Performance


Flight of a Cuckoo, by Alexis C. Lamb

 

“Never before did I realize that mental illness could have the aspect of power, power. Think of it: perhaps the more insane a man is, the more powerful he could become.” – Harding from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Flight of a Cuckoo is inspired by the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. The title is a play on words due to its direct reference to the cuckoo bird in flight, the bird call of a descending minor third, and the historical reference to people with mental illnesses. I was originally intrigued with the concept of “flight of ideas,” occurring when individuals speak/think rapidly and abruptly change from subject to subject. This piece hopes to explore some of the aural aspects of mental illness with the acknowledgement that no one experiences identical symptoms. In my writing this piece, I hope to empower individuals to talk about their experiences with mental health and encourage a dialogue about the many benefits these individuals can offer to our society.

 

Meadowlark, by Tawnie Olson

 
 
 

"Although I grew up in Western Canada, where the Western Meadowlark makes its summer home, this piece was not inspired by the experience of hearing a meadowlark in the wild. In January, 2013 I heard a recording of a meadowlark during a lecture given by Allan Gordon Bell, my undergraduate composition teacher. The beautiful recorded song moved me in a manner difficult to describe, and many months later I found myself thinking of it. Fortunately, Allan was kind enough to share his recording with me when I asked, and the first movement of this piece was the result.

The structure of the piece is rooted in the meadowlark's song; the fixed media in the first movement is derived from the two-second birdsong recording, which I stretched out to last over four and a half minutes and processed slightly. The marimba music is also drawn from that slowed-down song. It calls for very virtuosic playing; the percussionist must perform diminuendi with one hand and crescendi with the other in a kind of transcription of the slowly shifting, overlapping pitches of the original birdsong. The second and third movements of the piece use transcriptions and transformations of a meadowlark recording made by Geoffrey A. Keller, which the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology kindly provided to me. The second movement also uses a recording of peepers and bullfrogs made by Chad Stayrook at i-Park.

Meadowlark is dedicated to Ian Rosenbaum, who - against all odds - made me fall in love with the marimba, and to my mother, a lifelong birder who instilled in me a love of nature and of birdsong."

 

Left of the Dial, by Steven Snowden

 
 
 

"I’ve always been fascinated by the ubiquity of radio communication. From commercially broadcast FM/AM to shortwave ham radio and the coded messages of mysterious government agencies, it perpetually saturates the very air we breathe. For most, it’s simply a way to pass the time between destinations, but for some it is a gateway to another universe. With a little knowledge and a few cheap components, you can explore a seemingly infinite variety of sounds, music, languages, and ideas from around the world.

In this piece, I wanted to encapsulate that experience of haphazard discovery in the electronics, which are all derived from recordings of various radio transmissions. For the live performer, I also chose to embody that same mindset by focusing on the exploration of timbre rather than idiomatic techniques and sounds that we have come to expect from the snare drum."

 

Lullaby 5, by Nicholas Deyoe

 
 
 

Nicholas Deyoe is a Los Angeles based composer, conductor, and guitarist, and is the Co–Founder and Artistic Director of the wasteLAnd concert series. His music has been called “intriguingly complex and excitedly lush” by the LA Times. Drawn to sounds that are inherently physical, Nicholas strives to create music that engages listeners intellectually and emotionally by appealing to their inner physicality. His compositions combine uses of noise, delicacy, drama, fantasy, brutality, and lyricism to create a diverse sonic experience. As a guitarist, Nicholas strives to further the already vast sound world of the electric guitar by experimenting with microtonal tunings, preparation, bows, and beer cans. He has received commissions from The Los Angles Philharmonic Association, Carnegie Hall, USINESONORE Festival, The La Jolla Symphony, Palimpsest, and several soloists. His music has been performed in throughout North America, Europe, and Japan. As a conductor, Nicholas has performed with wasteLAnd, The Ensemble at CalArts, The La Jolla Symphony Orchestra, Red Fish Blue Fish, Ensemble Ascolta, The Darmstadt Preisträgerensemble, Noise, The University of Northern Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and many ad-hoc ensembles in the United States and Germany. He holds a Ph.D. in composition from UC San Diego where he studied with Roger Reynolds. Deyoe’s compositions and improvisations can be heard on Sono Luminus, Populist, Spektral, Khajila, and Eh? Records.  Nicholas is currently on faculty at California Institute of the Arts where he conducts The Ensemble and teaches composition.

 

Bloom Suite, by Elliot Cole

 
 
 

"Bloom was a double breakthrough in my writing.  First, in technique: it's my first good piece to come out of my computer programming project, a personal composition environment two years in the making called Blooms.  It's also a breakthrough in feeling.  My musical proclivities (dark) have always been at odds with my temperament (bright), but when I push myself toward an optimistic tone, I often feel I lose something personal in the process ("Happy families are all alike..." etc.).  Not this time: this exuberance is exactly my own."

 

this piece intentionally left blank, by David Toub

 
 
 

Performed by the UTM Contemporary Music Group: C.J. Barrow, Brandon Blankenstein, Stephen Downing, Jerry Emmons, Jenna Kirby, Paul Zacarias

"this piece intentionally left blank came about as an improvisation, and is virtually unchanged other than a few minor tweaks. It was composed using an Ensoniq KS-32 synthesizer providing input into Reason 3.0.4."