for the great die out, referred to by some as the “mother of all extinctions,” is not known with 100% certainty, it is hypothesized that it was due to a massive dumping of carbon into the atmosphere along with massive climate change. This work [The Permian Divide] was inspired by that event.
Performed by the Ball State University Wind Symphony, conducted by Caroline Hand.
Nathan Andrews (b. 2002) is a composer and percussionist from Granville, Ohio. Nathan is a second year undergraduate at Ohio University where he is currently studying Music Composition, as well as Contemporary Music & Digital Instruments. His musical interests include composing music for chamber ensembles, electronics, and songs for use in entertainment. His appreciation and love for all musical genres reflects in his repertoire’s musical exploration and variety. Most recently his fixed media piece “Late For Class” was accepted and performed at Electronic Music Midwest.
Pollination is the second of three movements from my solo piano piece, “Scenes of a Honey Bee”. In this movement, the music depicts a bee pollinating a flower. As a play-on-word to “polli-nation”, I decided to incorporate “poly-tonality” in the music. Picturing an insect pollinate a flower is not a pretty process, but most of life depends on it. Because of this, there is a natural beauty to it. This music is pretty yet eery at the same time, which I feel perfectly represents the subject matter.
Cecilia Suhr is an intermedia artist and researcher, multi-instrumentalist (violin/cello/voice/piano), multimedia composer, painter, author, and improviser, who is working at the intersection between art, music, and digital technology. Her creative work has been featured in New York City Electro-Acoustic Festival, Festival of Contemporary Art Music, Splice Festival, Hot Air Music Festival, Electronic Music Midwest Festival, Moxonic Festival, Beast Feast, Irish Sound, Science & Technology Association, Performing Media Arts Festival, Oh My Ear Festival, SEAMUS, iDMAa, ICMA, Audio Mostly Conference, ACM International Conference on Multimedia, IEEE Games, Entertainment and Media Conference, Convergence, International Conference/Festival of Music, Technology & Ideas, Music Diaries Festival, Klingt Gut International Symposium on Sonic Art and Spatial Audio, CICA Museum, IANG Gallery, Pensacola Museum of Art, Outside the Box Biennial, Artech: International Conference on Digital and Interactive Arts, National Associations of Composers, ELO Conference and Media Arts Festival, etc. She is currently an Associate Professor of Humanities and Creative Arts as well as an Affiliate Professor of Art at Miami University Regionals, Ohio.
This interactive, audio-visual live electro-acoustic performance [The Fate of the Dollar] explores the looming concerns about fiat currency creation linked to the Covid pandemic and the potential impact on people’s livelihoods and lifestyles. In doing so, it reflects on a wide range of emotions tied to the current economy ranging from uncertainty, urgency, volatility, anxiety, angst, and the rising concern about inflation and the fate of the dollar via cello and violin improvisation.
(Technical Support: Hans Tammen)
Charles Halka‘s music spans the broad space between “energetic” and “crazed” (New York Times) and “haunting” and “reflective” (Houston Press). With performances and commissions from the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra led by Marin Alsop, Alarm Will Sound, Mivos Quartet, counter)induction, Callithumpian Consort, and ONIX Ensamble, among many others, his works have been heard internationally at venues and events such as The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, The Intimacy of Creativity, ISCM World Music Days, and Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva. Recent honors include a Barlow Endowment General Commission and the Copland House Residency Award, as well as residencies at MacDowell and the M.K. Sarbievijaus Cultural Center in Kraziai, Lithuania. Further support has come from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the U.S. Fulbright program, and the Nevada Arts Council. Halka earned degrees from The Peabody Conservatory and Rice University, and is Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory at Western Washington University.
Scherzo for orchestra is an amalgam of the many musical features this sometimes ambiguous term has come to represent over the years: dance, lyricism, whimsy, drama, rhythmic drive, and even humor, as the original meaning of the word suggests.
Nate Krebs‘ (b. 1995) music is generated from multiple fields of interest that are often related to a greater human perspective, exploring the ways it can affect people on a sociological-personal level. These interests often extend into multimedia formats, where he collaborates with other artists and filmmakers on diverse projects. As a composer, he has been recognized for several composition awards, including from NAfME, NFMC, and several Ohio regional competitions. He earned his Bachelor of Vocal Music Education from the University of Toledo while studying composition with Dr. Lee Heritage. He completed his Master of Music in Composition studying with Dr. Robert McClure, as well as his Master of Arts Administration with Dr. Christi Camper-Moore from Ohio University.
In geometry, fractals are patterns with theoretically infinite recursion. In electronic music, this theoretical idea can be applied by experimenting with rhythmic and frequency ratios. In this acoustic setting, I wanted to take a more abstract position on the concept by starting with a couple of small ideas and continuously build on them. This process is subverted and interrupted in several instances, breaking our perception of the fractal we are working in. After all, perfect and infinite recursion has yet to be proven possible in the natural world! This piece [Fractals] was written in collaboration with Tower Duo during their residency at Ohio University.
Paul A. Oehlers is most recognized for his “extraordinarily evocative” film scores. (Variety) Films incorporating his music have won the Grand Jury prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival, the Atlanta International Film Festival, and the Indiefest Film Festival. In addition, films with his music have screened at dozens of festivals in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Paul A. Oehlers’s compositions have been performed in the United States and abroad including performances at the Society for Electro-acoustic Music in the United States national conferences, the International Computer Music Conferences, the Gamper New Music Festival, the Seoul International Electro-acoustic Music Festival, the Institut fur Neue Musik und Musikerziehung in Darmstadt, Germany, and the VII Annual Brazilian Electronic Music Festival, as well as a 1987 command performance for former United States President Ronald Reagan. He was the first composer ever commissioned by the Nature Conservancy to compose a concert composition about prairie conservation. Paul was named the Margaret Lee Crofts Fellow by the MacDowell Colony for the year 2006. He is currently Associate Professor of Audio Technology at American University in Washington, DC.
Protolith attempts to derive formal structure by creating sections of music with unified global parameters (spatialization, rhythm, tempo, and meter) and juxtaposing them with elements of contrasting types (decreasing tempo vs. continuous tempo, unmetered vs. metered, close vs. far). The sections of similar and juxtaposed elements form the basis of the piece. The overall unifying parameter of the piece is timbre. Protolith refers to the lithography of a metahorphic rock. Metamorphic rocks can be derived from any other rock. They therefore have a wide variety of protoliths. Protolith was written using various software synthesizers, resonating filters, convolution processes, and sounds and effects created with electronic and recorded sound, assembled in Pro Tools, and spatialized with VRSonic’s Vibe Studio software. Sections were assembled independent from each other and combined to form the global structure of the piece.
Ian Evans Guthrie, an emerging composer, performer, and researcher, has received the Mile High Freedom Bands 2021 Commission, a nomination for a 2020 award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1st prize for the Arcady Composition Competition, 2nd prize for the American Prize (twice), and other accolades for his compositions. Many of his works have been performed publicly around the world by fEARnoMUSIC, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, the Moore Philharmonic Orchestra, VIPA, the highSCORE Music Festival, the Atlantic Music Festival, the Charlotte New Music Festival, jemFEST, and others, with works published by Verlag Neue Musik and T.U.X. People’s Music. He has served on various committees, including NACUSA, where he is the new Treasurer, and the Society of Composers, Inc., where he has served as the Region VI Student Representative from 2015 to 2017 before serving as Assistant Marketer and Marketer. His most recent works include Death By Lightning: A Madrigal for string ensemble and the ballet The Queen of Nori. He currently resides in Kansas City where he is a full-time accompanist, and in Fall 2022 he will begin serving as an Assistant Professor at Calvary University.
One of my compositional tools is composing to a storyline; short of that, I like a narrative title. The latter is the case with Venture Picayune, which was written for one of Ilana Goldman’s contemporary ballet projects. I created this work by micky-mousing the choreography for the first two parts, but since it did not tell a story, I needed a catchy title to finish the whole piece. So, what is a Venture Picayune? A “venture” can be defined as a dangerous expedition, and “picayune” is a fancy word for small, trivial, or insignificant. So to what am I referring? Well, many things. You decide!
Ralph Lewis is a composer whose works seek meeting points between sonorous music and arresting noise, alternative tunings and timbre, and the roles of performer and audience. He recently completed his doctorate in music composition at UIUC. His dissertation research, “Aaron Cassidy’s Second String Quartet: Resilient Structures, Indeterminate Localities, and Performance Practice,” has been presented at several conferences and had its on-site research in the United Kingdom funded by one of ten nationally-awarded Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Research Grants. Previous and recent honors he has received include serving as Composer-in-Residence for Oberlin Arts and Sciences Orchestra 2020-2021, Artist Residencies at Wave Farm and Westben, and Best Student Paper from College Music Society Northwest for his research about the music of Rebecca Saunders. His music has been performed at conferences and festivals including SEAMUS, College Music Society, Boston Microtonal Society, the International Conference on Technologies for Music Notation and Representation (TENOR), Thirsty Ears Festival, SCI National Conference, Electronic Music Midwest, and the Music for People and Thingamajigs Festival. He also leads All Score Urbana, a community engagement music composition workshop program he founded in 2016, that offers free events open to all kinds of creative musicians to collaborate with local performers.
After Child of Noise awakens with breath sounds, it agitatedly explores combinations of pitch and noise. Upon reaching the pinnacle of its tantrum, it attempts to soothe itself.
Composer Anne Neikirk is drawn to creative processes that involve interdisciplinary work. Her background in vocal music instilled a particular interest in the relationship between music and the written word. Past awards and grants include the Presser Music Award, an American Composers Forum Subito Grant, and inclusion in the Society of Composers CD Series. Neikirk has presented her work at conferences including those of the Society of Composers, the College Music Society, the Society of Electroacoustic Music in the United States, and the American Harp Society, among others. Her music is distributed by ADJective New Music, LLC, and she is a member of the ADJective Composers’ Collective. Dr. Neikirk received her DMA in Composition from Temple University, preceded by an MM from Bowling Green State University and a BA in Music from Hamilton College. Upon completing her education, she worked as an adjunct faculty member at Temple University and at the University of Delaware. In 2016 she began as an Assistant Professor of Composition/Theory at Norfolk State University in Virginia. She has served on the Executive Boards of the College Music Society (Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Chapters) and the Society of Composers, Inc.
Upon a Wheel of Cloud was written for the Temple University Concert Choir under the direction of Paul Rardin. The text is the following poem by Emily Dickenson, describing an incoming and outgoing rainstorm:
Like Rain it sounded till it curved
And then I knew twas Wind
It walked as wet as any Wave
But swept as dry as sand
When it had pushed itself away
To some remotest Plain
A coming as of Hosts was heard
That was indeed the Rain
It filled the Wells, it pleased the Pools
It warbled in the Road
It pulled the spigot from the Hills
And let the Floods abroad
It loosened acres, lifted seas
The sites of Centres stirred
Then like Elijah rode away
Upon a Wheel of Cloud.
— Emily Dickenson
Performance given by the Temple University Choir, with Paul Rardin conducting.